CAUTION: SPOILERS INCLUDED – Most expect the tenth season of The Ultimate Fighter to be the most explosive of the Spike TV series yet. It’s certainly the biggest, as 16 heavyweights will battle it out for a UFC contract that will be given to the winner at the season finale card in Las Vegas this December.
That journey begins now with coaches Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and “Suga” Rashad Evans, two former UFC light heavyweight champions who have more than a little bad blood with each other. And that bad blood is evident from the first time the two step into the UFC training center, as they begin jawing at each other about their upcoming fight and what each plans on doing to the other.
“You’re too slow and your head’s too big and easy to hit,” said Evans.
“I can take ‘em though. It didn’t look like you could take ‘em in your last fight,” responded Jackson.
And on it went, even as 15 of this season’s competitors walked into the gym, including former IFL champion Roy Nelson, NFL veterans Wes Shivers, Marcus Jones, Matt Mitrione, and Brendan Schaub, and UFC alumni Wes Sims, Mike Wessel, and Scott Junk. The trash talk even brought UFC President Dana White into the room.
“We’ve got five minutes,” said White. “Relax. Don’t get into a fight.”
Luckily, cooler heads prevailed, and White then lined up the group for the customary introduction to the show. One fighter was missing though, and moments later, White brought out the 16th member of the cast: Kimbo Slice.
“He’s on my team,” said Jackson as Slice joined his castmates.
“I think Kimbo Slice kinda has a bounty over his head,” said Schaub. “It was like the sheep entering the room with a bunch of wolves.”
Slice was unrattled though.
“I’m already street certified for doing what I do,” he said. “Now it’s time to take it to the next level and prove myself as an Ultimate Fighter.”
Next up were evaluations of the fighters by the coaching staffs, and again, Jackson – whose coaching staff includes UFC vets Tiki Ghosn and Hector Ramirez -made no secret of his desire to have Kimbo on his team. For his part, Evans brought in Greg Jackson, Trevor Wittman, and Mike Van Arsdale to evaluate the newcomers while they worked out. Jackson’s method of testing the 16 competitors was to have them spar.
After the two-hour evaluation period, Evans won the coin toss and opted to select the first fighter, with Jackson getting the opportunity to pick the first two fights.
Evans’ first pick, his teammate from Albuquerque, James McSweeney. Rampage’s pick was no surprise, as he made good on his promise to pick Kimbo Slice.
As far as the rest of the picks, here’s how the teams stack up:
The fighters are taken directly to the Ultimate Fighter house, and already the talk centers on beating Kimbo, who is well aware that he has a target on his back due to his previous notoriety in the streetfighting and MMA worlds.
The next day, training begins for both teams, and the intense Team Rampage workout takes an immediate toll on Marcus Jones, who insists that regardless, he will do whatever it takes to get to the next level.
For the first fight pick, Rampage chooses Team Rashad’s Jon Madsen (1-0) to face his fighter, Abe Wagner (6-1).
Evans loves the matchup, and once the bell rings, Madsen immediately makes his coach happy with a takedown and some ground and pound, and after a steady attack by Madsen, Wagner is bloodied and battered by the end of the round.
Despite his cut, Wagner comes out for round two, but again he is dropped to the mat by Madsen and pounded for the entire round. The unanimous decision win (20-16, 20-17, 20-17) for Madsen is a mere formality, and Team Rashad has taken the lead, 1-0.
Here’s how the teams stand after week one:
Jon Madsen 1-0
Abe Wagner – Eliminated in week one by Jon Madsen
For weekly recaps of The Ultimate Fighter, as well as fighter profiles, stay tuned to UFC.com.