Get ready, fans and friends: it’s time for another edition of “TUF Talks”. The finale to my “A Closer Look at UFC 130” event has been postponed until tomorrow due to the fact that I never want to miss an edition of this, one of my premiere series. “TUF Talks” is a summary/commentary hybrid that takes a look at the latest episode of the long-running UFC reality TV program “The Ultimate Fighter”. With two quarterfinals left, the tumultuous TUF 13 rolls into its ninth week. Let’s get started.
The episode begins by focusing on the upcoming rematch between Zach Davis and Chuck O’Neil. Davis wants to try out his striking, although Coach Junior dos Santos reminds him that it’s his submission skills that have gotten him this far in the competition. Back at the TUF house, O’Neil wants to win so he can give half of his finish money to his friend Charlie Rader. To make a long story short, Rader needs help with child support and hasn’t seen his son for about a year.
After a little more pre-fight hype, the first fight of the evening gets underway.
From the get-go, it becomes apparent that Chuck O’Neil has learned a lot since losing to Davis in the preliminary round. O’Neil basically picks Davis apart from multiple positions and angles, with Davis eventually forced to grapple with O’Neil against the cage for several minutes. O’Neil keeps finding a way to block the takedowns of Davis, and ends Round 1 firmly in the lead and nearly finishing his opponent.
The second round plays out much like the first: Davis attempts to stand and bang, O’Neil picks him apart, Davis shoots for a takedown, and O’Neil either sprawls or the two grapple against the cage. Eventually the fight does go to the mat, but O’Neil plays it smart and continues to stand back up even when he’s the one on top. The second round ends and all three judges score it 20-18 for Chuck O’Neill.
After the usual post-fight celebrations and condolences, we then immediately cut to Zach Davis returning to the TUF house with some rather shocking news. Apparently, Davis tore both retinas in his eyes during the fight with O’Neil, to the point where he required emergency surgery. Davis drops an even bigger bombshell: his doctors have told him that he’ll probably go blind if he continues fighting, so Davis effectively retires right on the spot, announcing it to the TUF house. A very somber Chuck O’Neil embraces Davis and seems very upset for inadvertently ending Zach’s career.
After another sprinkling of pre-fight hype, we then move on to the next fight of the night, which is Team Lesnar’s Tony Ferguson going up against Team JDS’s Ryan McGillivray.
This one is over before it has a chance to begin. Ryan comes out aggressive and gets caught with a mean uppercut, which dazes him. McGillivray tries to remain upright but ultimately crumbles onto his back. Tony then pounces on and finishes McGillivray.
After a pair of interesting fights, UFC President Dana White announces the semi-final match-ups: it’ going to be Ramsey Nijem vs. Chris Cope and Tony Ferguson vs. Chuck O’Neil.
We then cut back to the TUF house to see the TUF cast relaxing after a tough quarterfinal round. As expected, the liquor starts flowing and things get a little crazy. Things also get bizarrely homoerotic too, as Ramsey Nijem starts stripping while a bunch of other TUF fighters spray him with water and liquor.
However, the fun and games quickly come to a screeching halt when an absurdly-drunk Tony Ferguson turns some simple horseplay into a full-blown scuffle with Charlie Rader. The two are broken up, and then the trash-talk starts flowing. Ferguson goes way, way, way below the belt by bringing Rader’s son into the equation, asking him several times “where’s your kid?”
In the end, Rader has to be physically restrained several times. The episode ends with just about all the TUF cast banded together against Ferguson, calling him a classless drunk.
I think this may have been the best episode of the season, albeit for several unfortunate reasons. The O’Neil/Davis rematch had a lot of drama because of how their first fight ended, but to see Davis have to retire afterwards was just heart-wrenching. The fight itself wasn’t amazing, but it was a bit above average and both men showed a lot of heart.
I absolute loved Tony Ferguson’s fiery KO, and I was ready to call him my favorite fighter of the season and my number-one pick to win TUF Season 13… until his drunken rampage. There’s no excuse for what Ferguson did. You do not, you simply do not bring a man’s son into an argument. That’s so far below the belt that I honestly wished the TUF house had acted on their threats and given Tony a gang initiation-style beatdown.
Overall, this was a very dramatic end to the quarterfinals, and if this episode is any indication, TUF Season 13 could end on a pretty big upswing.