Yes, I’m a little late with last week’s recap. And yes, the headline is a shoutout to The Mr. Men Show.
But I’ve also decided that recaps aren’t really getting it done in this new live era. The Ultimate Fighter is no longer a soap opera that evolves through the weeks, with storylines carefully laid out by the editors and producers. It’s more like an ant farm. We check in once a week to see what’s changed.
And so far, the answer is “not much.”
The only fighters getting consistent screen time are Mike Chiesa, for his good sense of humor and tearful evocations of his late father, and Chris Tickle, who alternately annoys and amuses everyone. Mike Rio sometimes gets a moment on screen so we can see how his knee is progressing or how he has decided to teach young whippersnapper Justin Lawrence a lesson in humility.
The rest of the prefight time each episode is devoted to introducing the fighters who will be squaring off live. But we don’t learn much. They’re dialing up the tragic pasts — absent parents, street fights and so forth. That sort of thing loses its impact when you’ve also been watching The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil, where one guy took his mattress outside because he couldn’t get comfortable in such a fancy house.
Most of the fighters seem like good guys. Last week, Joe Proctor laughed heartily when he walked into a Tickle prank, the classic water-bucket-over-the-door trick (give Tickle a 9.8 on the execution). Then he beat Tickle handily while never lapsing into a moment of bad sportsmanship. The other thing to know about Proctor: He trains with and sounds like Bostonian Joe Lauzon.
One twist of the live format — the house and gym are no longer quite as isolated as they’ve been in the past. Most fighters are on Twitter …
And John Cofer, who’s fighting this week, is active on Facebook. The fighters do seem aware of what’s been said in the outside world, which explains why Proctor urged Tickle’s haters to back off a bit after their fight last week.
Tickle’s haters may not like it, but he has emerged as the most compelling personality in the house. He learned a lot of MMA the way Evan Tanner did — through video. (Imagine Evan Tanner in the YouTube era.) He took it upon himself to roast a turkey for housemates to celebrate Easter.
And we’re not getting compelling stuff from Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber. These guys should hire Bisping and Mayhem to do their talking for them. Or at least define “shark contest.” (Yes, I Googled it. Nothing.)
Faber leads 3-2, but he’s running out of top fighters. This week, he’s sending John Cofer against fellow sixth-round pick Vinc Pichel. The only Faber fighters remaining are his last two picks. Cruz still has second-rounder Sam Sicilia and fourth-rounder Mike Rio to go.
And this will be Episode 7. The timetable gets rather compressed from here. We have to eliminate 14 fighters in 12 weeks before the June 1 finale. Will the finalists have anything left?