Over the past two weeks, the first two shows have been all fights, either entire fights or highlights of fights. Now that we’ve got the field narrowed down to 16 fighters who are going to stay in the house, it’s now time to pick teams. Rampage wins the coin flip and Dana gives him the usual choice of either you can pick the first fighter or you can pick the first fight.
Rampage goes with picking the first fighter and he picks one of the favorites to win it all, C.B. Dollaway. Rampage goes on about how impressed he was with Dollaway’s performance to make the cut and therefore he was Quinton’s first pick. Forrest Griffin gets the next pick and takes Tim Credeur. The coaches went back and forth on picks and the teams are as follows:
- C.B. Dollaway
- Matt Riddle
- Paul Bradley
- Daniel Cramer
- Gerald Harris
- Mike Dolce
- Jesse May
- Brandon Sene
- Tim Credeur
- Amir Sadollah
- Jesse Taylor
- Matt Brown
- Cale Yarbrough
- Dante Rivera
- Nick Klein
- Luke Zachrich
What happens next is what we’ll refer to as the “Paul Bradley Incident” from here on out. Soon after making their picks, Rampage meets with his team and tries to assess how injured they were after their preliminary fights. Immediately they cut to some of the guys on Rampage’s team saying that Paul Bradley had some kind of rash on his neck. Rampage immediately notices it as well. A lot of the guys are reluctant to be around Bradley, let alone train and roll with him.
The next day Dana brings in a respected Las Vegas dermatologist to check out Bradley’s neck. Turns out it’s some kind of canker sore, but it’s on his neck. It’s also brought on by stress and has a definite possibility of being contagious. Dana makes a comment that if it’s brought on by stress, how the hell is he going to be able to survive an environment like the Ultimate Fighter house? It’s a valid question. Dana says he’d be a “walking herpe” the entire time he’s in the house. Until they figure something out, Rampage tells Bradley that he can’t train with the rest of the team, that he’ll just have to hit pads with Juanito Ibarra and run.
Rampage: “You like runnin’?”
Rampage: “Good, ’cause even if you said no, that’s still too bad.”
Ultimately what they “figure out” is that Bradley can’t stay on the show. Dana breaks the news to him the next day, telling him that they have to send him home due to the contagious rash on his neck. Dana says he can’t personally do it and that he can’t legally do it. What a kick in the ass for Bradley. He tells Dana and Rampage that he gave up everything to be in the house, even his job, and that he has nothing to go back to.
As awful as that is, I think Dana made the right move here. He can’t put the other fighters in jeopardy and Bradley would certainly have been a social outcast in the house as the “guy with the neck herpes.” Like Dana says, he’s kicked guys off the show before for either being pussies or being idiots and fighting. He’s never had to kick a guy off for something that’s totally out of his control. That’s a rough one and has to be rough for a guy like Bradley who has an insane amount of potential but was held back from an opportunity in the UFC by something he has no personal control over.
The feel-good story here, however, is that Bradley was recently signed to a contract with EliteXC so he has earned an opportunity to fight on a big time show. It’s a downer knowing that this is how he got kicked off, but also knowing that he just recently got picked up by a big show makes it a little easier.
So three shows down and one guy has already been “kicked out,” if you will.
Up next is the fight selection. Team Forrest has the pick and chooses his guy, Jesse Taylor, to go up against IFL veteran and Team Rampage member Mike Dolce. Taylor is a complete meathead and Forrest even calls him a “raw meathead” at one point during clips of a training session. He’s pretty cocky and says that he’s better looking than both Nicolas Cage and “Big” John McCarthy, both of whom he’s been told he looks like. Whatever.
Dolce will definitely have a disadvantage in size when it comes to fight time, but he is one of the better fighters on Rampage’s team and has fought on a big stage before so he should be ready to roll come fight time.
After the fight selection, Dana sits down with Rampage and his coaches to see who they should bring back to replace Paul Bradley. They seem to struggle with the decision and Rampage selected to bring back Patrick Schultz. Schultz was eliminated by Luke Zachrich in an earlier show. Dana hates on Schultz, saying he doesn’t know if he was the best pick but that Rampage’s coaches saw something in him. I know what I see in his future. A haircut. Bleach blonde tips are just unacceptable.
The night before the fight, Rampage stops by to hang out with his team and make sure that Dolce’s head is in the right place before the fight. This was a great segment that should happen time and time again this season with both Forrest and Rampage. Both have proven to be funny in their own right, Rampage with silly humor and Forrest with sarcasm, so let them be on camera and interact with the fighters as much as possible. This segment with Rampage was great and it was something they hadn’t really done before so I hope to see more of it.
The next day is fight day. Two five-minute rounds at 185 lbs.
Jesse Taylor vs. Mike Dolce
Dolce comes out with a hard right hand and Taylor immediately shoots in on him. Dolce sprawls out but doesn’t finish the sprawl. Taylor circles and eventually gets Dolce down and gets back control, immediately working for a rear naked choke. Taylor’s technique looks pretty sloppy and Dolce is able to defend and eventually get back to his feet after escaping the rear naked choke attempt. Back on their feet, Taylor immediately scores another takedown and gets Dolce’s back again. Again he works for the rear naked and Dolce is able to defend and turn into Taylor, ending up in his guard. Taylor reverses the position after Dolce lands some leather and once again ends up on Dolce’s back, hooks in, Dolce flattened out, but could not finish him with the rear naked. He lands punches and eventually ends up in side control, then on Dolce’s back again, and finally ends the round landing elbows from Dolce’s guard.
Repeat round one. Seriously. It didn’t get any better for Dolce in round two. It was a carbon copy of round one except that Dolce wasn’t able to get any kind of reversal in his favor this time around. The whole round was dominated by Taylor with a takedown, more back control, and an eventual finish by what Forrest Griffin described as the “Severn Rear Naked Choke,” in reference to Dan Severn. That’s exactly what it was, too. Dolce doesn’t tap to the choke, he almost goes out but the ref stops it.
Jesse Taylor def. Mike Dolce via rear naked choke, round two
Team Forrest is up on Team Rampage 1-0 and Taylor vomits in a bucket immediately after the fight. Good times and even better television. He also earned himself $10,000 in bonuses from Burger King and a bonus from Dana for ending the fight.
Overall this was a solid episode and had a great mix of everything. They showed more training sequences, had more interaction with Forrest and Rampage, enough of the in-house stuff to get to know the fighters but not so much that it becomes all about the in-house drama, and it ended with a great fight. If they keep this up, TUF 7 may not be as much a disappointment as I thought it would be.