The Ultimate Fighter season 18 is underway and it has started off with a bang. The coaching rivalry is delivering and the fights have been fantastic. Yet it is Ronda Rousey who is by far the most compelling dynamic of the show.
When Dana White compared the Ronda Rousey vs. Miesha Tate coaching rivalry to Ken Shamrock vs. Tito Ortiz he wasn’t overselling it. It is almost identical to that great season. Shamrock was the fan favorite going into the season with Ortiz as the company’s biggest heel. However once the season played out the roles reversed with Tito becoming the unlikely sympathetic fighter. Two episodes in that is exactly how this is playing out and I don’t know if that’s a good thing for the UFC.
The UFC have invested a lot of time and money into Rousey. She has become the face of the company in less than a year. They have carefully crafted this image of Rousey as a humble, shy, genuine athlete available to be your kid’s role model. In just two episodes that image has become unraveled and as fascinating as it is to watch, I can’t help but think that this is something that could blow up in their faces.
Not only is Rousey crazy, but she is extremely arrogant and unlikeable compared to Tate. Tate comes off almost exactly like Tito did as one of the few coaches there for the fighters. Tate not only seems to genuinely care for her fighters, she appears to be there to help them win. She also seems to dismiss Rousey as…well crazy, the same that Tito did to Ken. It is almost as if these girls watched the show and made a silent agreement to replicate it.
Rousey started off the show with a bang when she walked out after Tate entered. Now the story on that has surfaced and if viewers knew the story, Rousey may not have looked as bad. However, unless they are going out of their way to find out on the Internet all they saw was a spoiled brat walking off the set. I could be wrong but I don’t remember any coach in TUF history walking off the set after a coaching change.
The second episode showed Rousey at her worst. Rousey had the chance to pick the first fight. The idea behind picking the first fight is that coaches can pick a fight to give their fighters a competitive advantage. Pick what you think will be the easiest fight for your fighter so your fighter stays fresh and moves on to the next round. That is the whole idea behind the advantage. Rousey never got the memo.
Rousey instead went into business all for herself. Instead of picking an easy fight for her fighter or looking for a competitive advantage, she wanted to mess with Tate. She picked her best fighter to go against Tate’s best fighter to “take the heart of the team out.” It sounds great for television drama but it is probably one of the most selfish moves a coach can make.
Rousey is there to coach and one would suspect that she would come up with a competitive game plan because after all, her fighter is fighting the number one draft pick. Nope. Instead Rousey proudly says she did not give Shana a game plan. On the other side, Tate and her team are working on techniques and a strategy with Juliana. Tate is talking about Juliana while Rousey is consumed with Tate. This ranked right up there with Rampage’s “Get up Abe” strategy which I should point out, was at least a strategy.
The fight itself was a fantastic fight and Rousey’s fighter lost. Who could have guessed that a fighter would have lost a fight against the top pick without a game plan? Rousey then gets emotional and is upset at Tate for smiling at the victory. Keep in mind Tate didn’t mock Shana in any way and what coach wouldn’t be happy to see her fighter beat the best fighter in the house? Rousey then starts crying and cuts a random promo on Tate. Tate had the best retort of the show when she told Rousey that Shana was her friend, completely debunking Rousey’s wild imagination that Shana was being mocked.
Needless to say I am hooked! It is impossible to look away from this train wreck. Unfortunately the carefully crafted image the UFC created for Rousey is being blown away to pieces every Wednesday night. That can’t be a good thing for anyone.
Well anyone except Miesha Tate who will now go into the fight with Rousey as one of the most popular fighters in the company. A win for Tate would make this gamble pay off for everyone. Unfortunately the chances of that happening aren’t very good.