The Ultimate Fighter 29, Episode 12: A Review

A wholesome journey comes to a wholesome end

I’ve been waiting for the right time to bring this up, but The Ultimate Fighter 29  is officially ending and the right time never came, so I’m just going to come out and say it at the wrong time: I hate Tresean Gore’s “woo" in the show's intro montage.

I'm sorry, but I just do. And while I will take responsibility for being exactly the kind of person who would irrationally hate on a two-second “woo" that hurts no one and has zero impact in my life or in the lives of any of all the other people who exist in the world, I am also going to share some of the blame here. It is an objectively bad “woo." It’s stiff and low-energy. It lacks purpose and drive. The other day my partner said, unprompted, that every time I watch the show and the intro comes on he thinks the “woo" is a sound coming from the street or something. That’s how unrecognizable it is as an intentional, made-for-TV “woo.”

I have so many questions about how this particular “woo" ended up there. Were there other “woos" and this was somehow the winning “woo?” Because that sounds strange to me. I’m sure in a team of 16 competitors, given multiple attempts at their best "woos," a more suitable “woo" would have arisen. I’m sure Gore himself had some more spirited "woos" in him. This criticism is in no way directed to Gore, who I know in my heart is capable of the most inspired, powerful "woos." Yet, this is the “woo” that made the cut.

I lie awake at night thinking about the “woos" that never were and the “woos" that could have been. I need answers. If there any “TUF" producers, directors or editors reading this, please reach out.

Give me something. Anything.


In any case, this has nothing to do with this week's actual episode, which starts with yet another wholesome segment of “Sous-Viding With The Volk” (unofficial title). There was actually no Sous-Viding (Videing? Vide-ing? Sous-Vide-Cooking?) involved, it’s worth noting, but I needed the alliteration and couldn’t think of any other cooking terms that involved the letter V. I’m sure there are several, though. I just don’t know how to cook. Or clean. Or sustain any sort of moderate functionality in society, but that’s beside the point.

The point is that coach Alex Volkanovski cooks for his team again, and it’s nice. They’re all happy to get out of the “TUF" house, even though this house kind of looks exactly like the “TUF" house? I wouldn’t know, I grew up broke and urban, all houses with several rooms and pools look the same to me. It’s still nice, though. They eat and hang by the pool and bond, just like they have been doing the entire season, but they get to do it at a different pool and that seems to really lift their spirits.

TUF 29 E12 Hanging by pool

We’re then off to the next team’s bonding session, which involved a visit not just from coach Brian Ortega but also Ortega’s dad, brother and two sons. Ortega mentions he’s usually very private about his personal life and that most people probably don’t even know he had kids, which I guess is true because I certainly didn’t know. Or maybe I was in denial because Ortega is 30 and I don’t like to think of anyone younger than me as an adult who is capable of creating and caring for another human life.

Having the boys around and getting to have some family time seems to cheer up the clearly homesick and probably extremely bored group. Except for Gore, who is having a tough time being away from his wife and kid. Maybe that’s why his “woo" is so lackluster. It’s a “woo" of woe.

We cut to a Gilbert Urbina training montage and I zone out because honestly all of the season’s training montages look and sound exactly the same. Urbina’s mullet remains beautiful and aerodynamic, though, and it is mesmerizing to see it react to several forms of impact. From then it’s on to another pool scene, this time the usual pool, where Gore and some of the guys are having a jam session. Gore improvises to the theme of love and talks about his love for singing and how he serenaded his wife. He then says "I like to sing, I like to fish, I love to motivate people and give people hope for the future” and I realize this season really can’t get any more wholesome. Except for when they did Miles Hunsinger dirty. That wasn't cool or wholesome. They should reassess.

We then address what I believe is both the most interesting and most fucked-up aspect of the "TUF" dynamics: The fact that these people who get to not only physically hurt each other but also possibly take their dream job also have to hang out at the same house all the time. They’re clearly better people than me, so it doesn’t seem to affect them too much, but still — it’s gotta be pretty fucking weird. In this particular scene, Urbina is grilling something for Gore as they discuss the fact that their upcoming fight doesn’t change the respect they have for each other. They’re friendly and playful but also firm and confident and the whole scene has a very specific kind of polite tension.

Like, when two buff guys shake hands and they don’t have any animosity but you know they’re both using a little more force than necessary just so the other guy *knows*. It’s still sweet, though. Also, they share the bond of being very into God and stuff.

TUF 29 E12 friendly foes

As their fellow semifinalists did, both Gore and Urbina get a chance to vide-call their loved ones before their fight. Gore gets to speak to his wife and his baby and talks about the anxiety surrounding his approaching fight. Urbina talks to his family and gets emotional. I mentally hug all of them and try to concoct a plan for a season where the surprise twist is that no one gets hurt and everybody wins a lot of money. My season will also feature good-looking jerseys and 0 (zero) snakes, and all of the training montages will be shot in scenic locations. Instead of training for actual fights they will train for a talent show.

All talents will be accepted, because just being alive is a talent. Except the talents with snakes.

They do that little montage thing where the two contestants talk about how ready they are and how the other guy is cool and all but can’t handle how ready they are. The fight starts. Urbina is game, but it doesn’t take long for Gore’s punches to find and sting him hard a couple of times. Urbina makes it through the first round, but a left hook drops him for good in the second. The ref steps in and calls it. With the win, Gore becomes Team Ortega’s first representative in the TUF 29 finale.

Urbina is gracious in defeat, admitting he doesn’t really know what dropped him and that he simply got caught. He gives Gore congratulations and says he wishes him luck in the finale, thus confirming my previous theory that Urbina really is the kind of guy who would listen you describe that one weird dream you had and legit act interested. An angel among us, if you ask me.

With all the semifinals done, we get to the finalist face-offs. Gore has some more of that weird kind of amicable tension with fellow middleweight Bryan Battle. For the bantamweights, Brave Commander And Future Leader of All Humankind And Maybe Also Some Other Species That Aren’t Humans Because That's How Amazing He Is Ricky Turcios faces off against Brady Hiestand. Lastly, coaches Ortega and Volkanovski have their turn in a tense but respectful face-off that continues to confuse me as to what their whole frenemy deal really is.

PS: We have late breaking news that Tresean Gore is injured, via TMZ sports and UFC president Dana White. This means that that Urbina is fighting Battle in the finale.