Since I’ve started writing The Ultimate Fighter 29 reviews, I’ve had many people ask me if this season is worth watching.
As a pathological people pleaser who can’t make categorical statements, I usually skate around the question; “depends on your relationship to the show," "depends on your expectations,” "depends on the amount of voluntary violence your brain can endure before it loses its ability to complete normal synaptic connections and starts conditioning its dopamine production to the sights and sounds of human agony." You know, the usual.
From now on, however, I will have an easier answer: Watch episode six. If you don’t like it, then I would advise you to find another show. And, also, maybe a soul and a sense of adventure. Because episode six fucking ruled.
I honestly should just leave this image here and not say another word about it, because if the sight of a donkey wearing a jersey isn’t enough to make you happy then I don’t know what to tell you. But in case you’re one of those boring people who require “context" and “logical explanations to things,” the jersey-wearing donkey was part of a TUF staple: The coach-on-coach prank. After five long episodes of being civilized, Brian Ortega finally decided to do the right thing and allocate what I suspect was an unreasonable amount of resources into removing all the tires from Team Volkanovski’s cars and leaving horses and a donkey in their place. The whole thing was childish, silly and accomplished nothing. I loved it. And so did a good-natured Volkanovski, who promised revenge (yay!).
I would normally argue against unsuspecting animals getting caught in the tangle of our lives, but I will allow it this one time on account of horses being assholes and the donkey looking like he was having fun. I’d imagine donkeys lead monotonous existences. He probably enjoyed the break. He got a free jersey out of it, too. I wonder what he is up to now. I hope he’s thriving.
We’re then off to the fighter introductions, starting with Team Volkanovki’s Ricky Turcios.
A 27-year-old “Dana White’s Contender Series" alum, Turcios is literally impossible not to like. He can’t stop talking about how much he loves his girlfriend. He has a cute dog. He loves his mom. He’s proud of his Filipino heritage. He teaches kids and doesn’t seem to secretly hate them. He is not afraid of rocking bold prints. He’s got funky rhyming nicknames. He has philosophical views. He speaks Spanish. He’s outgoing yet contemplative. He has an unorthodox fighting MO that coach Volkanovski can only describe — after a contemplative pause — as a “Ricky style.” He takes losses in stride. He celebrates wins with Hadoukens.
Truly, the most boopable of good boys.
The highlight, however, is certainly when *a very serious* Argueta stares straight into the camera and says that fighting is terrifying and he hates it, thus establishing himself as the first professional fighter I can relate to on an existential level. Argueta adds that he’s good at it, though, and that the terrifying part ends once the fight gets going. He keeps talking about how extremely focused he is, which I believe, because I can say from experience that it does take a superhuman focus to consistently do something that you hate and terrifies you (which in my case is just existing in general as a person).
Honestly the episode could have ended there and it would still have been worth it, but they’re not done spoiling us.
Not satisfied with capturing our conscious brains, Turcios and Argueta decide to appeal to our most primal, depraved, frankly shameful instincts by putting on the fight of the season. After two rounds of the kind of nonstop action that makes us question whether we really are all made of the same basic human materials, they are tied and need to go to a third round. Turcios is the clear winner of that one, bringing Team Volkanovski’s score to 2 wins against Team Ortega’s 4.
Next episode’s fight is a middleweight bout between Team Volkanovski's Brady Hiestand and Team Ortega’s Josh Rettinghouse, which is awkward for them because they’re friends but interesting for us because we’re assholes.