If you’ve been following all of our The Ultimate Fighter 29 reviews up to this point, you have probably already come to the realization that I am essentially a parasitic underground organism who needs animosity and bedlam to thrive within the darkness of its own mind.
As such, while I consciously appreciate the sportsmanship and camaraderie constantly displayed throughout what may very well be the broiest (?) TUF season yet, I feel deep down that something is missing. I crave the messiness and the chaos. I long for the unnecessary escalations and the petty insults. I yearn, on a subconscious-yet-indelible level, for the wall-breaking and the name-calling. And while I didn’t truly get any of that in what turned out to be yet another predominantly wholesome episode, I did get a hint. A whiff. A beautiful, if painfully brief, reminder of times past.
Read on as I unfurl this marvelous tale.
The episode starts with a team challenge that we know will involve doing something with a car. Will they have to race it? Will they have to lift it? Will they all be crammed inside it for hours on end without peeing or sleeping until there’s only one left like in the physical challenges on Big Brother Brasil? Of course not. That would all just be way too much fun.
They just have to change the tires, though this does seem like a tougher task with this big fancy car than it is with normal boring cars. Brian Ortega explains why, but he says a lot of car things I don’t understand and I zone out. Forrest Griffin is presenting the challenge. I like Forrest Griffin. I hope he’s thriving. In any case, Team Ortega struggles while Team Volkanovski just flows through the whole thing.
As a prize, the team has a sushi chef waiting for them at the TUF home. They proceed to spend an unreasonable amount of time making comments about how good the fish is, which leads me to think that either today’s fight is going to be short and they need to fill up time or they’re being sponsored by the ocean. Volkanovski freaks everyone out when he eats a fish’s eyeball, though, so that’s cool. Later, coach Brian Ortega decides to pop by the house as well, in his case to lift the team’s spirits after their recent defeats. Tresean Gore says the coach “gave hope to the people who felt hopeless” and I feel like that might be just slightly dramatic considering he just played poker, but what do I know. Still cool of him to show up for his team.
We’re back to Volkanovski, who is now discussing today’s fighter, Bryan Battle. Battle was the the coach’s last middleweight pick, but the says he would take that back if he could. Battle is also the one nicknamed “Pooh Bear” despite the fact that his last name is literally Battle.
They show their usual training montage and far be it from me to complain about what I consider to be the pinnacle of any audiovisual endeavor, but I will say that these can get a little repetitive considering they all happen in the same gym, against the same background, with the same kind of equipment and the same color scheme. I understand there are budget limitations and this was shot mid-pandemic, but I still think that they could get a little more creative with it. Maybe have them do some training in the desert, or do single-handed push-ups against scenic backgrounds, or perhaps have them swim upstream in a wave pool while holding a rotisserie chicken they can’t drop. Just spitballing here.
We’re then off to Battle’s opponent, Andre Petroski, who is playing chess with housemate Josh Rettinghouse. Rettinghouse seems to be getting his ass thoroughly kicked and says Petroski is smart, which must really mean something considering Rettinghouse is a professional smart person who does smart numbers things all day. We then cut to another generic training montage, but this time they add a little bit of a suspense music because, in contrast with Chill Coach™ Volkanovski saying Chill Coach™ things, Very Serious Coach™ Ortega is saying Very Serious Coach™ Things.
We’re back to the house, where Battle is once again saying sweet things about his pregnant wife and how she’s out of his league. I don’t know anything about their particular situation and Battle seems like a legitimately cool dude but I tend to agree with his opinion based solely on my personal belief that every woman is out of every man’s league. No offense.
The house votes on whether Battle is having a boy or a girl and while I understand this is not a scientifically accurate method I am also kind of convinced by Gilbert Urbina’s conviction that it’s a girl. Our one supreme leader Ricky Turcios didn’t pick, otherwise I’d just trust that one to be true.
As we found out in the previous episode, competitors who make it to the semifinals are allowed to video-call home before their fights. We start with Petroski, who gets to talk to his girlfriend and their infant daughter. The daughter does sweet little daughter things like wave to the camera and smile and get frustrated when she realizes her dad is not there in real life. My brain is lacking some critical components and therefore doesn’t really process child-specific cuteness, but even I can understand this is an objectively adorable little specimen. Battle gets a peek at his wife’s baby bump and she tells him she’s had some exams and everything points toward it being a boy, which is heartwarming moment but also proof that Urbina does not have superpowers. I’m conflicted.
The fighters warm up to the kind of generic inspiration rap that Jessica Alba’s Honey would dance to and head into a fight that is totally normal until it isn’t.
Early in Round 1, after absorbing some damage from Battle against the fence, a bloodied-up Petroski complains about getting headbutted. The action is halted and the ref asks to bring out the replay, which shows, rather than a headbutt, a knee to the face. I’m not personally acquainted with Battle, but I’m going to go ahead and assume that calling Petroski “a fucking bitch” might have been his way to express dissatisfaction with the situation.
While I am normally against the usage of “bitch” as an insult, I have thoroughly reviewed the case and approved it in light of extenuating factors (the fact that Petroski’s claim looked like some bullshit and also the fact that I am a bad person). In any case, they resume the action, which leads to Petroski controlling Battle’s back for the final part of the round. Momentum switches in the second, though, as a clearly tired Petroski seems to walk right into Battle’s strikes. Petroski is able to land a takedown, but struggles to keep Battle down and ends up sealing his own fate with an attempt at a single-leg that leaves his neck exposed. Battle swiftly sinks in a guillotine choke and gets the tap.
Petroski is classy about it, though, exchanging vows of respect with Battle and acknowledging the fact that he needs to be able to keep the pressure throughout the whole fight. Volkanovski brags about his prediction that Battle would be in the finals, while everyone is kind of shocked that Petroski didn’t make it all the way. Team Volkanovski now has two fighters in the finals, while Ortega hasn’t had a win since opening his early 4-0 lead. A bantamweight bout between Brady Hiestand vs. Vince Murdock is next.
Keanu Reeves is still unproblematic. Humankind is still firmly on its path toward environmental catastrophe and self-destruction.
- At least they got out of the house?
- Volkanovski's adventurous eating habits
- Volkanovski's confidence in his fighter
- Bryan Battle's general Bryan Battle-ness
- Andre Petroski shredding that chess board (sorry if I'm disrespecting chess?)
- All the sweet family moments
- Forrest Griffin cameo
- Brian Ortega's morale boosting
- MID-FIGHT DRAMA YESSSSS
- Gasp! Season shocker!
- Petroski being a good sport about the whole thing
- Bryan Battle being Bryan Battle about the whole thing
- A simulated pit stop to support a tire sponsor? Groundbreaking
- Why did we talk about sushi for like five straight minutes
- Bryan Battle still needs a better nickname
- They all still need better jerseys