*Editor's note: Mitch the Intern is an NYU undergrad whose favorite Wednesday night pastime includes the TV in his dorm room, a green beanbag chair and two hits of acid. Enjoy.*
In the old days, you had to win fights to make it into the finals of the Ultimate Fighter. Now, with changing social values and the state of the economy and the rising cost of a gallon of gasoline, you have to lose at least once as well. Case in point: the Amish Kid and Ronnie Kray, who crashed and burned early on but somehow got another chance. Really, Dana White? Really, SpikeTV executives? Is this what you do when you have no Kimbo to work with? But first…
Dana White to Rich Franklin: "Welcome, Rich Franklin. Welcome. And thanks for stepping in for the injured Tito Ortiz with about an hour and a half left of the season. Hey, check out these awesome treadmills. They squirt Gatorade right into your mouth, and right here on the side is a built in bucket for vomit. Oh, and sign these contracts - don't worry, these are bout agreements to fight Chuck Liddell, not Anderson Silva. Har-har-har!"
Franklin: "I despise you."
And then, while all evidence of Ortiz's presence is eradicated by workers toting buckets of bleach and wearing HazMat suits, the team formerly known as "Those Crazy Ortiz Kids" meets their new coach. White also bades the assistant coaches to enter - a clearly homeless Forrest Griffin, Forrest's little brother Tyson, and someone named Gray ("Who?" Exactly.). As Ronnie Kray is the only member of the team with a fight left to contest, everyone is less concerned about training opportunities and more concerned with if these new coaches will interrupt their tanning sessions.
They don't. While Franklin, Griffin-Homeless, Griffin-Little and Gray dissect Ronnie Kray's fighting style into a series of mistakes ("You should not be bending your pinky when executing this maneuver." "Keep your head up but your chin down and your eyes pointing in two different directions." "Say, bro, can you spare a dollar?"), the rest of the degenerates are out by the pool, vigorously applying SPF 60 and drinking Muscle Milk ™ margueritas.
Meanwhile, Liddell and company are in the TUF Training Center, getting ready to work out. Where a giant Tito Ortiz poster once hung there's now a Rich Franklin poster. Liddell cants his head to the side like a dog named "Spot" who's being hailed as "Rover" by his master. He's there, immobilized in that same spot for about an hour. Assistant coach John Hackleberry Finn finally comes up to him and asks him what's wrong.
"Does Tito look… different to you?" Liddell asks.
Then they're training, putting the three members of Team Liddell who still have fights left through their paces. But it's awkward! You see, Hawaii Five-O and the Amish Kid have to fight each other and they are friends - Hawaii Five-O having shown the Amish Kid how to use such modern technological items as the Dust Buster ™ and the toaster, the Amish Kid having taught Hawaii Five-O how to drive a horse-drawn buggy. But impending bout notwithstanding, they train side by side, trudging onward towards that thing worth more than friendship: a Lucite that says "The Ultimate Fighter" and is worth about six dollars.
Oh no, it's prank time. What's in store for our hapless prank-ees? Jizz in their fruit salad? Urine on their pillows? A cloth soaked in ether and a rectal probe? Nope, things have been toned done quite a bit this season (thankfully), so all we get is air horns and Silly String ™ in the middle of the night. Plus, a shattered chess set. Plus, some thrown flour and rice and beans. Plus, everyone's left shoe is taken and hidden on a window sill. Wow, talk about lame.
And then it's time for the fight between Hawaii Five-O and the Amish Kid, with the winner going on to the finale and the loser going straight to an actual functioning dungeon below the Excalibur Hotel and Casino. Hey, here's a question for you: what sort of fight do you get between two guys who spent every day of the past six weeks training and sparring together? Why, you get Hawaii Five-O vs. the Amish Kid, which consists of the two standing about four feet apart and judiciously throwing strikes, both men fully cognizant of what the other is capable of. Back and forth, trading punches and kicks and takedown attempts and groin shots and then hugging and apologizing and asking if the other is alright and talking about their feelings - that's the story of this one. However, late in the third round the Amish Kid lands some hard leather, and when Hawaii Five-O stumbles, the Amish Kid gets him down, takes his back and chokes him out.
The Amish Kid is in the finals.
Now it's time for a little segment I like to call, "Join the United State Marine Corps because they are sponsoring the hell out of this show". With all the TUFers and the coaches gathered around the training center, White introduces a handful of Marines. Why? Why not! So everyone trains knife-disarms, then some bayonet tactics, then one Marine instructs on the finer points of calling in artillery fire (Liddell is given a radio and a map and told to plot a solution that would blow up a distant shed; instead, a barrage of 155 millimeter shells kills 16 tourists waiting for taxis outside the Hard Rock Hotel). The party is moved to the TUF House, where burgers are grilled and everyone talks about how much they dig the US Armed Forces. Even Joe Feminine gets in on the lovefest, offering backrubs and Tarot card readings.
The next day and there's drama, tons of it, crammed into about eight minutes to give this season, I don't know, some sort of sense of scandal or human dynamic or something. Anyway, everyone hates Cypress Hill. RC Cola hates him for being ethnically different, and challenges him to a fight outside (Cypress Hill quits before the fight even starts). Fruit-Striped Gum hates him for being tall, but doesn't challenge him to fight (Cypress Hill quits anyway). And Dumb as a Bag of Hammers hates him because, oh God, who knows. Cypress Hill just throws his hands in the air and says with exasperation, "I quit!" Yeah, so. Heh.
And then it's fight time, with Ronnie Kray and someone named Josh ("Who?" Exactly.) competing for the right to compete against the Amish Kid for that coveted Lucite. There's a few interesting things to note about this match-up: Josh already beat Ronnie Kray earlier in the show, and thanks to the wildcard fight (which the Brit gangster won), Ronnie Kray will have fought a grand total of 167 times during the course of this TUF season. So if Ronnie Kray gasses after the first 60 seconds, or looks like there's no spring in his step or pep to his punch, well, let's see how good you'd look after spending more time fighting than sleeping for a six-week period.
Kapow! Bang! Oof! The two TUFers go at it, with Ronnie Kray wrestling Josh to the ground repeatedly in the first round and Josh getting back to his feet repeatedly. But unlike in their first meeting, Josh is eating just as much leather as he dishing out, and Ronnie Kray is mixing in knees, noogies, wedgies, Indian burns and the occasional nipple-twist. It goes the distance, and when the final bell tolls, both men are breathing hard, bloody and swinging wildly.
The judges give the unanimous decision to Ronnie Kray. He's now facing the Amish Kid at the finale. Oh that Lucite… so close… so close!
The camera focuses on Franklin, who grins and pumps his fist. "Ha, my fighter won. I rule. Eat that, Anderson Silva!"