Heart. From the Latin word heartus, which means "mushy, red thing that makes sounds in your chest". Except for robots and cartoon characters, everyone possesses one. But not everyone has that thing known as heart, which is an ethereal thing and not at all mushy and indicative of large cojones and the desire to succeed. In this episode, we do not see any gory scenes of surgery on someone's aorta or left ventricle, nor do we see anything pertaining to that 1970s rock band fronted by those two chicks. We do, however, see some heart. Or, more accurately, lack thereof. But first!
Coach Chuck Liddell is still angry. But about 60 seconds have transpired since Dana White first told him that Tito Ortiz is out of their proposed fight, and the Mohawked One goes from kicking a couch and cursing at the house plant to puttering around confused and lost. His rage fizzles out. "Dana, I forgot why I was mad," he says sheepishly.
"Tito backed out of your fight," says White.
"Frickin' Tito!" screams Liddell, and he overturns a footrest. "I knew it! I knew…" He pauses, stares blankly at the giant posters on the wall of the TUF Training Center office, posters of Ken Shamrock, Brock Lesnar, BJ Penn, Lorenzo Fertitta, Keith Kizer and the creepy chick who makes sure all the fighters are wearing the right size athletic supporter. "Uh, Dana? Tito who?"
White shakes his head. "Tito Ortiz."
"Goddamn Tito Ortiz!" wails Liddell, and he punches at a nearby inflatable Jens Pulver blow-up doll, striking it squarely on the face. It sails into a wall, bounces off, and returns to bop him in the head. The ex-light-heavyweight champ falls to the floor, unconscious.
Cut to the pre-fight hype of the impending Cypress Hill/someone named Josh who could really be any one of the other million nameless guys on TUF in the show's eleventy-billion seasons. Cypress Hill's in his bed, muttering about game plans ("Sawed-off shotgun, hand on the pump, left hand on the forty - puffin' onna blunt"). Meanwhile, Josh retreats to a dark corner of the basement. Occasionally an ant or other small bug skitters across the floor, only to be met by his outstretched hand, and then his mouth as he eats them.
And then they're fighting! Pow! Bang! Zoom! Cypress Hill is big and colorful and looks like a poster boy for affirmative action or diversity in the workplace, and he fires off jumping-spinning-crescent kicks and flying back-kicks and does his best imitation of 1974 Blacksploitation star "Black Belt Jones". Josh just punches him in the face. And wrestles him. And punches him in the face. This goes on for two rounds, the battle waged a true essence of "back and forth", and by the end of the second frame Cypress Hill is under his foe and eating forearms. The bell rings. The judges declare that there will be another round.
Ha! Phooey on them.
You see, there's heart and there's heart, and though Cypress Hill has the first, he clearly does not have the latter. Huffing and puffing on his stool, he's a broken man, unable to cope with the violence. An MMA fight is a harsh mistress, demanding of blood and pain in exchange for but a moment of glory, and not all are keen to pay. Referee Moustache Mazzagatti asks Cypress Hill if he's ready to continue. Cypress Hill shakes his head. "I ain't going out like that, I ain't going out like that." And the man who looked impressive with his big hair and dangerous striking quits on his stool.
Ortiz, who's Cypress Hill's coach, storms off in a cloud of anger, and when the young fighter is fitted with a neck brace and stuffed into a waiting ambulance, the Huntington Beach Bad Boy pelts the vehicle from afar with old cabbages.
But it's time for Ortiz, the show's other ex-light-heavyweight champ, to face the music. You see, his neck needs new vertebrae (or something), and because Ortiz has declared that he cannot fight, a giant monkey wrench has been thrown into the whole TUF-coaches-must-fight-each-other thing. With a serious look on his face, White beckons for Ortiz to join him in his office.
"Tito, you need to have your neck amputated so I've arranged for you to meet with the best doctor in the country for that," says White. "He's in Los Angeles. And your appointment is in 15 minutes. Don't let the door of the TUF Center hit you in the ass when you leave this very instant."
Ortiz is shocked, dumbfounded, stunned. He opens his mouth to speak, but White cuts him off.
"What are you still doing here? Disappear, fool!"
So Ortiz skedaddles, collecting as much office supplies and food from the refrigerator that he can carry. A moment later and he's roaring off in his black SUV.
His unwitting Team Ortiz wards watch the exit from the confines of their little yellow short bus.
Dumb as a Bag of Hammers scratches his head. "Fellas, I - I think something's up."
And then White breaks it to them: he's fired their coach. Just like the classic Bill Murray film "Stripes", they're going to have to finish their training themselves.
Back at the TUF House and Ortiz's team has a sad. They can't believe Ortiz is gone, and they especially can't believe that he left without saying goodbye.
"God, what a douche," says Bag of Hammers, and he kicks his teddy bear and plops down on the couch, arms folded defiantly.
But who enters the house just then? Why, it's Ortiz, who's come to give his boys some parting words and hugs and handshakes. Bag of Hammers jumps to his feet with tears in his eyes. "Dad! I knew you'd come back! I knew it! I knew it!"
Meanwhile, assistant coaches Saul Soliz and Razor Rob begin removing appliances, carting out the dishwasher, then the washing machine, then the dryer.
It's a fitting goodbye. You see, in his long and illustrious career in the Octagon, Ortiz has proven time and time again that he has heart, so him declaring that his broken spine is too risky to fight with is just a warrior being smart. Also, it's like the only infusion of "interesting" that this season has gotten, so of course it's all good in the 'hood.
It's the next day, and the TUFers are back at the gym, gathered around White for the last fighter-match-up announcement. The Amish Kid will be facing Hawaii Five-O and Ronnie Kray will fight Josh.
Then White introduces coach Ortiz's replacement: Rich Franklin.
The guys are non-plussed. Liddell, however, is left scratching his head. He tugs on White's sleeve and gestures for the UFC president to join him off to the side.
"Dana?" whispers Liddell.
"Um, who is that?"
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!"
I haven't read that much in a long time. Pretty funny stuff.
Of course, if I hadn't seen the episodes to know what he was talking about, it would have just been gibberish.