As the seventh episode of "The Ultimate Fighter 10" gets underway, we're reminded that only four fighters are left for opening-round matchups: Team Rashad's Mike Wessel and Matt Mitrione and Team Rampage's Marcus Jones and Scott Junk.
But the final matchups are quickly overshadowed by coaches Quinton Jackson and Rashad Evans, who trash-talk about the other's most recent losses. While showing Rampage re-enacting Evans' brutal knockout loss to Lyoto Machida, the downtrodden coach admits during a confessional that he can't stand being down six fights to none to Rashad's "cocky ass."
We immediately jump into the next fight announcement, and after further trash-talking, Rashad announces Matt, the former NFL player, will take on Scott, a one-time UFC fighter. That leaves a final opening-round bout between the towering Marcus, the most accomplished of this season's NFL vets, and the short and compact Mike.
Surprise, surprise, though. The trash-talking immediately intensifies, and when Rashad says his rival coach would be better off quitting, Rampage says the only ones quitting are his fighters. A quick camera pan to Kevin "Kimbo Slice" Ferguson doesn't exactly show a happy Team Rampage fighter.
The debate heats up, and when Rashad points out that Rampage is only talking and not winning, things escalate. Rampage says he's not a coach – Rashad agrees and points out to the rival team that his coach has trashed them repeatedly – and the coaches nearly come to blows before the assistant coaches and fighters separate them.
It's clips like this one that would have provided a ton of anticipation for the proposed UFC 107 headliner between Rashad and Rampage. But with Rampage now on the outs with UFC management and shooting "The A-Team," a huge subplot of this season is an unfortunate waste.
Scott Junk (Team Rampage) vs. Matt Mitrione (Team Rashad)
After both Scott (6-2-1) and Matt (2-0) enter the cage, Dana White does the introductions, referee Josh Rosenthal readies the fighters, and the fight is underway.
There's little action early as the two fighters test their range, but Matt quickly checks a body kick, connects on a right and knocks his opponent to the mat. Scott immediately sits up and eats a body kick as he tries to get up. On a second attempt, though, he does get back to his feet, and Scott connects on an overhand right. Matt returns fire, though, and Scott shows signs that his right eye may have taken a blow. Matt rushes in and drops Scott again with a right hand. Matt backs off and allows his opponent to stand. Scott tries to fight through this opponent's long reach, but Matt catches a kick and sends Scott to the mat for the third time in the first 75 seconds of the fight.
Scott gets back up and appears OK, but after a weak takedown attempt, Matt blasts him with more punches and knees to the body. Scott gets back up but fails with two more week takedown attempts. Matt unloads additional blows but begins to slow. Scott is clearly dazed and has no answer as Matt tees off with additional (though weakening blows). Scott finally connects on a combination and then pushes Matt into the cage and buys himself some time to recover during the clinch. On the break, Matt wildly throws lazy kicks and punches, eats a wild overhand right from Scott, and then stands in the pocket and trades drunk punches with Scott. It's a bad strategy as Scott unloads enough punches to avoid a 10-8 round and instead loses the round just 10-9 on the MMAjunkie.com scorecard.
Dana is excited by the fight between rounds, but it's obvious going into round two that both competitors are gassed.
As the second round begins, Matt throws a dozen or so weak punches as Scott covers up. Scott is gasping for breath with his chin unprotected, but Scott can offer nothing. Matt continues scoring points with his punches, which come with frequency despite a lack of power. Scott, though, closes the distance and scores a takedown on his quickly fading opponent. Scott works from in his opponent's guard and delivers a steady but far from overwhelming stream of punches. Both guys can be heard panting heavily midway through the round. Matt begins delivering and landing punches from below before the pace slows, and the fight is restarted.
With two minutes to go, Matt works his jab, and Scott counters with an overhand right. Matt is gassed, but he keeps scoring with punches. Scott barely has enough energy to cover up. The final minute of the round is more of the same as two the competitors fight off fatigue more so than each other. Matt lands a few more punches during the slow-paced exchange and takes the round, 10-9, on the MMAjunkie.com scorecard.
Dana says the two fighters stood toe to toe and "traded bombs." After the first few minutes, though, they looked more like firecrackers.
The decision is read, and Matt takes the fight via majority decision (19-19, 20-18, 20-18), which proves yet again, you never knew what you'll get when the fight goes to the judges.
Rampage is pissed that he's now fallen 7-0 to Team Rampage, walks off and then takes out his frustration on a door that is simply demolished with kicks and punches.
And thus concludes the seventh episode of "TUF 10" – and quite possibly Rampage's mental stability.
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