Last night’s episode of The Ultimate Fighter saw coach Matt Hughes attempt to pull his team out of their losing skid by motivating the Hughes way: yelling at them and beating them up. Oddly, putting his team through grueling workouts as punishment and verbally berating them during practice sessions didn’t have the desired effect, as the team lost yet another fight and Hughes’ profound dismay continues.
Ever since his first stint as a TUF coach back in season two, I’ve always suspected that Matt Hughes doesn’t completely understand the way the show works. It is, in some sense, a competition between the coaches. But the coaches are really there to help the fighters. Hughes doesn’t seem to understand that. Even though he’s been on the show before and has seen that eventually even teammates are going to have to fight each other, thus rendering the notion of team void at that point, he still approaches it as though he has something to lose if his fighters don’t win.
Of course, he’s a competitive guy and wants his fighters to beat Matt Serra’s fighters. But as Mac Danzig pointed out in last night’s episode, most of the guys on the show have only had a few professional fights. They’re still learning, and it probably isn’t helping to have Hughes tell them what jerks they are for losing fights.
Last night’s episode featured an intriguing matchup between Australian George Sotiropoulos from Team Serra and Jared “J-Roc” Rollins from Team Hughes. Hughes made sure to let Rollins know he needed to win, then proceeded to yell at him and the rest of the team all throughout the training sessions as if they had stolen aluminum siding off Hughes’ own house. As Rollins points out, he hasn’t even fought yet and he’s being punished for the mistakes of others. Danzig has the team’s lone win, and even he is suffering the wrath of Hughes. It just seems counterproductive.
The manufactured drama of the week revolved around Team Serra fighters getting upset at Sotiropoulos for not waking them up in the morning and letting them oversleep before training sessions. Apparently there aren’t any alarm clocks around, so it almost sounds like a justified gripe until someone mentions that it’s well after ten o’clock in the morning that this is happening. As Sotiropoulos points out, if you can’t get yourself up by ten a.m., that’s your problem.
It seems as if some of the team members are a little jealous of Sotiropoulos’ skills and resentful of his attitude. They complain that he’s there only for himself, only to win, and isn’t much of a teammate. Maybe someone should remind these guys that the teams aren’t real, they were more or less arbitrarily decided a few weeks ago. They are all there for themselves, or at least they should be.
The fight turns out to be an interesting one. Sotiropoulos and Rollins stand toe-to-toe for the most part and throw punches at one another with ill intent. As the first round wears on, Sotiropoulos starts connecting more and backing Rollins down. It seems like only a matter of time before someone gets knocked out, and sure enough it’s Rollins who ducks his head into a Sotiropoulos uppercut and catches it right on the chin. Lights out for J-Roc.
Serra is once again elated and Hughes is again devastated. No one takes the loss harder than J-Roc, though, who throws a mini-tantrum in the locker room and then goes outside at a vain attempt in getting some time alone. Too bad the cameras are never far away, even during painful personal moments.