We begin this week’s episode of “The Ultimate Fighter” by getting to watch Jackson’s chops as he and opposing coach Rashad Evans trade imitations of each other at the training facility.
Rashad launches the first salvo by acting out Rampage’s physical reactions after his first loss to Wanderlei Silva. Jackson strikes back by collapsing to the ground and re-creating Evans’ bent-back leg during his knockout loss to Machida.
Neither man waits to hear the applause end before switching to a more serious tone. The usual bickering ensues and ends with each side ensuring the other that they’ll be the “whiny bitch” when their fight is over.
Team Rashad has destroyed Team Rampage so far, and is sitting pretty at 6-0. Evans is also in control of the final two matchups. He decides to go with Matt “Meathead” Mitrione against Scott Junk and for the last fight, Mike Wessel versus Marcus “Big Baby” Jones.
Two seconds after the choices are announced, the coaches are in each other’s faces again. Evans calls Jackson to the curb for “quitting on his team” and points it out to all the fighters around him, some of which are pinning themselves between the two coaches to prevent an outbreak.
“You talk and I win,” repeats Evans over and over.
It’s starting to get personal and when Evans tells Jackson he’ll put his foot up his a--, it gets really heated.
“It’s not a front,” Marcus Jones tells the camera. “You can feel the tension.”
Jackson and Evans are truly snapping their own leashes at this point because they can’t wait to hit each other.
Meanwhile, Matt Mitrione has already been labeled a “snitch” for squealing about his team’s fight choices and now he’s passing notes. Mitrione gives a note to Scott Junk telling him that the reason those two were fighting was because Mitrione’s teammate, Mike Wessel, was too scared to fight Junk himself.
Whatever purpose the note was meant to serve, all it does is p--- off Wessel and Junk.
“I hope his whole family is watching,” says Wessel before launching into some unsavory descriptions of the man they call Meathead.
Mitrione is “projecting,” according to coach Evans, who speculates Mitrione is pushing his fears onto others. Mitrione claims that he “knows what he’s doing in his own head.”
“I have so many voices and demons in my head and I have no way to silence them,” says Mitrione, claiming that he can only focus when a goal or purpose is put in front of him.
While Mitrione can’t seem to get out of his own way, Junk has enough focus for the both of them.
“When I first met him he seemed like a cool guy,” says Junk. However, he notes that over time he’s found Mitrione to be a “scumbag.”
The consensus in the house is that Junk is going to give Mitrione some major issues.
“Technique is out the window for me when I scrap,” says Junk. “I’m going to take my hand and cock it back as hard as I can and throw that f---ing thing right through your face.”
Back at the house, there is a dispute over John Madsen’s orange juice. Mitrione gulps some of it down and after leaving the room, Madsen wants to slap his face for it. Mitrione catches wind of this and when the two are paired up for a light sparring session, Mitrione unleashes on Madsen, screaming at him once Madsen backs off the mat. Mitrione is escorted out of the gym and gets an earful from coach Evans in one the waiting rooms.
“He flexed on me,” Evans says in amazement, as Mitrione struggles to get through his verbal lashing. “Boy, do what you want to do. I will beat your a--.”
Mitrione isolates himself from the rest of the cast with a game of hoops on the court back at the house. Wes Sims takes it upon himself to provide some comic relief, donning a back gi as a ninja and stealthily creeps up on Mitrione from the bushes as the others look on laughing. Sims continues to try and push Mitrione’s buttons during a game of pool afterward, but the angry former NFLer brushes Sims off.
On fight day, Mitrione quotes Will Ferrell from “Old School.”
“Big day -- might go to home depot…,” he says, trying to show that he isn’t too nervous about facing the much more experienced Junk.
Junk isn’t as jovial.
“When I look at Matt, the first thing in my brain is f--- him,” says Junk.
Mitrione has another puzzling moment when he tells coach Evans that he’s spoken to his wife in his head, but assures Evans that he’s ready to go.
“His cheese has fallen off his cracker,” Evans tells the camera later.
Mitrione is persona non grata at this point in the house. Both teams have dubbed him “the Rat” and are taking bets as to when the Rat will snap. They even create a chart and post it for all to see.
In the fight, Mitrione surprises all as he proceeds to drop Junk three times in the first few minutes, while dodging most of Junk’s early punches with ease. Mitrione lets Junk stand up numerous times, preferring to keep it on its feet so he can unload his hands. It looks like the fight might get called once or twice as Mitrione grinds on Junk, who is prone on all fours. But Junk begins to come back in the last minute as both men slow with exhaustion.
“Holy s---,” are the not too uncommon words from Dana White’s mouth at the first round bell.
By the second round, both men are so spent that the pace of the bout has all but ceased to exist. They continue to trade punches though, and Junk takes Mitrione down before they finish on their feet again. Though the bout is far from a glowing example of technique, neither quits in the end.
In ten minutes, Mitrione has redeemed himself somewhat for the previous six weeks. For a newcomer, he could teach more than a few veterans about the value of the jab. Two of the three judges concur, awarding Mitrione both rounds with 20-18 scores. The final judge deems it a 19-19 draw.
Junk was one of Rampage’s top dogs, but he didn’t deliver. Jackson storms out of the gym, but not before he decimates its door in a tantrum of punches and kicks. The door never stood a chance.