Tonight’s episode of “The Ultimate Fighter 18” will feature the start of the semifinal round, with Team Rousey’s Mike Wootten taking on Team Tate’s Chris Holdsworth.
Four men and four women now remain in the tournament, and one of them has found the liquor cabinet. Ronda Rousey brings her eliminated fighters some fast food as a treat, and Anthony Gutierrez pours them shots of booze. Rousey delivers a toast, and everyone throws back what appears to be a mouthful of vodka.
Outside, Team Tate’s Sarah Moras is slightly irritated by the display, as is teammate Raquel Pennington. Wootten is in better spirits, even as he eats a bowl of yogurt instead of chowing down on a burger and fries. Gutierrez does not skip the party, however, and promises Rousey he will make weight when the time comes.
Later, Tate spends time working with Julianna Pena on takedowns against the cage. Pennington says that while she appreciates the quality of coaching she has received on the show, she also feels that Miesha Tate and her staff have favored Pena and Holdsworth. Moras agrees, as does Louis Fisette, who calls Holdsworth “the golden boy.”
Next, the cast heads to Harley-Davidson “boot camp,” so that the fighters and coaches can examine the vehicles they stand to win. Out of nowhere, UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez rolls up on his bike and gives the fighters encouragement and advice.
Back in the gym, “TUF 5” winner Nate Diaz drops by Team Rousey’s training session to drill some jiu-jitsu with the crew. He demonstrates an armbar sweep against fellow “TUF 5” finalist Manny Gamburyan, and the team is enthralled to learn from the submission ace.
A rift has developed between Holdsworth and the rest of the house, but the bantamweight does not mind becoming anti-social. Holdsworth has stayed in shape and feels primed to face Wootten, though he believes his teammates have not been there for him in training. Tate calls him the most disciplined competitor on the show and says he is the favorite to take the men’s draw.
Later, Tate and Caraway invade the house and blast their team with silly string before introducing Kenny Salvini, a former Central Washington University wrestler who broke his neck and back in a 2004 skiing accident. Now a motivational speaker, Salvini shares his story with Team Tate in the hopes that it will inspire them.
Wootten is suffering from homesickness to a severe degree. Like Holdsworth, the Brit is irked by the fact that most of the house is now in “party mode,” but he vows to remain focused. Rousey believes her man is slightly burned out, and she instructs him to be honest with how he is feeling so that he does not enter the fight fatigued.
Both Holdsworth and Wootten make weight, and it is now time to decide the first male finalist. Holdsworth rifles off a hard jab and a left hook to start, but Wootten answers with a pair of right hands. Tate’s fighter clinches and scores double underhooks before hitting a double-leg takedown against the cage. He passes to half-guard, but Wootten scrambles to his feet. Holdsworth locks up an anaconda grip as the Brit stands, but he cannot find his squeeze. Instead, Tate’s charge hops on Wootten’s back and cinches a body triangle, sliding his arm under his foe’s chin and gradually tightening a fight-ending rear-naked choke.
Holdsworth will now compete at the live finale on Nov. 30. Rousey consoles her fallen fighter with a hug and congratulates Holdsworth on a great performance. Though Wootten is seriously disappointed, he nevertheless manages to stay positive in his post-fight interview and is eager to move on with his career. Next week, teammates Moras and Pena will do battle to decide the first female finalist.