TUF 17 Superlatives: Best and Worst of Episode 2
The Ultimate Fighter 17, featuring Jon Jones and Chael Sonnen, returned to FX on Tuesday for its second episode of the season.
At the end of Episode 1, Jones chose to match Gilbert Smith from his team against Luke Barnatt from Sonnen's team. Episode 2 focused almost completely on that matchup, following Smith and Barnatt through their fight preparations.
With another episode down putting us one week closer to Jones' light heavyweight title defense against Sonnen, let's take a look at the best and worst from Episode 2 of The Ultimate Fighter 17.
Best Coach: Chael Sonnen
Despite all the trash talking and joking he has become known for outside of The Ultimate Fighter, Chael Sonnen has been all business as a coach on the reality show.
The light heavyweight title challenger seems to have put together a cohesive team and appears fully focused on leading his fighters to victory, rather than playing mind games with opposing coach and 205-pound champion Jon Jones.
Episode 2 saw Sonnen-coached Luke Barnatt win the first fight of the season, which gave Sonnen the right to pick the next fight. As a result, Team Sonnen's Urijah Hall will meet Adam Cella from Team Jones on Episode 3.
Worst Coach: Jon Jones
Sometimes there is little a coach can do to keep his team in line depending on the personalities the instructor has to deal with.
But Jon Jones clearly helped create some division within his team early in this season of The Ultimate Fighter.
After receiving fight requests from his fighters, Jones decided to go in a different direction by matching the shortest fighter on his team, Gilbert Smith, with the tallest fighter from Team Sonnen, Luke Barnatt.
It is fine for a coach to go against the demands of those he is overseeing, but that coach better be ready for the consequences when his decision backfires.
Ultimately, Smith wasn't ready for his fight with Barnatt, and Team Jones ended up losing the power to choose the next fight, which clearly didn't sit well with some members of Jones' team.
Best Fighter: Luke Barnatt
Luke Barnatt entered The Ultimate Fighter with a spotless 5-0 record, and he was a highly coveted competitor for both coaches as a result.
In his first fight since entering the TUF house, Barnatt did not disappoint, knocking out Gilbert Smith with a flying knee in the second round.
If Chael Sonnen can get the 6'6" Barnatt to use his jab more effectively, the Englishman could go far in this competition.
Worst Fighter: Gilbert Smith
Chosen by the UFC's 205-pound titleholder to compete in the first fight of the season, Gilbert Smith was called upon to start things off on the right foot for Team Jones.
Instead, he was knocked out in devastating fashion by Luke Barnatt, likely erasing any chance he had at being chosen to compete in the wild-card fight later in the season.
Smith entered The Ultimate Fighter with a solid 5-1 record, but he still has some work to do in order to be deserving of a spot on the UFC roster.
Best Moment: Luke Barnatt Flying Knee
In the first round of his fight with Gilbert Smith, Luke Barnatt established himself as the more well-rounded fighter, using his long reach when standing and countering Smith's aggressive wrestling with more technical grappling.
However, the pace of the fight began to slow at points in the second round.
Then, all of a sudden, Barnatt timed a flying knee and flattened Smith to move on to the quarterfinals of the TUF competition.
Worst Moment: Team Jones "Ambush"
In many ways The Ultimate Fighter is an individual competition, but there are elements of team competition involved.
Several members of Team Jones forgot that in Tuesday's episode when they ganged up on Gilbert Smith in the locker room and effectively questioned his ability to win against Luke Barnatt.
Whether they believed Smith had the ability to win or not, Team Jones should have been more supportive of him. Nothing they said or did was going to change the fight that their own coach had already chosen.
Hero: Chael Sonnen
After everything he has said in the past, some will never find it in their hearts to like Chael Sonnen.
However, Sonnen has shown his true colors as a coach on The Ultimate Fighter. He may say things people don't agree with at times, but Sonnen is a true competitor and a great leader.
"Entertainer" Sonnen isn't always someone to emulate, but a lot of people can learn something from "Coach Sonnen."
Villain: Josh Samman
There were multiple Team Jones fighters who disagreed with Jon Jones' matchmaking for the first fight of the season, but Josh Samman was the most vocal.
Samman approached both the coaching staff and Gilbert Smith about his distaste for Smith fighting Luke Barnatt to start off the season.
With his rebellious attitude and over-the-top antics in victory during the elimination round, Samman has already become one of the most polarizing characters on The Ultimate Fighter 17.