Let’s be honest. After almost twenty seasons of The Ultimate Fighter, we’ve probably invested more time thinking about the dynamic between the two coaches than wondering how Fighter A would look against Fighter B in episode three. That’s why the company giddily leaked information about the silly brawl between Chael Sonnen and Wanderlei Silva before it aired.
Of course, we ended up watching Wanderlei throw a slappy hook while Chael fell forward into his butterfly guard. Not exactly the “worst thing to ever happen” on TUF, as Dana hyped, and perhaps not even real. Still, we enjoy this nonsense because we need that sort of cinematic hatred to keep a spark in the reality enterprise.
But in what sounds like an anti-hype campaign, TUF 20 coach Gilbert Melendez says he and Anthony Pettis all but avoided any sort of drama during the show’s filming.
“I hope people aren’t too disappointed, but there’s not much interaction between us,” he said during an interview with MMAJunkie.com Radio. “We’re kind of guys who don’t talk too much s**t and like to fight more. I don’t really want to build a relationship with him. I think he feels the same.”
“We’ve had a little bit of words, but other than that, we just keep it separate. Because we ain’t friends. I don’t want to like him, and he doesn’t want to like me, and we’re going to want to beat each other up. Ain’t no joke about that. I just don’t high-five and hug people like other people.”
Well that’s just fantastic. No upper-deckers. No bio-hazardous sushi. Not even a scripted brawl. It sounds as though they had no interest in interacting at all, like a Jerry Springer episode full of contentious objectors. So we closet confrontationphiles had better hope for a post-screamfight selfie from Felice Herrig or a little mean mugging from 209 teammate Nate Diaz. The latter seems to be a lock, according to Gil.
“He’s such a cholo, bro,” he said about Nate. “He don’t smile one bit. He don’t say hi to nobody. I like having him around. He has a great intimidation factor. He’s all business. He’s always ready to go.”
Melendez is idealistic, a little old fashioned, and he believes the fight itself is the real seller. “I think we’re the best salesmen in [focusing on the fight],” he said. “We’re both fighters, and the fight itself will sell.” But this is reality television. We live in the post-Big Brother age. And while the two have taken their hype to Instagram, weeks of nebulous anticipation won’t convert to weekly views. So unless Nate Diaz is spitting fire from his eyebrows, the female strawweight competitors are going to have to do some heavyweight entertainment lifting.