The Ultimate Fighter 20: A Champion Will Be Crowned – Week 8

With the opening round wrapping up this week, now is as good a time as any to clarify my approach to discussing the various personalities on this show.  When dealing with reality television, it’s safe to say that most viewers are aware (at least I hope they’re aware) that what they’re watching is as fictionalized as any sitcom or serialized drama.  So when I have something to say about Heather or Felice or Rose or Angela (either of them), keep in mind that I don’t know who these people really are.  I’m evaluating them based on how their characters are portrayed, not with any insight as to their “real” personalities.

That said, Angela Magaña truly sucks.

Team Colours

Team Melendez
Team Pettis

Tecia Torres gets her second chance this week as a result of Justine Kish being removed from the competition due to injury.  It’s a bum deal for Bec Rawlings, who was expecting to face the number 9 seed, not the number 3.  Then again, it’s not without complications for Tecia either.

Angela M. and her Skrapettes hold a meeting to decide on what to do with Tecia and Heather Clark.  Tecia was moved from Team Melendez to Team Pettis while Heather’s relationship with her team soured from day one, so they just want to be rid of her.  They agree that Tecia and Heather must move out of their Team Melendez room.  The group says they can’t force them out, but Angela M. says “Yeah, we can!”  Worst comes to worst, they’ll make things untenable, like when a business tries to get an employee to quit by limiting their access to the washroom.

In a wise move, Emily Kagan is chosen to be the messenger.  She comes off as the mature, level headed one in the house.  Maybe she’s too diplomatic though, because Heather is unconvinced.  Send in Magaña!

During Bec’s portion of the show, we learn that Gilbert Melendez calls her “The Terminator”.  He also refers to her as “a stud”.  Are female horses called studs?  Bec has two children, Enson and…

Child's Name Tattoo…did she say “Zeke” or…oh wait, I got it.

She was stuck in an abusive relationship.  The situation was compounded by her feeling embarrassed because she’s a fighter and she’s supposed to be tough and strong.  People find themselves trapped in these cycles all the time and it has nothing to do with how strong they are.  To her credit, one morning she just packed up, took the kids, and left.

On a lighter note, the girls get to enjoy a pool party at the Green Valley Ranch Resort, Spa & Casino.  Yes, it’s that moment we’ve all been waiting for: gratuitous bikini shots!  I want to say that the guys have been filmed the same way in these party situations, but…I’m not so sure.

Chest ShotI don’t remember Darrill Schoonover’s cleavage getting filmed like this.

Then again, I just got through a season of TUF: Latin America where the guys spent most of their time in the pool naked, so I guess it’s all good.

The Skrapettes decide to leave early while Heather and Lisa Ellis, stayed behind.  Angela M. is still referring to them as The Chumpettes.  I might not like her, but she certainly makes for a good quote.  Lisa, who doesn’t strike me as someone interested in any kind of petty feud, finally gets around to speaking her mind about Angela M.:

She said it best on one of the very first days we were here.  She said she’s manipulative, calculated, and a crazy ass bitch…she said it.

The conflict over the room is not easily resolved.  Heather was considerate enough to say that Tecia shouldn’t have to move when she’s about to fight.  Tecia stands her ground as well.  Bec is pissed.  Keep in mind that Tecia and Bec are both in the midst of a weight cut, so this might not be the best time for them to be attempting a rational discussion.

It’s hard to put a finger on why I can’t get into Tecia.  I like her, but there’s something missing, isn’t there?  She’s almost too professional, too calm, and monotone.  I’m not saying everyone needs to be Chael Sonnen or Conor McGregor or, well, Angela Magaña for that matter.  It would just be nice if there was something more to chew on besides “I want to be the best.”  Even Carla Esparza smiles sometimes and she has all the pressure on her as the top seed.

We get a small taste of weight cut drama as Bec questions why Heather is helping Tecia with her cut.  Bec is way out of line here.  Heather rightfully points out that Tecia was the only member of Team Melendez to help her with her own cut, so how could she not do the same?  There’s a lot of “she said/she said” in the house.  I’m sure we’re not seeing the whole story, but this whole episode has been a bad look for The Skrapettes.

Bec Weighs InBec hittin’ ‘em with dat Blue Steel.

The fight

Anthony Pettis advises Tecia to avoid a glove touch at the beginning so she can stay out of boxing range.  That bit of gamesmanship proves effective, as maintaining distance and dictating pace are the story of the fight.  Tecia picks Bec apart with accurate kicks to her body and legs.  It does look scary when Bec gets in there though.  The Aussie has a considerable height advantage and she throws lethal leather in the clinch.  Tecia has to be fighting above her natural weight class, right?

I really suck at judging these close-in exchanges.  There’s a lot going on and I can’t tell who is landing what or where.  Overall, the volume definitely seems to be favouring Tecia.  I can see why Pettis was happy to coach her.  On a completely random note, Tecia’s bouncing top knot is mesmerizing.

Back to the action, Tecia gets too aggressive in the clinch and Bec throws her down!

Clinch ThrowThis wasn’t part of the gameplan.

Tecia’s guard is good and she gets back up without taking much damage.  She does almost get decapitated by a head kick as she rises though.  Bec is effective whenever she gets close, but Tecia’s kicks have to be swaying the judges.  Her “presentation” is better.  Tecia seals the round with a hard earned single leg, putting the capper on a good fight.  I gave both rounds to Tecia and the judges agree.

Someone on Team Melendez boos Tecia after, which is absolutely gross.  JoJo admonishes them, saving the day as usual: “There’s no need for booing.  Bad sport.”  She actually looks angry.  You wouldn’t like JoJo when she’s angry!

ReactionThe look on Jessica’s face says it all.

Both fighters are applauded for their efforts when they get back to their locker rooms.  Nate Diaz tells Bec that it should at least have gone to a third.  The funny thing is that his slurred speech requires subtitles, which could be a first for an American fighter.

The quarterfinals are set and they look like this:

(6) Felice Herrig v. (14) Randa Markos
(4) Jessica Penne v. (5) Aisling Daly
(1) Carla Esparza v. (3) Tecia Torres
(2) Joanne Calderwood v. (7) Rose Namajunas

Rose and JoJo refuse to break their staredown.  As far as we know, they could have been standing there for an hour.  Can I get the uncut version of this somehow?

Tecia VictoriousNext Week: Randa Markos v. Felice Herrig.  Also, it looks like we get the old Felice back.

Felice Salutes You

The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America – Week 12

NewChallenger: As the leaves change colour, another TUF season comes to a close.  The fights have been fought, the weight has been cut, the kitchen…well, someday it will be cleaned.  What better way to kick off the finale of this historic season of TUF than…with a visit from another Latin celebrity who we know nothing about.

His name is Gabriel Soto and to his credit, he is a serious fan.  He knows Yair well enough to refer to him as “Panterita”.  They ask him who his favourite fighter is and he says GSP, which Chito approves of.  I remember Jake Matthews from TUF: Nations being a big GSP fan as well.  The man transcends nations!  Gabriel already seems a lot cooler than Latino Kelsey Grammar.

Gabriel SotoAt the very least, his level of commitment makes him the Latino Kevin James.

The_Vortex: Where are they getting all of these “celebrities”? Look, obviously, I don’t know anything about them, as I’m not Latin American, but none of the fighters seem enthused by these guys. If you’re gonna dig out an actor for a ratings boost, find one the fighters will get pumped for, TUF producers. Nah, this Gabriel dude seems cool enough, although he does ruin it a bit to me by saying that he understands everyone because he trains UFC too, bro.

And, yeah, the Dana/Chito thing. Holy crap. They’re going to keep Chito in Vegas for a couple days after the show, fly up his wife and daughter, take her to a specialist, and try to get it all taken care of. This is an unbelievably cool thing to do. It is just an absolutely awesome gesture to make, for a kid that hasn’t even made it into the UFC properly. I was blown away, and Chito is moved to tears. His daughter has been what he’s been fighting for this whole time, so this is a huge moment for him.

NewChallenger: I know my emotions are being manipulated, but…it’s working.

The_Vortex: We head back to the house to find some more stuff out about our perpetual smiler, Moggly. Seriously, this dude always has some sort of grin on his face. It’s not at “Smile-N” Sam Alvey levels, but I’ve renamed Moggly “Grinnin’” Gabe Benitez.  Turns out that Grinnin’ Gabe had a rough childhood.

NewChallenger: As if these guys need more nicknames.

It is encouraging that Moggly has come off as one of the more outgoing members of the house despite the fact that he describes himself as “solitary”.  He’s been forced into independence since he was 14, a result of having to leave a difficult household situation.  His mother left when he was just a baby and his father was usually away at work.  There was also the presence of drugs at home.  When he told his father he was leaving, it was assumed that Moggly wouldn’t be gone for more than a couple of days.  He hasn’t looked back since.

The good thing is that he’s found family and friendship in the house as evidenced by a season ending BBQ.  Whooo!  Psycho gets sentimental and we get a confessional from El Doctor Bolivia who wraps things up with a neat bow:

It strengthened my belief that Latin America, starting from the northernmost part of Mexico, to the southernmost part of South America, we are all one people who are very strong and brave, and now the door is open for all Latin Americans who want to be part of the UFC.  It all depends on them.

Only ten minutes into the show, it’s fight time!

Final Fight GraphicI actually forgot these guys have real names.

The_Vortex: Before we hit the fight, let me just say, that was the lamest “last night in house” I’ve ever seen on this show. Everyone was all polite and respectful, and sat around and ate like warrior-brothers. Duuuude. In other seasons, the fighters have literally destroyed the house. Like, trashed the entire joint beyond recognition. Instead, we get politeness and respect. Booo!

The fight is a pretty good one, and starts well. As both fighters have discussed before, they’ve got their gameplans set out, and know their keys to victory. Right away, Leonardo cracks Moggly with a strong jab, and right after that, Moggly closes distance, and clinches against the cage. So, it’s going to plan for both guys. When Moggly’s got Leonardo against the cage, he ends up grabbing the cage, and instead of warning, the referee (Mini-Brock) just plain swipes his hand away. It was odd. To be fair, Chimy grabs the cage later and the referee does the same thing, but I really thought that the referee wasn’t supposed to touch the fighters unless he’s interrupting the fight. Maybe it’s the language barrier thing, but it looks stupid.

Unfortunately, the highlight of round one is Moggly getting kneed in the nuts twice. Neither of them look intentional, in fact, Leonardo seems genuinely annoyed at himself after the second one. With a minute to go, they get separated after seemingly endless clinching and thigh-kneeing, and Leonardo absolutely starches Grinnin’ Gabe with a sweet combo. I give the first round 10-9 Leonardo: He did damage when they were separated, and was able to reverse off the cage from being the pressee to the presser fairly quickly every time.

In between rounds, Cain advises Grinnin’ Gabe to stay at phone booth range instead of latching on. Grinnin’ Gabe sticks to this for around a minute, before he locks Leonardo against the cage again. Look, after a round and a half, I don’t think Grinnin’ Gabe has landed any strikes to Leonardo’s head. He’s kneed his thigh a ton, and every time they get separated for inactivity (which happens like 3 times this round), Leonardo torches him with a combo. He’s not even trying for any elbows, and his positional dominance means nothing to me if he can’t even get the fight to the ground. I’ve got round 2 as 10-9 Leonardo again, meaning he’s got this in my books unless anything spectacular happens next round.

Nicaraguan ComboDamn, Gabriel still grinnin’ after that.

NewChallenger: I actually had it even going into the final round, giving Moggly the slight edge in the first and The Mysterious Nicaraguan a clear cut second.  The final round is more of the same.  Team Mexico’s gameplan made a lot of sense; stay close and smother The Mysterious Nicaraguan until he ran out of energy.  The problem is that Moggly isn’t smart about it.  He takes a lot of damage getting in close.  As you mentioned, it doesn’t help that the referee is so quick to break them up.  Moggly has to stand and trade with The Mysterious Nicaraguan and that’s a losing proposition.  Once The Mysterious Nicaraguan gets going he’s really fun to watch.  He takes the final round and the fight (30-27, 29-28 x2).  An assist has to go to that turd burglar referee Chris Tognoni for completely killing Moggly’s clinch game.

Dana actually compliments Tognoni after the fight, saying he kept the action moving.  I still don’t think he gave them enough time to do anything.  I will admit that it made for a much more entertaining fight than if Moggly had spent the better part of fifteen minutes grinding against the cage.  But it also made for a fight that favoured The Mysterious Nicaraguan.

Morales Moves OnYour finals look like this:

Featherweight Final: Yair Rodriguez v. The Mysterious Nicaraguan

Bantamweight Final: Alejandro Pérez v. Teco

They bring in the coaches for a staredown as well.  In addition to it being awkward because of what we know now, there’s also the fact that there is zero heat between the two coaches.  They’re two of the nicest, most professional men in mixed martial arts.  Dana says Cain and Werdum told him that they couldn’t wait to get their hands on each other.  It would have been nice to hear that from the fighters themselves at some point.

Coaches' Face OffFeel the apathy.

It’s a moot point anyway because we ended up getting an even more intriguing match-up with Mark Hunt getting a chance to fight Werdum and become a UFC champion.  And yes, it is the year 2014.  The promo describes Hunt as a “rising star”, which is absurd except for the fact that he kind of is.

Thoughts on the season, Vortex?  Memories?  Regrets?

The_Vortex: Hard to believe it’s all over for another season. It’s been fun, as usual. There’s really always a different mood in the air for non-USA seasons of TUF. I don’t know, but the fighters always seem more invested, it’s more of an opportunity, it’s worth more.

These have been a fun bunch of guys, and I’m sad to see them go. Of the Mexicans, Teco and Alejandro have stood out inside and out of the cage, and I think one of them will be heading on to bigger things in future. Also, I’m really behind The Mysterious Nicaraguan in his fight. He’s still like, super young, he’s a talented striker, and I think he’ll win some in the UFC.

If the coaches’ match ever happens, I’ll watch it, but for now, I’m happy with Mark Hunt having his crack at the gold. That’s pretty much the whole season all wrapped up for me. I’ll pass the nostalgia beacon back over to you, NewChallenger.

NewChallenger: It has been fun.  These international editions of TUF have proven to be a worthwhile experiment, especially with the domestic edition being so inconsistent from year to year.  I will say that this is the most fun I’ve had watching concurrent TUF seasons since the original TUF: Brazil and TUF: The Smashes ran at the same time back in 2012.  I can’t say for sure if any of these fighters projects as an impact player in the future.  Diego Rivas and Fito did not represent the cast well this past weekend, putting on a snoozer of a fight.  But I agree with you that The Mysterious Nicaraguan has some serious potential.  And, of course, Chito Vera.

Looking at my TUF calendar, it looks like we have another edition of TUF: Brazil coming up in April featuring Shogun Rua and Anderson Silva.  I think Andy will make for a good coach.  His involvement is long overdue anyway.  I look forward to our next team-up, Vortex.

But for now, let us say farewell to our Latin brothers in the most appropriate manner: with a vaguely Latin-themed pop song.  It has been a pleasure.

This weekend: UFC 180 live on PPV!  Featuring an interim world championship fight and the two tournament finales that are so important they aren’t even on the main card.

The Ultimate Fighter 20: A Champion Will Be Crowned – Week 7

One thing to like about this year’s cast besides the fact that it’s all female is the international flavour.  In a season where there is a UFC championship on the line, it makes sense to have the best fighters from all over the world represented.  This is an idea they should explore in future seasons.  It would also allow them to play around with the seeded format (since we know some countries are more advanced than others) and even give it a fun World Cup vibe.

Off the top of my head, the possible countries would be:

  • USA
  • Canada
  • Brazil
  • England
  • Ireland
  • France
  • China
  • Mexico
  • Australia
  • Netherlands
  • Japan
  • New Zealand
  • Sweden
  • Russia
  • South Korea
  • South Africa

I’m sure I missed a more suitable candidate (Cuba?  Poland?).  The language barrier would be a major issue, though all it would take is a few translators in the house to get that sorted.  TUF: The World Warriors.  Make this happen!

Team Colours

Team Melendez
Team Pettis

We open on JoJo being her usual adorable self.  She’s doing an impression of Randa Markos that has Team Pettis in stitches.  Joining them in their revelry are Heather Clark and Lisa Ellis from Team Melendez, which rubs Bec Rawlings the wrong way.  Unsurprisingly, she confides in an equally disgruntled Angela Magaña.

Angela M.: They are so two-faced and what doesn’t come out in the wash comes out in the rinse and laundry’s almost done bitches.

She doesn’t elaborate on what happens when you put the laundry in the dryer.  Or if she even uses a dryer.  She strikes me as someone who prefers to hang the clothes outside and air dry.

Lisa, for her part, has had enough of what she considers to be “high school” and immature.  The rest of the team’s behaviour certainly lends credence to that viewpoint.  Angela Hill has dubbed her clique “The Skrapettes” (an homage to Gilbert Melendez and The Skrap Pack), while Angela M. calls Heather and Lisa “The Chumpettes”.  I’ve had more than my fill of Angela M. at this point.  Emily Kagan tells Gilbert that Heather and Lisa may as well head over to Team Pettis and put those jerseys on.  I get the feeling that he is counting the days until this whole debacle is over.

There’s hope for Team Melendez though as the highly touted Rose Namajunas finally gets her chance to fight.  First she has to deal with being schooled by guest coach Kron Gracie.  She gets down on herself, though Kron praises her for her drive and determination.  He’s also a master jiu-jitsu practitioner and about twice her size so it’s fair to say she’s being a touch too hard on herself.  I think he handled the situation well, acknowledging her frustrations and then giving her time to just let it all out.

Emotional MomentAnybody who’s ever felt lost doing any kind of lessons or class can relate to this.

I’m a sucker for Australian women.  And women who are smart.  Alex Chambers is checking off all kinds of boxes!  She has a background in engineering and astrophysics, which still has her just short of being the smartest woman in MMA.

Alex is coy about her age, so it’s nice of them to just flash it on the screen during a confessional.  She has no reason to be concerned though, because at age 36 she’s a total babe.  Just remember folks, “age ain’t nothing but a number” like Aaliyah once said.  And she married R. Kelly when she was 15, so she knew what she was talking about.

To contrast, Rose is the youngest a fighter at 22.  Despite the age difference, Alex only has two more fights than Rose.  The two were actually on the same Invicta card.  Alex was pumped about winning her match by submission in just 90 seconds, only to be overshadowed later by Rose who managed to score a 12 second submission.

Anthony Pettis is torn between Alex, his current charge, and Rose, an old teammate.  Naturally, he wants to see both of them do well.  He’s also dealing with having to navigate an increasingly sticky training situation.  This season’s unique format means that the women already know who they’re facing in the second round, limiting their partnering options.  Carla Esparza goes as far as to cryptically describe some of her teammates as being “not cool in training”.  This is what you get for going 6-0, Pettis!

Carnival KicksTeam Pettis is so far ahead they’ve officially entered the “f**king around” stage of their training.

Heather reveals that she has a torn ACL.  When she says she has the paperwork to prove it, Angela M. can be seen and heard scoffing on the side.  These two truly cannot stand each other.  Heather’s attitude isn’t the greatest.  She’s like, I told you my knee is messed up and my career is in jeopardy.  I win!  Later, Rose jokes that she damaged her knee on purpose just before seeing the doctor so she could rub it in their faces.  After all that, Angela M. does the right thing and apologizes to Heather.  It’s the right thing to do, though their relationship is still frosty.

We find out that Rose is known as “Thug Rose”, which comes from her upbringing on the mean streets of Milwaukee.  She has dealt with a history of sexual abuse as a child.  Much like Aisling Daly’s bouts with depression last episode, this is a serious issue that is difficult to discuss openly.  Thankfully, through MMA and the support of her fiancée Pat Barry, she’s been encouraged to spread awareness about the issue.

Rose: There’s a lot of kids out there that are probably thinking that it’s their fault that they’re being abused and not really knowing who to go to.  There’s always somebody to go to.  There’s always somebody that can help you.  You don’t have to take it on yourself.  I lived with that secret for…up until right before the show and I finally told somebody about it.  You don’t have to keep it a secret.  You can open up to somebody and you can get out of that situation…you can do it.

Rose likes to attempt a lot of flying submissions, which she attributes to being “part crazy”.  She has a lot of ideas about how to start the fight with Alex, suggesting that she might open with a side kick or a berserker knee.

Going BananasGilbert calls this the “Liu Kang”.

The girls get a visit from two members of the US Olympic Soccer Team, Sydney Leroux and Megan Rapinoe.  Sydney is a traitor from Canada who chose to play for Team USA.  She also broke off her engagement with current Toronto Blue Jays third baseman (and fellow Canuck) Brett Lawrie.  Lawrie hasn’t been the same player since.  I hate you Sydney!

Sydney LerouxSydney in the middle of describing how to turn your back on an entire nation.

I don’t know why more professional athletes haven’t appeared on this show.  From what I’ve seen, the international editions are keener to bring in guests to interact with the fighters.  Ronaldo once left a video message for a friend on TUF: Brazil!  If one of the most famous athletes on the entire planet can appear on TUF: Brazil, I think that domestic TUF can do better.  The girls do a great job of giving these two Olympic gold medallists a glimpse into the world of MMA.

Angela M. starts going off on some hippie s**t aaaaaand I’m about ready to see some human cockfighting.

The fight

There’s no nice way to put it: Rose has her way with Alex.  She throws out a variety of techniques with little regard for Alex’s defence.  Other than the occasional counter punch, Alex is on the back foot for the entirety of the match.

Rose Tees OffA Rose by any other name would hit as hard.

Rose takes Alex down with a smooth trip.  She’s all over her.  She attacks with a ferocious rear naked choke and gets the tap with about thirty seconds to go in the first round.  Gilbert says Rose delivered the most complete performance yet.  It’s hard to argue with him.  Rose has herself another good cry.  She’s earned it.

I normally like to end with a shot of the victorious fighter, but instead here’s Rose’s sweet flying armbar submission of Kathina Catron and the subsequent freak out.

Next Week: Tecia Torres v. Bec Rawlings.  Also, Alex might have to settle for a lucrative career in engineering.

This post was edited to correct statements made about Rose Namajunas’s past.  It originally said she had dealt with “sexual harassment” as opposed to sexual abuse during her childhood.

The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America – Week 11

The_Vortex: We are right near the end of this season, and it’s still pretty compelling in the penultimate episode. I’m compelled. To begin the episode, of course, we go to Guido once again. He’s still reeling (metaphorically) from his knockout loss. It really was a vicious knockout, and I’m having trouble picking the best knockout this season, between that one, The Mysterious Nicaraguan’s excellent head kick of Masio, and Chito’s freak upkick KO.

NewChallenger: I can’t remember the last time a season of TUF had this many quality finishes!

Thanks to the efforts of Marco Beltrán, Alejandro Pérez, and incompetent judging, Guido Cannetti is at last gone from the competition for good.  Everyone is talking about how he came out like a madman in the second fight.  Bentley says, “I really hope that he’ll finally realize his mistakes and his arrogance.”  Does anybody like Guido?

The_Vortex: Guido gets pretty reflective, and ends up talking it out with Masio, who was also on the receiving end of an aforementioned brutal knockout. Both of those guys are using their losses as motivation, and really looking forward to stepping forwards in their careers. Guido’s most disappointed that he also wasn’t able to fulfill his promise of giving money to Chito for his daughter, and look, that’s pretty good of him. Not many guys in the history of TUF have taken the time to empathize with the fighters they’re replacing due to injury. It’s not all over for Guido, I mean, who knows? We could very easily see any one of these fighters in the UFC pretty soon. I mean, hell, this weekend, Fito is fighting Diego Rivas, and neither of those two men were especially impressive on the show. Guido got screwed, and then he went out and WAAARRR’d. That’s basically Dana’s dream right there. We’ll be seeing more of the Ninja in the Octagon.

NewChallenger: Guido has definitely learned something from his experiences on the show.  What, I’m not sure…but something.  It’s funny, I kept getting Masio and Psycho mixed up during this episode.  As compelling as it has been, I think I’m about ready for this season to end.

The friendship of Teco and Alejandro remains in the spotlight.  Nobody is rooting harder for Teco than his best friend.  Of course, Alejandro is also eager to avenge the two losses that Teco has hung on him in the past.  That’s a good friend right there: I hope that you get one step closer to your dream…and that I am the one who takes it away from you  >:)  As for Psycho, he just wants to get in there and “Let the fists sing in the cage”.

We then get some solid product integration as they bring in the most recent UFC game for the cast to muck around with.  As far as I can recall, this is the first time they’ve let the cast play one of the UFC games competitively (the TUF: Nations guys got to race each other in Forza).  To my disappointment, they don’t show us much and we don’t even find out who was the best player in the house.  Boo.

The gym looks sparse as the trainers have removed themselves from the proceedings to avoid giving an advantage to either member of their team.  This begs the question: What are the trainers doing with all of this free time?

The_Vortex: The UFC gaming stuff was fun, and I did notice the Fabrício Werdum character being used a ton. Funny though, Werdum strikes me as a guy that uses other people when he’s playing, just so he can screw around.

The gym is empty as all hell, and yeah, you’re right, all the coaches have cleared out. We see Cain this episode for about 20 seconds, tops. We’re into the stage of the episode where we’re learning a bit more about the fighters. Teco really, really wants this next fight against Alejandro, and Marco, Marco is apparently lazy as s**t. We find out in a Moggly confessional that Marco holds the nickname “Baby Jesus”. He’s also the first to disappear when the cleaning is being done, and gets into a small shout-off with Yair and Masio about his avoidance of chores.

Moggly Talking More SmackBaby Jesus ain’t dying for no sins.

He’s feeling a little isolated in the house, especially since the other Mexican 135ers (Teco, Henry and Alejandro) are all friends from outside of the show, sometimes even training together. Weigh-ins relieve some of the tension that has been hanging all over this episode. Teco brings in lucha libre masks for both himself and Marco, and it’s a glorious moment of levity. He’s done this because luchadores are pretty important in Mexican culture, and well, who cares, it’s always great watching two guys fool around in lucha masks.

Lucha LibreI can’t believe it took us eleven episodes to get here.

NewChallenger: I think it’s safe to say that along with Chito, Teco has been the most interesting cast member.  The mustache, that laid back demeanour, an enjoyable fighting style…win or lose, he’s one to watch after the show.  He drops a cool quote about how Mexicans are “warriors of the corn”.  Even his tattoos don’t suck!

Teco Tattoo

It’s not as good as Guido’s “star nipple”, but really, what is?

On to the fight.  It’s Marco who gets the first takedown.  He was worried before the fight that such a strategy might waste too much energy and that proves prophetic.  Teco gets up quickly and retaliates with a takedown of his own.  He shows great patience for a young fighter.  His ground and pound is more about accuracy than volume.  He also cuts a wicked pace, keeping Marco down when he tries to scramble away.  Marco almost gets a triangle armbar, but Teco gets free.  Teco scores a ton more points on the ground to close the round and he takes it 10-9.  In between rounds, Marco says he can’t feel his arms.  My corner expertise tells me that isn’t good.

The next two rounds are more of the same.  Teco is able to get the better of the scrambles and clinches while Psycho’s takedown attempts get increasingly sloppy.

Psycho AttemptYou’d better be friggin’ Matt Hughes if you want to get someone down while they’ve got you in a front facelock like this.

The third round starts with a hug, which you can tell Psycho was grateful for if only because it gave him a few extra seconds of rest.  He has the worst body language.  After seeing him fight for twenty five minutes on this show, I’m not sold on him at all as a UFC level fighter (whatever that means these days).  Teco cruises to a decision win.

The_Vortex: This was an ok fight. It wasn’t amazing, didn’t have me on the edge of my seat, but it wasn’t a bad fight entertainment-wise by any means. These guys are probably less skilful than some of the TUF 19 guys, but they’re not making me want to skip every fight on principle like those guys did (Jeez, that season puts me to sleep even thinking about it). Teco was the better fighter, and watching him fight Alejandro should be pretty interesting. I dunno, Marco’s still a bit raw, and his head might just not be fully in it the way some other guys are. For all the editing of Marco being isolated, his corner really came through for him. He had Henry and Fito backing him, and they were just as vocal as Alejandro and Masio in Teco’s corner.

NewChallenger: I’m sorry…did you just say these guys were less skilful than the TUF 19 guys?  TUF 19?!?  On behalf of our Latino brothers, I am offended, sir!  No cast (with the possible exception of TUF 16) were as incompetent as the TUF 19 crew.  Just for that, you and the readers must now endure the “classic” action from that season:

Ground And Whoops

Monaghan EscapeSit Down Swing & A Miss

Single Leg Counter

Wayward KickThe_Vortex: It turns out once again that Cain straight up didn’t attend the fight. Couldn’t watch either of his boys winning or losing. It seems that Cain actually takes the whole “no fighting teammates” thing way, way more seriously than I had ever thought.

And with that, it’s nearly all over.

Teco Moves OnNext week: The Mysterious Nicaraguan vs. Moggly, which will then be followed by the respective finales and by Mark Hunt becoming the interim, and then undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.

The Ultimate Fighter 20: A Champion Will Be Crowned – Week 6

Before we get into this week’s episode, I have to point out the ugliness of Angela Magaña’s tournament portrait.  I understand that when they’re taking these profile pictures a certain amount of make-up might be required to guarantee a good photo, but there’s something to be said about letting their natural beauty shine through.  Just…look at this thing:

Unfortunate PicThe makeup gun must have accidentally been set to “whore”.

Team Colours

Team Melendez
Team Pettis

Speaking of Magaña, this episode is a doozy.  Last week’s preview promised we’d get her complete, harrowing life story and they were not lying.  Her parents were hooked on heroin so she was born into addiction.  She used to eat out of trash cans.  Her mother was a prostitute who she had to help shoot up properly so she wouldn’t get sick.  In a drunken haze, Magaña fell off a balcony and ended up with a broken back and partial amnesia.  She got out of a bad relationship and then met the man of her dreams who died the day after they were engaged.  Her mom passed away.  A car accident put Magaña in a coma.  She’s thankful to MMA for keeping her on the right path the whole time.

I'm ListeningRose, possibly regretting wanting to know more about Angela’s life.

I admire Magaña for her positive attitude, but she could stand to be more humble.  Don’t get me wrong, she deserves to take pride in overcoming enormous adversity.  The problem is that she comes off as someone who needs to make sure everyone knows her story so they know how extraordinary she is.  I find it disturbing how she runs through her trials like she’s reading off a grocery list.  Then again, maybe she has become numb from discussing it so much.

I’m probably being unfair.  That was a heavy segment to process.  Let’s move on to Anthony Pettis wearing tights.  There are no great crotch shots so I can neither confirm nor deny whether he is toight like a tiger.

Pettis TightsEyes up here, ladies.

Tecia Torres is still having trouble adapting to the new team.  I’m not sure what they were expecting by having her switch over so late in the competition.  Dana White’s explanation that she had to join Team Pettis because the winners determine which coach gets to pick the next match-up makes no sense when you consider that there were only three first round fights left and we later find out that Tecia and Bec Rawlings are going last anyway.  Readers, help me out with this one.

Facing off with Magaña this week is Aisling Daly.  I might come off as somewhat hypocritical here because I actually enjoyed hearing about Aisling’s struggles.  In her case, the Vegas heat is taking its toll on her in addition to any medication she happens to be taking to deal with her depression.  She doesn’t appreciate the strength and conditioning coach implying the problems might be in her head.  Her low key personality belies the fact that she’s spreading a positive message about dealing with depression just by being in the house and being honest about it.

I want to believe that it’s intentional that they have shown such a contrast between the two competitors.  Magaña refuses to show vulnerability for fear that it will detract from this “champion” persona she has constructed for herself.  Aisling, on the other hand, has accepted that her mind and body might not be cooperating with the goals she’s trying to reach.  One of the biggest misconceptions about depression is that has to be directly tied to events in someone’s life and that’s just not the case.  It doesn’t matter whether you’ve suffered like Magaña or lead a pampered existence.  Depression can affect anyone.

Aisling: Although it is becoming more open and widely talked about there still is a little bit of stigma attached to people suffering with depression.  By letting people know that it’s okay to talk about it, it’s okay to feel down for no reason…there doesn’t have to be some catastrophic incident going on in your life for you to feel miserable.

Dana pops in for a meeting with Aisling to make sure she’s okay.  She does have one wish that he grants: UFC: Dublin.  That is great news for the cast because that was a spectacular card.  Four of Aisling’s teammates fought that night, including Patrick Holohan who gave her a shout out after his big win.  It’s really touching and you can see her spirits were lifted.

Giddy IrishwomanSomeone is excited.

The fight

Aisling and Magaña are two of the more experienced fighters, with 36 combined pro bouts between them.  They have one shared opponent, Jessica Eye, who beat Magaña but lost to Aisling.  Pettis is convinced that Aisling’s unorthodox style is too much for Magaña, who he considers to be good, but basic.

The fight starts and Aisling gets right in there!  They pummel until Magaña wins out and scores a trip.  She moves to side control and then back mount.  The choke attempt is there, but Magaña can’t get under the chin.

Now would be a good time to talk about how much I dislike Chris Tognoni.  Aisling shows great flexibility and strength to stand with Magaña on her back, but Magaña still had the hooks in.  Somehow, this warranted a reset.  He does this stupid stuff all the time.  Later in the round, Aisling goes for a standing kimura and he’s yelling “Stay busy!” while the girls are battling.  Somebody get this clown out of here before a fighter gets hurt, please.

The first round ends in a fun scramble.  It looked to have been a 10-9 for Magaña.  They come out firing in the second, though Magaña wants to get back to grappling.  She wastes a lot of energy on a bad shot.  It’s Aisling who spends most of the round in top position.  There are also some solid exchanges on the feet in what turns out to be a fantastic round.  It ends with Aisling raining down hammer fists on Magaña while Tognoni says  “Stay busy!” some more.  SHUT THE F**K UP TOGNONI!

Extra period, Magaña cracks Aisling with a head kick but the Irishwoman just walks right through it.

Angela Head KickOh, I’m sorry, were you trying to hurt me?

Now it’s Aisling who wants to grapple, having correctly assessed that Magaña was weakening in the second frame.  She gets the back again and it looks like she weighs about a thousand pounds the way she’s suffocating Magaña.  Magaña’s arm is pulled across her face and Aisling is punching the crap out of her.  It’s nothing too damaging, but the situation isn’t going to get better.  The referee has to step in and call the TKO.

And then he calls Aisling “Ashley”, because he can’t even get that right.

Gilbert Melendez points out that the referee didn’t need to interrupt in the first round when Magaña was still on Aisling’s back.  Magaña is justifiably upset.  It’s not necessarily fair to blame it all on Tognoni, but the window for a finish in MMA is so small that if she was even close to an armbar then she deserved the chance to go for it.

Meanwhile, Aisling’s attitude has turned around 180 degrees.  Amazing what a little violence can do for you.

Daly VictoriousNext Week: Alex Chambers v. Rose Namajunas.  With Pettis and Rose having trained together in the past, will the Aussie get the inside scoop?  Does Team Pettis need any more advantages?

(On a closing note, if you think there’s a chance that you or anyone you know might be dealing with depression, please take the time to research the issue and talk to a doctor if necessary.  There are many forms of depression and they’re far more common than people think.  It’s not enough to assume that someone is just “moody” or “having a bad day” or “needs a vacation”.  It’s a serious problem that can be one hundred percent out of your control no matter how mentally or emotionally strong you are.  Most importantly, it is nothing to be ashamed of.  Don’t wait until it’s too late.)

The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America – Week 10

The_Vortex: The season’s beginning to wind down, as we’re hitting our third last episode. This has been a great season so far, but unfortunately, it’s been pretty short on tears. Don’t worry, fight fans, there’s some quality joy-sobbing in this episode. We start this time with Marlon “Chito/Pollito” Vera. He’s fighting against Alejandro “El Diablito” Pérez later this episode. It’s not looking good for him, though. Remember those rashes and scabs he developed last episode? Well, holy crap, but they’ve multiplied out of control. They’re spreading across his face and back, and he’s genuinely quite ill because of it. It’s not a good sign, and his teammates are cautious, as no one wants to catch anything funky.

Skin ConditionGYAAAAAAH

Even the coaches are being realistic about the situation. As they take Chito off to see a specialist, they mention that he could very easily be removed from the fight, leaving one of the other 135’ers to take his place. Between Bentley (copped a whupping), Fredy (lost a close, yet boring decision) and Guido (lost a hugely controversial decision that he almost certainly would have won with judges that had fully working brains), Guido seems to be the best pick to replace poor Chito.

With Chito off in quarantine, it all seems up in the air. Thoughts, NewChallenger? Think we’re gonna get a schooling from The Professor, a visit from the Doctor, or have the Revenge of the Ninja?

NewChallenger: Putting aside our shared distaste for Guido, it would be crazy for anyone but him to get the second chance.  As you said, Bentley got taken out in the first round and didn’t show much to warrant further consideration.  Fredy’s case is even worse.  The Professor is dealing with an ankle injury and Alejandro is the one who took him out of the competition in the first place.  Moggly isn’t convinced that the Team Werdum bantamweights even want back into the competition.  In particular, he doesn’t like Bentley’s chances against Alejandro.

Moggly Talking JunkGuido is still talking and talking and talking…this whole episode he is talking.  Did the judges get to know him before the fight?  Because that might explain how they came up with their scores.  I do have to give Guido credit for not treating Chito like the Outbreak monkey (he applies Chito’s rash cream for him) and declaring that he’ll give half of the prize money to Chito if he wins the tournament.  Nice one, Guido…*mumble, grumble*

Speaking of Chito, he earns a dubious TUF first by being put into isolation at a hotel.  He’s stuck there the whole day while he waits to see the doctor.

Happy MDThis doctor is way too chipper considering the news she brings.

The good news is that it’s not contagious and the scabs have already begun to fall off.  The bad news is that there’s a high risk of becoming infected again if he uses the sauna or if he fights.  “I already cried in the house, so I don’t want to do it here.” he says.

The_Vortex: Chito is easily the most likeable of the Team Werdum guys. I agree, he’s taking this with an insane amount of grace. The most important thing though, is that it’s just an immune system issue, and not contagious. After the doctor nixes his chances of fighting, obviously the next step is to meet with Dana and Werdum. This is honestly one of the better scenes this entire series. First thing Chito does, is he shoots in for a hug. Werdum’s not having any of it, until Dana assures him it’s not contagious, and even then, Werdum’s still not keen on the touching.

DiagnosisWell, that’s a relief.

Despite being removed from the tournament, Dana is guaranteeing Chito a spot on the finale, somewhere in the undercard of UFC 180. This is awesome news for him, that he’s able to salvage something out of this situation. They all end up laughing at Chito’s stories of being regarded by other hotel goers as a zombie/leprosy patient. It’s kinda touching, and amazing that Chito’s so accepting of all of this. He probably knew what was going to happen when they quarantined him.

NewChallenger: I was also impressed with Chito’s maturity and understanding.  No doubt having to raise a daughter with an illness of her own has provided him with the proper perspective.  Guys usually beg or bargain with the doctor in these situations, but as you mentioned he had to expect that this was coming.  The whole segment was a welcome departure from the gloom we’re used to (not to take anything away from someone like Justine Kish on TUF 20), with Werdum in particular continuing to come off as everyone’s favourite coach/big brother.  Along with Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira, he has to be one of the most likeable coaches ever.

No TocarWho knew Werdum had such a lively sense of humour?

In a moment devoid of suspense, Dana makes the Guido/Alejandro match-up official.  You would think Guido would finally be satisfied.  You would be wrong.  He can’t stop tweaking Marco about the result of their fight.  It does say something that Marco doesn’t offer a strong response when Guido asks if he felt like a winner when he got the decision.  Still, it’s ridiculous that the man can go on like this even though he got a second chance.

Chito to the rescue!  He busts Guido’s chops by reminding him that he said he would retire if he lost to Psycho.  Verbal shots are fired at poor Vinny Magalhães to illustrate the point:

He said, “If he hits me, they can take me out.”  The other guy did this (mimes a weak punch), and Vinny fell like this (eyes roll to the back of his head).  And he had fought three rounds against Phil Davis.  And an old man came and knocked him out.

As for the fight…I have to leave the recap to you, sir.  Lord knows you have waited long enough for this day to come.

The_Vortex: So, Chito doesn’t even mention Anthony Perosh by name, just refers to him as nothing but the “old man.” I’d leap to my countryman’s defense, but, yeah, that’s really the only way to describe the Hippo these days…

As for the fight, yeah, it’s a good one. This season has really delivered on the entertainment value of the fights, and this one was a crazy few minutes. After the glove touch, Guido just comes out firing on all cylinders, throwing bombs like they’re going out of fashion (not that bombs were ever in fashion, but I digress). Guido is flurrying like crazy, roaring in and swinging hard.

NewChallenger: All I have in my notes for this fight is “What the f**k is Guido doing?”  He’s just out there winging haymakers.

The_Vortex: He’s getting some hits in, but for the most part, Alejandro is able to stay elusive, and clip him with a couple nice counters. About 90 seconds in, they both connect with hard hits nearly simultaneously, and Guido gets sent flying away. He recovers well, and three seconds later, he’s right in the face of Alejandro again, swinging wide with the right, and launching himself behind his fist. This time, it doesn’t work so well. Alejandro is out of range, and clobbers Guido with this huge left hand. Guido drops, and he’s basically already out, but Alejandro is taking no chances, and straight up murders him with the next shot, and a couple more before the ref officially stops the fight.

El Diablito KOOne of the most brutal follow-up punches after a knockdown I’ve ever seen.

Remember last week, when everyone was deathly silent when the fight ended? Yeah, this ain’t like that. Guido’s still down for a few seconds, and he went full facedown Fedor-Arlovski for a short while. Guido intentionally fought a fight that wasn’t going to go to the judges, and by crap, it most certainly did not.

Guido is still in a daze, super confused. Guido, I’m a let Chris Tucker tell you what just happened:

NewChallenger: There’s no other way to describe Alejandro’s reaction after other than “unrestrained squealing”.  Earlier in the episode, we found out that he and Teco had formed a close relationship over the years having fought in the same circuit (Teco having beaten him twice in the past).  Openly sobbing, he exits the cage and calls for Teco.  All Alejandro can say is “To the UFC!  To the UFC!” as they embrace.  Damn this show for making me feel feelings.

Guido has now lost twice on the show, a rare feat.  He muses on his experience:

I thought I could beat everyone, and I think God made me fall.  He said, “Now you’ll see that you can fall, too.  And that you need to be careful because you’re just human.”

Humbled by God, knocked out by a guy whose name translates to “The Little Devil”.  How poetic.

El Diablito Moves OnNext week: Teco v. Psycho.  Also, we find out the truth behind Chito’s alleged illness…

Collusion

The Ultimate Fighter 20: A Champion Will Be Crowned – Week 5

I’m still getting my TUF schedule in order, so it took me the weekend to get around to watching this episode.  Would the Felice Herrig/Heather Clark drama overshadow their actual match-up?  Would Heather be able to make peace with her teammates?  Would someone on Team Melendez win a damn fight?

Team Colours

Team Melendez
Team Pettis

The second question gets answered in the first quarter of the show.  Bec Rawlings jokes that Heather and Felice are both “drama mamas”, which is the most PG way she could have expressed her thoughts.  Things get a lot more serious when they get to the gym, the animosity from the ice bath incident still fresh in the mind of Angela Magaña.

Angela M. surprises me with how vocal she is about her dislike for Heather.  In the first episode, she struck me as this “Zen mother” living peacefully in Thailand.  I blame the house and the constant filming for bringing out the worst in her.  Gilbert Melendez is smart enough to step in and mediate before the relationship gets worse…or maybe it’s too late because the rest of the is merciless in their criticism of Heather.

The sport of mixed martial arts is still in that stage where admitting that you’re hurt or allowing an injury to affect how you train is still frowned upon.  Heather’s knee injury has limited her ability to work with her teammates and that is a big no-no.  Worse, Angela M. claims that she limps during practice, but not at the house.  The more Heather talks, the deeper she sinks…

Heather: I’m not here to hurt myself because you guys need me…
Bec: We don’t need you.  Don’t get that twisted.  We don’t need you.
Angela M.: Don’t flatter yourself.

I can absolutely see why Heather’s attitude might grate on the other girls, but they’re relentlessly ganging up on her.  Angela M. spitting bars and then covering her ears and going “la la la la” only makes Angela look bad, not Heather.  Coach Melendez must feel like he accidentally wandered into the Player Haters’ Ball.

Over on Team Pettis, Felice is having her own problems.  For one, it must suck to have to beat the same opponent again and this time for no money.  Sure, it’s on a bigger stage, but that just means if she loses then that’s the only result that will count in the minds of most fans.  Luckily, Felice claims to be undefeated against girls “who talk a lot of s**t” about her.  She’s feeling the pressure of keeping the streak going for Team Pettis and to kick Heather’s ass for Team Melendez.  The anxiety has her in tears.  As mean as this sounds, I don’t find the storyline that compelling.  It pales in comparison to what Heather is dealing with, not to mention the Justine Kish situation.

Justine’s experience has been a nightmare so far.  Her body isn’t cooperating so she hasn’t been able to train properly, which is also affecting her ability to stay in shape and make weight.  The time comes to see the doctor and it’s not good news.

Doctor BroCheck out the doc coming in for the real thing.

She has a torn ACL.  That’s that as far as the competition goes.  It’s such a painful scene to watch.  She sounds like she’s going to vomit.

DevastationJustine keeps it together as long as she can and just loses it when she sees Jessica.

In a show of consideration rarely seen on TUF, Justine makes sure to apologize to Bec because they were scheduled to fight.  It’s also worth mentioning that we later see Justine sweating in the sauna with Felice even though she’s out of the competition.  This is how a real athlete acts.

With Justine gone, the rumour is that Tecia Torres will get her spot back since she’s the highest ranking fighter who was knocked out of the competition.  Nobody on Team Pettis is excited about the idea, especially Carla Esparza who will end up with Torres in her side of the bracket.  In an even stranger twist, Torres is put on Team Pettis so Anthony Pettis gets to coach another top seed.  Dana justifies it by saying he can’t have two Melendez fighters going against each other because then Melendez would be guaranteed to get control of the next fight.  He then pulls out the “this is not a team sport” line.  Why do we keep going with the team format year after year then?

While Tecia tries to acclimate herself to her new surroundings, Heather is getting more advice from Gilbert.  He tells her that he was watching her previous fight with Felice and that she needs to work on her back escapes.  Heather says her arm was broken.  Gilbert doesn’t care.  In a testimonial, she casually talks about the time she trained with Anderson Silva.  Ugh.  Is it too late to hook her up with TUF: Latin America’s Guido Cannetti?

Positive ThinkingEven Heather’s mock celebrating is awkward.

It’s probably a bad sign that on the morning of the fight Bec is providing verbal support for Felice and not her own teammate, right?  At least Team Melendez offers a polite clap for Heather before the match starts so she has that going for.  And the referee calls her and Felice “ma’am” when asking if they’re ready.  That’s a new one.

The fight

Usually we get some idea of what each team’s gameplan will be, but since this episode had to cover so much emotional ground I don’t know what to expect.  I know that Felice is a good grappler so I expect Heather to keep it standing…and I’m wrong right away as she goes for a standing guillotine about a minute in.  It looks real tight and Felice shows serious grit in surviving it.  She gets a nice trip out of the clinch and moves into half guard.  Is it legal for Felice’s braids to get in Heather’s face?

A nice sweep by Heather puts her back on top, though she soon falls into a triangle.  Felice transitions and nearly gets a submission with a dangerous looking armbar.  They then scramble into an awkward position.

North-ish South-ishThere’s not much you can do here besides punch your opponent’s ass.

The referee offers two warnings for them to improve position.  There’s no “three strike” rule in MMA buddy, just stand them up!  Felice takes things into her own hands and rotates beautifully to end up on top to close the round.  Not a lot of damage by either fighter.  I give it to Felice 10-9 for the submission attempts.

Felice gets Heather’s back in round two, spells Heather’s doom.  She does her best to spin out, but Felice’s hips are glued to her.  If only someone had told her that she needs to work on her back escapes!  Team Melendez is yelling for her to shake Felice off.  Somehow, she does manage to get back into Felice’s guard.  That’s all she can do though and after a reset, Felice gets a big takedown to clinch the round and the fight.

There’s not much to analyze.  Felice is the better grappler and it showed.  Heather brings up the knee, though even she says that the injury got in her head.  She makes sure to apologize to Felice after for all the things she said about her in the past.

Beef SquashedHug that s**t out ladies.

A somewhat satisfying end to that feud, wouldn’t you say?  The action couldn’t match the alleged intensity of their personal rivalry, but maybe it’s better that nobody got their face smushed or their arm popped.  That would have led to even worse feelings.  The funny thing is we didn’t actually see that much interaction between Felice and Heather in the house.  Heather’s worst enemies are her own teammates.  Her foil, Angela M., fights next week, so we’ll see if Heather is able to bury one more hatchet and help out.

Felice VictoriousNext Week: Team Pettis’s Aisling Daly v. Team Melendez’s Angela Magaña.  Also, Gilbert calls Rampage Jackson for some coaching advice.

The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America – Week 9

The_Vortex: It’s time for another episode, and this week we have the first proper Mexican standoff, as Yair “Mexican Rory MacDonald” (Cheers TyrionWoodley) Rodríguez takes on Rodolfo Rubio. Team Mexico’s a little bit upset about this, as they’ve spent the whole season talking about how awesome their team is, and how strong their brotherhood has been, and now they finally get to kick the stuffing out of each other. Cain has decided that for this fight, his fighters will be performing without having advice screamed at them from their corners. It’s an interesting move, and probably safer than obviously picking sides. They’re not going to hand the victory to one Mexican at the expense of another.

NewChallenger: In these scenarios where teammates have to fight each other, we’ve seen the coaches give the “we won’t help either fighter” talk too many times to count.  Just once I want to see the coaches admit that they like one of their fighters more and that the other guy is s**t out of luck.  Then again, that kind of happened to Kajan Johnson on TUF: Nations and that turned out to be really depressing.

The_Vortex: Back to the house, and it is once again, completely filthy. Apart from Yair, aka MexiMac, going bonkers with a can of fly spray, the only thing of note to have happened is that Guido is once again a little bitch, and proceeds to place all of the blame about the state of the house on Team Mexico.

NewChallenger: Guido did get in a funny when he said that “Yair also killed a couple of us while he was killing flies.”  Wait, did I just write that?  What is wrong with me?

The_Vortex: I’m pretty disappointed with the editors. This whole scenario is so played out and repetitive, they’ve done it like five times this season already. Surely there’s some other event, no matter how minor, to fill the time. Show them drinking, show them reading, playing cards, training, heck, give us breakdowns of techniques so that we understand what’s going on come fight time, but for god’s sake, don’t show us any more of this stupid dirty kitchen and its junk drama. It’s the TV equivalent of clickbait.

/rant

NewChallenger: In their defence, this is the dirtiest kitchen I’ve ever seen in the final weeks of TUF.  Normally the kitchen drama is resolved by week four, but I guess these cats just couldn’t work it out.  You can actually see flies all over the place.  I don’t envy the camera crew.  Though at least they probably got to go from this to hanging out with Felice Herrig and Rose Namajunas all day.

Kitchen BugsBentley: “Ah!  They are making love, look.”

How embarrassing is it when a world famous athlete like Fabrício Werdum has to come by and tell you to clean your f**king house?  He has the brilliant idea of making it so that whoever loses the Coaches’ Challenge, their team has to do the housecleaning from now on.  It’s an exciting wager and a way to guarantee that someone takes care of this ridiculous kitchen issue.  Werdum is a modern day Solomon.

Mystery GuestNobody is going to explain who this kid is?  We’re just going to leave it at that?  Alright, then.

That wouldn’t be the only helpful suggestion Werdum has.  He also has some words of encouragement for Marlon Vera aka “Chito” aka “Pollito” (apparently).  I’m not sure who has more nicknames: Latin Americans, Brazilians, or Boston suburbanites.

The_Vortex: They’re really laying it on thick with the Chito situation. I mean, I’m sympathetic, it must really suck, and it’s no medical condition that I’ve ever heard of, but man, Chito’s daughter has had more discussion on screen than The Mysterious Nicaraguan. To his credit, Chito has come across as a really good dude. He definitely seems really genuine about getting the surgery and raising awareness for his daughter.

NewChallenger: I also like how Chito is grateful that his daughter’s condition isn’t one of the more severe cases (in some situations, it can lead to paralysis).  Werdum has the great idea to raise money for Chito even if things don’t work out on the show.

The_Vortex: Unfortunately, it seems like there’s a bit of an ulterior motive to showing Chito on screen. He’s got some really bad scabs all over his face, neck and back. It’s almost certainly a skin infection of some kind, and possibly means he might not be cleared for his next fight. Team Latin America isn’t too worried, as Guido says, as long as they don’t touch him, they’ll be fine. It is gonna be tough rolling with him in training without touching him…

Chito's FaceThat’s naaaaasty. And the scabs don’t help.

Back across to the gym, we can see that the fight between the Mexicans is turning really awkward for everyone involved. The coaches have really stayed true to their promise of providing any strategy coaching to the fighters. Yair’s all about using his kicks and his range, and Rodolfo…well, we learn as much about Rodolfo as we did when he was spotlighted before his other fight. Which is to say, nothing. We have learnt precisely nothing about Rodolfo, at all, ever.

Little DCAlso, someone on Team Mexico brought a dog along. It’s totes adorbs.

NewChallenger: We know more about “Little DC” than we do about Rodolfo.  I couldn’t tell you two things about Rodolfo Rubio other than his first and last name.  Even when they announced the fight last week I was like, “Who is this guy?”

The_Vortex: Forget all that though. Now, we’re up to what has usually been the best damn part of many TUF seasons: the Coaches’ Challenge. It’s penalty kicks! This Coaches’ Challenge has everything. Drama, intrigue, chanting, dancing, an annoying bald dude hosting (not Dana, but some Spanish speaking schlub), scantily clad women holding bricks of cash.  It was freaking great. Werdum is like, amazingly super fired up. After all of these losses, he can finally go out and win something. Cain is a little bit out of his element, but, really, unless he’s grinding people into the ground, Cain always seems out of his element.

That's The SpiritThat’s a champion’s attitude right there.

NewChallenger: The challenge takes place at Bishop Gorman High School, the institution responsible for the Fertitta brothers, Dana White, and Snoop Dogg’s son.

They take turns shooting and playing goalie.  Werdum does a terrible job in net.  It looks like he doesn’t want to risk diving and Cain’s shots are just barely getting past him.  I’d be more critical, but one of these guys has been a healthy and active fighter over the past couple of years and one of them hasn’t…

Goal CelebrationThey say you shouldn’t “eat the worm”.  These guys shouldn’t try to “do the worm”.

Guido uses one of his ninja tricks to hypnotize Cain into kicking a ball wide of the net and that actually helps to even up the action.  The competition goes to overtime and they wisely cut most of it out.  There’s no way that even this cast could keep up their regular levels of enthusiasm after watching a dozen bad penalty kicks.  Werdum wins, which means that it’s on Team Mexico to do the housecleaning from now on.  Guido twice refers to the other team as his “Mexican servants”.  I’d love to see someone get away with that on an American edition of TUF.

Our first semi-final fight starts off eerily quiet.  The corners aren’t talking, there’s no commentary, and the Mexicans don’t want to show too much support for Yair or Fito.  You can tell that the competitors themselves aren’t into it.  It’s a really sloppy start as they work to get motivated to hurt each other.

The_Vortex: It’s not too much of a long fight either. Rodolfo quickly dumps Yair onto the round, after about a minute or so, Yair forces his way up. So, that’s the first unexciting minute over. Otherwise, it’s Yair that gets warmed up faster, he’s more aggressive on his feet, and manages to keep it there. He ends up on top of Rodolfo as they both manage to throw each other, and cuts up Rodolfo with a couple of elbows and wild punches. Yair’s throwing a lot of odd spinning s**t on the feet that he’s not even bothering to set up properly, and some of it is landing, so it’s that kind of fight. Eventually, Yair backs Rodolfo into the cage, and launches at him with a crazy-wild flurry. He wails on him for a while as Herb Dean looks on. Rodolfo Continue reading

20 Thoughts About The Ultimate Fighter 20

For the past two weeks, the latest season of The Ultimate Fighter has been on hiatus to accommodate the Major League Baseball playoffs.  In anticipation of the show’s return tonight, I engaged in a binge watch of the first four episodes over the weekend and here are some random comments and information for anyone watching or fans wondering whether they should consider doing so.

1.  The first episode had a lot of good ideas I’d like to see the show expand on in the future.  For one, having short, well produced profiles of the contestants is more memorable than two hours of mostly insignificant fights to get into the house.  Secondly, I liked seeing the tryouts.  That’s not a segment that will necessarily make sense every season, but it can’t hurt to show us more of the pre-show process.  I especially liked that they contrasted the paths of the more well known fighters with those who had to audition.

Right off the bat, we got to know more about Carla Ezparza (the favourite), Felice Herrig (notorious for self promotion), Alex Chambers (the astrophysicist), Angela Hill (the rookie), Heather Clark (the professional), Angela Magaña (spiritual), Rose Namajunas (beast),  Lisa Ellis (mommy), Tecia Torres (the undefeated prospect), and Randa Markos (the underdog).  They’re already treating these women like stars, which makes sense because regardless of who wins the show the rest of the cast will form the foundation of a new division in the UFC.

2.  The inclusion of Invicta fight footage was brilliant.  The clips showed us that these fighters have been performing at a high level already while also serving to promote a product that is now part of the UFC Fight Pass experience.  I’m also a believer that you can learn a lot about a fighter even if you’re only seeing snippets of what they can do.  Anything that helps foster familiarity in your viewing audience is a good thing.

It was also smart of them to acknowledge that there’s a lot of history between the girls both inside and outside the cage.  They know each other, they’ve trained with each other, and they’ve fought each other.  Whether you’re looking for fresh match-ups or high stakes rematches, every fight this year is going to carry extra weight.

3.  Once they were all gathered in the gym, Dana White declared that these are the sixteen baddest girls in the weight class.  Somewhere, Jessica Aguilar was throwing a remote at the television.

4.  As unpopular as this opinion might be, I should note that I’m not the biggest fan of women’s MMA.  That’s not to say that I don’t support it or that I don’t find it exciting.  I just feel that it’s not on the level of the men’s game.  I’m aware that’s a “duh” statement.  The most obvious comparison to make would be the NBA and the WNBA.  The WNBA is a fine product if you’re a basketball fan, but it lacks that elite level of athleticism that makes basketball a transcendent experience.  I’ve watched and enjoyed women’s basketball and I’ve watched and enjoyed women’s MMA.  I just prefer my basketball with acrobatic lay-ups and thunderous dunks and my MMA with greater potential for one hitter quitters.

5.  And to continue on this piggish bent, there’s no getting around it: there are some attractive women in this cast.  I’m not only talking about physical beauty either, though obviously most mixed martial artists are appealing on that level just from being in fantastic shape (I’m looking at you Roy Nelson).  Beyond that, these girls have great attitudes and personalities, which to me is the essence of attraction.  Take Herrig for example.  Yes, she’s cute, but (at least to me) she’s not on the level of a super model.  It’s her confidence and outgoing personality that makes her truly “hawt”.  Others may disagree and find her personality to be grating, but “eye of the beholder” and all that.

Felice BumThis is my reward for all the male nudity I normally have to deal with on this show.

6.  Since you asked, the girls I like the most are Felice, Alex (so purdy and smart), Rose, and Joanne Calderwood.  Rose consistently gives some of the best confessionals and I never get tired of hearing her rail on Heather Clark.  She also has amazing eyes, the most adorable nose, and a fantastic bum.

Rump ShakerI’m sorry, Pat Barry.  It’s not my fault your girlfriend rules.

7.  The tournament seeding is awesome!  Thank you TUF show runners for respecting that this season is unlike any other and that the crowning of a champion needs to be treated thoughtfully and respectfully.

For anyone who missed it, this is how it went down: Without the coaches’ knowledge, the UFC seeded the women from 1 to 16 based on the fighters’ history and the tryouts.  The coaches would still pick the teams, but depending on who they picked the other coach would then automatically get that pick’s opposite number.  For example, if Anthony Pettis picked #1, Gilbert Melendez would get #16, then if Melendez picked #2, Pettis would get #15 and so on.  This ensured that the high seeds would deservedly get an easier path to the finals and also challenge the coaches and their staff’s ability to assess talent.

(fighters listed in order of selection alternating between Pettis and Melendez, official seeding in parentheses):

Team Pettis

Carla Ezparza (1)
Randa Markos (14)
Joanne Calderwood (2)
Alex Chambers (10)
Jessica Penne (4)
Felice Herrig (6)
Justine Kish (9)
Aisling Daly (5)

Team Melendez

Angela Hill (16)
Tecia Torres (3)
Emily Kagan (15)
Rose Namajunas (7)
Lisa Ellis (13)
Heather Clark (11)
Bec Rawlings (8)
Angela Magaña (12)

8.  Just based on the seeding, Pettis killed it by ending up with five of the top six picks.  Aisling Daly really threw a monkey wrench into things.  She’s been dealing with depression and her understated persona might have caused them to overlook her impressive record.  Pettis nailed the top pick, highly regarded the highly regarded Esparza who I’m sure Melendez would have taken as well.  It’s the bottom of the draft where things got even better for Team Pettis as they somehow got the better of three of the last four picks (and Rawlings/Kish is essentially a toss-up).

9.  I don’t see why that tournament style seeding isn’t something they couldn’t try every season, since a natural pecking order always develops anyway.  The fact is that most fighters they find these days have at least heard of each other.  In the past it might have been a good idea to sell every fighter as some unknown property to increase the believability of anyone winning, but people are smart now.  As much fun as it is to see how guys react to where they were picked by the coaches, it would add even more intrigue to have official rankings as well.

10.  I’m still trying to figure out if it’s a good idea to reward the belt to the winner of this show.  On the one hand, it’s a heck of a prize and it makes TUF somewhat relevant (at least for one season); on the other hand, the multitude of belts has already diminished their drawing power so tying one into a reality show could do further harm.

11. Speaking of titles, based on what we’ve seen so far, the show has done nothing to disprove the notion that having Pettis and Melendez coach this season was a bad idea.  Neither is Mr. Personality in front of the camera, there doesn’t appear to be any real animosity, and that lightweight belt continues to hover in limbo.  With the recent news that Cain Velasquez will miss The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America coaching match-up with Fabrício Werdum, I can’t fathom how the organization thinks it’s a good idea to wilfully waste their champions’ time filming these shows.  I’m not saying Cain got hurt because he was a TUF coach; however, if there’s even the slight possibility he could have fought instead of doing the show then you have to make that a priority.  If Pettis or Melendez suffer an injury that pushes their showdown even further back, it will be a disaster.

12.  Tecia Torres became the first high seed to get upset and in the very first episode no less.  It is a close fight, one that is difficult to judge because her opponent (Randa) was on top for the majority of the contest, but Tecia was aggressive from bottom position.  It goes to a third round that I scored for Randa due to her top control.  I might be slightly biased because she’s flying the greatest colours in the world.

Proud Iraqi CanadianAnd don’t you forget it.

13.  Oh JoJo, my heart sings for thee, lassie.  So much so that you get your own bullet point.  Maybe it’s my love of accents, maybe it’s my love of pale women, maybe I’m just a total weirdo, but I think Joanne is SO HOT.  That near whisper she speaks in is so seductive, am I right?  Am I right?!?  I know I’m not the only one who thinks this.  Urijah Faber (stepping in for an absent Pettis) commented on it and he also said “You sound like Braveheart.”  Smooth.  You stay away from my girl, Faber!  (And you too, Joanne’s boyfriend!)

Some of JoJo’s highlights:

(After being matched up with Emily Kagan)

I’m pretty happy with that match-up even though before we were talking and I was like “I’m a wee bit hungry” and she’s like “Oh, I’ve got some food in my bag”.  So she went away and brought me two carrots.  Then when we got matched up I was like “Aw f**k she’ll be wanting her carrots back.”

Arm BreakerPettis: Oh!  Not so hard!  She took my arm out.  We’re just practicing right now.  Go light, okay?  I know you’re in fight mode.

Joanne: That was light.

(Filming a home video)

Joanne: I’ll go to Jemma first, my sister.  Will you miss me when I go away for six weeks?

Jemma: Of course not.

Joanne: Okay.

JoJoThe purple and pink shades put it over the top for me.

I can tell you this: if she walks out of this tournament with the title, she immediately becomes the UFC’s most distinctive champion (until Mark Hunt knocks out Werdum, of course).

14.  Poor Heather has been singled out by the cast (and the production crew) as the house pariah.  We all know people like her who are trying really hard to fit in and the harder they try it just makes things worse.  She also seems to be the neat and orderly type and those are two things that the TUF house has never been.  Everything she does rubs her teammates the wrong way, whether it’s playing rules lawyer during a raunchy question and answer game or using the ice bath at the wrong time.  The latter incident resulted in Angela M. yelling “I don’t want to hear it!  Shut up!”  And considering Angela M. is normally pretty chill, that was bad.

RefugeThe two Angelas and Rose hiding in the opposing locker room to avoid having to deal with Heather.

15. Angela H.’s farting.  This is a thing apparently.  I was wondering how she made it onto the show ahead of other more experienced women and I guess this explains it.

Angela's EntranceKickin’ in the door like Frankie Edgar!

16. Episode three started off on an awful note when Bec Rawlings found out that her dad passed away.  He had been suffering from Parkinson’s disease.  This harkens back to season 15, when Michael Chiesa received the same news.  He went on to win the show and it remains to be seen whether Bec can find the same inspiration he did.  Jake Shields visited the house to give his condolences.  He had to deal with the death of his father a few years back, weeks before a big fight with Jake Ellenberger.

Shields's FlowersI bet y’all feel bad about all those mean things you’ve said about Jake Shields now, don’t you?

17.  It never ceases to amaze me that in addition all the difficulties that come with being a professional athlete, women also have to deal with the possibility of becoming pregnant.  Starting a family can interfere with a woman’s career in any field, but when you add in the physical demands required to be a successful martial artist the challenge is mind boggling.

Lisa (wife of TUF 16 cast member Eddie Ellis) is only a year removed from having a baby.  She was dealing with a lot of issues, particularly a lack of confidence from having to endure such a long layoff.  The seeding did her no favours, matching her up with Jessica Penne who was mega focused.  Just as Melendez feared, Lisa froze up when Jessica got aggressive.  She was on defence the whole time and eventually succumbed to a rear naked choke.

18.  This season still doesn’t have as much crying as the TUF: Brazil series.  Yes, these women get emotional when they lose or when they’re talking about their struggles or missing their families.  The men in Brazil cry because it’s Tuesday.

The ProposalNow this is some progressive programming.

19.  Team Pettis started a tradition of hanging their underwear on the Team Pettis sign in their locker room.  I suppose that’s one way to add a feminine touch to the proceedings.  Team Melendez gets the wise idea to put a pair of granny panties up there, which isn’t a bad gag.  Jessica’s counter prank is better.  She takes the panties and stretches them across Melendez’s portrait.

Melendez DefacedMost men would be happy to have women’s underwear being shoved in their face.

20.  Overall, this season has definitely been worth watching even for lapsed TUF fans or even newcomers to the program.  Instead of relying on the novelty of an all female cast to carry the season, the show has stepped up its coverage of the fighters by giving us lots of footage of their lives outside of the house and drawing upon their shared history.  The fights have been good (if unspectacular) and there’s been little forced drama inside the house.  The conflicts feel real, almost uncomfortably so at times (at one point, the girls wonder if Heather has “real person feelings”.  Ouch!).

There’s also great camaraderie.  This is an enormous opportunity for every person in the house and they know it.  No cast will ever approach the significance or success of the original TUF (can you imagine the likes of Kenny Florian, Forrest Griffin, and Josh Koscheck all living in the same house today?), but this is as close as you’re going to get for a while.  You get the feeling that they want to elevate each other, whether it’s through bringing out each other’s personalities or pushing each other to the limit during training.  Friends or enemies, they have the chance to make a lot of money together.

But what do I know?  I watch every season of this show anyway so I can’t be trusted.  If you haven’t already, it can’t hurt to check out an episode and make up your own mind.  And if you won’t do it for me, do it for JoJo.

Miss Manners

The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America – Week 8

The_Vortex: Up tonight, we’ve got the last of the preliminary fights, and yes, the previews haven’t lied to you, it does end in glorious violence. Spoiler alert, it’s an awesome finish. Our fighters tonight are Team Mexico’s Masio Fullen, one of the bearded funny guys, against Leonardo “Chimy” Morales, a guy that I genuinely know nothing about. He’s had zero confessionals, minimal screen time, and he’s barely on screen for training montages. He’s the mohawked guy of this season, and even the show’s intro-promo categorises him as “mysterious”.

NewChallenger: The Mysterious Nicaraguan is his nickname from now on.

The_Vortex: So, back in the house, surprise, surprise, Guido’s having a whinge about losing his fight. Unfortunately, I have to agree with him here. He did win both rounds, and Marco’s pretty banged up. He’s limping noticeably nearly every time we see him. Of course, this doesn’t take away from the fact that Guido is a d**k. He’s complaining about the fight in the kitchen, in the bathroom, in the bedroom, outside, inside, everywhere. He’s not winning any friends, although I think he might have solidly lost them in the first place. Whilst it seems silly to criticise someone for the quality of their tattoos, let me just say: Your nipple tattoo ain’t looks pretty dumb, bro.

Ninja TattooSeriously, it ain’t great.

NewChallenger: If you thought Guido was grating on the other cast members before, this whine and cheese party has them all looking like they want to get him back in the tournament just so they can hand him a more convincing loss.  In fairness to Guido, I’d want to fight Teco too the way that mustachioed Mexican was staring at him.

GlareSo smarmy.

You know someone has an abrasive personality when he’s clearly been wronged and yet it’s still nearly impossible to sympathize with him.  He actually reminds me a lot of TUF 6 winner Mac Danzig, though even that guy loosened up after a while.  Through some fancy editing, they make it look like Guido has been talking from sun down to sun up.  I’m sure it just felt that way to everyone else in the house.

The_Vortex: Finally, we get our first introduction to Leonardo. He’s apparently a very solitary dude. Team Mexico has only heard him speaking once or twice, and his own team mates have to push him to join them whenever they’re doing something. Everyone seems accepting of this, though, that’s just the way some people are. However, Leonardo does have some legitimate “international man of mystery” traits that I was pretty surprised by.

NewChallenger: Yeah, you weren’t kidding when you said you had barely noticed him before.  Even his own teammates don’t know much about him!  I’m also disappointed that they are so accepting of him.  Where is the teasing, the unjust persecution, the borderline homoerotic hazing through juvenile pranks?  I feel sorry for the Latin American fans if this is their first taste of TUF programming.  They must be getting the wrong idea that fighters can be professional and mature.  You know, aside from all the nudity.

Leonardo gives off a borderline psycho (and I’m not talking about Marco) vibe, with his disdain for communication and his love of violence.  Thankfully, we see that he has a family which suggests that he’s at least capable of love.  At least I think he is.  A couple of interesting facts about his wife: she’s a professional boxer and she’s thirty-one, ten years his senior!  Who says older women are intimidating?

In case you forgot, the Mexicanos won a challenge last episode and there reward was a night out in Vegas.  They get the big limo treatment, which is a good thing because Coach Cain is coming along for the ride.

Limousine Ride​I’ve had nightmares where Cain Velasquez just emerges from the darkness.  Sexy nightmares.

In a truly inspired choice, they take the Mexicans to a Mexican restaurant.  I’m missing Claudia already.

The_Vortex: The way Cain just appeared in the back of the limo makes me hope that it was just as much a surprise for the team as it was for us. Cain’s really starting to loosen up, but he’s still a very humble guy at heart.

Most importantly, though, the guys head back to the house to get their drink on. And, as Mike Goldberg would say, “Get their drink on, indeed, do they… Joe.” They head back to the house for some tequila, Cain ends up eating the worm (seriously, not a great idea, I had one a few weeks back), and it turns into a proper Team Mexico party.

That is, everyone gets shirtless, and jumps in the pool.

Everyone.

Cain Gets In ThereAs a fight promoter, this is what you like to see your heavyweight champion doing when injuries have kept him off the shelf for almost a year.

It’s refreshing to see some guys having fun, especially after Guido’s eternal whinging.

Too Much Fun 1Too Much Fun 2Although, maybe they’re having a bit too much fun…

NewChallenger: He does not shy away from fraternizing with the troops, eh?  Not one bit.  This is a cool side of him, a far cry from the quiet, stoic champion that he is usually portrayed as.

The_Vortex: It’s profile time for Masio now. He lives with his parents, and four sisters. His father doesn’t think much of his fighting career, and has only seen one fight. On the other hand, his mother and sister are at every one of his fights they can get to, and I’d like to imagine that they’re all Ma Woodley-esque. Masio’s primarily a boxer, so he’s going to need to close down the kicks and range of Leonardo’s Muay Thai.

NewChallenger: No weigh-ins again and we’re getting right to the fight with just under thirty minutes left in the show.  The Mysterious Nicaraguan is sporting a Jason mask.  You are not Rony Jason, sir.  YOU ARE NOT.

Masio starts counting some un-hatched chickens, thinking about what it will be like to face his teammates in the semi-finals.  I’m sure it’s something that’s had to have come up considering Team Mexico’s dominance of the competition so far, but still…it seems unwise.

At the start of the fight, I’m really liking The Mysterious Nicaraguan’s demeanour.  Tightly coiled, with just enough movement to keep his opponent honest.  As you said, this is a clash of styles and The Mysterious Nicaraguan is keeping this at Muay Thai range, not boxing range.  Cain and Daniel Cormier are shouting at Masio to get in closeLucha!  Lucha!”, Cormier commands.  Sure enough, when Masio gets close he’s able to show some sharp boxing.  The tactic is much easier to implement in theory though since The Mysterious Nicaraguan has some nasty leg kicks.  I give the first round 10-9 to The Mysterious Nicaraguan, though Masio might have taken it with some late action.

The second round starts off with the kind of sequence that reminds me why I love mixed martial arts.  Leonardo attacks with a leg kick, Masio enters with boxing, Leonardo counteres with a Thai plum, Masio goes for a double leg to drag the action to the mat.  This has already been a vast improvement over the action from the last couple of weeks.

SkillsThat’s how you mix it up, fellas!

The_Vortex: Yup, this has been a good fight. Respect to Masio, as he’s really hanging in there, but Leonardo has done an awesome job of chopping away at that lead leg, forcing Masio to devote all of his attention to it. It turns out to all be part of his plan.

NewChallenger: It has to be noted that Leonardo is fighting with a large stain on the back of his shorts.  I’m going to assume it is sweat and that he didn’t Tim Sylvia himself.

The_Vortex: Eventually, about halfway through the pretty close, pretty awesome second round, he swings a kick high, and Masio, expecting yet another leg kick, drops his guard downwards, and kind of ducks into it. It hits him perfectly, he drops like a rock, and two laser accurate punches from Leonardo end any chances of recovery. Herb Dean bolts across the Octagon to stop it. The big man full sprints, it is nuts.

Nicaraguan KickTwo Team Werdum wins, two vicious knockouts.

Leonardo’s ecstatic, Werdum’s happy, and Dana’s f**king stoked. Dana even breaks down the fight, and the lead-up to the finish in a confessional, which is something I haven’t seen him do in a while, if at all, really. Dana f**king loved that fight, and as he tells us later, he loves these guys, and this entire season. That was a good fight, and a great finish.

Now, with all of the first round fights over, it’s time to pick the next round, and we get the traditional meeting with Dana to sort things out. With only two Team Werdum guys left, they’ve got loads of choices, and Chito calls out Marco, whilst Leonardo is willing to fight either Moggly or Rodolfo.

Smart call outs, I can dig it.

NewChallenger: The Mexicans also stay true to the crew, all picking either Chito or Leonardo.  The exceptions are Moggly (who says that he’ll fight anybody) and Alejandro Perez who says he wants a rematch with Teco since they’ve fought before.  Dana jokes with Teco that he should have picked Perez since Teco won both of their previous encounters.  We end up with…

Bantamweight

Alejandro Perez v. Chito Vera
Teco v. Psycho

Featherweight

Yair Rodriguez v. Rudolfo Rubio
The Mysterious Nicaraguan v. Moggly

Yair and Fito have one of the most solemn face-offs I’ve ever seen, neither man raising their head to look the other in the eyes.  I’m confident they’ll be motivated to murder each other when the time is right.  Onto the semi-finals!

Leonardo VictoriousNext Week: The Coaches’ Challenge and Pantera v. Fito!  Also, I start campaigning for a Leonardo Morales/Rony Jason fight.