The Ultimate Fighter 19 – Team Edgar v. Team Penn – Week 1 Recap

It’s hard to believe that it’s been seven years since B.J. Penn first coached The Ultimate Fighter opposite fellow legend Jens Pulver.  At the time, lightweights were an iffy property after Pulver had vacated the belt in March, 2002 and Penn and Caol Uno fought to a title fight draw in February 2003.  Pulver sought better pay elsewhere and Penn would claim the welterweight championship from Matt Hughes before also leaving the promotion.  With the two biggest stars out of the picture, the lightweight division was suspended until 2006.

None of this is to say that everyone was sitting on their butts waiting for Penn and Pulver to come back.  When lightweight action resumed, several fighters would step up to remind fans how exciting and explosive the “little guys” could be.  Spencer Fisher, Kenny Florian, Hermes França, Tyson Griffin, Clay Guida, Melvin Guillard, Roger Huerta, Joe Stevenson, and Sam Stout are just a few of the names who were making a splash at 155 in the & division even as it was unclear when they would get a strap to call their own.

In October of 2006, Sean Sherk would defeat Florian to become the first champion since Penn (a year later, Sherk would test positive for steroids and be stripped of the title.  The lightweight belt was something of a “cursed idol” back then).  Just like that, all the momentum that had been built up over the year came to a grinding halt.  The UFC went to the TUF well to rejuvenate the division.

With Penn and Pulver back in the fold, it made perfect sense to feature them and a whole cast of fighters in their weight class.  The crew included several contestants who had already made appearances in the UFC so for some this was an opportunity to boost their profiles.  Joe Lauzon was a particularly strange inclusion as he had actually knocked out Pulver in his lone UFC appearance (Matt Wiman and Gabe Ruediger were the other two, though they were unsuccessful in their debuts).

What resulted was one of the show’s finest seasons, with great fights, great drama between the coaches and great careers for many of the cast members.  Lauzon, Wiman, Ruediger, Nate Diaz, Rob Emerson, Manny Gamburyan, Corey Hill, Gray Maynard and Cole Miller would all go on to have at least three UFC appearances, with Diaz, Maynard and Gamburyan (in the WEC at featherweight) getting world title shots.  It gave the lightweight division the surge of talent that it needed and a marquee main event rematch in Penn/Pulver.  Penn would make short work of Pulver this time, before moving on to destroy Stevenson and Sherk to establish himself as the undisputed lightweight king.

Enter Frankie Edgar.

Standing just 5’6”, Edgar didn’t possess an eye popping physique or one punch knockout power.  He was neither a limb snatching submission machine nor a haymaker throwing brawler.  But he was fast.  Real fast.

Edgar’s top shelf wrestling and indefatigable approach proved to be the perfect foil for Penn and he won a controversial decision to dethrone Penn after “The Prodigy” had reigned for over eight hundred days.  An immediate rematch was called and Edgar shut the door on any controversy, sweeping the scorecards.  He would go on to have a pair of classic title defences against Maynard before dropping the title to Ben Henderson.

And that’s how we got here.  Team Edgar versus Team Penn.  Edgar now at featherweight, Penn dropping down for one last shot at his rival.  The stakes are much smaller, the fighters are much larger, but the song is the same.  Welcome to the 19th season of The Ultimate Fighter.


I’m really looking forward to Penn coaching again.  He’s older and wiser now, maybe even more mature.  Damn, it seems like he and Edgar actually like each other.  That’s a shame.  Edgar mentions that he actually tried out for season 5, which is mind blowing in retrospect.  You think he would have done better than Andy Wang?

On to the fights!

(* indicates that a fight is “highlights only”)

Light Heavyweight Fight 1

Tyler King (7-1) v. Daniel Spohn (8-3)

The first fight brings on a rollercoaster of emotions.  King is an ex-NFL player who had his career derailed by an injury.  His mom is there to support him.  She says she feels sorry for the other guy.  It’s an ill omen for what is to come.

The action doesn’t last long.  A counter-punch by Spohn drops King with one shot.  It’s as ugly as knockouts get, with King crashing down face first into the cage.  Mom comes over right away to check on him.  Dana White, Edgar and Penn talk about how this is the “hurt business”.  Normally, such a thrilling start would be celebrated but this is uncomfortable.

Down He GoesSorry Mom

Daniel SpohnAdvancing: Spohn

Middleweight Fight 1

Adrian Miles (14-5) v. Hector Urbina (16-8)

Miles was picked on because of his freckles.  There’s a motivation I haven’t heard before.  Urbina is high school wrestling stud who turned pro after graduation.  I imagine he’s the sort who would have bullied Miles if he knew him.

Urbina doesn’t hide his desire for the takedown.  He goes after it with everything he’s got and it’s almost not enough because Miles has some incredible balance.  Penn loves Urbina’s grappling, especially when he breaks out a move that is best described as a modified judo throw.  Urbina pulls guard and ends the fight with a guillotine choke.  He yells out “Will you be my uncle?”  Not sure who he was talking to (Dana?), but that’s pretty funny.

Hector UrbinaAdvancing: Urbina

Light Heavyweight Fight 2

Jake Heun (6-3) v. Todd Monaghan (8-2)

Ah, Jake Heun.  Here’s a guy with a story.  He’s a Chris Leben disciple who tried out for TUF 17.  I’ve seen him fight at heavyweight, middleweight and now light heavyweight.  You can tell that he wants to do this for a living so badly.  He says that it’s a “conscious decision to be a broke ass fighter”.

Monaghan is a reformed criminal and a born again Christian.  He shares a pre-fight prayer with his wife.

Heun looks great out of the gate, staggering Monaghan with a combination.  There’s a premature celebration by Heun after some borderline illegal ground strikes.  Heun is sloppy, but there’s something there.   Monaghan gives up his back and it looks like this one is over but he’s okay!  Then he pulls an arm bar out of nowhere!  Monaghan wins!

Heun says that he’s done with fighting.  Bummer.

Todd MonaghanAdvancing: Monaghan

Middleweight Fight 2

Cathal Pendred (13-2) v. ???

Everything I’ve heard about Pendred has him pegged as the top welterweight prospect out of the UK, so it should be a treat to see him fight.  Unfortunately, White tells us that his opponents kept suffering various maladies and they weren’t able to get him a match-up in time.  For the first time in TUF history, a fighter is getting into the house on a bye.  Feel the excitement!

Cathal PendredAdvancing: Pendred

For some reason, all of the fighters under Team Edgar’s watch have short shorts.  White mockingly calls it “Jersey Style”.  Edgar asks one of his guys what’s up and he’s told that they’re being cut for good luck.  Remember this for later.

Middleweight Fight 3*

Roger Zapata (5-1) v. Tyler Minton (5-1)

Zapata falls for that old reality television trap: answer a question about your family and watch the tears flow.  He’s a new dad, spurred on by an online chat with his wife.  He calmly takes Minton apart en route to a TKO victory.

Roger ZapataAdvancing: Zapata

Middleweight Fight 4*

Lyman Good (15-3) v. Ian Stephens (4-0)

Being a former Bellator champ, Good is a marked man.  Everyone mentions it and I’m sure it only served to motivate his opponent.  Stephens is twenty-five years old with only two pro fights.  Surprisingly, he dominates the action.

White: This is not gonna look good if the f**kin’ Bellator champion doesn’t even make it into the ‘Ultimate Fighter’ house.

Stephens wins a unanimous decision and says that “Bellator champs don’t belong here.”  I’m thinking Good was bought in just so they could take shots at the competition.

Ian StephensAdvancing: Stephens

Light Heavyweight Fight 3

Chris Fields (8-4) v. Josh Stansbury (4-2)

Fields is a newlywed Irishman.  Conor McGregor is in the building to support him and Pendred.  In the other corner is Stansbury, who’s got a chin like Hendo.

You won’t see this match being broken down on Striking Simplified anytime soon, I’ll tell you that match.  Stansbury continuously looks for a big right, eventually catching Fields and putting him down against the cage.  Fields survives until a low blow creates a pause in the action.  The accident doesn’t stop Stansbury from picking up where he left off.  He regains control with a takedown attempt, only to suffer a freak knee injury.  Stansbury was definitely winning the fight so that is a terrible way for him to go out.  Don’t expect Fields to be a high pick.

McGregor: Luck of the Irish!

Speaking of luck, Stansbury was one of Edgar’s guys…and he didn’t cut the shorts!  It’s a real thing!

Chris FieldsAdvancing: Fields

Light Heavyweight Fight 4

Anton Berzin (3-1) v. Cody Mumma (5-1)

The Russian MMA invasion has made its way onto TUF.  Berzin is a BJJ black belt who immigrated with his family.  He actually has some solid hands too, which he puts to good use to set up his grappling.  A stunning judo flip puts Mumma down and then Berzin moves into back control.  His corner yells at him to not get too high, but he ignores them and snags an arm bar.  Shows what they know.

Anton BerzinAdvancing: Berzin

Middleweight Fight 5*

Tim Williams (8-1) v. Bojan Velickovic (8-2)

If Williams looks familiar, he’s the scary looking dude who tried out for TUF 17.  He is quite accurately called “The South Jersey Strangler”.  I’m not sure if that’s so much a nickname as it is a confession.

Much more pleasing to the eye is Velickovic’s girlfriend, Zenja Draca (saved you the googling).  She’s a college tennis player apparently.  When she gets to Velickovic’s room, they immediately start making out like it’s a conjugal visit.  They give a mandatory interview and you can tell they’re just thinking about boning the whole time.  The door is eventually shut on the camera guy so the two lovebirds can get some private time.

For some reason, Penn is endlessly amused by Williams’s resemblance to Joe Lauzon.  Back and forth fight for two rounds.  Velickovic can barely get off the stool for the third.  Maybe he shouldn’t have because the fight is waved off seconds into the extra period when it’s clear he can’t defend himself.  I wonder if there was something he did before the fight that might have sapped his reserves…

Tim WilliamsAdvancing: Williams

Middleweight Fight 6*

Matt Gabel (8-3) v. Eddy Gordo Eddie Gordon (6-1)

This one is all about Gordon, a massive middleweight.  Penn says he looks to be at least 220.  He has huge power.  Even his blocked punches have enough juice to push Gabel around the octagon.  There’s no finish, but Gordon takes a one-sided decision.

Eddie GordonAdvancing: Gordon

Light Heavyweight Fight 5*

John Poppie (3-1) v. Josh Clark (7-2)

Poppie suffers from bipolar disorder.  That’s something I imagine a lot of professional athletes deal with even if they don’t want to admit it.  Fighters in particular can go from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows with one wrong move and they have months and months to dwell on their triumphs or failures.  I always encourage people to be honest with themselves when it comes to addressing that sort of mental condition.

Clark is a federal agent who used to disable land mines for the army.  There are some serious psychological issues on both sides of the octagon.

The highlights depict another tough fight that goes to a third round, where Poppie ends up tapping to a triangle arm bar.

Josh ClarkAdvancing: Clark

Light Heavyweight Fight 6

Patrick Walsh (4-1) v. Doug Sparks (7-2)

I really want to tell you that Sparks won this fight.  In his brief time on the show, he becomes notorious for always wearing a headband with furry ears, claims that he’s half-human, half-polar bear, and expresses his passion for “psychology, socio-biology and evolutionary psychology”.  I think he’s channeling Matthew McConaughey in True Detective.  He’s undeniably fascinating and it would have been great to see him in the house.

Fascinating doesn’t win fights.  After nearly getting caught in a guillotine, Walsh escapes to side control and wins with a kimura.

Patrick WalshAdvancing: Walsh

Light Heavyweight Fight 7

Daniel Vizcaya (7-2) v. Matt Van Buren (6-2)

There’s a funny moment where Van Buren tells his dad that he hopes they don’t talk again anytime soon because that will mean he made it into the house.  The fight ends with a surprising stoppage by Herb Dean.  He’s vindicated by a replay that shows Vizcaya going limp under a flurry of elbows (the kind Travis Browne has been using).  I hate those elbows.  They look illegal to me.

Matt Van BurenAdvancing: Van Buren

Light Heavyweight Fight 8*

Kelly Anundson (6-1) v. Corey Anderson (3-0)

These two fighters are familiar with each other having both wrestled at Newbury College.  Small world, eh?  Anundson has some serious wrestling credentials, though nobody is quite sure what to make of them:

White: Three time All American college wrestler.  Two time FILA world champ.
Penn: What does that mean?
Edgar: I don’t know, man.
White: Listen.  Just ‘cause you two never won the FILA world championships…quit hatin’.

True to his reputation, Anundson gets a lot of takedowns.  Even after getting full mount, he can’t put Anderson away.  Anderson’s cardio is on point and it’s enough to carry him to a win.

Corey AndersonAdvancing: Anderson

Middleweight Fight 7*

Adam Stroup (5-1) v. Dhiego Lima (8-1)

Lima is the brother of two-time Bellator tournament winner and newly crowned Bellator Welterweight Champion Douglas Lima.  If you’ve ever seen Douglas fight, you know he’s got some serious striking chops.  His brother is no different, rocking Stroup and cruising to a decision victory.

Dhiego LimaAdvancing: Lima

Middleweight Fight 8

Nordine Taleb (8-2) v. Mike King (5-0)

Let’s be real here.  Taleb should really be 9-2 since he just won a fight in the UFC hours before this episode aired!  This is a surreal segment.  Knowing what we know, it’s safe to assume that Taleb doesn’t make it past this stage but…what if?  He would be the first contestant to do two full seasons of TUF.  What if he won?  Would he compete in a TUF final even though he already has a contract?  Would they just pretend that he wasn’t on TUF Nations?  Why was this allowed to even happen?  Why is my nose bleeding right now?

A couple of minutes in, you can see why they saved this fight for last.  Incredible output and chins by both men.  If Taleb fought like this on TUF Nations he would have won the whole thing.  The coaches are impressed and lament the fact that either man has to go home.

Things only get wilder in the third round.  King almost locks in an unorthodox knee bar.  The attempt is enough to force Taleb to give up top control.  They scramble and King hunts for an Americana arm lock.  Crazy action!  It could have gone either way, but King did enough to take this one.

Mike KingAdvancing: King

 Team Selection

When Penn was picking teams for season 5, he memorably asked all of the fighters to raise their hands if they wanted nothing to do with Jens Pulver.  It was a moment of pure mind f**kery.  In a callback to those shenanigans, Penn asks Edgar if they should save time and split the middleweights since four red guys won and four blue guys won.  White tells him to knock it off.

Edgar wins the coin toss and he decides to go with picking the first fighter starting with the light heavyweights:

Team Edgar


Stephens (1st) – Edgar inexplicably calls him “Joseph Stephenson” (???)
Lima (3rd)
Gordon (5th)
Urbina (7th)

Light Heavyweights

Anderson (1st)
Walsh (3rd)
Van Buren (5th)
Monaghan (7th)

Team Penn


King (2nd)
Williams (4th)
Pendred (6th)
Zapata (8th)

Light Heavyweights

Berzin (2nd)
Clark (4th)
Spohn (6th)
Fields (8th)

Penn picks Pendred to fight.  Despite having done this before, he completely forgets that he also gets to pick the opponent.  His coaches suggest Urbina and it is on!

Overall, not a bad episode though it’s missing a hook.  For example, TUF 17 was the first show with the fancy new production, TUF Brazil 2 was the last show with the old production, TUF 18 was the first season to feature women, TUF Nations was in Canada, and TUF Brazil 3 is TUF Brazil 3.  So what can we look forward to here?

The first season to feature light heavyweights since TUF 8 back in 2008.  A whole season with one of my favourite fighters, Frankie Edgar.  A whole season with everyone else’s favourite fighter, B.J. Penn.  I mean, come on, it’s B.J. freakin’ Penn!

Blast from the past.

Next week: Cathal Pendred v. Hector Urbina.  Also, there’s a better than good chance I link to that Andy Wang clip again.

The Ultimate Fighter Brazil 3: Team Wanderlei v. Team Sonnen – Week 6 Recap

The_Vortex: You can stop being disappointed guys, I’m back! And oh my god, it is good to be back. You’ve seen the previews, you’ve read the articles. Fight of the Season right here. The Brawl in the Hall.

To fill you in on the last couple of weeks, Team Wanderlei has won the first three fights, and all of the challenges against Team No Apology. Everyone’s arrived for Wanderlei Silva to pick the next heavyweight fight, but Wanderlei’s running late. Quite late, judging by how angry Chael Sonnen and Hortência are getting. Wanderlei finally rolls up, and Chael’s confessional blasts him for it:

Sonnen: Ultimately, he came in, he looked like he had just woken up. When I stood next to him, he smelt like he was drunk. You know, it seems like he had a long night.

Wanderlei picks Rick Monstro (Team Wanderlei, 5th heavyweight pick) against Cabo Job (Team Sonnen, 8th heavyweight pick). During the picking process, Chael remarks to Hortência that Wanderlei looks drunk. It looks like he’s trying to pick off another weak fighter again.

What do you think, NewChallenger? Is Chael just being Chael and trying to score some points even though his guys are losing, or is he speaking the truth there?

NewChallenger: This is textbook Chael being Chael.  I’ve never read anything about Wanderlei being a party animal or anything like that.  I’m not saying he’s a saint, but we know Sonnen isn’t either.  He lives by the law of the pro wrestling heel and rule number one of the pro wrestling heel is this: nothing he says can be trusted.  As much as I find the accusation to be entertaining in a twisted way, it isn’t true.  He’s just taking advantage of the fact that we don’t have “Smell-o-vision” yet.  Someday, Sonnen…someday.

You’re spot on about Wanderlei continuing to pick off Sonnen’s “weaker” guys.  Since getting Wagnão to down Peregrino, Wanderlei hasn’t once matched up one of his guys against a higher selection.  The strategy seems to be working though, so I don’t blame him at all.  Did you notice Rick Monstro gave Hortência a kiss on the cheek, but not Isabel?  Is there an inordinate amount of affection for her or am I just imagining things?

The challenge this week was “The Typewriter”, though Sonnen amusingly calls it “writing machine” (which seems to be the most literal translation).

How would you compare this week’s challenge to last week’s?

The_Vortex: It’s important to note that Chael even thanks Wanderlei for being on time to the challenge. Pro wrestling missed a champion heel when Chael P. Sonnen decided he liked hitting people in the face for real. The challenge is a funny one. Basically, each team is sitting in a circle, holding a rope, that’s connected to a pen. They’ve got to write TUF: Brazil legibly. It’s good for…control, or something, I guess? But anyway, woo, challenges!

Maquina de EscreverI heard they do this every morning at Black House.

Team Sonnen wins, and finally breaks the streak! They win a pajama party with the Octagon Girls, and Team Wanderlei gets to be locked in one small room the whole time the party’s going. Brilliant.

First WinMore like “The Ultimate Writer”, AMIRITE?

This prize is almost like a punishment for the married guys. Peregrino seems to be the token party guy, and twerks it out for the rest. The girls name him “Mr Charisma”.

Mr. CharismaThe “Peregrino dance” is SO good.

So, NewChallenger, most awkward segment ever, or most awkward segment EVER?

NewChallenger: I have no idea what you’re talking about.  I loved every minute of it, especially how Pezão is always pointing out how he’s married.  You just know that he did that to remind himself as much as anyone else.  He also says that he made sure to “get to know them to vote accordingly”.  What a professional.

For some reason, I thought it would be fantastic if the prize for the contest was an antique typewriter.  The actual prize was slightly better.

Pajama PartyIf only my teachers had stressed the importance of good handwriting more.

As you said, it’s hilarious how Team Sonnen can’t even enjoy it because of their wives.  Warlley Alves is the only single guy and Patricia Andrade says “he’s avoiding the party”.  Alves says that women are his “weakness”, so he decides to stay away to avoid doing anything stupid.  Boo.

Pillow FightI heard they do this every morning at Black House.

It can never be just fun and games in the TUF house though.  We see tension building between Cara de Sapato and Borrachinha and, of course, Wanderlei and Sonnen.  Did you find either of these feuds particularly compelling?

The_Vortex: To be honest, it’s beginning to look like the Sapato/Borrachinha feud is the only one that might end up with a fight. The Sonnen/Silva fight just seems to be getting so many delays. Borrachinha’s a big 185’er, and Sapato weighed in at 210 for a heavyweight fight, so they could easily meet at light heavy if they want.

NewChallenger: Apparently the feud stemmed from Borrachinha saying he was able to beat Cara de Sapato up when they trained together.  Cara de Sapato isn’t satisfied with the apology (or lack thereof).

Jollyson Francino: What happens in the dojo stays in the dojo.  You don’t say anything to anyone.

The_Vortex: Team Silva has a guest coach visit, Gabi Garcia. She’s an 8 time BJJ world champ, absolutely jacked, with a real champion’s attitude…and popped for… well, something?

She’s huge.

NewChallenger:  Come on, she can’t be that big I mean…

Gabi GarciaJesus t**ty f**king Christ.

Garcia would eat Ronda Rousey for breakfast, lunch and dinner and then scatter the leftovers across the favelas.

The_Vortex: She ragdolls a couple of middleweights, and demonstrates how Wanderlei can’t stop a double leg.


The fighters get a little introduction, and Cabo Job gets the first segment. He’s a cop, and picked up martial arts as some on the job self defense. Physically, he seems like an actual heavyweight. He’s big, determined, and no doughier than Shogun Rua ever is.

Rick Monstro is a mechanical engineer, and describes himself as very aggressive.

But enough with this. Weigh-ins are up next, and we get Silva/Sonnen I. And it. Was. Glorious.

NewChallenger: I can’t make heads or tails of the climactic Silva/Sonnen brawl.  I’ll say this: if it wasn’t real it was very convincing and very fun to watch.  The confrontation seems to arise from a combination of the language barrier and Sonnen’s natural dickishness.  Wanderlei is understandably apprehensive when Sonnen asks why they can’t be cordial on the show.  He knows Sonnen’s act.  We all do.

Oddly, it’s an innocuous question that sets Wanderlei off.  As you mentioned, the fight keeps getting pushed back.  During the filming of the show, they likely had no idea when the fight was scheduled so Sonnen straight up asks Wanderlei.  Wanderlei perceives that as a challenge and spits at him.  It’s too late to go back now.  Whenever Sonnen tries to speak, Wanderlei answers with a hearty F**k you!  It doesn’t help that Sonnen always has a hint of a smirk on his face.  At some point, Sonnen has no choice to shove him away and it…is…on!  Take it away Joe!

The_Vortex: After the shove, they circle briefly. Wanderlei is the first one to swing, and Chael cleanly ducks under the strike, changes levels and hits the takedown easily. Like, really easily. I worry about Wanderlei’s takedown defense. They’re both trying to hit each other, but, like, 2 seconds later, other people pile on. One of the Team Sonnen heavyweights is there trying to break up the fight, and one of the Team Wanderlei assistant coaches, Dida, is there to slug Chael from behind, and tear his shirt. That’s a pretty low moment.

Everyone’s pretty heated, but Chael takes the time to apologise to Cabo Job, for distracting him, and interfering with his focus. It’s a classy moment, and in complete contrast to the Team Wanderlei coaches’ thoughts. Dida’s unrepentant, and Wanderlei keeps talking about respect. Wanderlei’s lost my support now, from the way he’s talking, by respect, he means subservience. I’m not saying Chael didn’t have a large part in provoking the fight, but Wanderlei seems to think that he can disrespect Chael, and then expect Chael to respect him. It doesn’t work in my book.

Both fighters make weight. Rick Monstro is 223lb, and Job is 250lb.


Back over to you, man.

NewChallenger: Vortex, buddy, you sound shaken up by the whole incident.  It’s all part of the show.  You know Wanderlei and Sonnen are laughing it up on a yacht somewhere, partying with their wives (and maybe Hortência…) and celebrating how they pulled one over on all of us.  Yes, I’m sure that’s what’s going on…seriously though, seeing Dida act so proudly about sucker punching Sonnen is just messed up.  I doubt he lasts thirty seconds against Sonnen in a real fight.

This week’s ring girl is Thais Andrade, who doesn’t give us much to work with personality-wise.  She does have one outstanding feature though…

Thais AndradeIf this were all about volume, Thais would take the contest hands down.

The fight itself is another quick heavyweight bout.  Rick Monstro misses a big right in the early going, though it’s really meant to set up a clinch which it does perfectly.  He gets Capo Job down and starts to go to work with his submission game.  At some point during a choke attempt, Capo Job is able to defend and get on top.  In a flash, Rick Monstro is able to secure a fight ending arm bar from his back.  That’s four straight wins by Team Wanderlei to start the season.

Not only is Wanderlei winning everything, Sonnen’s guys have looked bad.  Capo Job has some excuse as he apparently broke his finger early on.  Sonnen also points out that Capo Job’s long limbs made him more susceptible to an arm bar.  Curse you genetics!

Final thoughts for this week?

The_Vortex: Yeah, that wasn’t an amazing fight. Heavyweights gonna heavyweight. 4-0’s a bad situation to be in, but Chael’s boys will claw back a win or two as the match-ups start favouring them.

Unfortunately, I think the rivalry has peaked with this. The coach’s challenge will be fun, but civil. Dana’s explosion is gonna be fun, and hopefully the previews haven’t lied to us, and it’ll be next week.

Final, final thought: Thais. I still think Rafaela’s in the lead, but Thais is solidly the second best so far, in my book. Can’t wait to see how this ultra-important tournament shapes up.

Rick Monstro VictoriousNext week: Dana White is in the building…on a big ass TV screen.

The Ultimate Fighter Brazil 3: Team Wanderlei v. Team Sonnen – Week 5 Recap

(Note: The_Vortex was unavailable this week, so I’ll be providing a quick recap…though since it’s so late, think of it more as a refresher before you watch the newest episode.)

I am not happy with you TUF: Brazil.  Not happy at all.

I was promised Isabela and Hortência doing MMA.  I was promised accusations of alcoholism!  Neither of these things has happened yet.  Perhaps last week’s teaser was meant as more of a preview for the rest of the season, but I do not enjoy being led on.  Et tu, Brasil?

On the bright side, what we do get this week is pretty good, including the kind of unique frivolity only our Brazilian counterparts are capable of.  There’s a raft race challenge straight out of Survivor with an accompanying prize for the winners and punishment for the losers.  They have to put the rafts together themselves using large sticks and swim rings.  Lyoto is excited because Team Sonnen has Cabo Job, a marine.  Peregrino says he was a boy scout, which I didn’t even know they had in Brazil.  Despite having those two wilderness experts, Team Sonnen looks to be falling behind in the building stage.

Cara de Sapato and Hortência exchange some trash talk, not that it matters since the race doesn’t start until both teams are finished.  Just putting the thing together looks a lot harder than most TUF challenges I’ve seen.  This is the kind of game I love.  It’s physical, it’s fun and the chance of injury is minimal.

Sadly, once the race begins the teams don’t engage in any aquatic Ben Hur shenanigans.  Maybe Team Sonnen should have thought about that because they’re falling behind again!  Is it the quality of the raft?  The bickering between Lyoto and Peregrino?  Did they make a mistake leaving Pezão and Bomba behind?  They’re the lucky guys who get to sit this one out and hang with the aspiring octagon girls.

Beach BoysDon’t strain yourself, fellas.

Team Wanderlei wins again!  They taunt their rivals, asking if they need a towboat.  Ugh.  I never want to lose to a Brazilian in anything ever.

Raft Race WinEven Team Wanderlei loves Hortência.

The losing team has to prepare a feast for the winners.  This sounds like an opportunity for spunk sushi.  Thankfully, the Brazilians are an honourable lot and they don’t do anything worse than putting too much salt on Marmota’s meal.  I really hope that’s not a euphemism for spunk sushi.

Distressed WarleyThey even get a cake for Demente who is missing his son’s birthday.  It’s a touching moment and it ends the way all good things in Brazil end: with stripping.

Waiter ShowBorrachinha’s reaction is delightful.  “F**k this, I’m outta here.”

Oh TUF: Brazil, how can I stay mad at you?

The match-up for the week is Demente (Team Wanderlei, 2nd overall) versus Bomba (Team Sonnen, 7th overall).  Wanderlei’s plan is to send his aces to take out the lower picks so that he can keep control and boost the confidence of his fighters.  Bomba expected the match.  He used to train with Demente and he speculates that maybe Demente asked to fight him.  He feels that Team Wanderlei is underestimating him.

Demente is coming down a class and he looks jacked.  Bomba weighs in at just 182, so there will be a noticeable size difference.  Wanderlei says that weight and height are an important factor in his fight picks.  It remains to be seen what’s going to happen as his options are winnowed, but for now he couldn’t have given his boy Demente a much bigger advantage.

We have a strong contender this week in the octagon girl competition.  Ana Cecilia is a taekwondo practitioner with Disney eyes that are nearly enough to make her the frontrunner.  Nearly.  I’m still riding with Rafaela.

Ana CeciliaDon’t look at me like that, Ana!  I’m not changing my mind.

The fight

The initial exchange goes badly for Bomba, and Demente smells blood.  Demente gets a trip and moves to mount almost immediately.  Both men boast world championship jiu-jitsu credentials, leading to some entertaining scrambles.  Bomba is able to get back to half guard, then back to his feet.  He’s fast, but wild.  Demente slips most of his punches until Bomba ducks under and hits a beautiful takedown.  He follows up with solid punches, but Demente survives and it’s his turn to use his jiu-jitsu to stand up.  He maintains a hold on Bomba as he does so and transitions into a big slam!  Demente is active going for a choke and ground and pound, leaving room for Bomba to scramble for a single leg.  Bomba lands a knee on the way up.  It’s an excellent first round that has me leaning towards Demente 10-9 due to his takedowns and a couple of close submission attempts.

Demente’s corner asks him not to strike anymore.  He listens.  A patient approach leads to him scoring another takedown, though he still can’t control Bomba.  I’m really impressed by Bomba being able to defend himself effectively especially when Demente looks like he weighs about three hundred pounds when he’s on top.  As expected, Bomba pushes the pace whenever they’re on the feet.  Demente is visibly fading.  His mouth hangs open, making it an easy target for Bomba’s punches.  On the other hand, Bomba isn’t exactly fresh himself.  All that work from the bottom has taken its toll on him.  Bomba goes all out for a takedown, but Demente gets a whizzer and manages to avoid any major damage.  He ends the round by dragging Bomba back down to the mat.  I have Demente taking the second round 10-9 and the fight 20-18, even if the second round wasn’t always pretty.

The judges agree and that makes it 3-0 for Team Wanderlei.  Considering Wanderlei has already used his top middleweight and heavyweight, it would be premature to predict a sweep.  Still, it’s a great start for Wanderlei.  Team Sonnen better start winning some of these game show challenges or this is going to get ugly.

Demente VictoriousNext week: If it’s anything like last week, pretty much nothing in the preview will actually happen.

The Ultimate Fighter Nations: Canada v. Australia – Week 13 Recap & Finals Breakdown

We made it!  Now, let’s not pretend this was the most exciting or high stakes or talented season of The Ultimate Fighter.  The coaches barely interacted, the feuds in the house never escalated beyond “catty” and there was a noticeable disparity in the skill level between the Canadians and the Australians.  That said, I feel this show as good enough to justify its own existence.  That might be damning it with faint praise, but what I mean to say is that as long as there are people like me who are willing to watch international editions of TUF and the production costs remain in line with most reality television programs then I don’t see the harm in continuing to crank these out.  Since the cast changes every year, they don’t even have to worry about paying the performers more.  Kind of like how it works when you actually make it to the UFC.  Heyo!

Team Colours:

Team Côté
Team Noke

Everyone is talking about Olivier Aubin-Mercier’s performance.  Sheldon Westcott tries to console Richard Walsh by assuring him that Aubin-Mercier kills everyone in practice.  I’m not sure I’d find that particularly comforting.  He may as well say “You never really had a chance buddy, don’t worry about it.”  Walsh says he over-thought the whole situation, which makes sense since he normally comes off as a sharp, down to earth fellow.  That might not lend itself to dealing with extreme anxiety.  Westcott tells Walsh that he’s welcome to train with him in Edmonton anytime.

The whole season I was wondering if Dana White would actually make an appearance on Canadian soil.  Once Georges St-Pierre showed up, I didn’t care so much anymore.

The Champ Is HereLook, it’s Batroc the Leaper!

It’s no surprise that all the welterweights idolize him.  Several of the Canadians train with him, and Walsh and Jake Matthews are on record as saying that he is their favourite fighter.  He’s dropping truth bombs all over these cats.  Nobody moves, nobody even blinks because they’re afraid that they might miss something important.  GSP even addresses the Johny Hendricks fight.  He and his corner thought that he won and they wouldn’t say that if they didn’t truly believe it.  If he felt that Hendricks had beaten him, GSP says he would give away the belt.  Oddly enough, isn’t that what he ended up doing?

This close to the finale, both Westcott and Vik Grujic are facing some treacherous mental hurdles.  Grujic can’t stop thinking about the guaranteed money that would come from just making the finale.  He has felt flat and has a serious look plastered on his face for most of the episode.  Then again, he always looks like that.

Westcott says that “the general rule in fighting is if you’re not going in injured or you’re not going in hurt you didn’t have a good training camp.”  I’m not sure if I agree with that line of thinking, but if that’s the case then Westcott must consider his time with Team Canada to be the best camp ever.  He’s been nursing injuries to almost every part of his body since the beginning of the show.  That he’s even in the semi-finals is somewhat of a miracle and a testament to how gifted he is.

In what probably seemed like a good idea on paper, Patrick Côté dresses up as a yeti to have some fun with the fighters.  The prank fails miserably and he ends up getting tackled by Tyler Manawaroa and spanked by Elias Theodorou.

The Abominable CoteBoogaboogabooga!

Later, Grujic meets a horse.

HorseSo majestic.

The fight

When he beat Dan Kelly, Westcott said it was important that he come out fast so that he wouldn’t worry about the injuries that he was dealing with.  Just rush in and whatever happens happens.  He adopted the same strategy here.  The fighters smash into each other to start like two Japanese movie monsters.  Westcott takes Grujic down with a big slam and Grujic makes the mistake of hanging on for a guillotine without proper position.  Seconds later, Grujic is tapping out to what looks like a Von Flue choke.  Côté says it should be called the “Westcott” since Jason Von Flue popularized the move from side control while Westcott was in half guard.  Grujic is kicking himself after for losing to what he considers to be a low level choke.

Waiting for him in the middleweight final will be Elias Theodorou, while the welterweight final will see Chad Laprise versus Oliver Aubin-Mercier.  For the first time in TUF history, a two tournament season features four finalists from the same team.  Give credit to the Australians.  They’re the ones who had to leave the comfort of their home country.  While that meant they got to enjoy a lot of winter experiences for the first time, it also meant a massive adjustment period.  I respect the effort they put into their fights, regardless of whether they were finished quickly or made it to a decision.  Seemed like a loveable bunch too.  Cheers, mates.

There’s time to spare in the episode and we get to see the fighters reminisce as they pack up to leave.  Can’t say I recall them showing this on previous TUF seasons.  Couldn’t they have licensed a song for this moment like it’s an MTV show about 8 teenagers on spring break?


Famous ShortsVik showing off his shorts that were signed by GSP and Bones Jones.

Grujic says that it is strange going back to his normal life after being immersed in nothing but MMA for weeks.

Luke Harris, sounding like the veteran he is, points out that no matter what team they’re on, the fighters will always have more in common with each other than most of the general population.  It makes the TUF house sound like some kind of retreat.  Maybe that explains why Nordine Taleb has signed on for another tour of duty.  If reports are true, he was one of 32 men competing for a spot on TUF 19 (which starts next week!).  I’m not even sure if I would root for him to make it since I can’t imagine anyone going through the show twice.  Then again, he never really had to leave home, did he?

Stephanie Serfaty Nations Week 13Kahili was back this week, but an all Canadian final means only one octagon girl can reign supreme.

Next week: The TUF Nations finale on April 16th!  Raise your hand if you forgot that there was a coach’s fight this year.  Here are is some information on the match-ups and my thoughts:

Welterweight Division Final: Chad Laprise (7-0) v. Olivier Aubin-Mercier (4-0)

Chad LapriseOlivier Aubin-MercierHow they got here: Laprise outworked Chris Indich on the feet in the quarterfinals leading to an unfortunate meeting with his teammate and friend Kajan Johnson.  After some good back and forth action, Laprise shattered Johnson’s jaw with a thunderous overhand right.  The emotional win catapulted Laprise into the finals.

Aubin-Mercier entered this contest with plenty of hype, including some lofty GSP comparisons.  Not only does he display the superior grappling of the former welterweight champ, he also shares French Canadian heritage and has a quirky attitude all his own.  Like Laprise, he won his first fight against Jake Matthews handily though he wasn’t able to finish.  The semi-final fight was a completely different story.  He took some shots from Richard Walsh, but once he got his hooks in the rear naked choke was academic.

The hook: The Disciple v. The Québécois Kid!  I was unsure how to feel about Laprise after the Johnson fight.  Yes, he showed that his stand-up was legit and that he has some power, but the way he stacked his corner and his enthusiasm over the KO afterward made me feel uneasy.  It hinted at the sinister past that Laprise himself discussed during the show.  Aubin-Mercier, on the other hand, comes off as this happy-go-lucky guy who also just happens to be a high level martial artist.  In addition to a tough opponent in Laprise, Aubin-Mercier will also be facing the challenge of great expectations, a weight that many before him (TUF 16 finalist Mike Ricci comes to mind) have been crushed by.  He’s still learning how to take a punch too.  After seeing what Laprise is capable of, it might be a good idea to put those lessons on hold.

The pick: Aubin-Mercier.  Whoever wins, expect a drop down to lightweight after.

Middleweight Division Final: Sheldon Westcott (8-1-1) v. Elias Theodorou (8-0)

Sheldon WestcottElias TheodorouHow they got here: Blink and you might have missed Westcott’s appearances in the cage.  He blasted Dan Kelly inside of a minute, then did the same to Vik Grujic, choking out both fighters.  Not only that, Westcott also emerged as one of the more quotable members of the house.  This show did wonders for raising his profile.

Theodorou came off as the most confident guy in the world, just taking care of his hair and having a fun time.  Competing against Theodorou was anything but fun for his opponents.  Both Zein Saliba and Tyler Manawaroa were dragged into the proverbial deep waters and Theodorou was able to make it through the tournament with nary a blemish.  Hater proof.

The hook: Twilight v. The Spartan!  Is it not enough to see two of the “dreamiest” (uh, so I’m told) fighters in MMA going at it?  A glance at Westcott’s record shows that 5 of his 6 career finishes ended in less than sixty seconds, which tells us that his results on the show might not have been a fluke.  He gets in to get out.  This is in direct contrast to Theodorou, a proud grinder.  I had the chance to see Theodorou fight in Windsor a couple of years ago and even though he won by TKO, it was more the result of him pushing his opponent to the point of exhaustion.  This one is really a toss-up as these two are likely each other’s toughest competition yet, so their previous fights don’t give us much to work with as far as analysis goes.  A long battle should favour Theodorou, but just because Westcott knows how to sprint doesn’t mean he can’t run a marathon.  It’s a toss-up.

The pick: Theodorou.  Regardless of the outcome, he’ll always have that legendary coif.

The Ultimate Fighter Nations: Canada v. Australia – Week 12 Recap

Team Colours:

Team Côté
Team Noke

The episode begins with a trip to a hunting lodge, where the team gathers for this season’s coaches’ challenge.  The owner looks like a real man’s man and he has the taxidermy to back it up.  The lovely Stephanie is on hand to act as a “Barker’s Beauty”, as it were.

Wolf HeadI can see you…

The challenge is comprised of three stages: axe throwing, crossbow shooting and log cutting.  The winning coach gets $20,000.  As in recent seasons, it’s unclear whether that prize is only for the coach or if it is meant to be distributed amongst the fighters.  I’ve never been able to find a consistent ruling on it.  Usually the fighters are given a separate prize, but they don’t mention it here.  Even though this season features Australians and Canadians, the prize is distributed in US bills.

GreenbacksYour currency lacks “flava”.

Canada takes first blood with the axe throwing, which looks really hard and really dangerous!  Patrick Côté wins by virtue of having his axe land closes to the bull’s-eye, though it looked like it was the only one to land cleanly at all.  The crossbow challenge follows a similar pattern, with Kyle Noke getting the win this time.  They have to shoot an apple hanging from a string and it gets nicked on several occasions without actually getting pierced until the final shot.  It’s all very dramatic, though I have a feeling that it wasn’t as neat and tidy as the show would have you believe.  They show the coaches getting three turns each for the axe throwing and crossbow shooting, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some “TV magic” involved to make sure neither of them embarrassed themselves.

Tied at one apiece, it comes down to who can saw through a thick log the fastest.  I don’t know the first thing about wood cutting.  It strikes me as odd that instead of straps or a harness to hold the logs down, they ask one of the fighters from each team to lay on top of them to keep them from moving.  That seems impractical.  Côté ends up winning the challenge, earning himself a “Côté Côté Côté” soccer chant.

The hunter serves the fighters a delicious feast comprised of animals that he caught.  Noticeably absent is “man, the most dangerous game”.  For lack of a better word, the Aussies come off as precious when they get to enjoy their first taste of maple syrup.

Maple VirginDon’t you just want to pinch his cheeks?

Back to business, we spend a little time getting to know more about semi-finalists Richard Walsh and Olivier Aubin-Mercier.  Walsh’s straightforward attitude has endeared him to me.  He’s provided good sound bites while still taking the competition seriously.  Here, he points out how the wrestling in the US is on a whole other level than anything he’s experienced in Australia.  You can tell he’s making the most of his training.  He also has the benefit of working with elite judoka Dan Kelly (essential to surviving Aubin-Mercier’s grappling) and he gets excellent advice from jiu-jitsu coach Roberto Tussa: If he’s losing the fight, offer up a finish to lure Aubin-Mercier into taking a risk and possibly making a mistake.  That’s easier said than done, of course.

Aubin-Mercier is painted as a Rory MacDonald-like quiet killer, though he comes off as more likeable than the at times alien MacDonald.  Kajan Johnson and Chad Laprise are responsible for coining his nickname: “The Québecois Kid”.  The Georges St-Pierre comparisons that permeated throughout the Canadian fight scene are now being broadcast on a national level (and international level for you more intrepid viewers).  He brushes off the GSP comparisons, which is smart.  For one, he’s a natural lightweight and two, GSP was a much more advanced striker at the same age.  Still, with his affable personality and floppy, Micky Dolenz do, it’s hard not to think about the marketing possibilities.

Sheldon Westcott: Olivier is unbelievably talented.  If I would have fought him at 4-0 when he’s 4-0 right now, he would have kicked my butt.

Over the course of the season, the Canadians and the Australians have grown to like and respect each other…making this the perfect time to strike with one final prank.  Johnson and Luke Harris sneak into the Australian locker room to decorate their portraits with lipstick and markers.  It’s completely harmless and inoffensive.  These two guys are mature and have been in the business long enough to know not to…hmm…

Defaced Picture…that’s disappointing.

Brendan O’Reilly (as he is wont to do) chafes at the incident.  As far as pranks go, this doesn’t seem anywhere near as bad as messing with someone’s bed or their equipment.  I never know where these guys draw the line between friendly ribbing and outright dickishness.  Regardless, as in all good hood movies, it’s an innocent that pays the price.

RetaliationOh!  The moose-manity!

In his investigations, O’Reilly finds that the Canadians are a tough nut to crack.  We discover that Elias Theodorou may or may not be keeping a notebook filled with penis sketches.  O’Reilly demands to see it, presumably to compare the art style, but Theodorou isn’t budging.  None of the Canadians do.  O’Reilly doesn’t understand that the prank itself is nothing; it is his frustration that makes it so sweet.

It’s not all bad news for O’Reilly.  He and the rest of his team get to experience another TUF first: Snow day!  A flurry forces them to miss training, giving them a chance to enjoy the fluffy wonder of winter.  They practice “snow surfing” (because, you know, Australia) and Tyler Manawaroa breaks out an incredible shooting star press!



The fight

I give Walsh a lot of credit for being the first to get off here.  He’s landing straights and leg kicks whenever he wants.  Aubin-Mercier definitely loses the first minute or so, though I’m always influenced by a guy getting punched and seeing his hair fly around.  Makes the hits look twice as hard.  Walsh is able to defend an initial shot, but falls prey to a trip.  Aubin-Mercier gets the waist lock of death and is relentless in fighting for back control.  Walsh looks lost on how to defend.  He’s wrestled to the ground and finished with a rear naked choke at around the 2:45 mark of the first round.

Other than the ref saying his name wrong, everything went perfect for Aubin-Mercier.  He says Walsh hurt his knee at the beginning of the round so he was determined to make him suffer.  Adrian Pang gives Walsh the tough love, pointing out how his hands were against the fence when they should have been protecting his neck.  Out of the competition, Walsh ditches the “playoff beard”.

Australian HairlessWeird…

Next week: Sheldon Westcott v. Vik Grujic.  If Westcott advances, this will mark the first time in any TUF season (featuring two weight classes) where all four finalists are from the same team.  My money is on Grujic, if only because Westcott has been dealing with so many nagging aches and pains.  Then again, that didn’t stop him in his first fight and it wouldn’t surprise me if he brought the same aggression to this semi-final bout.  Grujic also ended his last fight in impressive fashion.  Could we be in store for another decisive finish?

Stephanie Serfaty Nations Week 12Someone got their hair did.

The Ultimate Fighter Brazil 3: Team Wanderlei v. Team Sonnen – Week 4 Recap

The_Vortex: Last episode, Team Wanderlei took first blood, with Wagnão grinding out a three round split decision over Team No Apology’s Peregrino.  Even though they’ve won the first fight, things are not all unified joy in the Wanderlei rooms.  Apparently, during the fight, Borrachinha said that he thought Wagnão (his teammate) lost the first round (which he did, pretty clearly).  Marmota thinks Borrachinha’s betraying the entire team, and bringing down them down with his attitude.  It gets settled quickly, but going against the team is basically a death sentence in Brazil, and Borrachinha’s going to need to watch himself in future.

Stylish BorrachinhaBorrachinha remains stylish the entire time.

It’s bizarre that despite getting the first heavyweight pick, Wanderlei Silva still gets to pick the first heavyweight fight.  I don’t get this.  Chael Sonnen should either have this pick, or should have picked the first heavyweight for this to be fair.

Nevertheless, Wanderlei picks Cara de Sapato, who looked extremely dangerous in his prelim to square off against Edgard Magrão”.  What do you reckon, NewChallenger?  Good matchup, weird circumstances?

NewChallenger: Wanderlei getting to pick the fight is completely unfair.  Luckily, there are usually game show style challenges that can shift control of the picks.  That might sound silly in comparison to, you know, the winning team getting to keep control, but I think it’s a good idea because TUF: Brazil that’s why!

Cara de Sapato was the 1st heavyweight taken overall while Magrão was the 6th, so Wanderlei is more focused on advancing his top guy than taking out one of Sonnen’s.  It’s a sound strategy.  Get as many wins for your fighters as you can, build their confidence and maybe better prepare or get a more favourable match-up for some of your lesser skilled fighters.  I’m down with it.

For reasons that will become clear later, they have a lot of time to spend talking about Magrão and Cara de Sapato’s backgrounds, though we don’t get anything particularly interesting.  Magrão is spending his time in the competition instead of with his wife who is expecting their first child.  I think he speaks English too, since we see him conversing with Sonnen a couple of times throughout the episode.  As for Cara de Sapato, he’s refreshingly honest about how he doesn’t come from the impoverished background that many Brazilian fighters have in common.  He’s had a comfortable life and fighting is just something he loves and that he’s good at.

The real story this week is the emphasis on Isabel and Hortência.  I think a lot of viewers (particularly us non-Brazilians who had never heard of these women before the show) were questioning the necessity of having these two around despite their incredible athletic accomplishments.  Here, we see them both come up with some, um, interesting drills to keep their team motivated.  Isabel says that hers is a “motivational activity” while Hortência is more concerned with keeping the team loose and happy.  I’m not gonna lie, for an older bird I think Hortência is kinda sexy.

HortenciaIt’s the skirt that does it for me.

What are your thoughts on these segments?  Did they have any merit?

The_Vortex: I can’t really see the value overall in having team building exercises in what is probably the most individual sport out there.  I’ve got to agree, Hortência’s got it going on, Stacey’s Mom style.  After the fun and games, Chael P. Sonnen, smooth operator extraordinaire teaches Hortência about American swing dancing. Yes, you did read that sentence correctly. This is my new favourite moment from the season, although I’m sure it’ll get replaced by something even better soon.

DipChael, you sly dog.

After this, Wanderlei joins his team in the house for some foosball, and to do a bit more coaching. He’s really there for the food, though.

Eating HabitsHow, precisely, does a motherf… eat?

There’s a bit of dissent in the Team Sonnen ranks.  Half the team are hanging by the pool, discussing the coach.  The consensus seems to be that he’s a great guy, but they’re not sure who they’re going to root for at the eventual Coaches’ Fight.  Bomba, in particular extolls the virtues of their coach, and I have to agree, Chael always looks like an excellent coach.

I don’t think this is going to cause problems in the future, but who knows?

Possible NudityYou can’t prove that Bomba isn’t naked in this shot.

NewChallenger: I like how Pezão showed great respect for his coach Sonnen while at the same time reaffirming that he is rooting for his idol Wanderlei.  That’s a professional attitude and I think it will do him good in his career.

Overall this episode was mostly focused on training and gym time, with no house drama to be seen (unless you consider “how many BBQ ribs can Wanderlei eat?” to be drama).  This is in line with the direction the American version has shifted in and I can’t help but lament the homogenization of this series.  Let the Brazilian show be the Brazilian show, damn it!  If someone isn’t crying or making up a song for no good reason at least once per episode then you’re doing it wrong.

As we all know, finding good heavyweights is hard to do.  That’s why you don’t see too many TUF seasons featuring heavyweights.  They’re just not out there.  Thus, it’s no surprise that Cara de Sapato and Magrão come in just over the qualifying limit for the 265 and under division.  They’re light heavyweights masquerading as fat boys.  Don’t expect either of them to stay in this class after the show is done.

Pre-fight, we get to see Sonnen work his magic.  He came up with some phenomenal speeches for TUF 17 and the trend continues here:

No one has the right to beat you.  This guy is not entitled to beat you.  God has not chosen him to beat you.  He’s giving you the choice.  You decide when we walk through these doors if you win or not.  Only you.

If that doesn’t get you pumped up, I don’t know what will.  Perhaps this week’s ring girl, Francine Pantaleão?

Francine PantaleaoReady for her close-up.

As for the fight itself, I think it’s fair to say that it was *ahem* less than epic…

The_Vortex: It took me longer to type this sentence than the whole fight took.  In all honesty, I’m not a very fast typist, but still, 12 seconds is not a long fight.  Cara de Sapato lands his first strike, which is a big right hook.  It hits flush, Magrão goes down, and CdS (that’s what I’m calling him now…) lands some follow up strikes to get the T.K.O win.  To compound Magrão’s bad day, it even looks like the referee knees him in the head as he dives in to stop the fight.

Adding Injury To InjuryIt doesn’t get much worse than that.

CdS is obviously overjoyed, and Magrão is devastated.  He says he’d rather have been beaten up than crunched down like that.  It must suck to go out like that.

The fight placement in this episode was very tricky.  It’s all over, they’ve finished the obligatory fight recap, and there’s still five minutes to go?  I was pretty confused by this, but we get some wacky TUF: Brazil hijinks to fill put the rest of the episode!

Cara De Sapato VictoriousI might as well jump!

NewChallenger: Ah yes, the first of the now infamous TUF: Brazil games.  Right away we’re going big and I use that word literally.  The challenge is mud soccer and it involves pushing around an enormous soccer ball through a mud pit.  You would think this was a team challenge, but instead Pezão and Jollyson Francino are selected to go one on one.  I have a theory about what happened here.  It looks extraordinarily difficult to the point that officials can clearly be seen helping the fighters to control the ball after they start gassing.  The first round probably took forever so everyone just agreed to let that lone point count for the win and to move on.  The whole affair was disappointing.

Soccer GirlsEven more disappointing?  Only the guys get in the mud.

Anything else important to discuss?

The_Vortex: The most important thing: I think Rafaela’s the current winner. Francine’s definitely hawt, but Rafaela is in the lead in my opinion.

NewChallenger: I concur.  For those of you playing at home, that means Rafaela gets to hold the TUF Brazilian Octagon Girl Championship belt for another week.  Can she pull off an Anderson Silva like run of dominance?  Gotta keep tuning in to find out!

Next week: Another challenge, Sonnen accuses Wanderlei of being an alcoholic and the tables turn for Isabel and Hortência when they get in on the martial arts training.

The Ultimate Fighter Nations: Canada v. Australia – Week 11 Recap

Welcome to the dog days of every Ultimate Fighter season, when the fights are three rounds and a match that goes the distance all but kills any chance of anything else interesting happening in the episode.  We’re long past the days where having a fresh fight every week was enough of an incentive to tune in, so while it makes sense for the semi-final matches to be regulation length it also makes for some dreadfully dull television.  Then again, maybe an episode like this is what we needed after the brutal end to last week’s program.

Team Colours:

Team Côté
Team Noke

Once again showing what a class act he is, Vik Grujic continues to be vocal about how Kajan Johnson’s team didn’t do their job when it came time to support their fighter.  The other Australians agree that Johnson should have had more support, with Brendan O’Reilly going as far as to say that he would have cornered Johnson if he had been asked.  Johnson and O’Reilly are not friends by any measure, so that tells you a lot about how dire the situation must have been.  They also discuss the possibility that Fábio Holanda was negligent as Johnson’s lone corner man because he didn’t like the Canadian’s know-it-all attitude in training.  If that’s the case, then it makes Holanda look incredibly unprofessional.

I viewed Chad Laprise harshly after his win, not only because of the coaching discrepancy but because of how he was a little too excited after knocking his friend’s lights out.  That was an unfair judgment since Laprise was going through a torrent of emotions at the time in addition to the adrenaline rush that he was just coming down from.  With the moment having passed, we get to see a more subdued Laprise and how Johnson’s injury has affected him.  He mentions that the two of them probably sparred around hundred rounds at Tristar.  Having to fight with so much on the line has got to be a mind f**k to say the least.

Regardless of whether they got along with Johnson or not, everybody in the house is waiting for him to come back from the hospital with good news.  It turns out his jaw was broken in two places.  The swelling has scarcely gone down from when we last saw him.  Imagine being Laprise and having to look at that every day.  Imagine being Johnson and having to sit at the table and break bread with someone who not only smashed your face but crushed your dreams.

Broken JawNo hard feelings.

The narrative for the Elias Theodorou-Tyler Manawaroa match revolves around their polar opposite mindsets when it comes to game planning.  For Theodorou, strategy is everything; for Manawaroa, it is non-existent.  The young Aussie is a classic wild child, right down to the piercings (that Israel Martinez can’t stand) and the array of tattoos.  We get a quick rundown of them, including a large owl on his chest.  Seeing Manawaroa decorate himself with an animal so strongly associated with wisdom is funny to me.

Tyler's TattoosManawaroa: I got an owl.  I just got it ‘cause it looks cool.

If that’s not enough, they also show Manawaroa chowing down prior to the day of the weigh-in and going so hard in practice that he accidentally kicks Adrian Pang in the dick.

WhoopsTyler auditioning for the 2014 All Balls Brawl.

In contrast to the laissez faire attitude of Manawaroa, Theodorou has been focused on being a professional fighter since he graduated from high school.  He’s particularly pumped that the fights are now three rounds since that favours his style which is based on constant pressure.

Former UFC Middleweight champion Murilo Bustamante makes an appearance and Patrick Côté bigs him up by saying that Bustamante never actually lost the belt.  According to Matt Janacek, that didn’t happen until Bustamante dropped a split decision to Dan Henderson in the 2005 PRIDE Welterweight Grand Prix Final.  Bustamante is well prepared and understands exactly what Theodorou’s strengths are.

At the weigh-in, Theodorou can’t help himself.  He breaks out the Spartan headgear and yells out “This is Sparta!”  I love 300, I love Theodorou, but this was as corny as it sounds.  Grujic (also called “Spartan” due to his resemblance to King Leonidas) says that the scene was more like something from Meet The Spartans.

300 EliasAny wardrobe decision that covers up that hair is the wrong one.

The fight

In terms of actual damage, there wasn’t much to talk about here though I found it to be a somewhat entertaining grappling affair.  Theodorou wasn’t kidding when he said he gets a game plan and sticks to it.  If the two men were on the feet for any extended period of time, Theodorou was doing everything in his power to draw Manawaroa in so he could get a body lock.  He threw kicks fearlessly, knowing that Manawaroa would have to close the distance and when he did he fell right into the trap.

Manawaroa showed great balance in resisting slams, though the few times he got careless lead to Theodorou powering up and tossing him to the mat.  I was also impressed by Manawaroa’s ability to avoid damage on the ground and get back to the feet, but he was never able to find a rhythm.  Kyle Noke made the post-fight observation that Manawaroa seemed to be waiting on Theodorou instead of pushing the action.  It was the opposite of how Manawaroa handled Nordine Taleb.  A more aggressive approach would likely have made him an easier target for takedowns, but he was fighting an Elias Theodorou fight the whole time, not a Tyler Manawaroa fight.

Theodorou wins by unanimous decision.  After seeing how he’s performed on the show, I doubt he will be one of Dana White’s favourites.  He’s got the looks and the personality, which would normally make him a shoo-in for stardom; conversely, he has fought intelligently and safely and that is usually construed as boring.  The UFC can’t sell intelligent and safe.

Sheldon Westcott is already thinking about how he would do better against Theodorou.  I’m always rooting for my fellow Canadians, but I wouldn’t be heartbroken if Grujic was able to get past him and set up the much anticipated Spartan vs. Spartan match.

Meanwhile, Manawaroa is as disappointed as you’d expect.  He walks out barefoot and bare-chested into the cold Québec air to process his feelings.  It’s his first loss in MMA.  There was no stoppage controversy, he didn’t get caught by a flash KO or submission, he was simply outworked for fifteen minutes.  Despite the controversy that erupted from his Instagram album that resulted in White saying he wouldn’t be fighting for the UFC after the show, I hope that he’s able to grow up and find his way back to the Octagon.  There’s a long road ahead for this young man.

The winning fighter has only one concern:

Theodorou: How’s the hair doing?
Côté: Solid.  Solid.

Stephanie Serfaty Nations Week 11Solid.

Next week: Olivier Aubin-Mercier v. Richard Walsh.  Also, we all agree to never mention Meet The Spartans again.

The Ultimate Fighter Brazil 3: Team Wanderlei v. Team Sonnen – Week 3 Recap

The_Vortex: We’re back for another week.  It’s going to get exciting from here.  Last week, after all of the preliminary fights were done, the show itself kind of stalled out a little.  Wanderlei Silva is demanding that Chael Sonnen apologise about statements he made about Brazil in the leadup to the Anderson Silva fights. He can’t understand that Chael won’t apologise, and is threatening to quit.

I am beside myself with joy.  This is the insanity I expected to see Chael involved in during the Jones season, so to have Wandy potentially quitting literally 5 minutes into their first joint coaching duties is genius drama right here.

All the talk of apologising puts me in mind of Chow Yun Fat’s scene from A Better Tomorrow 2, where he demands that gangsters “Apologise to the rice!”

Chow Yun FatSeriously, watch this movie.

Unfortunately, the Brazilian version of the Ultimate Fighter theme is gone for this season (BOOM! YOU’RE GONNA GET HIT), and we’ve got a stare-y dramatic version of the current theme in Portuguese.

And, over to you NewChallenger.  Are you as excited about the chaos as I am, or just ready for some serious fight picks?

NewChallenger: As expected, the whole situation was defused rather quickly so I have to say I’d like to just move on and see these teams put together.  Speaking from the perspective of someone who was never picked last during recess kickball, I’m eager to see who goes first.  There aren’t too many surprises.  Sonnen takes Lyoto first overall, while Wanderlei picks his boy DementeCara de Sapato ends up being the first heavyweight taken overall (by Wanderlei).  He looked deadly in his qualifying fight.  The only one I didn’t see coming was Pezão being the first heavyweight picked by Team Sonnen.  His fight with Thiago Santos was so quick and Santos looked so bad.  Even Pezão is surprised that he was the top choice.  They must know more about him than we do.

Here’s a rundown of the picks (Wanderlei won the coin flip and opted to take the first fight, so Sonnen got the first choice of middleweights while Wanderlei got the first choice of heavyweights):

Team Sonnen


Lyoto (1st overall)
Peregrino (3rd overall)
Warrley Alves (5th overall)
Bomba (7th overall)


Pezão (2nd overall)
Lex Luthor (4th overall)
Magrão (6th overall)
Cabo Job (8th overall)

A couple of things here.  Shouldn’t Sonnen have got to pick the first middleweight and the first heavyweight?  It should work out fine as long as he gets to pick the first heavyweight fight.  Also, Sonnen refers to his team as “Team No Apology”, which is hilarious.

Team Wanderlei


Demente (2nd overall)
Borrachinha (4th overall)
Wagnão (6th overall)
Marmota (8th overall)


Cara de Sapato (1st overall)
Jollyson Francino (3rd overall)
Rick Monstro (5th overall)
Montanha (7th overall)

For some reason, Wanderlei calls out Jollyson as Jollyson “Silva”.  Brazilian naming conventions continue to mystify me.  We also get this delightful exchange:

Sonnen: Don’t call it “TUF 3”.  Call it the “Wanderlei show”.  Call it what you think it is, stupid.
Wanderlei: Man…
Sonnen: Tell ‘em what you think it is.
Wanderlei: Motherf**ker…stop that…stop now!  Stop that s**t, mother**ker.  You…you so close to stopping s**t, man.  You so close to stopping s**t.

Okay, maybe I did enjoy more than just the fight picks.  Initial thoughts on the teams and the ongoing s**tstorm between the two coaches?

The_Vortex: I was also confused by Wanderlei picking the first heavyweight, and I’m not sure…

My favourite part of the team picks is that Bomba and Borrachinha are on opposite sides, so hopefully we’ll get the most attractive fight in TUF history (unless Elias Theodorou from Team Canada picks a fight with a mirror).

Right now, I am totally buying into the Chael and Wanderlei heat. I want to believe. I can’t wait for the fight to be so astonishingly disappointing.

Sorry NewChallenger, you’re going to need to recap first section of the ring girl contest. It’s just so ludicrous, that I couldn’t even put it into words properly.

NewChallenger: We should give credit to Isabel and Hortência for their stunned reactions to the whole affair.

Shocked AssistantsOh no he didn’t!

Ah, the ring girl pageant.  This really could have been its own episode, hell, it’s own show, couldn’t it?  Not only do the boys get to sit in the backyard and watch a parade of sixteen bubbly beauties, they also get to mingle with them over BBQ.  I once wrote about TUF 18 that every guy from the previous TUFs must have been jealous that they didn’t get to hang out with female fighters.  Imagine how they must feel about this episode!  Peregrino proclaims them to be gorgeous, though “not as gorgeous as my girlfriend”.  He’s a smart one.  Pezão does his best to play it cool.

Pezao SurroundedI’m a happily married man…I’m a happily married man…

Hortência tells them matter of factly that the girls will be graded on a scale from 1 to 10.  For the sake of posterity (and possibly googling purposes), here are the girls that make it through: Patricia Andrade, Fernanda, Rafaela Machado, Tais, Camila Bortolotti, Ana Cecilia, Wendy, and Francine.  If they let these girls visit the house regularly, I might explode.

*deep breath*

Is there, like, a fight this week or something?

The_Vortex: Wanderlei picks the matchups.  It’s a middleweight fight, and he picks Wagnão to take on Peregrino.  Chael’s a bit surprised by this turn of events.  In his eyes, Peregrino’s younger, hungrier and faster.  Wanderlei backs Wagnão thanks to his strength and size advantage.  Team Sonnen echoes the words of their coach.  Peregrino was in a crazy three rounder against one of the tougher qualifying losers.  It seems like an odd choice.  I was pretty impressed by the highlights shown for Peregrino’s fight, and I don’t think he’ll be quite so easy to pick off first.

“The Pelegrino” (as Chael calls him) is only 21, and despite having 10 pro fights, he’s pretty nervy about all this.  He throws up in training (thankfully we don’t see the footage), but Hortência is there to coach him through it, and calm him down.


S. PellegrinoAnd now I’m thirsty.

Nice to see Hortência putting her own experience with vomiting to good use.  The Team Sonnen coaching staff is solid so far, especially Sonnen himself.  He effortlessly switches from being The Bad Guy to Mr. Nice Guy when it’s time to get down to business.  He brings his wrestling expertise to the gym, which is going to be huge for a lot of young guys.  The only thing more dangerous than a Brazilian fighter is a Brazilian fighter with a solid double leg.

Sonnen shows a good understanding of the Brazilian TV game when he gives the house a surprise visit.  He heads right to the product placement for a delicious “TNT”.

TNTI don’t always drink Brazilian energy drinks, but when I do…

The_Vortex: Chael really does seem like a pretty good coach.  He also shows up to the house to check that all his guys are on weight, which really seems like a great idea.  I just can’t get enough of the product placement in TUF: Brazil.  It’s just on another level completely.

Now, we head over to the weigh-ins.  Both guys make weight and Peregrino’s a touch under.  He says that he usually fights two categories down, and it’s pretty surprising to see a lightweight in a middleweight contest these days.  Peregrino puts on some sunglasses and moves around for the staredown, but Wagnão isn’t intimidated.

(Wagnão staredown image)

NewChallenger: I’m glad you mentioned Peregino’s natural weight class because damn Wagnão looks big.  Wagnão definitely wasn’t intimidated, saying “My opponent put his glasses on, but I stared right into his eyes and into his soul.

Before the fight, we get to a chance to acquaint ourselves with the first would-be Octagon girl, Rafaela Machado.  I said it before, we couldn’t have just kept Camila Oliveira around?  I mean…she…

Rafaela Machado…who were we talking about again?

Please, get the fight analysis started otherwise we’ll be here all day.

The_Vortex: Peregrino showed some very average fight IQ.  After the first couple of clinches and takedown exchanges, he must have noticed that Wagnão held a decisive strength advantage.  Wagnão was able to ground him, keep him there and grind him down.  Wanderlei was right, it was a bad match up for Peregrino.  Peregrino shoots for too many takedowns, begins too many clinches, when he should have kept on the outside, stuck Wagnão with his jab, and scored slowly, like he did in the start of the first round.

NewChallenger: I found the whole affair to be really boring.  Neither guy seemed particularly interested in finishing.  Peregrino seemed convinced that all he had to do was push the pace and that would be enough to take Wagnão out, but Wagnão was really patient and used his size well.  The writing was on the all early even though the action was close enough to warrant a third round.  Peregrino couldn’t push Wagnão around like he wanted to and it was Wagnão who got better positions time and time again.  Team Wanderlei takes first blood in less than thrilling fashion.  Yuck.

Wagnao VictoriousThe_Vortex: There’s nothing too special happening after the fight.  Wanderlei’s happy that Wagnão stuck to the gameplan.  Peregrino’s still young, so it isn’t all over for him yet.

We get an awesome “coming up this season” montage, showing more ring girls, challenges, some in house drama, and Wagnão making a terrible life choice.


This is going to be a fun ride, folks.

Next week: Round 2 of TUF: Brazil – The Search For The Next Ring Girl!  Also, fighting.

The Ultimate Fighter Brazil 3: Team Wanderlei v. Team Sonnen – Week 2 Recap

*Due to some scheduling issues, this recap is both late and somewhat disjointed.  We’re still working out the kinks in the system so bear with us as we focus on bringing you the best joint Canadian/Australian TUF: Brazil recaps on the web.  And that’s no lie!

NewChallenger: Come one, come all and join The_Vortex and I on what has to be one of the only collaborative reports you’ll find on The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 3.  I’m still disappointed that this season is intent on being taken seriously.  Brazil 2 brought back the entertaining (if wholly unnecessary) challenges from the early TUF seasons and they helped to break up the monotony while also showcasing their various sponsors.  I don’t think those shenanigans will fit this season and that’s a shame.  What say you, Vortex?  Is that a missed opportunity or are you looking forward to the greater focus on integrity and athletic competition and blah blah blah…?

The_Vortex: I missed watching most of season 2 of TUF: Brazil, and it looks like I’m missing out. From what I’ve seen, there were some brilliant antics, and, in possibly the best guest coaching spot ever, Fabrício Werdum brought in a pole dancer for core training. Brilliant.

Whilst it does seem like this season is going to be more serious, we do have The Gangster From West Linn, Chael P. Sonnen as a coach, so hopefully we’ll get some solid gold moments, or at the very least, hectic rhymes.

I’m hoping we get some craziness, as my vote on best TUF season is easily season 5, and that absolutely takes the cake when it comes to bonkers house moments and personality clashes. I mean, thanks to this recapping thing, I’ll be watching every week, but if we start getting fireworks (both metaphorical and literal), I’ll be stupidly happy. At the very least, since this is still an entry fight episode, we’ll be getting some fights here, with a couple of brutal finishes, and one very shocking upset for the hardcore prospect watchers among you.

NewChallenger: I concur that season 5 might be where the show peaked in terms of coaching rivalry and talent level.  Nine of the fighters went on to have some success in the UFC (Gabe Ruediger had three appearances!).  Even the washouts were memorable.  I’m looking at you Andy Wang and Wayne Weems.  However, and I know this will sound insane, I have a deep fondness for TUF 6 which might have had the worst cast of fighters.  That probably deserves its own post some day, as explaining it now would only waste time and make me lose any credibility I might have as a TUF-ologist.

Let’s get to the first this week, a heavyweight bout between Richard Moreira and Alexandre Machado.  Moreira goes by the awesome nickname “Rick Monstro” while Machado goes by “Bebezão”.  They’re both portrayed as family men, with Monstro chilling with his fam and Bebezão being coached by his brother.  The fight starts and Monstro more than lives up to his name, smothering his opponent.  Bebezão tries to clinch, but it’s no good.  A storm of punches put his lights out just twenty seconds into the fight!  During the replay they show that Monstro’s mother was covering her eyes the whole time.  Too bad, because she missed a decent performance.  As I mentioned last week though, these fast finishes make it nearly impossible to gauge the actual skill level of these dudes.

Advancing: Rick Monstro

Rick MonstroThe_Vortex: That performance by Rick Monstro was brutal, and he showed some killer instinct and aggression. It is tough to judge how he goes from here, especially with the whole “heavyweight means one punch changes a fight thing”.

It’s back to the middleweights, and next up is Markus Perez Eichemberg or “Maluko”, against Guillherme de Vasconcelos, aka “Bomba”. Maluko’s a big Bruce Lee fan, and trains with his parents at gym. He’s a bit of a nerd, he says, and we get the first of TUF: Brazil’s legendary product placement, with some clips of him playing UFC: Undisputed 3. Bomba says he would’ve been a model if not for his cauliflower ears, and he’s a well groomed pretty boy, according to his family.

The fight starts with Maluko showing off a bit of his striking. Bomba shoots, and Maluko tries for a guillotine. Bomba escapes and they wrestle for position along the fence. They break away a bit, and then Bomba hits the takedown. He keeps pressure on with some ground and pound, takes Maluko’s back, and sinks in the choke in just under two minutes.
The coaches note that Bomba’s a jiu jitsu world champ, but Chael thinks he needs to see more for a better evaluation.

Advancing: Bomba


NewChallenger: I also had my modelling career derailed by ugly ears, so I sympathize with Bomba.  I never had his hair though.

Next up is Marcos Rogério who goes by the creative heavyweight moniker of “Pezão” or “Bigfoot”.  *groan* But who cares about him…look, it’s former Bellator tournament contender Thiago Santos!  Santos is best remembered for his thrilling non-trilogy with Eric Prindle.  In their first encounter, Santos kicked Prindle right in the little Prindles as the fighter was laying on his back.  The “No Contest” lead to a rematch four months later…or it would have if Prindle didn’t get the flu.  But hey, a week of rest and Prindle was good to go the following week.  Too bad Santos ended up missing weight by 12 pounds.  Prindle was given the tournament title by default.

A feud that heated couldn’t end like that and Bjorn Rebney could smell the money in pairing these two up for one, final confrontation: October 5, 2012.  One year later.  In a stunning reversal of fate, it was now Santos who found himself staring up at Prindle.  Surely, Prindle wouldn’t make the same mistake, right?  Wrong.  Unlike Santos, he didn’t leave anything to chance, driving an axe kick right between Santos’s legs.  It landed so cleanly that Santos was actually knocked unconscious by the low blow.  Prindle waited almost a whole year to get revenge, even knowing that it would cost him his spot in that year’s tournament.  I’ll never know if it was worth it.

One more note: The show that followed that Bellator broadcast?  The MTV2 original program “numbNuts”.  You don’t know how much I wish I was making that up.

What were we talking about?  Oh yeah, Santos should be one of the favourites going into this competition.  He ends up going for a clumsy takedown and tapping out to a guillotine choke.  That was disappointing.

Advancing: Pezão

PezaoThe_Vortex: Back to the middleweights, as Pedro Paulino Santana “Vinagre” takes on Ismael de Jesus, or “Marmota”. Santana goes to med school, but loves the feeling of fighting. He’s very undersized for a middleweight. Marmota trains with José Aldo and Renan Barão, so he’s presumably a Nova União guy. We get a clip from Barão pumping him up.

The fight is just devastating. After a bit of circling and feeling out, Vinagre shoots a takedown, and after ends up getting dumped to the floor. He springs up quickly, and they spar for a bit, until Vinagre thinks he’s broken his finger, and calls for a doctor. And that’s it. No time outs in MMA, no calling for a doctor unless you want the fight stopped. Vinagre is devastated, especially since his finger is only dislocated. Not much sympathy from the coaches, and Wanderlei Silva talks about how he would’ve just continued with nine fingers.

Advancing: Marmota

MarmotaNewChallenger: I’m not saying Vinagre should have just fought through it, but the way he yelped and screamed about his finger was an ignoble way to go out.  The next two fights get the “highlights only” treatment, so we’ll deal with them accordingly.

In the heavyweight division, Antonio Branjão (“Montanha”) faces off with Fernando Camolês Ribas (who has to be one of the only Brazilian fighters who doesn’t have a nickname).  Montanha fights despite the disapproval of his father while Camolês is a judoka who had the misfortune of missing out on the Olympics due to an injury.  Not surprisingly, Camolês dominates in the early going with his grappling, but Montanha survives each submission attempt.  In the second, Montanha scores with a trip and advances to full mount.  He pounds away for a TKO victory!  All of the coaches are impressed.

Advancing: Montanha


In the middleweight division, ex-street fighter Warlley Alves is in tough against the most experienced fighter in the competition Wendell Oliveira Marques aka “War Machine Negão”.  The two have trained together, so it’s one of those fights where the guys exchange hugs in between trying to cave in the other man’s skull.  The coaches see the fight completely differently and so do the judges.  We get a third round where Alves is clearly the more active fighter.  He takes a split decision.  Sonnen’s coaches are begging for him to take Alves, so there must be more to this kid than meets the eye.

Advancing: Alves


The last two fights are really showcases for Márcio Junior and Vitor Miranda, better known as Lyoto and Lex Luthor respectively.  Lyoto comes from a family of karatekas and as you’d expect he fights exactly like…Leonard Garcia.  Okay, no, he’s rocking that Machida style poking away at his opponent Giuliano Arante (“Alemão”).  Alemão is the perfect opponent to showcase Lyoto’s karate, going wild near the end of the first and carrying that strategy over into the second.  Lyoto bludgeons him with a counter shot that sets him up for a match ending guillotine choke.  He celebrates with his dad and Thiago Tavares.

Advancing: Lyoto

LyotoLex Luthor’s arch nemesis is nowhere to be found so he has to settle for Bruno Silva (“Blindado”) who turns out to be nearly as invulnerable as Superman himself.  Or The Tick, at least.  This isn’t Lex Luthor’s first rodeo as he worked as an assistant for Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira on the last season of TUF: Brazil.

The highlights are all Lex Luthor.  He picks Blindado apart with crisp muay Thai and then takes him to the ground to pound on him.  From what we see, it’s a miracle that Blindado isn’t knocked out.  Blindado can’t land anything while Lex Luthor hits him every time.  A head kick out of the clinch finally does Blindado in.  Blindado’s gritty performance has him positioned as the first substitute, which isn’t a bad consolation prize since injuries in this tournament are expected.

Advancing: Lex Luthor

Lex LuthorFor those of you keeping score at home (and as an excuse to show all the awesome names in the show), here’s a list of the fighters advancing:


Warlley Alves


Capo Job
Jollyson Francino
Cara de Sapato
Rick Monstro
Lex Luthor

We’re about to move on to the team picks when Wanderlei decides now is the time to take care of personal matters.  He demands that Sonnen apologize for slanderous statements he made about Brazil in the past (they show a clip from the press conference where Sonnen claimed he was enjoying modern luxuries while Anderson Silva and his friends played in the mud).  Otherwise, Wanderlei will quit.  Sonnen’s response is classic:

Sonnen: I accept his surrender.

The others aren’t sure how to react.  The contestants are mixed on whether Sonnen should apologize or if they should save it for the cage.  Isabel and Hortência are forced to play peacemaker.  They’re really milking this and I have to say as far as manufactured drama goes, it’s not bad.  There is zero chance that Wanderlei would actually consider quitting (you know, since he’s getting paid and all), but he’s definitely drawing on genuine animosity for Sonnen in playing out this feud.  We end the episode with Wanderlei emerging from his locker room to give Sonnen a piece of his mind.

Okay, I’ll admit it:

Next week: We finally get around to the team picks and more importantly, the first ever TUF Ring Girl Pageant!  Until then…

Camila Oliveira Brazil Week 2Are we sure we need to find a new ring girl?

The Ultimate Fighter Nations: Canada v. Australia – Week 10 Recap

I was surprised how much I missed the show after taking last week off.  As much as I complain, there are plenty of positives.  For the most part, the cast is diverse and memorable, the fights have been solid and there’s just enough drama to keep things interesting without being overly manufactured.  That last point definitely held true this week in one of the most emotional entries yet in the Nations season.

Team Colours:

Team Côté
Team Noke

Sheldon Westcott returns to the house with what would only be considered “good news” if you’re an athlete.  He has various strains that were severe enough to cause numbness in his arm, but other than that there are no breaks or tears.  The house is happy for him.  I’d be bitching and complaining about the discomfort; Westcott is thrilled because it means he can still compete.

Watching the fighters make their requests for the next round is usually one of my favourite segments, but it’s fairly obvious who all of the welterweights are going to pick so that removes most of the intrigue.  All the Canadians want to fight Richard Walsh, while Walsh chooses Kajan Johnson.  Johnson mentions that he knows he’ll have to fight the best anyway so he’d be happy with anyone and that may have sealed his fate, as it were.

All four middleweights get the fights they wanted, which makes me wonder if they spoke to each other about what to say to White.  Here are the semi-final matches:


Johnson v. Laprise

Johnson v. LapriseJohnson: I’ll look at your hair.  You look at my chest.

Aubin-Mercier v. Walsh

Aubin-Mercier v. WalshFilthy judo versus…just filthy.


Theodorou v. Manawaroa

Theodorou v. ManawaroaFirst one to have their hat turned forward loses.

Westcott v. Grujic

Westcott v. GrujicVik trying not to get lost in Sheldon’s eyes.

The majority of the episode is geared towards developing the identity of Chad Laprise.  Prior to this episode, he came off as a mostly non-descript housemate who was quick to smile even as he did little besides discuss the competition.  There was the hint of something bubbling underneath and it’s Laprise himself who chooses to delve into his own past of shameful violence.  The emotional recounting gets him fired up, causing a previously suppressed stutter to come out in full force.  His dream is to open up a “fight church”, where martial artists can train and then learn about God together.

Laprise’s desire to succeed spills over into his fight preparation, where he makes sure that he will have a coaching edge.  This leads to a convoluted cornering situation.  Initially, the plan is for Fábio Holanda and Nordine Taleb to corner Johnson while Laprise would go with Kru Ash (who he trains with outside of the show) and Roberto Tussa (Team Australia’s jiu-jitsu coach).  Somewhere along the way, Taleb drops out because he doesn’t want to corner against his teammate and David Zilberman (Team Canada’s wrestling coach) joins Team Laprise.  The final corner total 3-1 in favour of Laprise.

The editing team does a masterful job with the set-up for this fight, including a fine use of split-screen to show the disparity in support for Laprise and Johnson.  My theory is that they want to change the perception of Laprise, not so much making him into a villain but definitely someone who stands in contrast to Johnson, Walsh and Olivier Aubin-Mercier (who can’t even talk about knocking someone out without breaking into a chuckle) as far as going to any lengths to get an advantage.

Split ScreenCollusion!

Laprise is shown hanging out with the Aussies who have taken a shine to him.  Walsh says everyone wants Laprise to win.  He also mentions that he didn’t want to fight Laprise because Laprise wanted it so badly.  You gotta play hard to get!  Jake Matthews is unconvinced, suggesting that he is politicking to get the support of the Australians.

When it comes to deciding who gets the Canada locker room, Johnson compromises again.  His reasoning is that he needs to know that Laprise is at his best to make the fight worthwhile, but I have to wonder if it’s just in his nature to not make waves.  He might be giving up too much here ahead of such an important bout.

So AccomodatingCan I interest you in a pre-match back rub too, bro?

Case in point, the coaches all take the opportunity to encourage Laprise, especially Patrick Côté who says that Johnson is overconfident.  Even Holanda says not to worry about Johnson’s wrestling and that there is no way Laprise will be taken down.  Holanda is in Johnson’s corner!

Aubin-Mercier PoutNotice how sad Olivier looks.

Johnson takes a moment to visit the Canadian locker room to give hugs to everyone, but I can feel the tension through my television screen.  He goes across the hall to prepare, hitting pads with Taleb while Laprise is surrounded by the majority of Team Canada.  Johnson would later say that it felt like everyone was against him.

Ragin' EntranceSweet dive.

The fight

As you’d expect from training partners, the two are evenly matched in the opening minutes.  There is lots of movement by both guys, though Laprise looks as tight and focused as usual.  Johnson lands a clean punch that causes Laprise to slip, but only for a second.  That seems to wake him up and now it’s Laprise who starts to connect.  I actually lean narrowly towards Johnson getting the first round (10-9), factoring in a near takedown that was only stopped by an obvious cage grab.  Shouldn’t judges be allowed to use their own discretion when scoring that?

In round 2, Laprise is definitely landing the heavier shots.  He looks steady while Johnson is becoming more loose, more careless.  Watching the fight a second time, it’s incredible to see Laprise’s corner being so vocal as Johnson struggles to score a takedown and the Australians rallying behind Johnson when they see how alone he is.  Grujic in particular cheers for Johnson to do well.  You can see the growing distress in Johnson’s face.

Johnson is down to landing single shots with no combinations.  He ends up throwing fancy s**t that doesn’t land.  The walls are closing in on him.  Laprise lands a beautiful counter shot and Johnson goes down face first.  His jaw is broken, possibly by the follow-up punches that are hard to watch.

It is crypt quiet in the gym.  You’d hesitate to celebrate a knockout like this against a hated enemy, much less a close friend.  Even the Australians that butted heads with Johnson look concerned.  Brendan O’Reilly, his rival, talks about how much he respects him.  The losing fighter reacts with a mix of shock and fading adrenaline.  Awww, this sucks!  Johnson says, which is about as accurate a summation as you can make.

Training partners rarely fight in MMA, even on TUF.  The last time I saw a finish this devastating between close friends was on TUF: Brazil 1 when Rony Jason broke Gasparzinho’s arm.  Those two lived together!  This knockout was worse, though.

Back in the locker room, the Australians are there to console Kajan.  One of them (Grujic, I think) says “You’re amongst friends, Kajan.”  I’m not sure he hears it.  Aubin-Mercier, Grujic and Johnson himself talk about how he might have been hung out to dry by his team.  I know I could barely see Holanda moving or talking during the fight while Laprise’s corner (and possibly Côté) were as vocal as possible.

Johnson struggles to speak, his jaw is so messed up.  Having to see him subtitled only makes his words more impactful:

I just didn’t want to go through this again.  I didn’t want my face to break again.  I didn’t want to lose the biggest fight of my life...It’s just another test.  I just don’t know why I am tested so much.

What a bummer.  How to boost my spirits…

Stephanie Serfaty Nations Week 10Aaaah, thanks Steph.

Next week: Elias Theodorou v. Tyler Manawaroa.  Also, I might try and break a friend’s jaw to see how that affects our relationship.