The Ultimate Fighter 21: American Top Team v. Blackzilians – Week 4 Recap

As you can tell by the extraordinary lateness of this posting, this week was a struggle. I’m enjoying a lovely Victoria Day weekend here in Canada and the last thing I wanted to do was spend 40-some minutes with the jokers on TUF 21. But duty calls. Or I have some sort of disorder. Either way, let’s take a look at week four.

Team Colours

American Top Team
Blackzilians (actually black on the show)

American Top Team is understandably reeling from Steve Carl’s loss. He was one of their veterans, a sure bet to steady the ship. Instead, he sunk like a stone. Dan Lambert asks him what happened and Carl says it was all mental. I’m inclined to agree. This guy submitted Josh Burkman!

Steve Montgomery aka Creepy Steve is convinced that he’s the one to turn this around, saying “It’s always the creepy motherf**kers that sneak up on you. I promise.” Yeeuch.

Conveniently enough, Creepy Steve is ATT’s choice to close out the first round of 25 point fights. Also in consideration were Sabah Homasi and Hayder Hassan, but Hayder is still dealing with a hand injury. Ideally, he would have been matched up with one of the Blackzilian strikers (a couple of whom he’s defeated in the past). We’ll have to wait at least another week to see the vocal Top Teamer make his nationally televised debut.

Creepy Steve (whose official nickname is “The Creepy Weasel”) describes himself as having “the mind of a hippie” and “the heart of a fighter”. He’s an old fashioned South Carolina gentleman. So good nickname choice.

ATT CutHe also has ATT shaved into the side of his hair. You make your own judgments.

Glenn Robinson visits the house to ask his crew who they think ATT is planning to pick. Jorge Santiago says Nathan Coy looks skinny and proposes a match with Carrington Banks. The experience difference concerns Glenn, as well as the fact that Nathan’s technical skill might be too much for Carrington. Jorge and the others stick with their gut and Glenn relents.

The Blackzilians bring Carrington, Andrews Nakahara, and Jason Jackson into the bedroom to deliver the news. I’m going to assume this was a longer, more involved deliberation before editing, but that way it is shown it’s almost like they’re all waiting to get a Bachelor rose.

Blackzilian TrioWell this wasn’t a complete waste of time.

Carrington is from Peoria, Illinois, raised in Georgia and wrestled in Iowa. He’s a lifelong wrestler as a matter of fact. His brief montage portrays him as a “chill dude”, which is better than being creepy in my books.

Speaking of Creepy Steve, we get our first taste of genuine in-house drama when panicked cries for help send the cast into high alert. Creepy Steve is having a seizure! Hayder sticks his fingers in Creepy Steve’s mouth to keep him from biting his tongue off. I’m nearly certain that’s not how you’re supposed to handle that.

SeizureFor f**k’s sake, guys.

The house is completely in shock, but the show doesn’t dwell on the scene. This was a good opportunity to delve deeper into the fighters’ relationships as well as show the sympathetic side of the Blackzilians as I’m sure they were as concerned as the ATT crew. Instead, we get a brief comment from Hayder about how helpless he felt, some shots of Creepy Steve being carted off, and that’s the end of it. I’m not advocating milking a serious health related situation, but this is television! You’ve got to give us more than that.

With their first choice out of commission, ATT now has to choose between Nate and Sabah. They like how Sabah potentially matches up with either Carrington or Jason and he’s been eager to fight since the start of the show. He gets the green light.

Sabah is a male entertainer.

Pause for snark.

He makes sure to emphasize that it’s for women, which seems unnecessary. A man has got to eat, brah. You do you. If that disclaimer weren’t cringe worthy enough, he goes on to make an incredibly awkward comparison between dancing in front of a roomful of ladies to fighting inside of a cage. Did I mention that this is the same guy who was combing his beard during a testimonial last week?

Sabah says if you want to see him in an exciting fight, match him with a striker. If you match him with a wrestler, he’s pretty much screwed. At the weigh-ins, Dan says he suspected that ATT would pick Carrington. If that’s the case, why would they go with Sabah? It’s a good thing Carrington isn’t a former junior college wrestling champion or anything…oh wait…

We see Creepy Steve return to the house and thankfully he’s alright. He mishandled the weight cut, drinking too much water without balancing his electrolytes and that deluded all the sodium in his body. Yikes! There’s an educational moment for all you kids out there. Fortunately, there is no brain damage; unfortunately, Creepy Steve has to leave the house as a precaution since taking any blows to the head in the near future is probably a bad idea under these circumstances.

In the build up to the fight, there is just no variation from episode to episode as far as these training segments go: Montage of various techniques and drills, basic breakdown of how the fight could go, testimonial from a respected UFC teammate, the occasional butt slap…wash, rinse, repeat.

It’s a sad state of affairs when the most interesting part of each episode is making observations about the crowd on fight day. For example…

Sideshow CarlI can’t get over how ridiculous Carl looks with his hair loose.

…and then there’s a cameo by a TUF: Brazil champ…

Cara De Sapato CameoWhat’s up, Shoe Face?

American Top Team’s Sabah Homasi (8-4) v. Team Blackzilians’ Carrington Banks (3-0)

It occurs to me now that they’re showing the referee’s instructions to create some kind of big event atmosphere. It’s not working.

Carrington scores first blood, connecting with a right as Sabah lunges in. He goes to his bread and butter as Sabah had predicted. The former Iowa Central wrestler presses Sabah against the fence and drags him down, but he’s never on top for more than a few seconds. Sabah has great balance, but Carrington keeps at it. There is definitely a size difference between these two, which explains why Carrington’s grappling isn’t as effective as it could be. He’s a future lightweight.

There are some good strikes landed by Sabah, but based on the judging on the show so far I think the first round is a 10-9 for Carrington. The second is more of the same, though Sabah finds a rhythm, at least in the early going. It is difficult to tell who has the advantage. For the most part, they are trading evenly on every exchange. Sabah gets bonus marks for his leg and body kicks though.

Both guys look tired and we see some sloppiness.

High Kick MissJuuuust a bit outside.

Is there an unwritten rule that you’re not supposed to laugh when a fighter whiffs on a high risk move like that? Not that you’d be able to hear it, but I rarely see the other fighter or even the crowd react much when someone spills like that.

Carrington matches Sabah’s awkward kick with one of his own that results in Sabah getting hold of a front face lock. It isn’t much, but it should be enough to send this to a third round, and I’m not just saying that because I know how much time is left in the episode.

Maybe Carrington has been spending too much time with Rashad Evans. He gets casual with his stance, dropping his hands and bouncing around like a pogo stick. When he finally goes back to his wrestling it leads to another takedown. No control again, but it could be the difference in what is a difficult fight to call. I’m leaning towards Carrington because there wasn’t enough to distinguish between the two in the stand-up.

The judges score another fight for the Blackzilians. Sabah and his corner are shocked and I’m not sure why.

Sabah StunnedWhaaaaaaa?!?

That was a solid fight, the best one of the season so far. All the credit in the world to Sabah and Carrington. These two went after it!

The real shock is that Dana White disagrees. He says neither guy went in for the kill and that Sabah didn’t show what he could do. I’m not entirely sure what Dana was looking for here. It wasn’t the most exciting fight ever, but as far as I could tell both guys “left it all in the cage”, as he is so fond of saying. I’ve been picky all season and even I think this was a good one.

Dan gives his honest assessment that he had no idea how the third round would be scored. I’m reminded how much I appreciate his candor. Unlike the previous ATT performances though, he has no reason to be disappointed in Sabah. It just didn’t go his way this time.

Dan: Sit here and bitch about it for the next five minutes but then we need to start thinking about the next one. ‘Cause they’re worth 50 points apiece starting on Tuesday.

See? I said some nice things about TUF 21. We can all get along.

Carrington VictoriousThe score: Blackzilians lead 100-0.

Next Week: Montage, breakdown, testimonial, butt slaps.

The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 4 – Week 6 Recap

Alexander K Lee: We’ve been spoiled by two weeks of frolicking and romance, so don’t get your hopes up for any hanky-panky on this episode! In fact, it’s right down to business as we are already learning about this week’s competitors to start the show.

Team Colours

Team Nogueira
Team Shogun

Nikolas Motta is from Governador Valdares in Minas Gerais. He moved to Rio by himself to pursue his mixed martial arts dreams. We finally learn why Anderson Silva called him “Quejinho”. It is a reference to a cheese that is produced in Minas Gerais. I can sleep now.

Unfortunately, Nego’s story is less charming. I can tell they struggled to find a way to showcase him. He’s been studying martial arts for 16 years. He’s tall. His family supports him. That’s all we get.

An uncharacteristically slow opening for the show, but then I remember that there is a challenge this week! That explains why they got all the boring stuff like the fighters’ lives and motivations out of the way.

You know, we joked about them recycling old Survivor props in a previous post. Now they’re actually recycling props from TUF 1!

Ben Grimm: This challenge is bananas.

B-A-N-A-N-A-S

Basically, four guys from each team are tied to something, that, as my Canadian counterpart pointed out, hasn’t been seen on TV since the early 2000’s. It’s a giant metal octagon, with a huge UFC logo in the middle. The objective of the game is to drag the other team around, and grab four of the eight flags that are on the edge of the area.

Octagon ChallengeSomewhere, Sam Hoger just woke up in a cold sweat.

The winner gets to pick the next fight, which is the production team’s way of acknowledging that Nikolas is basically screwed, and that they want to give the pick to Team Azul. The Nogueira’s are super fired up, and I think it’s Matheus Mattos that leads the team on a pretty cool fire-up chant.

AL: For anyone wondering why Team Vermelho should care about this prize since they already have control, a victory would allow them to retain the fight selection the next time they lose it.

BG: The teams picked are pretty interesting. Personally, I’d just take all four of the lightweights, as they’re by definition bigger and stronger than the bantamweights. Also, Dedé having jumped a few weight classes in the last couple days would have helped too. Unfortunately for Team Azul, they get steamrolled, once again. Team Vermelho grabs four flags to their one, despite the best efforts of Reginaldo Vieira who is constantly grounding the disc and doing his best to grind out the win. Nazareno Malegarie manages to drag all seven other men wherever the hell he chooses. Seriously, he has some crazy strength.

AL: I can still remember the first time I watched this challenge on the inaugural TUF and I couldn’t stop thinking: “Holy s**t someone is going to get seriously injured.” The second time around, my feelings were unchanged.

Hazardous GamePerfectly safe.

BG: Tensions are kinda rising, as Team Nog is getting tired of losing. However, as a reward for making it this far, both teams are given a day to chill, and drive around in dune buggies. The mere existence of dune buggies makes this episode more fun than the entire season of TUF 21, and on that note, I’m going to pass it on to our resident TUF 21 sufferer…. I mean recapper.

AL: More like reCRAPper, amirite?

El Tigre caps off his dominance of the challenge by announcing that Team Shogun is up “80-0”. The sad thing is he’s not exaggerating that much.

I’m glad you brought up TUF 21 (never thought I’d ever have a reason to say that) because one of the key differences between the two series’ is that they do random stuff like send the Brazil cast out on dune buggy trips for no reason other than it is something fun to put on television.

Isn’t that the point of reality programming? Fun! Not everything has to have some sort of deeper meaning or purpose. I just want to see these guys have a good time and boy, do they!

Mad AdamasAdamas, homicidal as always.

Tipped OverThat was predictable.

That evening, there is a minor scuffle between Açougueiro and Nego. Much like myself, Nego is a procrastinator and he puts off his weight cut until the last minute. That means pulling an all nighter in the tub with Jack Godzilla watching over him (stop fantasizing, ladies) to get him down to a reasonable weight for the next day’s cut.

Açougueiro gives Nego crap about disrupting everyone’s sleep, but Team Nogueira lets their friend know that he was out of line so he goes to apologize to Nego at the training center the next day. A short chat later and everyone is cool again. Man, I wish these guys were more like the d**kholes on TUF 21. Oh wait, no I don’t. Nobody does.

Açougueiro jokes that the mayor of Minas will give Nikolas lots of cheese if he wins. Once these guys get a hold of something, they really just don’t let it go.

Cheese CheerGuys…give it a rest.

BG: First up, let me comment that Nego is crazy tall for a LW, and Nikolas seems to be a touch on the small side. It’s a large height difference.

Second, this week’s ring girl is one to get excited about. We’ve all met her before, she’s our new favourite super-clingy ring-girlfriend – Jennifer Giacotto!

Don’t ask me how I know she’s clingy, she just looks like a friends’ girlfriend who is like super-clingy.

Anyway. If you didn’t know, Ms. Giacotto (or maybe the future Mrs. Korea?) is an aspiring actress.

AL: Aspiring actress, huh? I’m sure all the camera time she is getting with Korea is in no way related to that career choice.

BG: This is glorious. Everything from the thumbnail of the black eye, to the dude exasperatedly talking about how he gave up gluten for her. It’s magical.

Jennifer GiacottoNo Portuguese, but she gets a pass because of her relationship with Korea. It’s like a TUF green card.

Lightweight Bout: Team Shogun’s Nego (12-3) v. Team Nogueira’s Nikolas Motta (6-1)

The fight starts out pretty crazy. Nikolas’ plan is apparently to stand around and flail at Nego as best as possible. Nego, channelling the spirit of Gleison Tibau via his shoulder tattoo, uses the Tibau-est gameplan possible, and tries to grind his opponent against the cage, land some shots, and eventually ground him. I’m making this sound bad, but it’s actually a good fight.

Nikolas does get pinned up against the cage for a while, but once he escapes, he lands an amazing head kick, which floors Nego.

Head Kick No SellHe’s up almost instantly, but it looked great.

Nikolas is wild on the feet, and he lands some good shots that put Nego in trouble, but he’s got no real semblance of take down defence. Nego’s just too big, and able to pin him up on the cage, or dump him to the ground, and slowly control the fight. It’s a tough round to score, as Nego had control for a lot of the round, but I’d score it 10-9 Nikolas on damage and aggression.

Nikolas is exhausted heading into the second round, and it’s really the death knell for his fight. Being the bigger, slightly fresher man, Glaico is able to execute his gameplan without being in nearly as much danger as he was in the first round. He was able to wear out his opponent, and at around the halfway mark of the second round, he eventually takes Nikolas’ back, and sinks in the choke. It’s all over.

Nego ChokeNot the best game face I’ve seen.

Team Azul is down four fights and two challenges. That suuuuucks so much. Nikolas strikes well, and he’ll be ok if he can make it down to 145, or not get matched up with physically dominant fighters like that. Great fight from Nego too, he was able to come back from some heavy damage and work hard to secure a win.

AL: Everyone seems to really like Nikolas. Fighters and coaches from both sides offer words of encouragement. It’s moments like this that remind you that even though he’s a professional mixed martial artist on a television show being watched by millions, he’s still just a kid. Best of luck to him and his pinchable cheeks.

The next fight sees loverboy Korea facing off with Leandro Higo. I like Leandro because he’s the only guy on the show who is taking the show so seriously. He’d fit right in on TUF 21.

Nego VictoriousNext Week: Team Shogun’s Korea v. Team Nogueira’s Pitbull. You know the one.

Cat

The Ultimate Fighter 21: American Top Team v. Blackzilians – Week 3 Recap

The intro to this show is all wrong. Of all the things they needed to change, this wasn’t it. They recap last week and then do a preview of tonight’s show, which is just pointless. Then we get a shortened version of the traditional opening, without showing the fighters’ names. It is preposterous that they seem to be doing everything in their power this season to not showcase the actual fighters.

Also, the song sucks. THIS IS NOT THE ULTIMATE

Two fights down, the American Top Team crew acknowledge that the guys they’ve selected so far are talented, but young. Dan Lambert all but admits that Michael Graves and Uros Jurisic were sacrificial lambs since the initial fights aren’t worth as much. He goes on to do the math for us to show that a team can lose the first eight fights and as long as you win the final four (each worth 100 points) you can still win the competition.

Dan’s analysis comes off as incredibly callous because you would think these fights are about more than points. There’s also, I don’t know, his fighters’ careers to consider?

It gets worse when Dana White says ATT is way behind on points even though they literally just showed Dan explaining how easy it is to make up the deficit. Ugh.

Team Colours

American Top Team
Blackzilians (actually black on the show)

At the house, someone has taken Valdir “Baby Monster” Araujo’s wine. He goes on the hunt and…you know what, this is borderline kitchen drama. In summary, Michael has been a naughty boy and Steve Carl (from here on out referred to as “Carl”) thinks it can only lead to unnecessary drama. Michael shows no regret, joking that he didn’t confess because he doesn’t like confrontations. He might also have a drinking problem.

Wine ThiefThis is a likeable bunch, eh?

The ATT deliberations come down to Steve Montgomery (from here on out referred to as “Creepy Steve”), Grilo, and Carl. Creepy Steve is healthy and they believe that Grilo can beat anyone of the Blackzilians, but they decide that Carl is the safe choice. I’m glad they went with Carl this week to show that they’re taking this stage of the competition seriously.

Carl is from Belle Plaine, Iowa, a town so small that it took me almost an entire minute to properly google it. They mention his experience, but gloss over the fact that he submitted Josh Burkman to win the inaugural World Series of Fighting Welterweight Championship back in 2013. Were this a traditional season of TUF, Carl would easily be one of the first three fighters picked.

Carl TattooName tattooed on your back in fancy letters? Oh Steve…I was just starting to like you.

Before we move on to the Blackzilian side of things, I have to point out how much padding there is in this episode. There are some boring training segments that come off as extended commercials for the two gyms (oh wait, I’m the last person to realize that’s what this whole season is for, aren’t I?). They show the guys sitting around the house not doing or saying anything particularly interesting. They even show the referee explaining the rules of the fight to this week’s competitors like it’s a title match.

Worst of all are frequent clips of Dana White selling this week’s fight and constantly trying to get the viewer to buy into the feud between the two camps. Because nothing is more effective in the visual medium of television than someone telling you how interested you should be.

The Blackzilians are looking at Andrews Nakahara (great cardio) and Baby Monster. They dismiss Jason Jackson and Felipe Portela over concerns about them not recovering from their workouts fast enough. They decide on Baby Monster, and I know the show has made me sour because I can’t even enjoy that otherwise spectacular nickname.

It turns out that Valdir is called “Baby Monster” because he’s been too big and too aggressive since he was 12 years old. From what we see of his fighting style, it’s an appropriate moniker. He’s got that Wanderlei Silva technique of lumbering forward and swinging heavy hooks. However, he’s also renowned for his ground game, which could make this another long week for ATT.

Did I mention how dumb it is that we’re still having adults share a house even though most of the cast reside in Florida? Because it is dumb. Apparently, the house is divided into an ATT and Blackzilian side and the spa and steam room are on the Blackzilian side. I’m going to say that’s slightly unfair.

As a result of that inequity, Carl is three quarters of a pound over the limit. This is not weight cutting drama! It’s three quarters of a f**king pound. The commissioner directs them to the sauna, which cheeses off the Blackzilians who didn’t give the other team permission to use their facilities. Tyrone Spong says they’re in a war and in a war there are no rules. He and Michael Johnson go in to kick the ATT guys out.

1)      There are rules in war actually.
2)      It’s not war it’s a f**king TV show!

Is anyone on this show not a petty jerk?

Carl makes the weight. As stupid as that was, Dana does make a good point that if they don’t want to deal with these problems then they should get that home gym advantage. Of course, that point would have more validity if home gym advantage hadn’t been decided by a coin toss.

The nicest thing I can say about that segment is that we are spared another catfight between the owners.

A highlight of this episode is seeing Din Thomas going over Baby Monster footage to prepare Carl. If you’re unaware, Din actually started his own business dedicated specifically to scouting and breaking down fights. It’s a cool idea that I hope spawns career opportunities for retired fighters.

Din points out Baby Monster’s excellent takedown timing and everyone on the staff says he has a weak chin. The game plan is for Carl to get after him on the feet, but he says he “wouldn’t mind tapping out a blackbelt.”

If Baby Monster is worried about getting knocked out, he isn’t showing it.

Baby Monster: I fought Chris Weidman…I fought the champ for three rounds. Compared to this guy, Steve Carl can do nothing to me.

American Top Team’s Steve Carl (21-4) v. Team Blackzilians’ Baby Monster (14-5)

Oh look, Thiago Silva is here.

Thiago SilvaThere’s someone who I didn’t think I’d ever see on a UFC program again.

Carl lands a few punches and Baby Monster has to go for the takedown. Maybe they were right about that chin. The well prepared ATT fighter touches mat, but springs back up quickly. They wrestle against the cage, with Carl being in control for most of the round. The early punches definitely took some of the air out of Baby Monster. I’m actually surprised the referee doesn’t break up the grappling because neither guy is able to do much. I can almost hear Dana screaming.

Baby Monster finally reverses, but he whiffs on a judo throw.

Baby BotchRonda Rousey, eat your heart out.

Round 1: 10-9 Carl.

Between rounds, a subtitle typo makes it look like Tyrone wants Baby Monster to play dead in the middle of the fight.

Feint Not FaintUh, no?

Both fighters are tentative to start the second. They land some nice single strikes, but don’t commit to any sort of follow-up. Carl pushes in and traps Baby Monster against the cage again. Dana must have been contemplating shutting down filming at this point.

Baby Monster counters with a standing D’Arce choke. There is no submission, but it does allow him to switch positions and gain cage control. That’s where almost the entire fight has taken place.

Standing D'arceSurprisingly effective!

This is a difficult fight to score. Even though Carl has been in control longer, it’s Baby Monster who has threatened with submissions. I would send this one to a third round…and just as I write that, Baby Monster pulls guard to fully commit to a guillotine choke that makes Carl tap! It was a hell of a manoeuvre because if the round ended with Carl on top, that could have locked up a decision win for ATT.

Monster KillGlenn Robinson suggests the weight cut might have affected Carl’s performance. Dana is less convinced. He’s more annoyed by the fact that Carl didn’t listen to his corner and paid the price for wanting to grapple with Baby Monster, a black belt in both Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and judo.

Complete ShockCarl is a little upset. The good thing is that you can fight more than once now and I would bet on him picking up a win before this season is over.

This season has been such a wasted opportunity. The new format is promising. I like the scoring system and the fact that we have actual teammates working together instead of eight strangers, but everything else is either too familiar or completely banal. They’re not giving us any reason to care about anyone. The cast is so unlikeable.

Sabah Testimonial*sigh* I just want these people to go away.

Baby Monster VictoriousThe score: Blackzilians lead 75-0

Next Week: The last of the 25 point fights that Dan thinks are essentially worthless.

The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 4 – Week 5 Recap

Ben Grimm: First up, before I get started on the recap, I’d like to thank It’s Always Raining In Negadelphia for googling the colour red in Portuguese for me. It’s things like this that make the world go round. In the future, I will also accept solutions like this one: Let me google that for you.

Anyway.

This episode, Team Azul is trying to break out of their losing streak, and claim their first victory. Unfortunately, given the nature of TUF, they haven’t been able to pick a favourable match-up yet. Who knows? Maybe this is their chance.

Team Colours

Team Nogueira
Team Shogun

We begin this episode back at the house, as Nazareno Malegarie and Dedé chat about their fight. This must be total bizarro-land for fighters, having to live with the dude you spent the better part of ten minutes trying to remove from their consciousness.

Alexander K Lee: El Tigre celebrates in a fashion typical of his people, singing “Argentina will be the champion!”

BG: The recaps from the fighters highlight that Nazareno was able to impose his takedown and ground game really well. Dedé wasn’t completely helpless, as he apparently did big damage to Nazareno with an elbow on the ground, but he couldn’t remain on his feet long enough to capitalise. To his credit, Dedé doesn’t want to get back into the tournament, as that would mean someone else has been injured, and is now out. That’s an astonishingly selfless way to think of it all.

AL: It’s also astonishingly selfless of him to scarf down a tub of ice cream to let everyone know he doesn’t want back in the competition.

BG: The contrasting attitudes of both teams are highlighted, and it’s pretty interesting to see. Team Vermelho is definitely more laid back. Whether or not it’s because they’ve been winning is very hard to say. They’re goofing off, having fun, whereas Team Azul is hardcore into their training, even sparring inside of the house to stay sharp.

What do you reckon, Alex? Are some guys taking it too easy, or others playing it too tough?

AL: Team Shogun just look like the most fun, positive people to be around. It’s easy to be like that when you’re winning, but I have to give credit to Shogun Rua for putting together a team with a good mix of veterans and youngsters.

Shake It Off​Loosen up, fellas.

As we touched upon last time, it’s unclear exactly what Anderson Silva was planning to do outside of picking people he was familiar with (apparently Bulldog is also an associate of the Nogueiras). Unity is a key to team Shogun’s success.

MasseuseI’ll bet the free massages don’t hurt either.

Meanwhile, it definitely looks like they’re playing it too tough over at Team Nogueira. The footage of their training is incredibly unflattering with teammates arguing and literally falling all over themselves. There is also some crying, and not the usual fun TUF: Brazil kind. The sad kind.

In contrast to Team Shogun, Açougueiro says “We’ve got no close friends here.”

Watch Your StepThat about sums up the Team Azul experience so far.

As if to drive home the mood disparity between the two squads, the Team Shogun boys decide to compete against each other in the “first international billiards championship”. They go all out, including pre and post-fight rituals. The clips of the tournament are interspersed with shots of Team Nogueira fighters looking sullen and serious. They look like the saddest bastards ever. Team Shogun couldn’t be having a better time.

Billiards ResultJack Godzilla does not take kindly to losing.

Soldado wins, but they don’t let him enjoy it for too long.

The PrizeCongratulations Soldado, for your hard earned victory you get…a gang beating!

I think it’s best now if we fast forward to the next appearance of the ring girls, a house visit that threatens to shatter the record for most screenshots and gifs in a single post.

BG: I don’t think any amount of pictures and gifs will do justice to this situation. All of the ring girls rock up to the house, ostensibly to play poker with the guys, and basically hang out for the whole day.

AL: Açougueiro goes from “I don’t know how to play poker” to full-on Phil Laak.

UnacougueiroThat escalated quickly.

Seriously, if you were an American TUF participant, how jealous would you be of the TUF: Brazil setup?

BG: It’s glorious. Matheus Nicolau tries to pretend that playing poker is actually quite helpful in terms of fighting, something something about learning about bluffing and your opponent, but I’m not really paying attention to him right now.

AL: It’s an even more strained analogy than those old UFC/Assassin’s Creed tie-ins.

BG: Jenny and Korea continue to act like that one freaking couple you all know that can’t keep their hands off of each other. Every second he spends talking, he’s got this slightly guilty smile on his face. It’s great.

Korea and JennyKorea: “I’m locked in here with 16 guys, so it’s great to have a girl.”

Poor Bulldog gets questioned over his choice of seasoning on the meat, which is apparently only salt. Salt. The secret ingredient.

Eventually, dinner winds down, and the lay-dees decide to get in the hot tub. Because of course they do. This is tough for some of the married or committed guys, and poor Açougueiro even comments that his marriage will be completely over if he steps foot near the tub.

AL: Over on my TUF 21 recaps (remember those?), I joked that since the fighters don’t know who they will be matched up with until the weigh-ins, it was like TUF meets Blind Date. I was wrong. This is how you do TUF meets Blind Date.

BG: Of course, with the hot tub in play, shenanigans ensue. Dedé ends up making out with Diana, another one of the American ring girls. I guess this is one of the better ways of soothing the loss from his last fight. However, the language barrier is still definitely in play, and I’m noticing a bit of a trend here…

Dede and Diana 1

Dede and Diana 2THAT escalated quickly.

AL: It should be noted that it looks like Dedé has jumped a couple of weight classes in the last few days. Not that Diana seems to mind.

BG: The guys had a great time relaxing, the girls had fun, and now we’re back to the serious fight business. That is, it’s time to watch shirtless guys flex on a scale. It’s weigh-ins time! Fortunately, both guys make weight. Dileno Lopes gets the towel treatment, but there’s no implication it was a hard cut. There’s a tiny bit of heat in the staredown, and Bulldog spends the whole time wearing the type of chain you would use to lock up your bike. It’s hilariously stupid looking.

AL: We learn that Bulldog first met the Nogueiras by winning a contest based on who could sell the most bodybuilding supplement. Minotauro took a shine to him immediately because he was the only one of the finalists who was in decent shape. A few backflips later, he was officially part of the team.

Dileno speaks proudly of his hometown of Manaus, the breeding ground of several UFC fighters, most notably José Aldo. He wants to follow in the featherweight champ’s footsteps.

Dileno: It has been a huge sacrifice up until now. My family is back home. My daughter and my wife are back there. Las Vegas is so far away from home. I really miss them. I’m sacrificing myself and suffering and I’ll make someone pay for that.

Bulldog? Check. Dileno? Check. Ring girl? You’re up this week, Ben.

BG: This week we have the lovely Elenita Machado. She’s part of a rare breed this year, in that she’s actually Brazilian. Her idea is that ring girls are sexy, but not vulgar. No disagreements here.

AL: At last, the sweet, sweet sound of a woman speaking Portuguese. My ears thank you, Elenita. Consider yourself the frontrunner in this competition.

Elenita MachadoHot dog! We have a weiner.

BG: It’s now on to fight time, and both guys are well prepared. We see them running down some last minute preparation, and Bulldog gets advice on avoiding guillotine chokes. Could this be a case of foreshadowing?

AL: Bulldog also explains the origin of his nickname: he’s little and strong and vaguely resembles a bulldog. If only there were another small, fierce canine that he could be named after…

Bantamweight Bout: Team Nogueira’s Bulldog (8-2) v. Team Shogun’s Dileno Lopes (19-1)

Bulldog EntranceThis has to be useful in a fight, I’m just not sure how exactly.

BG: Dileno has a serious experience advantage over Bulldog, as well as a reach and height advantage too.

The fight starts out at breakneck speed, with both men storming across the cage to meet in the middle. They are constantly springing back and forward for the first thirty seconds or so, and I had to check and make sure that my video wasn’t running in fast forward. About 50 seconds in to the first round, Bulldog shoots in for a takedown, gets stuffed enough that he manages to lose his footing, and stands up into a full guillotine choke.

Dileno locks it up tight really, really quickly, and Bulldog has to tap out after just a little more than the first minute. Many props go out to the editors, landing in that guillotine foreshadowing. Nice, I liked it.

Dileno Guillotine Finish​Bulldog going for a takedown was his first mistake. Trying to slam his way out of hit was his second and his last.

Bulldog is obviously devastated about his loss, but he’s able to cope pretty well. The Nogueira brothers are piiiiiissed off, man.

Frustration Sets InNow you know what a pissed off Minotaur looks like.

The mood in their locker room basically resembles that of a graveyard, but the Nogueiras talk about their own TUF coaching history, and how they’ve always been able to turn it around. No speculation, just cold, hard facts.

Shogun picks Glaico “Nego” França, his number two pick, to take on Nikolas Motta, Team Azul’s number two lightweight pick as well. On paper, that’s an intriguing choice. We’ll have to see how it plays out next week. Any finals thoughts, Alex?

AL: Did Anderson pick any grapplers? Reginaldo Vieira, I guess? It feels like it’s the same story every week. Somehow, Team Shogun once again ends up with the bigger, more experienced fighter in Nego. I’m not betting against them losing the advantage anytime soon.

Dileno VictoriousNext Week: Team Shogun’s Nego v. Team Nogueira’s Nikolas Motta. Also, we investigate if Anderson Silva went to the Ted Stepien school of team building.

Cat

The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 4 – Week 4 Recap

Ben Grimm: First and foremost, I can promise that this episode doesn’t have the same emotional impact as last week’s did. In my mind, that’s a good thing, I can’t go through that kinda stuff too often. There’s still drama, but while last episode was like, an 8 on the drama scale, this is closer to a 5.5/10.

Alexander K Lee: You know, it has to be mentioned, for some reason they thought it would be a good idea to throw random noises into the intro. I’m talking these generic screams and shouts that you’ve probably heard in countless movies, television shows, and video games (no Wilhelm scream though). Who thought this was a good idea? It’s silly and amateurish.

Team Colours

Team Nogueira
Team Shogun

BG: Team Blue’s still reeling for a couple reasons. Obviously, Anderson Silva being forced to leave still has some effect, given that his pupil, Dedé, is fighting this episode. Also, they lost a close decision, and a really good chance to eliminate a solid fighter in Matheus Nicolau. Reginaldo Vieira, our first loser of the tournament is a bit bummed out. He tries to be the good guy, and has a chat with Matheus (who still has really nice eyes), but still mentions that he thought he won the first two rounds.

Pretty EyesSee? Really pretty eyes.

Dedé’s in a bad way, though. He was really, really rattled by Anderson’s exit from the house, and in my mind,

a.) there’s no way his head is still in the game to the same level as it was before, and
b.) there’s no way he doesn’t know the truth of the whole situation.

Dede FarewellThat moment where a hug gets uncomfortable for one of the participants.

He is pretty out if it, but just in time, the entire remaining coaching staff of Team Blue shows up for a bit of a pep talk. They also stick around to make sure he’s on weight. Right now, Dedé is 10 pounds over, and Nazareno Malegarie is only five pounds over. Dedé’s gonna have a harder cut, but it’s not impossible.

AL: The good thing about living in the TUF house though is that the fighters are able to focus on their duties free of distraction.

BG: Aaaand then, the girls show up…

House GuestsOoooooh s**t.

The visit is a major bummer for Team Nogueira because the girls bring them scarves for the winter trip…the only problem is that it’s Team Shogun going on the trip, not them. We find the red team upstairs and all is well, except for the fact that I hear more English speaking from one of the ring girls. What do I watch TUF: Brazil for?!? Reginaldo jokes that “Back in Brazil, their girlfriends are all breaking up with them.”

We take a quick second to check in on the blue team training. Adamas says that nothing has changed with Anderson gone, so this is time well spent. They do tease Dedé not cooperating fully with the Nogueiras as if he’s their petulant stepchild, but it doesn’t go anywhere and everyone remains buddy buddy.

Back to the main event, Dileno Lopes says he’s loving the climate change on Mount Charleston. Team Shogun and the girls looks like they are having a wicked time, learning to snowboard and sliding down in giant swim rings. One of the ring girls jokes that Shogun ran her over.

Korea puts the moves on one of the ring girls and they can’t even communicate with each other (he doesn’t speak English, she doesn’t speak Portuguese)! Her name is Jennifer Giacotto and I’m pretty sure that’s all he knows about her.

Tube RideBest…reward…eveeeeeeer!

Korea Explains LoveI think that’s how babies are made.

Bro SupportI wish Shogun were around to cheer me on every time I hooked up.

Aaaah, l’amour, it is sweet, no? What do you say, Ben? Did this put you in the mood?

BG: This was freaking adorable, and the rest of Team Shogun did their best to hang in the back and poke fun like awkward schoolboys. Also, someone in the production team must be weeping sweet tears of joy, now that their ‘put guys and girls on TUF’ gamble is -finally- paying off.

We cut back to some training and intro to our fighters. Nazareno is actually from Argentina, just like our favourite contestant from TUF – Latin America.

El Diablito KOWho didn’t love the Ninja?

Anyway, there seems to be some crazy serious Brazil/Argentina heat. Does it cover every aspect of life? I’m genuinely curious, as I’ve never been to either country. Nazareno describes himself as an all-rounder, standing if it’s standing, going to ground if it’s on the ground, whatever. Also, his nose is hella off-centred and broken. Just sayin’.

Weigh-ins go off without a hitch, as both guys easily make weight, and it seems like this is going to be a real style v. style fight. Dedé is very much a Muay Thai guy, whereas Nazareno has the clear grappling advantage.

El Tigre Dede FaceoffCome on Dedé, show off that beach body.

It’s almost fight time, and both guys are prepped and ready to go. However, before we can get to the fight, there’s one more person to introduce.

AL: This week’s octagon girl contestant is Cindy Laura, who is bringing it back with the Portu…oh…wait, is she speaking Spanish? She’s from Cuba! Do any of these women speak Portuguese? Come on!

Cindy LauraDisqualified.

Lightweight Bout: Team Nogueira’s Dedé (3-1) v. Team Shogun’s El Tigre (27-3)

Slight experience disparity here. Someone with 30 fights going up against someone with less than five sounds like…exactly how matchmaking works in Brazil, actually.

Shogun believes that if Dedé gets taken down once, El Tigre will have the fight in the bag. That is the story of the opening round as Dedé is unable to fend off the first shot of the fight. He’s pressed against the cage and eventually dragged down by a persistent Nazareno. Right away you can see how much more adept Nazareno is on the ground. He is aggressive and on the attack, unafraid of anything Dedé has to offer from his back.

Seriously, El Tigre’s vaunted ground game is no joke. He times everything perfectly. There’s almost no wasted energy when he pounds Dedé with punches and elbows. It is a clear cut 10-9 first round for El Tigre, and I could even go 10-8.

BG: I agree, Nazareno completely dominated that first round. Dedé’s corner really highlights the need to come out strong, and win the round. To his credit, Dedé looks good in the first minute or so, landing some punches, and stuffing some takedowns.

With three minutes to go, Dedé sprawls excellently on a takedown, but he’s unable to punish Nazareno enough. Dedé’s slightly winning the standup, but he’s not dealing a lot of damage, and Nazareno is able to connect with some swinging overhands. Unfortunately for Dedé, Nazareno is just too dogged. Eventually, he’s able to easily stifle Dedé against the cage, and dumps him to the ground. From there, Nazareno works for position, and constantly lands a steady stream of right hands to Dedé’s head that he’s just not fighting against. The referee calls the TKO at 4:28 of the second round, and it’s a good stoppage.

El Tigre has some wicked G n’ P.  He’s gonna do well, I reckon. Team Shogun is pretty stoked with the win, obviously. Shogun declares his entire team to be samurai, and, given that he is indeed a Shogun, this is a promotion that’s well within his power.

The mood is grave-like in the other room, as the coaches desperately try and keep morale high. They want their team screaming and cheering more, and surely getting more enthused isn’t going to be too hard for a group of Brazilians?

Team Red gets to pick for next week, as is custom for the winners, and they select their bantamweight Dileno to take on Bruno “Bulldog” Silva of Team Blue. Dileno was pick four, and Bulldog pick seven, so they’re still playing it safe according to the pick order.

AL: I thought that Shogun’s team had already used their killers, but I forgot about Dileno. These sides are looking lopsided. Maybe Anderson shouldn’t have used the top pick on his best bud? And it’s the Nogueira brothers who got stuck with him!

Does picking a friend ever work out? Just off the top of my head, I can name a couple of guys who were picked first because of their relationship with a coach and none of them worked out: Joe Scarola (TUF 6, via Matt Serra, lost in the first week and left the house a few weeks later) and Marc Stevens (TUF 12, via Josh Koscheck, lost in the first round and as a wild card).

On the flip side, I guess you could say James McSweeney (TUF 10, via Rashad Evans, made it to the semifinals) and Cezar Mutante (TUF: Brazil 1, via Vitor Belfort, won the middleweight division that season) did well enough.

I’d still lean towards picks based on personal relationships being a negative though, particularly in season where superior talents are passed over. For example, Serra could have ended up with Mac Danzig and George Sotiropoulos (Matt Hughes was infatuated with unproven muscle head Dan Barrera for some reason) while Koscheck missed on Michael Johnson, eventual winner Jonathan Brookins, and Alex Caceres.

Friends are worthless and that is why I don’t have any.

BG: One last question: How do you say ‘red’ in Portuguese? I know blue is azul, and I’d like to use the Portuguese words for colours here, mostly because ‘azul’ sounds like a cool word to say.

Anyway.

AL: You never stop trying to edutain the masses.

El Tigre VictoriousNext Week: Team Shogun’s Dileno Lopes v. Team Nogueira’s Bulldog. Also, we find out if Jennifer takes another trip to “Korea”. I’m not proud of that one.

Cat

The Ultimate Fighter 21: American Top Team v. Blackzilians – Week 2 Recap

I’ll go ahead and say what we’re all thinking.

The first two episodes of this season have been boring.

I can’t put my finger on exactly why. It could be a casting issue. It could be we’ve had bad luck with the first two fights. The focus on the gym owner feud has definitely been an enormous misstep so far since we have no reason to care much about either guy besides the fact that they really don’t like each other. Whoop-dee-doo.

If anything, all the arguing between Dan Lambert and Glenn Robinson makes them come off as a couple of brats, not respectable professionals. They need to give us more insight to this feud or establish the characters of the fighters soon, otherwise the intriguing new format they’ve drummed up will be for naught.

Team Colours

American Top Team
Blackzilians (actually black on the show)

We open on American Top Team sorting out what went wrong with Michael Graves’ fight. Michael thinks they underestimated the unity on the Blackzilians side, which might have given an extra push to Kamaru Usman. Steve Carl says the pressure of being undefeated had to have gotten to him, as it would with any fighter, himself included.

Hayder Hassan isn’t convinced by the unity argument. He echoes the sentiments of his coach that the ATT fighters develop together while the Blackzilians are more of a patched together group of talents. That doesn’t stop him from messing with the other team when he gets the chance.

A kitchen encounter with Kamaru sees Hayder looking to kill him with kindness. He goes on about the two of them being warriors and meeting in the cage someday, a stark contrast to the schoolboy callout after Kamaru’s fight with Michael. Kamaru isn’t sure how to take Hayder’s show of respect. He later tells his teammates that he’s conflicted about whether to like or hate Hayder.

He would probably be more decisive about it if he heard Hayder in the ATT van telling his boys that he was going to knock Kamaru’s “bitch-ass” out.

Blue SceneI’m digging the transition footage.

The ATT coaches predict that Jason Jackson or Carrington Banks could be next. They think Steve could be a strong representative for them this week since he’s got the most experience and he’s reliable. Hayder is ruled out due to a lingering hand injury. Putting those options aside, they decide to give Uros Jurisic the shot. He’s unproven, but they believe he’s peaking at the right time.

I’m surprised that they’re going with another unknown property. It’s becoming clear, at least to me, that they’re saving their big guns for the more heavily weighted fights. That means guys like Michael, Uros, and Sabah Homasi are being thrown to the wolves and whatever they get from them is gravy.

Uros is of Slovenian descent. Back home he is a student/postman who practices MMA without the support of his parents. After going undefeated in his home country, he moved to Florida to step up his game. Dan describes him as quiet and hardworking. They also joke that Uros is one of the better looking guys “in light of the ugliness of the house”.

The Blackzilians go with Buscapé. Carrington was considered for his wrestling, as well as Andrews Nakahara for his striking. Buscapé is undersized, but he’s extremely strong and adept at grappling. They expect his ground game to frustrate and overwhelm whoever he faces.

Glenn: They call Buscapé “The Flea” in the gym because once he’s on you, you can’t get him off.

It’s neat that the teams get to practice in a home gym, though I imagine the relatively small size of it might drive them crazy. Case in point, Kamaru and Jason have themselves a minor dust-up.

TensionNo subtitles necessary.

Kamaru acknowledges that he’s still feeling the effects of fatigue from preparation for his last fight. He apologizes to Jason and that’s that.

It’s weigh-in time and Dan is confident that they’ll win this week and never have to fight in the Blackzilians gym again.

Dan: Ready to see this place for the last time?
Hayder: Yeah, f**k this place.
Dan: F**k this place.

The emphasis during the faceoff is once again on Dan and Glenn. They unload on each other with insults, some of which aren’t bad. But seriously, ten more weeks of this? Dana White continues to be overly excited about the rivalry, which only makes it worse.

Dan And GlennBecause I know we all love dedicating time to a confrontation between two men that will never be resolved in any meaningful way.

American Top Team’s Uros Jurisic (4-0) v. Team Blackzilians’ Buscapé (18-6)

Prior to the fight, Buscapé is shown getting a lot of 1-on-1 time with Tyrone Spong, arguably the best light heavyweight striker in MMA. If he can handle that, I don’t think Uros is going to give him much trouble on the feet.

Alas, the Spong training proves unnecessary since Buscapé is able to get a takedown early in the fight. That spells trouble for Uros who is completely neutralized on his back.

Buscape On TopSee this screenshot? You just saw the first round of this fight.

Round 1: 10-9 Buscapé.

Uros’s corner tells him to keep it on the feet, which seems sensible. Of course, the first thing Uros does is shoot for a takedown.

Buscape On Top AgainUnwise.

Uros actually does manage to get back up, but the ease with which his takedown was reversed means we won’t be seeing that again. Buscapé is able to wade in and throw hooks without any fear of Uros changing strategy. And, of course, he can go all out on takedowns with maximum confidence.

I’m disappointed that Dan employs the Rampage Jackson coaching method of yelling Get up! over and over again. Then again, when they do give Uros advice, he has problems implementing it. The ATT corner is begging him to let go of Buscapé’s head, but he panics. His inability to disengage results in him being tripped or taken down repeatedly. Buscapé does enough to take a lopsided decision win.

Buscape VictoriousDana didn’t like the fight this week either and I’m inclined to agree with him. While I don’t think the referee should have stood them up (Buscapé was always active from the top, even if he failed to pass), I do understand his disappointment in Uros. He looked lost out there. What Dana should really be upset about is that Dan is clearly saving his best fighters for the later stages of the competition instead of putting his best foot forward.

The score: Blackzilians lead 50-0

Next Week: Maybe Dan picks someone to fight who has had more than four professional appearances?

The Ultimate Fighter 21: American Top Team v. Blackzilians – Week 1 Recap

Here’s what I wrote back in September 2012 in a post about fixing The Ultimate Fighter:

Camp wars

This is an idea that I’d like to elaborate further on some other time, but how about a season dedicated to two prominent camps? It would be good publicity for the camps themselves and their young fighters. The cast mates wouldn’t be forced into a team dynamic, instead training with friends who they already like and trust. There’s even the possibility of including more than two teams (something that Survivor has done before with great success). Just imagine the possibilities: American Top Team v. TristarJackson’s MMA v. Xtreme CoutureTeam Nogueira v. Alliance MMANova União v. Team Alpha Male? If a team is too dominant, it could even result in teammates having to face each other (though their reluctance to do so would be a major hurdle for the show).

I’ll admit, I’m embarrassed. I had no idea that Dana White and the UFC put so much stock in my ideas. Lorenzo, my preferred method of payment is check, though I’m not against the sack with a dollar sign on it.

Team Colours

American Top Team
Blackzilians (actually black on the show)

In all seriousness though (yes, that was me being funny), I can’t express enough how much I appreciate the show runners making a major overhaul to the program.

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the show, TUF invited two of the most prominent teams in MMA to participate in a head to head battle for camp superiority. On one side, we have American Top Team cofounded and owned by Dan Lambert. On the other, we have the Blackzilians owned by Glenn Robinson. I’m not going to lie, the first few times I saw Glenn Robinson’s name in MMA articles, I thought that “Big Dog” had invested in an MMA gym.

This is the first domestic edition of TUF to not take place in Las Vegas. Instead, we’re in sunny South Florida, the site of both gyms as well as the all-new TUF house. One major difference is that the fighters have to travel there by water.

Boat RideYup, they’re on a boat.

Let’s get the nitty-gritty of the season out of the way for those of you who, like me, might not have been keeping up with the previews leading up to the show:

  • There will be 12 fights during the regular season and unlike previous editions, not everyone has to fight.
  • A fighter can fight up to a maximum of three times.
  • The 12 fights will be broken into three tiers, each worth a different amount of points. So the last four weeks will be more important than the first four weeks.

Scoring SystemI miss the IFL.

  • The fighters are selected by their teams before the weigh-in, but until then they have no idea who they will be facing At last, the Blind Date/TUF mash-up I’ve been begging for.
  • You will only be able to fight in the TUF finale if you fought at least two times during the “regular season” (as Dana calls it). It is unclear if this means you have to have fought twice to be on the card at all, or to be in consideration for the TUF Final (if there even is a traditional final match this season).
  • The team with the most points at the end of the regular season gets $200,000.
  • The team with the winning fighter in the finale gets $300,000 and the TUF trophy.

TUF TrophyPretty.

Call me crazy, but these are ideas that could be expanded on outside of the TUF format, no? Especially with all the programming the UFC has, it is not unreasonable to think they could establish some sort of regular season with major rewards at the end. Just something to consider.

They highlight Robbie Lawler’s recent world title win, a first for ATT after a handful of missed opportunities. Unfortunately, we soon go from highlighting ATT to slinging mud at the Blackzilians. Dan says that Glenn is simply a student who had enough money to buy his way into martial arts relevancy. He accuses Glenn of bringing in big name fighters to comprise his camp as opposed to developing his own.

Glenn’s side of the story is that Dan became upset with him after he became professionally involved with other fellow ATT members Jorge Santiago, JZ Cavalcante, and the Villefort brothers. This resulted in Glenn being banned from ATT. Jorge, JZ, and the Villeforts would follow him to his new enterprise, soon joined by Rashad Evans and Anthony Johnson.

Rashad & The BoysFor those of you keeping score at home, by my unofficial count (only fighters who have already made at least one appearance) ATT has 33 fighters currently signed to the UFC, while the Blackzilians have 12.

It’s cool that they show us some of the ATT roster selection process. I’ll take that over elimination fights any day. Heck, even if they don’t do camp wars every year, I’d love to see how those responsible for casting select the people for the show. Anyone who has watched DVD extras of any previous TUF season knows that the unseen auditions and table discussions are highly entertaining.

Here is a quick and dirty reference guide for the ATT team:

  • Marcelo “Grilo” Alfaya (16-7 [1 NC])
    • Crazy man
  • Hayder Hassan (6-1)
    • Knockout artist
    • In his last two fights, he knocked out a pair of Blackzilians (Jason Jackson and Felipe Portela)
  • Nathan Coy (14-5)
    • The captain
    • Grinder
    • Has fought for both Bellator and Strikeforce
  • “Creepy” Steve Montgomery (8-2)
    • 6’4”, Southpaw
  • Michael Graves (4-0)
    • Fast paced
  • Sabah Homasi (8-4)
    • Underachiever
  • Uros Jurisic (4-0)
  • Steve Carl (21-4)
    • Former WSOF welterweight champion

ATTHayder likens ATT to playing for the New York Yankees. He gets a lot of play in this episode and based on his past experiences with the Blackzilians, expect him to be a prominent character this season.

On the Blackzilian side:

  • Jason Jackson (4-2)
    • Top cardio
  • Luiz “Buscape” Firmino (18-6)
    • WSOF and PRIDE veteran
    • His last three wins were against Luis Palomino, Jacob Volkmann, and Tyson Griffin
    • Natural 155er
  • Kamaru Usman (5-1)
    • Olympic alternate wrestler
  • Andrews Nakahara (4-2-2)
    • Karate world champion
  • Carrington Banks (3-0)
  • Vicente Luque (7-4-1)
    • Most improved
    • Ground game
  • Felipe Portela (8-2)
    • Sick mustache
    • Originally an alternate
  • Valdir “BBMonstro” Araujo (14-5)
    • Ground game and power

BlackziliansThe South Beach mansion somehow looks even more opulent and unnecessary than the Las Vegas location. When I’d heard that the show would focus on actual teams this year, I had hoped they would move away from the reality show house format. I love the team concept, I love the points system, I HATE that the fighters still have to live in the same house. How does that make any sense? This went from fresh to disturbingly familiar real quick.

Creepy Steve: The initial reaction was a little bit of awkwardness. Tension. Competitiveness. You could tell everyone was semi-sizing each other up, but at the same time not necessarily trying to be seen sizing the other up.

This year, the coin flip determines home gym advantage. I hate when there is no consolation prize for the losing team because it puts too much importance on random chance. Especially this season where the winning team gets to keep the fights in their gym. The Blackzilians get it.

We move to the home of Glenn where he has invited the Blackzilians over to watch the UFC on Fox event where Rumble took out Alexander Gustafsson. It is neat to see how the owner and his team react to Rumble pulling off the upset. Glenn’s home set-up looks pretty sweet and we get another glimpse into his resources later in the show when he has a war room to discuss the fighter picks with some of his crew overseas via satellite. That was in contrast to ATT who are shown discussing their business inside the cage. We could have ourselves a “haves” vs. “have nots” angle.

Dana comes to the house to give the traditional pep talk and go over the points system. It might not make for exciting television, but it’s a smart thing to do because it’s so different from how every other season has been handled.

After that, we get a great quote from Jason: I’m only living by three codes: Whup ass. Cash checks. And take gold. That’s all.

For ATT the plan is simple: to stick with their best four to have the best chance of winning everything. Michael is up first.

Michael is a wrestler, but he calls his style “madness”, which probably falls somewhere between “Trap Fighting” and “Ranger International Performance” (RIP). MMA used to be all fun and games but now that he has a fiancée it is time to get down to business. Dan says that Michael came to the camp with little experience. It didn’t take long before he was proving to be a handful for most guys in the gym, even those in the UFC.

There is some kitchen drama revolving around labelling of items in the fridge and (*sigh*) not cleaning the dishes. For the rest of the season, that’s the last I’m going to write about that.

On the Blackzilian side is Kamaru. He was called in during the fight selection meeting and asked if he wanted to fight this early in the season. After some hesitation, he agreed. Glenn tells everyone to make it a point to deceive the other team as to who they might have picked.

I’ll say this: halfway through the episode, the show has a different feel and that’s a good thing. People might not find the emphasis on the coaches and their decisions to be that interesting, but it’s a change of pace from manufactured house drama and generic training footage.

Kamaru is from Nigeria, raised in Texas. He moved to Colorado Springs to compete for an Olympic spot and then…they don’t tell us why he decided to make the switch to MMA. There is actually a pause for dramatic effect and then nothing. Let’s assume this is a blank to be filled in later.

When we get to the weigh-ins, Dan admits to being surprised when Kamaru steps forward to fight. ATT was expecting the Blackzilians to lead off with Buscape. Kamaru had been watching the habits of the ATT members closely and he suspected it would be Michael or Nathan, so credit to him for his observational skills. That doesn’t mean he should be rocking the shades in-doors look though.

Kamaru CoolWatch out guys, we’re dealing with a badass over here.

The emphasis during the faceoff is actually on the two coaches standing behind their fighters. This rivalry could get tiresome quickly if they don’t lay off on it.

Welterweight Bout: Kamaru Usman (5-1) v. Michael Graves (4-0)

There is a big fight feel with recognizable fighters from both camps in the audience. It reminds me of one of the things I do like about past season’s elimination fights, friends and family of the competitors being allowed to attend. Kamaru comes out in a crouch and…

Interesting Approach…it goes poorly for him.

Kamaru catches a kick and gets the first takedown of the fight, though Michael is able to recover. He tries to switch position but Kamaru is hanging onto that single leg like a rabid dog. We move to some clinching against the cage and Michael is able to slip out and start connecting with kicks.

Great balance and flexibility by Michael keeps him on his feet where is able to score a lot of points. On the other hand, he is also allowing Kamaru to land, which isn’t good because Kamaru is supposed to be a one-dimensional wrestler. Kamaru connects with straight rights and shoots in again, but Michael’s takedown defence holds up. I had the first round for Michael 10-9, though I wasn’t sure whether to credit Kamaru with several somewhat successful takedowns that didn’t go anywhere.

I can’t believe I’m saying his, but these ring girls seem superfluous in this environment. It’s one thing to have them in neutral territory like the usual TUF gym, it’s another to have them where these teams do their actual training.

In round two, Kamaru can’t seem to land a clean takedown. Even when it looks like Michael is headed for a fall, he has the magical ability to levitate his butt from the canvas.

Graves DefenceSeriously, how is he doing this?

Michael gets away with grabbing the cage in both rounds (oh, maybe that’s how he does it), which drives me nuts. Just take the point, ref! A sloppy takedown attempt by Kamaru bounces Michael off the cage and he dives in to take Kamaru’s back. Kamaru is forced to carry Michael’s weight as he stands up, with Michael looking for a choke the whole time. Kamaru shakes Michael loose and is able get his first real top position in the fight…with 30 seconds to go.

Kamaru ThrowToo little too late on my scorecard. Michael should have this one.

It’s a majority decision win for Kamaru. I guess they did count those takedowns. This is why I don’t gamble on fights and why I should never be allowed to judge them.

Post-fight, Dan concedes that the stand-up was even, something they hadn’t accounted for. He also says Michael shouldn’t have accepted bottom position to close out the fight as it likely cost him the round. I like Dan already. He’s not going to cry too much over a close fight.

Hayder refuses to go quietly from ringside. He calls Kamaru out and Dan tells Hayden to keep it “in the cage”. We’re already seeing the benefits of this format, since this fight could still happen without both guys having to advance to another round. The coaches could simply agree to let them step into the octagon and we have ourselves a fight. If only Joe Silva’s job was so easy.

Surprisingly, Dana doesn’t feel the guys from either team showed him enough. I thought the fight was alright, so I don’t know why they felt the need to show that criticism this early in the season. Let’s hope it’s because they want us to know that the best is yet to come.

Kamaru VictoriousThe score: Blackzilians lead ATT 25-0

Next Week: American Top Team’s…s**t, they don’t announce the fights ahead of time anymore. How am I going to do these this season?

The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 4 – Week 3 Recap

Ben Grimm: In addition to a fight, we get a whole bunch of other things this episode. As you’ve no doubt seen and heard, this is the episode where Anderson Silva gets pulled from the show. This whole situation bums me out so much. I’m a huge Anderson fan, the first UFC PPV I ever watched was UFC 101, which partly explains why I’ve always been in awe of this magical Brazilian cage wizard.

Team Colours

Team Anderson/Nogueira
Team Shogun

The guys have taken over the house, as is their right, and they’re super stoked about being there.

House PartyYour home could be next.

We only see a little of the first night there, though. The first training sessions get way more focus. Given that Reginaldo Vieira is the first fighter from Team Anderson, he gets a bit more focus here, with Anderson showing him some elbow and knee techniques. Both teams take it relatively easy during training, given that the guys fought the day before. Team Shogun does the same kind of thing, as they make it clear to the team that whoever is up next gets priority, and y’all gotta help them cause they’re all family-team now. Ace.

AL: I’d like to point out that Team Anderson employs TUF: Brazil 3 alum Rick Monstro!

BG: Next up, the boys get dressed up for a night on the town (including those weirdo Octagon shaped necklaces that no sane person would ever wear, right?), and this is where I’ll hand over to Alex.

AL: Oh, they get dressed up alright. They are taking to the Vegas lifestyle like ducks to water.

Looking Sharp

Gun fingaaaaaz!

The fighters wonder if they’re going to a strip club, which would be a first for this show. Shogun Rua tells them he has a mission for the cast and a line of beautiful women come marching out. They are, of course, this year’s ring girl contestants! One of the guys says, “No one here is committed. We’re all single.” It’s not true, but it’s still funny.
Anyway, their mission is to help narrow the girls down to two finalists for the viewers at home to eventually vote on.

Play It CoolEven Jack Godzilla knows to stay out of trouble.

The seeds have been planted for future shenanigans (fingers crossed), but we quickly move on to the coaches interacting with this week’s competitors. Shogun is confident that Matheus Nicolau is better than Reginaldo in all aspects of MMA while Anderson is more inclined to give specific pointers to Reginaldo since he is more of a one-dimensional grappler.

And then Anderson gets a phone call. Now I put the veracity of this whole scene into question, but I’d love to get your take on it, Ben.

BG: As I explained above, I’m a huge Anderson fan.

So this scene sucked so hard for me to watch.

As we all know, large swaths of reality TV are semi-scripted and set up, so I’m not sure how to digest the phone call. Anderson goes from straight denial to convenient excuse very quickly. When Anderson is deflecting the anabolic steroid question, he does so by admitting to taking an anti-inflammatory for three days. I don’t know whether this is textbook denial tactics, but I know I’ve done this shit before. Cop to something lesser, in order to deflect the big charge.

I dunno. I’d love to believe Anderson, and he does seem entirely sincere when he pleads innocence in a confessional, but it doesn’t look good. Also, the potentially scripted nature throws shade on all of this. I doubt that that moment was the first Anderson heard of his test failure. It makes great TV, but it doesn’t ring 100% true.

And then from here we go straight to our first team challenge.

I think the mood whiplash just broke my neck.

Ring GirlsOnly because we didn’t give you guys a MILF shot last time.

The challenge is pretty fun, and the set holding it up is gargantuan. Each team selects four guys, and they’ll be responsible for controlling a corner of what is essentially a marble maze.

Labyrinth ChallengeGood to see that these old Survivor props aren’t just thrown away.

It seems that in this season, they’re playing for prizes, rather than arbitrary fight picking power, and the prize is seeing the snow at Mount Charleston, which I’m sure would be fairly naff to my Canadian counterpart…

AL: I chortle at this “reward”.

BG:…but as I come from Australia, a country that is 80% desert and 20% freak weather patterns, seeing non-terrifying snow would be pretty cool.

Team Shogun eventually wins, in part, I think, due to the fact that they had Soldado up on Jack Godzilla’s shoulders (JACK GODZILLA JACK GODZILLA) as dual parts spotter and mascot. Team Shogun are stoked to win, and Nazareno Malegarie sums it up best:

Freezer SpeechEl Tigre: “The Red Team, Shogun’s guys, will get to see snow. The Blue Team will have to open the door to the freezer or get a bucket of ice while we’re enjoying the snow.”

The fun stuff is over, though, and now it’s time for weigh-ins, and SRS BSNS.

AL: I’m sure you’re referring to the introduction of the first ring girl candidate of the season. Her name is Otmara Marrero and…huh, there’s something off about her Portuguese, I can’t quite put my finger on…hey! She’s speaking English! That’s not how we do on TUF: Brazil! Ironically, she says she feels like she has a certain “mystery” to her. She’s from Miami!

Otmara MarreroDisqualified.

It’s time for Anderson to tell his team about his failed test. I can’t even begin to imagine how crazy it must have been to be in that room listening to that. He goes on to give a speech about not giving up and following your dreams, but if it were me all I’d hear is a faint buzzing. His protégé, Dedé is particularly broken up. Thank goodness we have some old-fashioned violence to distract us from this awful situation.

The Nogueira brothers arrive, with Big Nog sporting some rocking facial hair for our convenience.

Mirror UniverseIt also helps us to distinguish which is the evil one.

Both fighters weigh in without incident and we have ourselves a fight!

Bantamweight Bout: Matheus Nicolau (10-1-1) v. Reginaldo Vieira (12-3)

Unfortunately, most of the actual fight is without incident as well. It has a slow, measured pace and Matheus doesn’t do anything to show off why he was Shogun’s top bantamweight pick. He’s solid, he doesn’t get in any danger, but that’s about it. It’s actually Reginaldo who manages to take the first round, punctuating it with a nice slam.

Reginaldo SlamThe fight has a TUF 19 vibe to it. I know that’s harsh, but it just didn’t do anything for me. We end up going to a third round, much to the chagrin of the Nogueiras who feel that Reginaldo was pushing the action and that should have given him the win already. Matheus scores a key takedown and Reginaldo is unable to get up after that. It’s a unanimous decision win for Matheus.

Matheus VictoriousBG: I’ve gotta agree with the Nogueiras. I thought Reginaldo won the first two and we didn’t need a third. Oh well. At his point, I’m not attached enough to any of these fighters to get angry about judging incompetence. I don’t think this loss will hurt Team Nogueira too much, as Big Nog has an impeccable TUF coaching pedigree. Taking over like this means he’s coaching his third season (TUF 8 and TUF: Brazil 2), and he’s coached three winners (Efrain Escudero, Ryan Bader, and Leonardo Santos), and five of six finalists (Philippe Nover & Patolino). Big Nog is basically TUF royalty.

Although, they may very easily lose the next fight.

Team Shogun selects their number one lightweight pick, Nazareno to fight the number one lightweight of Team Nog, Dedé. Given that his mentor just got booted from the show, Dedé could very easily be quite rattled. Clever fight pick from Shogun.

I did enjoy this episode, in spite of a fairly average fight, and I’m sure we’re gonna get some great moments out of this season!

AL: I am blown away by your staggering Big Nog TUF statistics.

Next Week: Team Shogun’s El Tigre v. Team Nogueira’s Dedé. Also, our first fighter/ring girl romance?!?

Cat

The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 4 – Week 1 & 2 Recap

*Some of you more hardcore TUF fans might be thinking: “Wait a minute, TUF: Brazil is already in its third week! What is this nonsense?” Well, real life has caused a slight delay in our usual on-point coverage and we weren’t going to just skip ahead, so here we are catching up with a recap of the first two episodes. Be assured that we will be caught up with the program shortly, real life be damned.

You may also notice that we’re going by our real names now. Beneath our respective masks are Ben Grimm (a.k.a. The_Vortex) and Alexander K Lee (a.k.a. NewChallenger). Nice to meet you.

Ben Grimm: We back.

Alexander K Lee: Oh, we back.

BG: Hold your applause, because we’ve only just started.

AL: Hold onto your butts. Tightly.

BG: Strap yourselves in, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

You are now about to witness the finest bi-continental reviews of any pugilistic reality show taking place in a language entirely different to our own.

TUF: Brazil is back, and I could not be happier. Whilst it’s going to have to try really hard to beat last season’s Wanderlei Silva meltdown, I’m looking forward to an entirely new cast of Brazilian fighters willing to train all day, praise Jesus all the time, and shed manly tears about their families.

I love TUF: Brazil, and I’m not afraid to admit it.

AL: And TUF: Brazil loves us back.

BG: The best part of TUF: Brazil has always been the cast. They love TUF, they love the UFC, they love their coaches and they’re all ready to scrap. These first two episodes are both prelim episodes, cutting 32 fighters in half (not literally), and promise 8 sub-par fights an episode. Bring. It. On.

Interestingly, these opening fights, and the whole season are taking place in Las Vegas, in the UFC training centre. Fighters always look excited when they enter the set, and these guys are no exception.

AL: I like seeing the guys walking around and stomping on the mat, as if they can’t believe it’s real.

BG: They even make a toast, with the usual TUF: Brazil product placement at the fore. This is the best.

AL: Previous TUF: Brazil contestants had to advance to the finals before being brought to Las Vegas, but this year it’s where everything is happening. As is typical of Brazilian culture, the celebration is defined by calmness and restraint.

Invading BraziliansSomeone alert the authorities.

We get to meet the coaches, Anderson Silva and Shogun Rua, who between the two of them have fought and beaten almost every big name in MMA history. Anderson says he’s a much better teacher than a fighter. It is such a bummer knowing that he doesn’t end up coaching the rest of the season due to his PED scandal.

The fighters get invited to UFC 183 to watch Anderson fight Nick Diaz! The boss is spoiling these guys right out of the gate. Oddly, it sounds like the show dubs over Bruce Buffer so we get Brazilian Bruce.

I have to respect the show’s commitment to all of this Anderson footage despite knowing how things turned out. They’re telling the story honestly even though we all know it ends up with everyone having egg on their face.

That kind integrity is rare in this sport where so oftOMG THEREIS A GUY WITH THE NICKNAME JACK GODZILLA

If he doesn’t make it into the house I may actually cry. Speaking of getting into the house, shall we move onto the elimination fights?

*****

BG:

Fight 1 (Bantamweight): Franklyn “Arrocha” Santos (4-0) v. Bruno “Korea” Mesquita (4-0)

Arrocha is from Rio, and dropped out of college to be a pro fighter. That’s all we learn of him. Korea has a taekwondo base, so I’m pretty excited by that. Last season, we had a karate guy go to the finals, and there are plenty of fighters with a TKD base. Let’s see what happens.

Korea takes the centre of the Octagon quickly, and then we get a lot of circling. Three strikes are thrown in the first minute. Yes, I counted. It picks up a bit from there. They flurry a bit, and Korea throws one very cool spinning head kick that connects just above the neck and basically knocks Arrocha dead. It’s an amazing kick, and no follow up was needed. Dana’s impressed, Shogun less so by Korea’s passivity. Korea landed three strikes that fight, and one was the killing blow. Sick.

TKDKOWTF!

Winner: Korea via KO

AL:

Fight 2 (Lightweight): Joaquim “Netto BJJ” Silva (7-0) v. Carlos “Mistoca” Costa (7-1)

Like so many fighters, Netto got his start watching tapes and wanting to be Royce Gracie. Mistoca’s deal is that most of his childhood friends are dead. As Ben mentioned, we’re only getting about 45 seconds of background and then it is right into the fights. They’re not giving these emotional moments much room to breathe.

Mistoca gets straight cracked after motioning for Netto to bring it on. That causes Mistoca to go for a takedown but quick. Both guys keep taunting after they get hit, which seems like a silly way to go about fighting someone. Mistoca comes out in the second hooting and hollering and Big John has to tell him to get his ass back to his side of the octagon. Real professional so far.

There is so much horsing around on Mistoca’s part, but from what we’re told he is winning the fight. However, he completely gasses in the third round and eats enough punches without responding to have Big John call the fight off in favour of Netto. Anderson lets it be known that he wasn’t amused by Mistoca’s antics.

Huff PuffAnderson: “He was winning, but he started kidding around and ended up injuring himself and losing his greatest opportunity ever.”

Winner: Netto BJJ via TKO

BG:

Fight 3 (Bantamweight): Renato “FranguinhoMônaco (10-1) v. Dileno Lopes (19-1)

Franguinho is the brother of Tiago Mônaco Tosato, another MMA fighter, with a record of 34-19, that consists entirely of beating up debuting fighters. Also, he’s a ranga.

AL: I actually don’t know what that means.

BG: I don’t care for him too much. Dileno Lopes fought Rony Jason on the elimination round of the first season of TUF: Brazil and got TKO’d. He’s hoping this one goes better.

Franguinho is a big bantamweight. Both fighters come out strong. Dileno gets the better of the early exchanges, chopping away at his opponent’s legs. He eventually trips the ranga down, and lands in side control. He mounts really quickly, and when Franguinho rolls, he sinks in the RNC. Really strong performance against a larger opponent.

Lopes ChokeAs he’s announced the winner, Dileno manages to cry, thank Jesus, and his whole family. That’s the real holy trinity of TUF: Brazil.

Winner: Dileno Lopes via submission

AL:

Fight 4 (Lightweight): Nazareno “El Tigre” Malegarie (28-3) v. Edson “PC” Pereira (12-2)

El Tigre is from Buenos Aires, Argentina, the same country as one of our favourites, Guido “Ninja” Cannetti. You might actually recognize Malegarie since he fought for Bellator against the likes of Daniel Straus and Marlon Sandro. He’s certainly a favourite going into this competition.

No joke, PC explains that he got his nickname because he would skip training to play games at cyber cafés.

The highlights don’t give us much to work with. All we learn is that PC tired himself out going for takedowns and El Tigre cruised to a decision. You have to think that’s the veteran savvy of Malegarie at work, not wanting to potentially injure himself or show too much of what he can do before he gets into the house.

El TigreAlas, he does not celebrate by yelling out “I’m a Mac, bitch!” in Portuguese.

Winner: El Tigre via decision

BG:

Fight 5 (Bantamweight): Matheus Nicolau (10-1-1) v. Mateus “Pitbull” Vasco (12-1)

Matheus Nicolau moved out of home, to live in a slum, so he could be next door to the gym he trains at. He also has very pretty eyes.

Pitbullis our season’s token Pitbull. Given that he is yet another Pitbull, I refuse to learn anything about him apart from the fact that he couldn’t think of an original nickname.

The fight’s alright. Matheus “Pretty Eyes” nearly gets caught by an early armbar, but bulls his way out of it. He leaps into Pitbull Version 25.0’s guard, and they grapple around, with Pretty Eyes eventually getting full mount, only to be thrown bodily off. In the resulting scramble, he takes Mr. Worldwide’s back, and it’s only a matter of time before he locks up another RNC.

Matheus NicolauMatheus has been pegged as a potential finalist by Coach Shogun.

Winner: Pretty Eyes via submission

AL: It looks like there’s a bunch of TUF alumni in the building, including Amir Sadollah, Gray Maynard, Uriah Hall, and Heather Clark…either that or I’m being mad racist as usual and all y’all white/black/women folks look alike.

Fight 6 (Lightweight): Raush “Cavalo de Guerro” Manfio (6-1) v. Glaico “Nego” França (12-3)

As his nickname says, Cavalo de Guerro is the “War Horse” of Team Nogueira.

Nego describes himself as a big lanky dude, making him this year’s Corey Hill/James Vick. I’m disappointed when he enters the cage and looks kind of like a normal 155er. False advertising, bro!

What were we talking about? Oh, Nego wins with a rear naked choke.

NegoGleison Tibau might have to sue Nego for rocking that shoulder/arm tattoo.

Winner: Nego by submission

BG: Dude, when we split up the fights, I had no idea that you’d end up recapping so many clipped together fights. This is hilarious to me.

AL: Laugh it up.

BG:

Fight 7 (Bantamweight): Bruno “Bulldog” Silva (8-2) v. Gustavo Sedório (4-0)

Bulldog is a capoeirista and hip hop dancer. Heck yeah! I did capoeira for three years and still love it. He’s the guy that’s been walking around wearing a large chunk of chain and he promises entertainment.

Capoeira ExhibitionThere is just…no possible way this can be useful, right?

Gustavo Sedório trains with Team Checkmat, and had nothing else interesting to say.

Bulldog’s first kick in the fight is a snapping front kick that connects with Gustavo’s face. As we find out later, the kick actually broke his jaw. To his credit, Gustavo fights the whole round out on a broken jaw, but he never comes close to controlling, let alone winning the fight. Bulldog may not have realised the damage he did, as we don’t really see him grinding on the jaw during the fight. Apart from the first kick, and a couple of other fun grappling exchanges, there’s nothing remarkable about this fight. It wasn’t a bad fight by any means, just fairly average.

The fight is waved off when the doctor discovers Gustavo’s injury.

Gymnastics ExhibitionFor real, I’m a check on my opponent after I do my flips.

Winner: Bulldog by TKO

AL:

Fight 8 (Lightweight): Erick “Índio Brabo” da Silva (17-5) v. Gabriel Macário (3-0)

Índio Brabo (roughly translating to “mad Indian”) could not be more indistinct. He says something about being well rounded and zzzzzzz…

Gabriel Macário is both new to the sport and allegedly a rich kid. Sounds like shark bait to me.

Gabriel is in great shape and has hard punches, but Índio Brabo is too well-rounded for him and zzzzzzz…

Indio BraboWinner: Índio Brabo by TKO

We close out the first episode with a clip of Anderson saying we should expect surprises this year. Sad face. Let’s just move on to the week two fights, eh?

BG: So we enter episode two with a few nice fights under our belt, and one very slick K.O. from Korea. I know it’s been a long read so far, but we’re only halfway there (whooaaah, living on a prayer).

Ahem.

Fight 9 (Bantamweight): Matheus “Adamas” Mattos (8-0-1) v. Marcos “Majú” Lima (9-2)

Adamas is here to hammer his opponents into the canvas. His recap/promo video even has him brandishing a sledgehammer, proving that maybe this guy could be a decent WWE heel if this MMA thing doesn’t work out.

AL: Ben, there’s no way that Triple H would allow that blatant gimmick infringement.

AdamasI think they call that “murder”, Adamas.

BG: Majú has been fighting since he was 17, and is not getting a winner’s edit right now. I’ll be surprised if he pulls this one off.

We don’t see this whole fight, but the bits we get are action packed. Adamas shows some great boxing, and Majú appears to gas really hard at the end of the first round. At the start of the second, Matheus is moving better, and way faster than his more tired foe. He backs Majú up against the cage and unloads on him, eventually forcing the TKO stoppage of a crumbling Majú. Matheus is screaming in happiness, T-Rex style, but Dana White’s also impressed by the way Majú WAR’D. He basically promises Majú a spot as an alternate if someone drops out because of injury.

Winner: Adamas via TKO

AL:

Fight 10 (Lightweight): Adilson “Jack Godzilla” Fernandes (11-4) v. Arlen “Benks” Viana (8-1)

JACK GODZILLA JACK GODZILLA JACK GODZILLA JACK GODZILLA JACK GODZILLA JACK GODZILLA JACK GODZILLA JACK GODZILLA JACK GODZILLA JACK GODZILLA JACK GODZILLA JACK GODZILLA JACK GODZILLA JACK GODZILLA JACK GODZILLA JACK GODZILLA JACK GODZILLA JACK GODZILLA

Jack GodzillaJACK GODZILLA

Winner: Jack Godzilla via arm triangle

BG:

Fight 11 (Bantamweight): Reginaldo Vieira (12-3) v. Peter Montibeller (7-0)

Reginaldo Vieira trains out of some guy’s kitchen. It’s hilarious. There are heavy bags hanging next to the fridge. It’s pretty crazy.

AL: They do this sequence of zooming shots that end on a cat for no good reason. I don’t know why, but that killed me.

CatBG: He desperately wants to get into the UFC so that he can fight an American, which is a really weird life goal to have, in my opinion.

Peter Montibeller used to train with his brother, until he unfortunately passed away in a motorcycle accident. Peter got his brother’s face tattooed to his arm, as a memorial piece, and whilst it’s not as bad as the Johnny Cash-esque abomination on Alan Belcher, it’s seriously not great.

Peter's TattooAL: I just want it on the record that my Australian counterpart is a heartless monster. I don’t care how clearly awful that tattoo is.

BG: The first thing Reginaldo does in this fight, is shoot for a takedown whilst he’s up the other end of the cage from Peter. He obviously doesn’t sink it, but isn’t punished enough for such a bad attempt. They strike a bit, with the wild swings of Reginaldo having some decent effect, until Reginaldo grinds his opponent against the cage, and eventually gets him down. They scramble a bit, and Reginaldo catches Peter in a guillotine

Reginaldo ChokeSeconds before this tap, Peter’s corner was telling him he wasn’t in danger.

Winner: Reginaldo Vieira via submission

AL:

Fight 12 (Lightweight): Fernando “Açougueiro” Bruno (15-2) v. Bruno Murata (6-0)

Açougueiro is a new dad, so we all know what he’s fighting for. Bruno Murata, on the other hand, comes off as a cold-blooded killer.

A straight left by Açougueiro knocks Bruno down early. You get the feeling that Bruno never recovered and Açougueiro gets a takedown to clinch the first round. Bruno is able to keep it on the feet in the second round and we’re going to extras. It’s revealed that Bruno broke his hand, which may explain his ineffectiveness in the final period. Açougueiro slams him to the mat and wins with a rear naked choke.

AcougueiroWinner: Açougueiro via submission

BG:

Fight 13 (Bantamweight): Eduardo “Cabelo” Diez (4-0) v. Giovanni “Soldado” Santos (15-1)

Cabelo does pilates for core strength, and has a totally banging MILF for a mother.

AL: I knew you were going to go there. I refuse to provide a screencap.

BG: Soldado fought in the elimination round of TUF: Brazil 1 at featherweight, and got armbarred by John “Macapa” Teixeira, a fighter I thought was going to do way better in his career than he has.

AL: I agree, Macapa looked like a killer to me.

BG: Soldado has the tips of his hair frosted like it’s the early 2000’s all over again. Yeesh.

This fight goes to a decision, and from the few clips we get, it looks like Soldado is a lot stronger than his opponent, and is able to control where the fight goes. He doesn’t seem to ever be in much danger, and pushes the pace accordingly. Cabelo eventually opens up a cut on Soldado, but it’s never big or scary enough to end the fight.

SoldadoWinner: Soldado via decision

AL:

Fight 14 (Lightweight): Alexandre Cidade (11-1) v. Nikolas Motta (6-1)

Alexandre Cidade says he would watch Bruce Lee and then go outside and fight his friends. Good role model.

Nikolas Motta is a straight up baby! I want to just pinch those cheeks!

The highlights don’t give us a good gauge of who is capable of doing what and both fighters look to have their moments. Motta finds a second wind, which helps him to take the third round.

Nikolas MottaPinch!

Winner: Motta via decision

BG:

Fight 15 (Bantamweight): Leandro “Pitbull” Higo (13-2) v. Maycon “Boca” Silvan (7-2)

AL: Now who’s laughing?

BG: Surely we’re past the point in MMA history where a young fighter is seriously willing to call himself “Pitbull”. It’s been done to death, and it’s well past any semblance of uniqueness as a nickname. Boca get about a ten second life preview, so I wouldn’t bet on this guy to take it.

Again, this one is a clip show. Mr. Worldwide fights pretty well, and he’s able to get Boca down in quick order. From there, it’s simple for him to lock up an arm-triangle choke, and win the fight.

PitbullIt doesn’t stop.

Winner: Pitbull via submission

AL:

Fight 16 (Lightweight): André “Dedé” Ricardo (3-1) v. Jeferson “Batata” Negrini (10-0)

Dedé is Anderson’s student and Batata is apparently nobody. Can you guess where this one is headed?

Batata actually makes a good accounting for himself in the short time we get to see him. It’s not like Dedé comes out guns a blazing, though his mentor never does that either so maybe that is the gameplan. Dedé outlasts Batata and finishes him with a nice bodykick.

Dede Body KickWinner: Dedé via TKO

As you can tell from our somewhat sparse fight coverage, everything is starting to blur into this indistinct blob of corner shouting, slow motion replays, and Pitbulls. Let’s get to the finish before someone gets hurt.

Minotauro is on hand for the ceremonial coin toss. It’s a shame they haven’t adopted the tournament format for these international editions yet. I know it made more sense with TUF 20 since you had the top ranked women in the world there, but it’s still a cool way to mix things up.

Shogun wins the toss and chooses to pick the first fight.

To nobody’s surprise, Anderson selects his boy Dedé first overall. He goes with young Motta second, referring to him as “Quejinho”. Did he pick up that name between the fights and the team selection? A quick Google search reveals that Quejinho is some kind of cheese. Let’s stick with Motta for now until the nickname gets more traction.

Jack Godzilla is the last lightweight picked! Gah! Even worse, Shogun calls him “Jack Fernandes”, as if he is refusing to acknowledge that redonkulous nickname. He’s probably just jealous of it.

Adamas is the first bantamweight picked and I have to point out that they did a really poor job of emphasizing who is in what weight class and they don’t make a big deal out of where guys are picked. I’m disappointed in the coverage of the fighters overall, especially since the only reason for TUF to exist these days is to give character exposure to young up and comers.

Soldado is the last bantamweight remaining and Shogun says he picked him because he’s a great cheerleader. You didn’t have a choice!

Team Anderson

Lightweights

  1. Dedé (1)
  2. Nikolas Motta (3)
  3. Índio Brabo (5)
  4. Açougueiro (7)

Bantamweights

  1. Adamas (1)
  2. Pitbull (3)
  3. Reginaldo Vieira (5)
  4. Bulldog (7)

Team AndersonTeam Shogun

Lightweights

  1. El Tigre (2)
  2. Nego (4)
  3. Netto BJJ (6)
  4. Jack Godzilla (8)

Bantamweights

  1. Matheus Nicolau (2)
  2. Dileno Lopes (4)
  3. Korea (6)
  4. Soldado (8)

Team ShogunNext week: Team Shogun’s Matheus Nicolau v. Team Anderson’s Reginaldo Vieira. Also, they’re bringing back the Ring Girl Competition! Because that produced such memorable results last time.

CatAnd remember…the cat is watching…the cat is ALWAYS WATCHING.

The Ultimate Fighter 20: A Champion Will Be Crowned – Week 12 Recap & Finale Talk

Last season, Dana White was so embarrassed with the effort of the TUF 19 participants that he only booked two non-finalists to compete at the finale; this season, all of the TUF 20 ladies are getting a shot to stay in with a win (with the exception of Justine Kish, who is still rehabbing her knee injury).  That’s right, all your favourites: JoJoFelice HerrigAisling DalyAngela Magaña!  Eh…

You better get used to these names, because depending on how much 115 pound talent they’re able to add over the next couple of years, the women from this season could be the top title contenders for the foreseeable future.  That’s how it goes when you cast based on merit as opposed to whatever show biz criteria they use for most seasons.  The tournament format was a smashing success, leading to matches that were high on star power, action, and intrigue.  It ended up being lopsided in favour of Team Pettis, not through any fault of coach Gilbert Melendez.  The idea to seed the fighters before their selection meant that any slip up during team picks could be costly and Gilbert learned this the hard way.

Going into the final episode, he still had one horse left in the race.  Could she go all the way?

Team Colours

Team Melendez
Team Pettis

Before we get the answer to that, we have the conclusion of the all Team Pettis side of the bracket.  Carla Esparza and Jessica Penne are two of the closest people in the house.  Friend fighting friend is a common TUF plot thread, though they usually happen earlier than this.  It had to be on their minds as soon as they saw the tournament laid out.  Before Tecia Torres came back, Carla and Jessica were the two highest seeds on their side.

We get an Anthony Pettis testimonial and I just realized that this only the second time that the coaches fought before the actual season finale (the previous time?  UFC 115, where the TUF 11 coaches Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz were supposed to face off for a third time, only for an injured Ortiz to be replaced by Rich Franklin).  That takes some of the punch out of this episode since we already know the conclusion of their heated rivalry…what’s that?  There was so little interaction between them on the show that you can’t prove they weren’t filmed in completely separate locations and brought together by clever editing and computer graphics?  Well, okay then.

Carla tries to stay focused on her business and not look over at Jessica’s side of the gym during training.  Kind of like when you used to play GoldenEye 007 with four friends on the Nintendo 64 and you had to make a gentlemen’s (or ladies’) agreement not to look at each other’s screens.  Someone always would though.

I actually found it endearing that Carla was worried about Jessica maybe not wanting to be friends with her after the fight.  Even after all the crap she’s given my girl Randa Markos, I found this somewhat touching.  Not that I can relate.  I know if that if one of my friends tackled me to the ground, beat the s**t out of me for fifteen minutes, and said beating resulted in me missing out on the opportunity of a lifetime…that friendship would be done right quick.

The fight (Esparza v. Penne)

The whole fight, Carla was getting in and out beautifully.  Jessica was able to catch her a couple of times as she came in, but overall Carla was on point.  She started off employing a completely different strategy than in the quarterfinals, not going for a single shot in the first couple of minutes.  Jessica was the one moving forward, Carla was the one dictating the action.  Someone shouted “two minutes!” and Carla finally went for a leg.  Jessica was prepared and avoided being put on her back the first time.

Jessica's DefenceOh no you don’t!

Despite that, Jessica was reacting the whole time and not countering with anything particularly effective.  Carla would get a takedown at the end of the first round (a favourite tactic of hers) and she took it comfortably 10-9.

In terms of intensity, I’m tempted to say that this fight had a high level sparring feel to it.  However, their faces told a different story.  They really laid into each other and both of them were badly bruised up by the end of it.  Jessica is tough as hell, but she was getting cracked over and over again.

Straight RightFriendship!

Her aggression occasionally paid off, particularly in the last round, though it turned out to be too little too late.  Even if you removed Carla’s takedowns, I still had her taking the fight three rounds to zip.  She really showed the extent of her striking prowess in this one, employing some nice leg kicks and elbows in addition to solid boxing.  The commish delivers the verdict, a unanimous decision win for Carla, and we have our first finalist.

Carla FinalsJessica is nothing but grateful for the whole experience.  She came off as one of the most likeable women on the show and I see her having a bright UFC career.

The next fight isn’t exactly striker versus grappler since Rose Namajunas has proven to be deadly off of her back.  Still, it’s suggested that she might want to keep things standing to avoid Randa’s top game.  Is Rose a particularly small strawweight?  I know she’s got a slight build on a tall frame, but I do wonder if she’s susceptible to being neutralized by a strong wrestler.  Then again, that hasn’t worked out for her opponents so far, both of whom were finished by submission.

It occurs to me now that there hasn’t been any interaction whatsoever between Rose and Randa prior to this episode.  Are they friends?  Enemies?  The latter seems likely due to Rose getting along with mostly everyone, including Randa’s nemeses Carla and Felice.  Maybe they just stayed out of each other’s way.

Randa gets a birthday surprise, a phone call from her sister.  She’s in tears as soon as she hears the dial tone.  We’re not privy to the phone call, which probably wouldn’t be all that interesting to us anyway.  It’s gratifying for her just to know that her loved ones are okay.  Pettis wants to make sure that she keeps in mind what she’s fighting for: herself, her family, her husband, her…

…wait…Randa is married?

*sigh*

The fight (Namajunas v. Markos)

Everything is calm until Rose does a fancy foot shuffle and that sets Randa off!  She goes in wild with Rose managing to avoid taking any major shots.  They grapple and go down to the mat.  Rose initially ends up on top, but Randa tries to just power out of Rose’s half guard.  Dana is blown away by their raw strength and so am I.

Randa smartly stays wrapped around Rose’s leg when she tries to posture up and the result is a takedown for Randa.  Undeterred, Rose goes for the same kimura she used to beat JoJo.  At first, Randa flips right out of it, but Rose is focused on the hold and she gives Randa no chance to reset into a more comfortable position.  They roll and Rose is on top now where she works the hold for another submission win!

Jump For JoyA subdued celebration by her standards.

Rose says they’re going to party tonight!  I gave the “Breakout star” award to Randa last week, but Rose has done just as much to get her name out there with her cool personality and thrilling finishes.  Pettis points out that she won all of her fights on the show by submission even though she has a reputation as a striker.  The first time I heard of Rose was because of her famous boyfriend; after this week, we might be referring to Pat Barry as “that kickboxer who is engaged to Rose Namajunas”.

ThugThe girl is scary.

Rose Finals

*****

I’d be remiss if I didn’t give at least a cursory overview of the TUF 20 Finale strawweight bouts.  Keep in mind that I’m the worst person in the world at picking fights, especially tournament finales.  The only recent winner I can recall picking correctly (not including international editions, though I suck at those too) was Chris Holdsworth.  Place your wagers accordingly.

Emily Kagan (3-1) v. Angela Hill (1-0)

Normally, I would lean towards the younger fighter with the greater upside.  You have to think they cast Angela H. for reasons beyond her prodigious gastrointestinal aptitude.  Even so, I’m going to say that Emily’s experience and grappling are going to be too much for her in this situation.  Plus, Emily is with Jackson-Wink and I don’t take that lightly.

The pick: Kagan

Aisling Daly (14-5) v. Alex Chambers (4-1)

I hate that Aisling missed weight and I hate even more that she apparently looked like the zombie bride of Travis Lutter up there.  Still, she is a beast and I didn’t see enough from Alex to think that she’ll be able to pull off the upset here.  Better luck next time, Astro Girl.

The pick: Daly

Tecia Torres (4-0) v. Angela Magaña (11-6)

As fun as it will be to see Tecia smash Angela’s obnoxious face in, how could they not set up the Angela M./Heather Clark grudge match?  Was it that important for them to stick to the inane Team Pettis v. Team Melendez format?  Should Angela M. and Heather both lose tonight and get released, I’m hoping the fight happens somewhere.  Shannon Knapp, make this happen!

The pick: Torres

Joanne Calderwood (8-0) v. Seo Hee Ham (15-5)

I don’t know anything about Seo Hee Ham, but Seo Hee Ham is in trouble.

The pick: Calderwood

Bec Rawlings (5-3) v. Heather Clark (6-4)

On the other hand, I guess there’s the small chance that Heather beats Bec, then she can call out Angela M., and then maybe she can convince Felice to fight her a third time, and…

The pick: Rawlings

Felice Herrig (9-5) v. Lisa Ellis (15-8)

Maybe the toughest preliminary bout to predict.  Felice and Lisa have both fought a who’s who of women’s MMA, to varying degrees of success.  It was impossible for me to get any kind of read on Lisa’s capabilities based on her work on the show since she was dealing with numerous distractions including a long layoff and the anxiety of being away from her baby.  I’m a little more familiar with Felice, so I’ll go with what I know.

The pick: Herrig

Jessica Penne (11-2) v. Randa Markos (4-1)

I had this great write-up prepared for Randa if she made it to the finals to face Carla, you should have seen it.  It was something about “favourite versus underdog, mean girl versus shrinking violet, big name versus unknown” all that jazz.  I might have even thrown a Hemingway reference in there or something.  Alas.

Jessica lived up to her hype on the show and frankly, her fight with Carla may as well have been the finale.  I’m riding with Randa anyway.

The pick: Markos

Carla Esparza (9-2) v. Rose Namajunas (2-1)

You’re 22 years old.  You’re in your first UFC fight.  First UFC main event.  First five rounder.  For a UFC title.  You’re Rose Namajunas.

Anytime an unlikely contender emerges, you have to constantly ask if what’s happening is substantial and if it isn’t, when will reality come crashing down?  For all we know, Rose is peaking at the right time, or at least hitting the first major peak of her athletic prime.  There’s still no blueprint as to how or when one is supposed to be their best in MMA, so who’s to say that it isn’t Rose’s time now?  She has been an absolute killer, having finished three tough opponents to make it to the end, including JoJo, who is widely considered to be top five in the weight class.  Disregarding the unorthodox circumstances of TUF fights, there’s no denying the results.  Rose is a winner and she earned her spot.

That said, you have to think this is the end of the road.  Before even stepping foot in the TUF house, Carla owned wins over Felice and Bec, and she took current WSOF champ Jessica Aguilar to a close split decision back in 2011.  Her credentials dwarf Rose’s and her performances on the show only validated them further.  She used sound strategy and timely takedowns en route to winning round after round.  She also showed excellent striking against Jessica, the one area where you might think Rose could catch her.

You can’t rule out Rose snagging something from bottom position considering we’ve seen her do it several times, but Carla just seems too technically sound and patient for that to happen.  Rose projects as a legitimate money making star for the UFC someday.  Just not this Friday.

The pick: Esparza

Esparza v. NamajunasHistory in the making.

Friday, December 12, 2014: It’s the TUF 20 Finale!  Watch it!  Who are you kidding, you know you don’t have anything better to do.