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.

The Ultimate Fighter 20: A Champion Will Be Crowned – Week 11

We’re in the home stretch now, which means it is all action from here on out.  There won’t be much to write about as far as in-house drama goes.  We know all the players, we know their dynamics, and we know what’s at stake.  At this point, all they have to do is roll the balls out.  I, your faithful TUF chronicler, refuse to do the same.  I never take a day off!  (Except, you know, when a take a day or two off before actually posting these).

Looking back at the season, it started off with a lot of promise that wasn’t entirely fulfilled by the subsequent episodes.  The extra insight into the fighters’ lives and the footage of the Vegas tryouts were thrilling for TUF acolytes like me.  It made me curious to see what other tweaks to the format they might make; as it turns out, not many.  They don’t need to reinvent the wheel every week, but they could at least rotate the tires every now and then.

Thankfully, they were blessed with a cast that is lively enough to spark discussion and interest in the show on their own.  Love them or hate them, this has been a memorable bunch.  Rather than just provide you with two fight recaps, I’ll be using this space to hand out some fictional awards.  Hey, they can’t be any more dubious than making it into the UFC Hall of Fame.

Team Colours

Team Melendez
Team Pettis

*****

Most likeable

JoJo!  I can neither confirm nor deny that this whole awards concept was just an excuse for me to say more nice things about the Scottie Hottie, Joanne Calderwood.  All I know is that I adore everything about her, from the remorse she felt over eating Emily Kagan’s carrots (because she was scheduled to face Emily in the tournament) to her nearly kicking Anthony Pettis’s arm off to her Terminator-esque fighting style.  JoJo never stopped entertaining us and no matter what happens I’m willing to bet that will hold true for the rest of her fighting career.

*****

I can’t stress enough what a huge match-up we have this week in Tecia Torres v. Carla Esparza.  Tecia mentions that Carla is the Invicta Strawweight champion.  Get hyped, lineal title fanatics (I’m looking at you Janecek).

They should send Shannon Knapp a check for laying the groundwork for this fight a year ago.  After Tecia won a decision over Felice Herrig at Invicta 7, she became the de facto title challenger.  The promotion even went as far as to have Carla enter the cage to make it official.  Fortunately, it didn’t result in Rampage/Rashad or Mayhem/Shields antics.

Invicta HistoryThey couldn’t have planned it better.

*****

Most heinous

Despite a late charge by BFFs and patty cake enthusiasts Felice and Carla, this award has to go to Angela Magaña who headed the campaign to bring down the hapless Heather Clark.  For most TUF participants, that would have been enough, but she had to go even further by booing former teammate Tecia after Tecia’s big win over Bec Rawlings.  Add in her entitled attitude and her reputation for being one of the most difficult women on an entirely different women’s combat sports reality show and Angela M. takes the whole cake.  She joins the hallowed halls of previous TUF dirtbags, Josh Koscheck, Gabe Ruediger, and Junie Browning.  Congrats Angela!

SombreroDamn it Angela, just…stop.

*****

Love her or hate her, there’s no denying that Carla looks primed to win this whole thing.  She looks strong, crisp, and focused.  Add in the motivation of possibly facing Randa Markos in the finals and you have the makings of the next UFC champion.  It’s actually a good thing that they don’t revisit her beef with Randa in this episode as that feud should be left to simmer on its own.  For now, the focus is on Carla the athlete.

*****

Breakout star

Speaking of Randa, nobody saw their stock rise faster as a result of being on the show than the gritty Chaldean-Canadian.  Shamefully, I didn’t know much about her prior to the show and I worried that she would be lost in the shuffle.  She was given a modest fourteen seed, an indicator that she wasn’t supposed to make it out of the first round much less become a contender.  But here we are in week 11 and Randa is one fight away from an official UFC title shot.  The journey to get there has already caused her skills and her fan base to grow exponentially.

*****

The fight (Torres v. Esparza)

It was looking good for Tecia early on.  She was quicker and her takedown defence was on point.  That confidence allowed her to stay upright and to throw hands freely.  It wasn’t until Carla took it up a notch and finally snagged a takedown that the storyline for the fight became clear.  Tecia could defend herself and get back to her feet, but Carla stayed locked on at all times.  The Invicta champ scored with a headlock takeover and a beautifully timed takedown at the end of the first round to tip it in her favour (10-9).

Tecia cracked Carla with a hard right early in the second round!  It wouldn’t be enough to slow down Carla, who was on her hands and knees chasing Tecia’s leg like a pitbull.  Hmm…“Pitbull” would be a great nickname for an MMA fighter.  Someone should use that.

Just when I think Tecia had found her rhythm, Carla shot for an explosive double leg and Tecia went down!

Carla's ShotRelentless!

With Tecia’s offence nullified, the time ticked away with Carla pulling ahead.  She got another buzzer beating takedown to close the second.  It’s a majority decision win for Carla, though I had her taking both rounds.  Her attack is completely one dimensional, but that one dimension is superb.  Her wrestling is the most powerful weapon in the house.

I wouldn’t worry too much about Carla’s style losing fans.  What I see is a fighter who has gone through this competition the smartest way possible: playing to her strengths and avoiding injury.  Her post-match celebration could use some work though.  Felice has to carry a bucket for her to vomit in, the aftermath of an extraordinarily taxing contest.  Gif not necessary, I assure you.

Carla Moves On*****

Most diplomatic

Emily Kagan.  Poor Emily.  She’s well-spoken, mature, and caring, and her reward is minimal camera time compared to the malcontents in the house.  I know, I know, there’s only so many hours in a day and the squeaky wheel gets the grease and all that but damn, isn’t there something to be said for good behaviour?  I think Emily is cool.

*****

It’s funny that the JoJo/Rose Namajunas fight is second, because if this were an official card, Tecia and Carla would surely have been the main event.  They recognize who the stars of this particular program are though.  JoJo and Rose have had to battle through hard times to get their current notoriety, with JoJo being a foreigner and Rose being the youngest cast member.  Now it wouldn’t be farfetched to suggest that they’re the two most popular cast members.

Gilbert Melendez worries that they’re throwing too much stuff at Rose.  He hopes she is able to figure out techniques are comfortable for her and implement them accordingly.  She gets frustrated and needs some alone time.  There has been a lot of pressure on all these women from the get go.  It only got worse for Rose when her teammates were picked off one by one, leaving her as the lone survivor in the competition.  Gilbert tells us that he has faith that Rose can win, though he doesn’t say he’s confident.  Bad coach!

Things are slightly calmer on the Team Pettis side.  The only tweak they have is for JoJo to be looser than she was in her first fight.  They want her to “let it go”.  Hmm…that would be a nice sentiment for a song.  Someone should use that.

*****

Most flatulent

Angela Hill.  Apparently, she’s a dirty bird in general.  According to Bec, Angela H. admitted to masturbating “until my finger gets wrinkly”.  How could they have left that one on the cutting room floor?

*****

The fight (Namajunas v. Calderwood)

I can’t tell if there was a miscommunication over the opening glove tap, because JoJo walked right into a face kick from Rose.  Then again, that’s probably just due to Rose’s aggressive style.  JoJo had said earlier she expected the action to start right away.

It BeginsThe best part: JoJo’s expression barely changes the whole time.

JoJo is imposing in there.  She walked through everything.  Her resilience led to her shoving Rose down to the mat, which wasn’t a problem at all for “Thug”.  Rose never let JoJo get comfortable on top.  Once they were back up, Rose didn’t slow down.  She went for a flying armbar, but JoJo shrugged it off.

Flying Armbar AttemptJoJo ain’t havin’ that s**t.

Rose continued to get after it and she was rewarded with a takedown against the cage.  On the sheer volume of her grappling techniques, she was possibly winning the round.  I gave it to her 10-9 for constantly threatening from every angle.  Hell of a first round for both women.

Team Pettis’s plan to have JoJo let loose didn’t work out too well so they ask her to rein it in.  Her second round was better.  She got nasty in the clinch, clipping Rose with an elbow and slamming knees into her.  Some of the shots were cringe inducing.  Rose went for a takedown, which JoJo avoided with what looked to be liberal use of the cage.  That didn’t matter because Rose was again happy to work from the bottom.  She searched for a kimura and secured it for the submission win!

Rose KimuraBlink and you missed it.

Team Melendez reminds Rose that that was JoJo’s first loss, making her even more giddy if that’s even possible.

Rose Moves OnOn the other side, JoJo is crying.  F**K THIS SHOW

JoJo: The losing doesn’t matter.  It’s more that I didn’t…that I tapped.  I didn’t perform, obviously.  I’m just gutted that I lost, but it’s part of the game.  As long as it was a good fight.

It was a great fight.  Thanks, JoJo.

Next Week: The last episode of the season!  We find out who will be fighting at the finale as Jessica Penne takes on Carla Esparza and Rose Namajunas battles Randa Markos.  Any combination of those fighters would make for a great final, but Carla v. Randa = $$$

The Ultimate Fighter 20: A Champion Will Be Crowned – Week 10

Are we all still basking in the glory of Randa Markos giving Carla Esparza and Felice Herrig their comeuppance?  I wouldn’t blame you if you are.  With one massive victory, Randa became one of the biggest names in Canadian MMA overnight.  To not only battle, but decisively vanquish her rival, was almost too perfect of a finish for that episode.  The only thing that would make it sweeter would be if Randa won her next fight leading to a final confrontation with Carla.

Team Colours

Team Melendez
Team Pettis

The show will be hard pressed to match last week’s drama.  Combatants Aisling Daly and Jessica Penne have both been cool and likeable so far.  Darn.  “Cool and likeable” don’t feed the bulldog!  Justine Kish laughs off the minor dilemma of being both Jessica’s friend and Aisling’s roommate.  It’s great to see that Justine is able to keep a positive attitude despite losing her chance to fight in the tournament.  She’s shown joking and smiling a lot, even while Jessica is kicking away at her in training.

Aisling's NotesI love the reminders that Aisling has posted to keep herself focused.

Aisling senses some bias in the coaching staff.  She’s been behind in adapting to the TUF experience from day one due to a combination of her depression, her being a foreigner, and the reality that this kind of show just isn’t for everyone.  Just like the last time she was down, an emotional lift is right around the corner…

Conor SurpriseFor some reason, Aisling being happy always makes me happy.

It’s Conor McGregor!  He takes the title off the wall and makes sure that he and Aisling get a good look at it.  I just realized that it’s possible she might beat him to becoming the first native of Ireland to hold a UFC title.  These two go way back.  Aisling was one of McGregor’s teammates from the first day their fight team was formed.  He also knows JoJo, because everyone who is cool knows JoJo.

“The Notorious” one’s charms fall flat in the Team Pettis locker room.  Everyone is way too tense to be enjoying themselves right now.  Aisling makes sure to introduce him to the group, though she is peculiarly selective about it:

Mischievous SmileAisling: “A bit childish of me, but I kind of made a point of telling Conor who my friends and ‘not my friends’ were.  Didn’t want anybody getting any love from Conor if they didn’t deserve it.”

Prior to the fight, the lack of privacy is driving Jessica crazy.  We’ve seen her getting along well enough with Justine and Felice, but overall she is a self-described “loner”.  Justine wants Jessica to open up.  She asks Jessica what would happen if she threw her puzzle pieces in the air.  Jessica says she would knee her in the face, like Justine taught her.  Aww…that’s…nice?

Killing TimeThat TUF puzzle looks like it would be a bitch to do.

The fight

The one word that everyone uses to describe Aisling is “unorthodox”.  Must be something in the water in Ireland, because she is as “Jardine-esque” as advertised.  It’s difficult to keep track of her stance switching.  From what I can tell, she tries to keep her opponent circling towards her power at all times.  It can be effective, though it leaves her open to an opponent that can effectively counter, which Jessica does.

A great entry by Jessica leads to her briefly taking the back.  Aisling is able to walk them over to the fence to avoid the takedown.  High volume from both in the clinch.  Aisling smartly uses her hand to smother Jessica at every opportunity.  It’s an extremely close first round that has me leaning towards Jessica (10-9) for being slightly crisper on the feet.  She does get thrown to the mat a couple of times in the closing minute, but it is nothing substantial.

The second round is similar to the first.  I give credit to Jessica for dictating where the fight goes, though she does get tripped down again.  Aisling does nothing with it.  She lets Jessica get up way too easily.  I’m just not seeing any sustained offence from Aisling.  Jessica is pushing her back and landing cleanly every time Aisling comes in.

Penne TripThis deft throw might have sealed the second for Jessica.

It’s definitely a 10-9 second for Jessica.  However, we end up going to a third round.  It’s not a problem for Jessica who scores with a slick trip early in the round.  There’s a fair bit of scrambling, with Jessica having the advantage in that department.  She attacks with a triangle from the bottom and later she manages to flatten out an exhausted Aisling.  Jessica is landing a ton of shots to the head putting her opponent into survival mode.  It’s a clear cut 10-9 third and decision win for Jessica.

Anthony Pettis says it was one of the best fights.  I don’t know about that.  It was good, but it was stuck in first gear for the majority of the time.  I did feel that Jessica put on a strong performance though.  The assumption was that her technical grappling would be too much for Aisling and while that might have been true, she also proved to be more than a match for her on the feet.  We also get some words from Gilbert Melendez, making his first appearance thirty three minutes into the episode.  Aren’t we glad he was taken out of competition to coach this season?

With only two episodes left, we’re forced to deal with the grim reality that only one of Rose Namajunas, JoJo, and Randa can make it to the final.  JoJo was my early favourite, but I’ve grown to like Rose and Randa so much.  Arrrrrgggh!  Making matters worse, there’s going to be four fights in two episodes.  Will there even be enough to write about or will I be forced to provide you with meaningless filler?  See, I’m doing it already!  Can you handle the suspense?!?

Jessica Moves OnNext Week: Tecia Torres v. Carla Esparza and Rose Namajunas v. JoJo.  Also, Gilbert might be there.  Or not.  Who knows?

Discussion question: The powers that be have declared that the next edition of TUF will be “something completely different”.  What could this possibly mean?  Will they finally do away with the team concept?  Choose coaches based on aptitude as opposed to using the show to hype fights (bring back Matt Serra!)?  Get rid of the TUF house?  It could be anything.

I, for one, am hoping they finally pull the trigger on what I like to call Paradise Fighter: Eight heavyweight men, eight strawweight women, no condoms.  In the words of Big John McCarthy, “Let’s get it on!”

The Ultimate Fighter 20: A Champion Will Be Crowned – Week 9

Before get into what was quite possibly the best episode of the season, I recommend taking a second to check out this quarterfinals preview by shanpthemadhatter.  It’s a good read, including the comments section which shows just how passionate viewers of the show have become about the cast.  Favourites have emerged and villains have come slithering out from the shadows.

Team Colours

Team Melendez
Team Pettis

The first round is finished and that means it’s time to get drank!

Stomach RaspberryI don’t recall Forrest Griffin or Rashad Evans ever doing one of these to a teammate.

To nobody’s surprise, Tecia “Buzz Killington” Torres is not amused by the evening’s festivities.  The good news is that it expedites her departure from the Team Melendez room she had been staying in under the most hostile circumstances.  She won her fight last week, so she can finally move on comfortably.  It works out for everyone.

Another fighter feeling the stress of the competition is top dog Carla Esparza.  I previously mentioned Bec Rawlings having the misfortune of having to face a higher seed than expected and that goes double for Carla.  As the #1 seed, she should have had the easiest path to the finale.  Now she has to face Tecia, who wasn’t even supposed to be on her side of the bracket.  I understand that if you want to win the show you have to beat four tough opponents anyway, but I can see why Carla wasn’t thrilled about Tecia being brought back into the competition the way she was.

Carla doesn’t feel comfortable sharing training time with her upcoming opponents, an opinion shared by her best friend Felice Herrig.  Team Pettis begrudgingly agrees to split their training sessions in half, with one side taking the days and the other taking nights.  Randa Markos, being the good Canadian, says she wants thing to stay the way they are.  Her modest approach to the discussion doesn’t do her any favours though.  A shaky voting process leads to the practices being split.  This means they’re essentially cutting their own practice time in half (with the exception of JoJo, the lone Team Pettis fighter facing someone from the other team.  JoJo always wins).  Randa also manages to draw the ire of Carla and Felice.

What starts off as a fun contrast of personalities between the reserved Randa and the feisty Felice soon turns ugly.  Randa thinks it sucks that they’re splitting up the training.  She wants as much gym time as possible.  When her half of the team asks Team Pettis to revert things back to the way they were, it doesn’t sit well with Felice who think the other girls are “cowardly” for not bringing it up the first time.  The Team Pettis coaches are responsible for this conflict because they should have required the vote to be unanimous as opposed to a majority decision (which it wasn’t really because it looks like a few team members abstained.  From what we saw, only three out of eight voted to split practice).

The situation comes to a head when Randa gets in the team van to go to the second practice of the day.  Carla feels compelled to speak her mind and Randa doesn’t want to hear it.  You get the feeling that this is the culmination of weeks of tension between the fighters.  Felice even starts doing a rude impression of Randa with Randa sitting right behind them!  It gets even sillier after they get back from practice when Carla and Felice invent a patty cake routine to mock Randa.

Patty CakeYo…women are mean.

Randa doesn’t have much to say to Carla besides “Don’t talk to me” and “Thank you”, so Carla and Felice latch onto those phrases and repeat them over and over again.  They say it in the van, at the house, at the weigh-ins…as annoying as this sounds to us, imagine how it must have been for Randa and the others.  I’m all for manufacturing feuds for the sake of the show and to give yourself a boost as it seems Felice is determined to do, but this is pushing it.

POPIn Canada, you blow a bubble in someone’s face and someone has to go!

This seasons Coaches’ Challenge is a trivia contest!  Wicked!  Dana White explains that they changed it up this year to work around Anthony Pettis’s bad knee.  I’m really happy about this since they’re usually playing with so much fire when they put the coaches into intense physical competitions.  Stick to excavators, demolition derbies, and rooftop air hockey.

I have to mention that Bruce Buffer looks right at home in this environment.  He’s found his true calling!

The first category is The Ultimate Fighter, which for some reason causes Gilbert Melendez to mouth a curse word.  Not a fan of the show, Gil?

TUF TriviaThis is how all conflicts should be settled.

Question 1: “In the history of The Ultimate Fighter, there have been ten fighters who have both competed and coached the show.  Name two of them.”

Since you’re wondering, the fighters are Forrest Griffin, Matt Serra, Rashad Evans, Michael Bisping, Roy Nelson, Josh Koscheck, Patrick Côté, Ross Pearson, George Sotiropoulos, and Kyle Noke.  And no, I did not have to look that up.  Gil gets Griffin and Evans.

Felice says that Pettis is the one who doesn’t watch much UFC programming.  The correct answer for the question, “What fighter has won a UFC title but did not win his season of The Ultimate Fighter?” is “T.J. Dillashaw”.  Pettis guesses “Forrest Griffin”.

Backhanded Compliment“Use your brain Anthony!  Use your brain!  It’s a good thing he’s, you know, athletic and all.”

Round 2 is UFC History, and Pettis gets on the board by remembering that the first UFC event was held in 1993.  He does a lot better here, evening up the score at one point.  His luck runs out in Round 3.  The category is Famous Finishes, which is convenient because this is where Gilbert finishes Pettis off.  He remembers that Griffin beat Shogun Rua by rear naked choke at UFC 76, Matt Hughes took the welterweight title from Carlos Newton by KO (or as Gilbert puts it, “slammed him with the triangle”), and that Duane Ludwig is the owner of the fastest KO in UFC history.

There’s still a sudden victory round where the fighters have to write down a wager.  Gilbert has 1800 points, twice as much as Pettis’s 900.  That kind of takes the suspense out of it.  The final question asks how many times Anderson Silva successfully defended his title.  The answer is ten, both of them guess nine, and none of that matters because Gilbert did the smart thing and wagered nothing.  That was dumb.

That whole segment was a missed opportunity!  They didn’t show us all of the questions, the presentation came off as extremely cheap, and they didn’t showcase Gilbert who actually looked like he was enjoying himself for once.  I’m not a happy viewer right now.  It was nice to see Team Melendez win something for once.

Team Melendez VictoryAngela Hill definitely knows how to live it up.

Pettis says that Gilbert needs to get used to losing because “my team ain’t losing and I ain’t losing.”  Technically, it’s impossible for his team not to lose because they’re facing each other, but then I guess they’re also guaranteed to win so…head hurt…

The fight

Aisling Daly thought this would be a striker v. grappler match-up.  I wasn’t so sure.  From what I’ve seen, neither fighter looked overly dependent on one discipline.  The bell rings and Randa aggressively looks to grapple while Felice keeps her at bay with strikes.  The lesson here: Aisling is a professional mixed martial artist and I’m an idiot.

Were there a scoreboard, Felice would be ahead after the first few minutes.  She’s connecting and actually manages to get on top of Randa after a failed trip.  Randa shows incredible determination in scrambling back up and resetting against the cage.  She bulldogs Felice down and then uses her legs to trap Felice’s arm at a nasty angle.  Felice taps!  This is a huge scalp for Randa when you consider that Felice was one of the biggest names going into this season.

Unique SubmissionRanda: “I got an arm lock, just stuck it in between my legs.  Pulled it back.  I should have pulled further to break it, but I didn’t because I’m too nice, but it feels great to get that win.”

We’re all loving us some Randa now, aren’t we?  I’d like to tell you that the experience of shared combat engendered a newfound respect between Randa and her rivals.  It didn’t.

Randa: I think that should shut her up, right?
Carla: Maybe if you stop acting like a bitch, she’ll shut up.
Randa: Don’t worry, you’re next.

Before we demonize Carla and Felice, I must reiterate that they are playing their parts on the show to a tee.  While we might be getting glimpses of their true personalities, I have to assume they’re constantly being poked and prodded and prompted (whether they realize it or not) by the show runners to stir the pot for the sake of drama.  It just so happens that they’ve found a perfect foil in Randa.

Like Randa herself, I choose not to dwell on the negatives.  Why do that when celebrating your victories is so much better?

Randa Moves OnThe greatest colours in the world:  The red, white and…uh…red.

Next Week: Aisling Daly v. Jessica Penne.  Also, Aisling gets a visit from a notorious teammate.

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

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

That said, Angela Magaña truly sucks.

Team Colours

Team Melendez
Team Pettis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The fight

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

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

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

Clinch ThrowThis wasn’t part of the gameplan.

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

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

ReactionThe look on Jessica’s face says it all.

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

The quarterfinals are set and they look like this:

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

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

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

Felice Salutes You

The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America – Week 12

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NewChallenger: As if these guys need more nicknames.

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

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

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

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

Final Fight GraphicI actually forgot these guys have real names.

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

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

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

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

Nicaraguan ComboDamn, Gabriel still grinnin’ after that.

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

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

Morales Moves OnYour finals look like this:

Featherweight Final: Yair Rodriguez v. The Mysterious Nicaraguan

Bantamweight Final: Alejandro Pérez v. Teco

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

Coaches' Face OffFeel the apathy.

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

Thoughts on the season, Vortex?  Memories?  Regrets?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Team Colours

Team Melendez
Team Pettis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Going BananasGilbert calls this the “Liu Kang”.

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

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

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

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

The fight

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America – Week 11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Teco Tattoo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ground And Whoops

Monaghan EscapeSit Down Swing & A Miss

Single Leg Counter

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

And with that, it’s nearly all over.

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