The Ultimate Fighter Nations: Canada v. Australia – Week 7 Recap

I’m currently binge watching The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 2 and it is so much better than TUF: Nations.  All due respect to my Canadian and Australian homies, they’re doing what they can.  The show just has no spark.  I fully support their efforts to get away from the pranks and juvenile behaviour that were hallmarks of the early seasons, but what we’re left with is a straightforward competition for a prize that doesn’t mean as much as it used to.

Don’t let the old production values of TUF: Brazil fool you: the total lack of self-consciousness by the contestants is what makes it refreshing.  These guys will play along in any scenario.  At times, it’s like watching a foreign game show.  Winning the contest and making money are secondary concerns.  The Brazilians also have ways of showing respect and affection that you just won’t see in our stuffy culture.  They laugh and sing and kiss and hug and everyone just carries on like it ain’t no thang.  They also cry a lot.  And I love it.

Team Colours:

Team Côté
Team Noke

Back to our regularly scheduled programming.  The house is feeling the aftershocks of the Dan Kelly loss.  When we last left off, the Australians were outraged at the exuberance displayed by Team Canada, particularly Elias Theodorou and Kajan Johnson.  Johnson is singled out for allegedly yelling “He’s done!  He’s done!” an incredibly offensive sentiment considering Kelly suffered a serious injury.  They show a replay and all we get is Johnson screaming “That’s f**king right!”  That could be construed as offensive in its own way, though it doesn’t lend much credence to the accusations against him.  Few things are more frustrating than being accused of saying something you don’t remember and having no way to prove it.

The person to really feel bad for is Sheldon Westcott.  He has to deal with this drama instead of getting to enjoy the most exciting performance of the season.  I also feel bad for Kelly, especially now that TRT just got banned.  We could have pumped him up and thrown him right back into the cage.

Vik Grujic has his own take on it:

I don’t know whether he’s denying it, but at the same time you know, there’s that moment after a fight where you kind of just…“Yeah!”…you’re so excited and s**t will blurt out and…“eat s**t motherf**ker!”

Then we get a rap from Brendan O’Reilly:

I lost my ??? in an accident
It’s not my fault ‘cause it’s subsequent
You ever been to Melbourne come to Dan Kelly’s gym, resilience
Is what we got up in Oz
‘cause we f**kin’ smash you
With the scissor kick
Cut my dick (???)

That transcript makes it sound better than it actually was.

The spotlight shines on young Jake Matthews during the Australian training session.  He’s young and confident, part of the new generation of MMA fighters who dabble in all of the disciplines from the go rather than specializing.  The majority of his training has been handled by his dad, so you have to imagine he’s nowhere near reaching his potential unless his dad is Anderson Silva.  It will do this kid a lot of good to move to a bigger camp at some point.

Matthews makes the mistake of calling Olivier Aubin-Mercier “overrated”.  That is one of my least favourite critical terms.  Overrated relative to what exactly?  The word does not exist in a void!  The word always carries an air of condescension to it too, as if the speaker knows something we don’t.  I can’t stand it.  And in the fight game, calling someone overrated is senseless because you’re diminishing your own achievement if you end up beating them.  That’s Pro Wrestling 101!

On the Canadian side, les bon temps continuent à rouler…except for the fact that the team has been too successful.  The more they win, the greater their chances of fighting a teammate.  Johnson laughs at how intense the sparring is getting and posits that both he and Chad Laprise would rather fight each other than Aubin-Mercier.

BestiesWith friends like these…

Aubin-Mercier is getting the Nordine Taleb hype job.  In his young career, he’s established himself as a fighter with an intense motor and unstoppable takedowns.  Johnson goes as far as to say he could snag the French-Canadian fan base with Georges St-Pierre out of the picture.  Not surprisingly, GSP was the inspiration for Aubin-Mercier’s decision to get into MMA.

In a touching moment with Luke Harris, we find out that Aubin-Mercier had to miss his daughter’s 2nd birthday to be on the show.  I also enjoyed this scene because Harris, as the conscience of Team Canada, has to remind Aubin-Mercier to start working on his diary.  Do your homework or you’re going to bed without supper, young man!

I have to pay some bills now by mentioning that Kyle Noke rolls up to practice in a Ferrari, setting the stage for a Forza Motorsport 5 contest.  They set up an Xbox One and a sweet driving apparatus in the house.  The player with the fastest time wins a console and a ride in the Ferrari.

PlugThis recap brought to you by Forza Motorsport 5 available now on Xbox One!

 It’s shameless product integration, not unlike the constant Bony Açai and Gillette references over on TUF: Brazil.  I do find it disconcerting when the show goes to break and I’m hit with yet another Forza ad.  However, the short sequence does give us an opportunity to check in on some of our favourite cast members:

Forza EliasElias: Worried about his hair.

 Forza ChadChad: Stoic.

 Forza Brendan

Brendan: Naked.

Chris Indich ends up winning.  He doesn’t get to actually drive the car.  LAME.  Maybe it’s the filthy ‘stache he’s rocking.  They do have an image to maintain, after all.

Forza ChrisWould you let this man borrow your car?

Pardon the flurry of pictures, there were just a lot of good shots in this episode.  It only got better at the weigh-ins.  One look at Matthews and it is hard not to think of one of Canada’s most universally beloved exports…

Olivier, Jake And JustinBest moment of the season.

Love him or hate him, the kid brings people together.  Matthews challenges Justin Bieber to a fight, but not before signing the photo for Aubin-Mercier who I’m sure is a fan of the music.

BelieberOMFG it’s spelled “Beliebing” you guys!

The only concern left on the Canadian side is that Aubin-Mercier might want to win one for his friend Taleb, rather than concentrating on his own performance.  They bond over crepes, as French people do.

Classing It UpFighters in robes are awesome.

The fight

Going into this, I’d heard of Aubin-Mercier but knew nothing about Matthews.  It’s always hard to guess how unknown properties like Matthews will turn out.  Kelvin Gastelum anyone?

Everyone is surprised by how strong his striking is.  I think he’s too upright, but he’s landing and he’s the aggressor in the early going.  Aubin-Mercier later admits that he allowed himself to get hit since he’d never been touched in any of his previous fights.  O…kay…

It takes half a round for Aubin-Mercier to get a trip.  From there, the action goes as you’d expect.  Give credit to Matthews for having an active guard, but Aubin-Mercier is patient.  He picks his spots and lands effective ground and pound.  There’s little positional advancement, not that it matters.  Aubin-Mercier takes the first round 10-9.

The second round is more of the same.  Matthews ignores his corner’s advice and shoots for a takedown, which turns out to be a huge mistake.  Aubin-Mercier counters with a standing kimura leading to them going back to the mat with Aubin-Mercier on top.  He takes the back and stays there.  Johnson predicted that Aubin-Mercier would win via rear naked choke and this is about as close as you can get without an actual finish.  The lack of a decisive sub has Aubin-Mercier feeling bummed out after.  They remind him he’s getting an Xbox One and he does a little dance.

Matthews is convinced that there wasn’t anything more he could do technique-wise, that it was all just a matter of execution.  There’s some truth to that; however, anyone could see that Aubin-Mercier was on a completely different level on the ground.  With more work in that area, Matthews could have a serious future in the UFC.

The first round of the welterweight bracket is done.  All three Canadian winners are from Tristar, which isn’t too surprising.

One last thing.  I’m baffled at the complete lack of heat between the two coaches.  From what we see, there is minimal contact between the two and any interactions are cordial.  They’re extensions of their teams and vise-a-versa.

Question for the readers: In terms of a potential fight, can you recall there being less anticipation for a TUF coaching match-up?

Next week: Team Canada’s Luke Harris v. Team Australia’s Vik Grujic.  Also, I try to fit in even more Justin Bieber references in a shameless attempt to get more traffic.

The Ultimate Fighter Nations: Canada v. Australia – Week 6 Recap

For a season of The Ultimate Fighter to be enjoyable, you’re looking for three things:

  1. Memorable personalities
  2. Heated rivalries
  3. Good fights

If you have all three, then we’re talking about an all time great season.  You can get by with just one.  The personalities this season aren’t bad and they’ve at least tried to manufacture rivalries, but I can’t say I’ve been overly impressed with the fights.  There’s only been one finish so far, which means we could be heading towards the depths of TUF 16, a season that had only 2 finishes in 14 fights going into the finale.  That isn’t to say that finishes equal excitement or that decisions equal boredom.  The problem is when the decisions happen because neither fighter is able to kick it up into another gear.

I’ve been entertained by the matches thus far; however, I don’t see myself going back and watching any of them anytime soon.  When this happens, should we take it as an indicator of even competition or subpar fighters?

Team Colours:

Team Côté
Team Noke

Richard Walsh and Matt Desroches are still buddy buddy after beating on each other.  They exchange pointers, with Desroches referring to Walsh as a “disciplined human being” in a testimonial.  This TUF house exudes civility.  Maybe it’s the dull winter conditions, but I can’t imagine anyone getting their blood up surrounded by all that soothing wood panelling and fur accoutrements.

Perhaps I should have chosen a word besides civility because the next scene shows one of the Australians having to run “the gauntlet”.  I’ll let Kajan Johnson explain it:

The house rule is as follows: If one is playing pool and is unable to sink a single ball, then said person must complete a minimum of one lap around the house in the nude. While this person is attempting to complete his lap, it is the duty of the rest of the cast to pelt him with snowballs, buckets of water, etc., forming a “gauntlet” of sorts. After the offending person has completed his run, he is allowed to once again dawn [sic] clothing and rejoin society. Obviously, our youngest cast member, Jake Matthews, is the first one to have to complete this and does so like a champ, barefoot, at high speed with a sock on his dong.

I’m thankful they decided to edit out the majority of this tradition.

Running The GauntletI know there’s some joke to be made here about sticks and balls and holes but…it eludes me.

Dan Kelly is apparently known as the “wine guy”, while Olivier Aubin-Mercier is the “wine and cheese” guy.  I wonder if it makes him mad when he goes to a party and nobody tells him how good the cheese is.

The welterweight semi-final bracket is starting to shape up, so Chad Laprise takes it upon himself to write his own contract to challenge Walsh.

Laprise's ContractLegally binding.

Johnson also wants to fight Walsh because he’s confident that Aubin-Mercier is going to advance and he has no interest in fighting his friend.  Walsh is fine with that as he doesn’t like Johnson’s attitude and he considers him to be the easier fight.  Luke Harris and Elias Theodorou compare Walsh to “The Bachelor” and all the Canadians are trying to get the final rose.  Okay…

Skeleton PantsI have no excuse for taking this long to screen cap Elias’s skeleton pants.

Patrick Côté is away fulfilling other UFC obligations forcing him to miss practice.  Team Canada doesn’t lose a step.  Again, a poor choice of words on my part as Sheldon Westcott is battling a knee injury.  He describes it as having one of his weapons taken away from him.  There is also some drama with Johnson and Laprise who are starting to realize that they could be fighting each other soon.  That must suck to have to distance yourself from someone who is both a friend and an ideal training partner.

Head MovementThe always important “teabag” defence.

Over on Team Australia, Israel Martinez continues to take charge.  I like how he cusses folks out with a smile on his face.  This episode, he dishes out some tough love for young Jake Matthews who is slacking off because his tummy hurts.

Service With A SmileHa ha ha, f**k you mother**ker.

He pushes Matthews to fight through it.  Martinez and the other Aussies know that for a young guy like Matthews, the mental aspect of the game is the most difficult part.  This training situation has to be a massive upgrade compared to what they’re used to back home.  If the Australians weren’t used to high level conditioning and drills, they definitely are now.  I should also mention that Martinez shows off some of the most impressive butt wiggling since Ronda Rousey.

It's All In The HipsI’m sorry I couldn’t animate this for you.

We get to see some more pad work from Kelly.  According to a couple of comments last week, it’s not exactly high level.  Nevertheless, Kyle Noke makes sure to hype up his man:

If you look at him, he’s very unassuming.  He looks like he can’t do much.  He doesn’t look athletic at all.  He comes in, he hobbles around.  His hands are all funny.

Let’s not set the bar too high, coach!

Faced with the prospect of fighting a dangerous opponent while on one leg, Westcott has a great quote:

Every time, in life, you ask for strength…you get struggle.

What he’s saying is that the darkest, most difficult times are when we find the strength that we need to get by.  Kelly can relate.  His child was diagnosed with cystinosis and will need a kidney transplant.  The whole season he’s had this grizzled, weary look to him and you can understand why.  Everyone in the house has great respect for his accomplishments, not only as an Olympic athlete but as a father and a human being.  Westcott even goes as far as to say that he’s the most well rounded fighter on Team Australia, which can’t possibly be true.

Sheldon's StomachSheldon might not have time to properly assess his opponents because ABS

As a bonus, the fighters get to watch UFC 167, a card that lives in infamy among us Canucks.  That was the night that Rory MacDonald lost to Robbie Lawler and Georges St-Pierre announced his retirement.  I’m sure the Aussies must have enjoyed seeing the Canadians squirm, especially guys like Johnson and Aubin-Mercier who have trained at Tristar.

Feeling The HeatThis brought back some unpleasant memories.

The only thing worse than watching your teammates in trouble would have to be seeing all that junk food brought to the house when you still have to make weight.  That seemed cruel to me.  At least there’s no mystery since there are only two fights left, but I admire Aubin-Mercier, Matthews, Harris and Vik Grujic for making it through the night without punching anything.  Westcott has his own plan to stay relaxed:

I’m gonna eat some good food.  Then I’m gonna watch some fights, go to bed, and most likely try to kill Dan Kelly in the morning.

They show the house’s reaction to GSP’s razor thin split decision win.  Harris yells out “We’ll take it!”  The Australians moan about the dodgy decision.  I would have really enjoyed seeing more footage of the post-fight discussion, which must have carried on for days.

The fight

Kelly and Westcott both came in with injuries.  Only one of them showed it.

Westcott comes out with the proverbial guns-a blazing, striking fast and efficiently.  Kelly turtles up, which allows Westcott to get a body lock on him.  Post-fight, Westcott says he was advised not to do this as judokas have a variety of throws from that position.  Kelly might have been too hurt to capitalize, particularly after a couple of slams damaged his knee.  He manages some sort of toss, but leaves himself open to an arm triangle.  Showing incredible strength, Westcott drags Kelly down and secures the hold.  The fight lasts less than a minute.

There is still a lot of show to go.  That’s a pleasant surprise.  Usually, you can figure out whether a fight will end in a finish or a decision depending on how much time is left.  They should tweak it like this more often.  Not only would it be less predictable, it would allow them to be more flexible with their format and narratives.

The recap and reactions are taking longer than the fight itself.  Theodorou and Johnson are freaking out and you can tell the Australians aren’t happy about it.  There’s no way the Canadians could contain themselves after Westcott’s beastly performance.  Theodorou yells out “that’s a white belt!” in reference to Westcott’s relative lack of grappling acumen, another comment that the Australians take personally.

The mood is understandably more subdued in the Team Australia locker room.  This is likely Kelly’s last shot at the big show.  I really feel for him.  He refuses to take a towel off of his face, unable to look his teammates in the eyes.  The doctor says they will need to do an MRI on his knee.  If something is broken, it will affect his ability to make a living outside of fighting.

Dan's ChinThey can’t get enough of Dan’s quivering chin.

Westcott had the right attitude regarding his injury.  There was no reason to come out slow.  If the knee was going to go it was going to go; it didn’t matter whether it happened at the beginning of the fight or later.

Next week: The last welterweight match-up, Team Canada’s Olivier Aubin-Mercier v. Team Australia’s Jake Matthews.  Côté says it will be “the fight of the season”, which is as tired as Magic Johnson screaming that “the dunk contest is back”.

Women’s Hockey Is The Greatest Sport In The World

Around 1:30 I decided to head down to catch the third period of the gold medal Olympic Women’s Hockey game.  There were plans to watch it with my mother, but she was running around doing her usual household chores and I had gotten caught up with some such horses**t in my room.  We lost track of time.  I’d been checking in online (when I wasn’t keeping tabs on Kyle Lowry) and since the score was only 1-0 I figured late lunch would be as good a time as any to tune in.

I was only watching for two minutes before USA doubled their lead.

I don’t watch hockey at all, but one thing I like about it is that the game has a firm, finite duration.  The game clock isn’t as malleable as it is in basketball, football or, most notoriously, baseball.  In a game like this, where so much is on the line, I start to break down the game into 30-60 second intervals.  It’s not unlike how I might watch a fight.  I do the math in my head to figure out Canada’s chances.

Down 2 with 15:00 to go.  Doable.

Down 2 with 10:00 to go.  Looking shaky, but this is high level hockey.  All it takes is a turnover in the US zone or a lucky bounce for Canada to chop this lead in half.

Down 2 with 7:00 to go.  My mother starts rooting for Canada to “get at least one”.  I briefly explain the hollowness of moral victories, especially when there is a gold medal on the line.  If you’re going to root for one, you may as well root for two.

Down 2 with about 3:30 to go.  Maybe this was a bad time for me to get into women’s hockey.

Marie-Philip Poulin scores for Canada.  The three minutes that are left feel like thirty now.  I’m certain that’s how it must have been on Team USA’s bench anyway.  The mood goes from “well, anything could happen” to “anything could really f**king happen here!

Sure enough, “anything” happens.  Canada is pressing hard, having removed their goalie for the last minute or so of action.  It looks like it’s about to pay off, but one of the Canadian players gets tangled up with the referee in the neutral zone just as she’s about to set up what would have been a high percentage chance.  Instead, an American stick swats the puck away and it travels the length of the ice…sliding…sliding…right towards the empty Canadian net.

*dink* It hits the post.

A centimeter to the right and the game is all but over.  Team USA would have had a two goal lead with less than a minute to go.  If they could hang on, that sequence would be a quirky footnote in the team’s first gold medal victory since 1998.  Instead, the ensuing events guarantee that the miraculous miss will become an instant YouTube classic and a fixture in Canadian sports lore.

On broadcasting duty, Jeremy Roenick had been saying that Team USA needed to keep up the pressure, not play it safe on the way to the finish line.  His words prove prophetic.  The Canadians crash the net and get another goal from Brianne Jenner to tie it up.  My mother leaps off of the couch and we hug.  It should be noted that neither of us know a lick about women’s hockey.  That’s the power of sports when there’s a narrative anyone can follow.

Mom says that she’s proud of Team Canada no matter what and even if they lose she’ll be fine with it.  I shake my head.  Yes, I’ll be proud of them.  No, I won’t be satisfied with second place.  They’ve come this far and they should take the whole damn thing.

Overtime comes around and all signs point to calamity.  Proving that there’s no such thing as momentum, the Americans are shot out of a cannon into the Canadian zone.  By my unofficial count and measurements, they get about twenty shots on goal from a couple of metres out.  Somehow Shannon Szabados and her defence stop them all.  They’re dodging bullets.

A penalty on Team Canada sets up a 4-3 woman advantage for the Yanks.  The empty netter stopped by an invisible goalie.  Szabados mutating into a cross between a brick wall and an octopus to stop all of those pucks.  They’d pulled off enough magic tricks today.  I didn’t expect them to escape this situation.

Not ten seconds later, another penalty.  On Team USA.  We’re playing three on three pick-up hockey now and the world is watching.  The sight of this enormous rink with only six players skating around it is surreal.  This is the gold medal game!  At some point, I lose track of which power play ends when.  All I know is that Hayley Wickenheiser, a women’s hockey player so famous that even I know who she is, has a breakaway opportunity.  There’s no way they’re going to stop her without some sort of penalty.  Skates get tangled and bodies fly and there’s the penalty…but no penalty shot.  I’m no expert on the rules, but that sure looked like an aborted breakaway opportunity to me.  I add it to the list of insane/inexplicable things that have happened in the last twenty minutes or so of this game.

After the dust settles, Canada finds themselves with a 5-3 advantage.  Mom is yelling at the player’s to shoot the puck whenever they touch it.  I sit, patiently.  You can see the geometry at work.  The numbers create unorthodox spacing.  I doubt that they prioritize two-woman advantages in practice.  But these are the best women’s hockey players in the world.  They sort it out.  The puck finds its way to Poulin who has the perfect angle for a score and she doesn’t miss.  She better be prepared to go from being a successful athlete to being one of the most famous people in Canada.

In contrast to my mother who is bouncing around the room, I’m more in shock than anything else.  I’m an unabashed hop-on on this runaway bandwagon.  I can only imagine how thrilling this moment must be for people who follow the sport and this team religiously.  It’s games like this that bring casual viewers and hardcores together.  Nobody watching this game will ever forget how Canada came back.  Nobody.

As for me, I’m wondering how anything that happens in these Olympics…hell, anything that happens in the sporting world for the rest of the year will top this.  Complete and utter euphoria over a single game in a sport that I don’t follow.  I watch my mother cushion her knees with a couch pillow, getting right up to the TV set so that she can get a good view of the medal ceremony.  The national anthem of Canada plays and obviously, I’m too cool to stand and sing along when it’s just the two of us at home.  I do make sure to listen though.

Canada Wins Gold

Triskaphobia – Why Is The UFC Afraid Of Trilogies?

I want to see Joseph Benavidez get another crack at Mighty Mouse.  That’s not a match-up that’s high in demand, but I have my reasons.  There first fight was extremely close.  The second fight ended in the most unexpected manner possible (short of Demetrious Johnson flying off the cage like Vega and decapitating Benavidez…you know what I’m saying).  A one shot kill courtesy of the champ.  Here’s how unlikely that finish was:

  • In 22 career fights spanning 7 ½ years, Benavidez had never been finished much less knocked out.  His 3 career losses had come by decision, two of which were splits in championship fights.
  • Prior to the second Benavidez fight, Johnson’s last knockout occurred on February 10, 2010 when he was still competing at the regional level.  In 11 WEC/UFC appearances, he had never recorded a single knockout.

The narrative of the rematch was clear cut: Johnson should use his uncanny speed and mobility to outpoint Benavidez, while Benavidez should wait for his opportunity to land a power punch.  There are few fighters in the lighter weight classes as adept at stopping his opponents as Benavidez.  Two minutes in, the narrative got torn up, burnt to ashes and cast out into the wind.

Johnson dropped Benavidez with a hellacious right hand that robbed the Alpha Male challenger of his senses before he’d even touched the mat.  It was the hardest, most perfect punch that Johnson had landed and probably ever will land in his life.  The guy who never knocks people out just put down the guy who never gets knocked out.  Two minutes and eight seconds was the official time.  The fastest KO in UFC flyweight history.

And yet I want to see them go at it again.

None of this is to say that Johnson’s punch was a fluke or that the first fight was some sort of robbery and that Benavidez should be the champ.  Johnson won both fights fair and square.  The result of their rematch was countless hours of training and study combined with the champ’s incredible fight night instincts.  That was no lucky punch.  But it would be a situation that would be difficult to replicate.  Were they to fight 99 more times, I wouldn’t bet on a Mighty Mouse knockout happening again.  Not just because of the stated reasons, but because of what Benavidez undoubtedly could learn from this second loss.  Make no mistake; there is always something to be learned from losing, even a shockingly abrupt setback such as this one.

The real issue for me is that the UFC (and, admittedly, most fans) has established this pattern where you get two cracks at the champ and that’s it.  Couldn’t get the job done?  Time to change weight classes, find work in another organization or retire buddy.  Even though fighters like Benavidez, Urijah Faber and even Junior dos Santos (who actually completed a trilogy) are the consensus #2 fighters in their respective weight classes, they are somehow almost completely out of the running for a title shot in the near future.

I should clarify that I understand that the UFC isn’t against trilogies; more logically, they’re against trilogies where one of the fighters has proven to be superior.  To me, that feels like they’re killing off contenders too quickly.

Imagine if Juan Manuel Márquez had never got his third and fourth fights with Manny Pacquiao?  Yes, I’m aware there are stark differences.  The Márquez/Pacquiao series took course over an eight year stretch.  Despite Pacquiao going 2-0-1, the first three fights were all open to interpretation.  And a fifth meeting between the two would do bigger box office than three (maybe more) combined Faber/Barão match-ups.  I get that.

But what if they had never booked that 4th meeting?  The boxing community would have been robbed of what was one of the sport’s most exciting and relevant moments of the year when Márquez put Pacquiao down on his face.  My point is that when you put the best with the best, only good things can happen.  I’d much rather see rematch after rematch than fighters who are not ready for the top spot being shoehorned into title matches.  At the present moment, is there anyone who thinks John Moraga is a better fighter than Joseph Benavidez?

Does it ever need to end?  If the champ keeps winning and top contender is able to hold onto his spot, how many times can you mash those action figures together?  3 times?  4?  7?  Luckily, these situations tend to sort themselves out as the talent cycle naturally creates new contenders.  Though that’s not always the case as we saw with Michael McDonald (who is already dangerously close to contender limbo), Ian McCall and Phil Davis (in his first contender fight against Rashad Evans).  Sometimes the next generation isn’t ready, so why should the UFC be in such a hurry to usher out the current one?

Allow me to discuss the merits (or lack thereof) of a few other trilogy fights where one fighter is already down two sets:

  • Urijah Faber (6-3 UFC, 8-3 WEC, 30-7) v. Renan Barão (7-0 UFC, 2-0 WEC, 32-1 [1 NC])

The most immediate and obvious choice.  Even if you believe that Barão was on his way to a decisive finish of Faber, the early stoppage was as bad as we’ve seen in a championship bout.  Faber’s lack of success in title fights is well documented, but even his most dogged detractors would have to admit that he got a raw deal here.  He looked amazing in his previous fights and he’d rightly earned another crack at UFC gold.  The continued misfortune of Dominick Cruz only made Sean Shelby’s decision easier.

The situation reminded me of Ken Shamrock/Tito Ortiz II, where the second fight ended in what Shamrock perceived to be an early stoppage.  That match was headed down a similarly bad path.  In truth, Shamrock had even less of a case for a rematch than Faber and most would assume that Ortiz had his number no matter how many times they fought.  Still, the powers that be deigned them worthy of an immediate rematch that took place on Spike TV.  It should be noted that UFC had heavily invested in the second fight, including coaching stints on The Ultimate Fighter, so it made good sense for them to continue a feud that still had plenty of juice left.

I don’t see why Faber can’t get one more shot on one of the UFC’s many free fight cards.  It’s not like quality main events are falling from the sky.  If you recall, both Faber/Barão meetings have been the result of injuries to Cruz.  It would be nice to see them face off one more time away from the shadow of the ex-champ.

  • Anderson Silva (16-2 UFC, 33-6) v. Chris Weidman (7-0 UFC, 11-0)

From a competitive standpoint, this might be the least appealing rematch.  Make whatever excuses you want, Weidman clobbered Silva and took his belt.  The second fight was tough to watch for obvious reasons.  I haven’t viewed a replay of the finish since that night.  I don’t plan to.

So why am I listing it?  I’m a huge Weidman fan and I don’t even care about the preposterous “he’s never truly beaten a dedicated Anderson Silva before” argument.  At this stage in their careers, Weidman is the better fighter.  It’s hardly worth discussing.

No, the reason I bring this up is because it would still draw enormous bank.  Silva/Weidman I brought in approximately 500,000 buys, while the sequel reportedly cracked a million (with a healthy assist from Miesha Tate and Ronda Rousey).  I think it’s fair to say that a third fight could fall somewhere in between.  That would be a boon for the UFC, who are currently struggling to convince the public that they still have plenty of viable PPV stars.  I mean, if Dana White keeps saying Rousey is the biggest star he’s ever had, it has to be true, right?  Speaking of which…

  • Miesha Tate (0-2 UFC, 13-5) v. Ronda Rousey (2-0 UFC, 8-0)

How weird is it that Tate is winless in the UFC, yet still regarded as one of the top challengers?  I’m not disputing it as we all know that you can’t take wins and losses at face value in combat sports.  It just looks funny is all.

This is almost as tough a sell as Silva/Weidman because Rousey’s wins have been so definitive.  Exciting, yes, but definitive.  I know for me, personally, I could watch these two fight a dozen times.  There is such an explosive mix of personalities and styles and a genuine animosity between the two that there is so much for fans of all pedigrees to sink their teeth into.

I am in no way suggesting that Tate get a rematch anytime soon, only that she not be ushered into the “could-a-been” category so quickly.  Let’s say she has a Belfort-esque run of dominant finishes over top ten fighters.  You don’t need much of an excuse to convince people to watch these two go at it again.  I’d hate for the UFC to put off another fight between these two just because we’ve seen it before

  • Benson Henderson (8-1 UFC, 5-1 WEC, 20-3) v. Anthony Pettis (4-1 UFC, 5-1 WEC, 17-2)

As with Tate and Rousey, these two have only had one match in the UFC so it is relatively fresh.  Other than the ninja kick, I’d wager there’s a large portion of fans who have never seen the entirety of their first meeting, which is a shame since that was a brilliant encounter.

The result of the second fight was as shocking as the Benavidez/Johnson finish.  Henderson had only been submitted once before and he’d made a habit of using his incredible smarts and flexibility to escape holds in ways nobody had seen before.  That would explain why the UFC 164 crowd was stunned to see him get caught by a lightning quick Pettis armbar.

Somehow, the 25 minutes they spent together in the WEC cage did more to cement Pettis as a champion in my eyes than the 4 minute submission in their rematch.  I felt like Pettis was the better man both times, but that it wasn’t out of the question for Henderson to someday figure out his rival.  After all, he’d done it to pretty much everybody else.

*****

So what do you all think?  Did I leave any matches out?  Am I completely crazy?  Are these fights unpalatable at this point?  Will they ever be marketable?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

The Ultimate Fighter Nations: Canada v. Australia – Week 5 Recap

Hmm…what to do for an introduction this week?  If only there had been some controversy surrounding one of the contestants.  That would make my job so much easier.  Alas, this cast has been drama free up to this point and I highly doubt…

Oh?

What’s that?

I see.

Race remains one of the touchiest subjects in our society, as it should.  The cultural makeup of North America is ever changing, usually at a quicker pace than people can adapt to.  It’s not uncommon for there to be a clumsy adjustment period as we combat old prejudices while integrating new, unfamiliar customs.  I mention this not only to try and understand Tyler Manawaroa’s mistake, but also the UFC’s severe response.

I’m not sure what Manawaroa was thinking.  The picture he posted could certainly be construed as satirical in the right context.  It’s the hateful words that accompanied it that were so disturbing.  Being a person of colour, he might have his own interpretation of what those words mean and he genuinely might have meant no offence, but there’s one important rule I learned a long time ago: we don’t get to choose what is and isn’t offensive for other people.  That rule can have some grey area.  There isn’t much grey area when we’re talking about words with almost a century of vile misuse.

People make mistakes.  Young people like Manawaroa make lots of stupid mistakes.  What I find particularly troubling is that according to his manager, it was “a joke to share with his friends that have grown up with him and know how he’s been treated”.

Okay.  Why the HELL would you spread it over social media?

Confession: When I’m in the privacy of close friends and family, there are lots of inappropriate jokes tossed around.  Really heinous, inexcusable stuff.  And I’m not saying that’s a good thing.  I’m fully aware that this kind of humour, even unheard, can colour one’s perception of and interactions with other races and cultures.  I’m working on it.  We all should be.  But we have the good sense to keep these stupid comments to ourselves.

I want to forgive.  I choose to believe that the incident stems from insensitivity and ignorance, not hatred.  That is a small consolation when people are hurt by these actions, and those three motivations often overlap, but I’m going to err on the side of caution when it comes to judging someone who is so young and shows so much potential in a sport that I enjoy watching.  So call me biased or naive or hopeful.  Regardless, I’m rooting for the kid to learn from this, to better himself.  Because the alternative would truly be a waste.

Team Colours:

Team Côté
Team Noke

In the wake of Nordine Taleb’s loss, the mood has completely swung for both teams.  Team Canada can’t believe that their number one guy won’t be advancing past the opening round.  Team Australia is ecstatic.  It falls on Matt Desroches to take back the hammer this week, but first we see the Canadians engage in some alternative methods of retribution.

A celebratory Aussie snowball fight is interrupted by Elias Theodorou.  Nobody shows up to support him, so he ends up taking on the Aussies commando.  I mean “commando” as in he’s taking on a solo mission, not that he isn’t wearing underwear.  Though he might not be wearing underwear.  It’s unclear.  Regardless, he does well for himself despite being outnumbered.  He credits his success to eight years of baseball.  Is there anything this man can’t do?!?

As for Taleb, he is both older and more French than Manawaroa.  That means there’s only one proper way to get back at him: drinking competition.  Shots, shots…shots, shots, shots!

Missing ArmTyler, taking his amputation in stride.

Desroches and opponent Richard Walsh can’t match the fiery dynamic of Taleb and Manawaroa, which is either disappointing or refreshing depending on how you look at it.  I think it’s cool that Desroches is unlike previous contestants in that he is thrilled with the peaceful seclusion.  He’s a young cat, only 21 years old, so it’s understandable that he doesn’t have the common longing of missing a wife or a child.  He’s free to enjoy the wild, the meditation and the slippery roads (a concern expressed by Sheldon Westcott).

Icy SituationCanadian problems.

Walsh got the “Filthy Rich” nickname from a t-shirt one of his training partners was wearing.

Filthy RichAlso, all of that stinking hair.

Like Desroches, he takes a laid back approach to the competition.  His expectations are modest (not once does he indicate any desire to be a world champion or even a contender in the UFC).  He’s strictly fighting for his love of the sport.  He’s losing me until he mentions the entrance music for his first pro fight: Danger Zone by Kenny Loggins.

On Team Australia, Coach Martinez continues to be far more vocal than Kyle Noke.  This could be a choice of the show’s producers as he has a distinct and loud voice while Noke is for the most part monotone.  Some guys just aren’t interested in being on TV.

On Team Canada, Taleb’s injury has essentially turned him into another assistant coach.  I joked about his stuffiness before, but seeing him hop around the gym on one leg is endearing.  I haven’t seen gimpy coaching like this since Nate Quarry.

Injured NordineLiterally a one-legged man in an ass kicking contest.

Bad mojo continues to plague the home team, as Westcott aggravates a knee injury while working with Theodorou.  He’s a grappling specialist who requires maximum mobility to be able to get takedowns and work his ground game, so this is a serious roadblock.  They plan to save him for the last fight, making a Desroches victory even more important.  Kajan Johnson is worried that Walsh will look to win by lay-and-pray, even if it means enraging Dana White.  This is the most pessimistic the Canadians have been since the start of the competition.

Wanting to do his part from the bleachers, Brendan O’Reilly finds the time to work on some arts and crafts.  As the first one eliminated, it falls on him to do some dumb s**t.  Dan Kelly is not amused.

Fog Horn 1“Jake.  Chuck me a knife.”

Fog Horn 2Fog Horn 3

“I’m makin’ a fog horn to shout at Richie.”

Fog Horn 4Fog Horn 5

Fog Horn 6Fog Horn 7

“This is great.  It’s gonna bring me so much joy.”

Fog Horn 8The Fight

I was stunned by how badly Team Canada seems to have misevaluated Walsh.  While he did focus on pressuring Desroches, he showed a lot more patience and intelligence than they were expecting.  In fact, it was Desroches who ended up losing composure.  His corner implored him to focus on boxing, but as he fell further behind on the scorecard he couldn’t stop looking for the one shot kill.  All of the combinations and footwork we saw in his training segments are nowhere to be found.

It’s no coincidence that Walsh really started to take control when he started following instructions.  This was apparent in the second round when he finally switched to a double leg takedown grip after his corner had been yelling at him to do so whenever they were pressed against the cage.  He ended up getting the takedown and sealing the round.

Post-fight, Desroches admitted that he got nervous and frustrated.  Most of his power punches hit nothing but air and Walsh did solid job of countering.  One jab even scored a knockdown, which disrupted whatever was left of Desroches’s game plan.

Another win for Team Australia, another week of Kahili…

Kahili Blundell Nations Week 5Next week: Team Canada’s Sheldon Westcott v. Team Australia’s Dan Kelly.  On Kelly’s insistence on battling through a litany of injuries, Noke had this to say: Dan’s just chomping at the bit to get in there, you know.  If we don’t pick Dan, we’re scared he’s going to attack us and start ripping our heads off.

How do you feel about this match-up, Mr. Kelly?

Happy DanCan the Aussies completely turn this competition around?  Also, I read as much Bill Barnwell as I can to remind myself that there’s no such thing as momentum.

The Ultimate Fighter Nations: Canada v. Australia Week – 4 Recap

Hey readers, remember when I said I’d be ranking the best looking Ultimate Fighter contestants…

…I lied.

Okay, I didn’t quite lie, but I’ve made the decision to turn it into a separate post at some undetermined point in the future.  There’s some political speak for ya.  For now, let’s concentrate on what really matters:

TEAM CANADA 3-0 BABY WHOO WHOOOOOOO!  Surely, nothing can go wrong.

Team Colours:

Team Côté
Team Noke

In the aftermath of last week’s brawl, Chris Indich expresses his displeasure at the Canadians saying they’re going to sweep.  Nordine Taleb is hanging around and it falls on him to explain the unkind criticisms he and his team have had of Team Australia.  Indich says that all the talk of a sweep is premature, a comment that is in itself premature since he didn’t actually do anything to disprove that argument.  Don’t get me wrong, he definitely showed that he belongs in this competition, but I’d say he takes a punch better than he takes insults.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he suffered a concussion during that fight even though he wasn’t knocked out.  I won’t hold him accountable for his indignant attitude.

Just to remind everyone that us Canucks are all class, Chad Laprise makes sure to give Indich the first slice of his celebratory cheesecake.  That’s a nice way of apologizing for f**king someone’s face up.

Piece Of CakeMatt Riddle got an Xbox 360 and all I got was this lousy cheesecake.”

They get to talking about their respective strategies.  Both men are surprised that the other wanted to keep it standing, especially Laprise who inquires about Indich’s jiu-jitsu credentials:

Laprise: You’re a purple belt, aren’t you?
Indich: Yeah.
Laprise: Thought so.
Indich: You?
Laprise: I don’t really train a whole lot of gi.
Indich: I should have took you down.

The good vibes continue with a short scene featuring the Australians having a snowball fight.  That has to be a new thing for most of them.  I wish I could remember what it was like seeing snow for the first time.  Though after having to shovel my driveway several times in the past week, I also wish I never had to see it again.

SnowballManawaroa: “It’s so soft, but then it can be hard as well.”  That’s what she said…wait, what?

There’s not much to say about this episode since they’ve done a solid job of laying out the groundwork for the Taleb/Tyler Manawaroa matchup over the previous weeks.  It’s a good thing too because the fight itself ends up taking up a huge chunk of the program.  All we need to know is that Taleb is the intense killer and Manawaroa is the wild card.  Here’s what Vik Grujic has to say:

Tyler’s our madman.  He’s a crazy son of a bitch!  He’s wild as all hell.  When you spar, when you train with the guy that’s pretty much what you get.  Martial arts is about self-expression so, you know, when you’re watching somebody like Tyler fight that’s just him expressing himself.

I like Grujic.  I’m actually rooting for him to make it past the first round so that he and Elias Theodorou can battle over the nickname “The Spartan”.  The stakes could not be higher.

The boys engage in some slap fighting after weighing in.  There’s a noticeable difference in musculature, which you’d think I’d have learned to overlook by now.  I just can’t help but think that Taleb is going to kill this kid.  All of the testimonials back me up, which actually makes me worry about misdirection.  Do I sense an upset?

Taleb Manarawoa PhysiqueIf this were proposed as a bodybuilding contest, no commission would authorize it.

The fight

Earlier in the episode, I thought Indich had overstated the effect that his performance had on Team Australia’s morale.  I may have spoken too soon.

Manawaroa has a decent jab.  It lands often, particularly when Taleb is trying to set up his heavy stuff.  Taleb seems unsure of how to proceed.  Nothing he throws lands with any real impact, not enough to slow Manawaroa down anyway.  Neither fighter can find any sort of rhythm.  Team Australia has to be encouraged by Manawaroa hanging in there with Taleb who had been established as one of Team Canada’s aces.  It’s a tough round to score.  I’d lean towards a draw, but the judges might give Taleb the 10-9 due to some good knees in the clinch.  Coaches will need to make adjustments.

There’s a rough looking low blow by Taleb to start the second.  Manawaroa foregoes the standard five minute recovery period.  He wants to scrap!

The Canadians have been trying to steal points with coordinated cheering.  It’s most noticeable in this fight due to Taleb’s sporadic offence.  The tactic reminds me of Greg Jackson’s constant chatter when he corners.

A nice jab by Manawaroa causes Taleb to fall or maybe trip.  Either way, it’s the most significant blow of the fight and Manawaroa is definitely winning the second round.  Taleb throws an awful spinning backfist as time winds down, made only worse by the fact that he’d taken a spinning elbow from Manawaroa seconds earlier.  We’re headed to a third (I would have given a 20-19 win to Manawaroa) and neither man looks fresh.

Taleb continues to stalk Manawaroa, but he doesn’t cut him off.  He hasn’t cut him off the whole fight.  Manawaroa lands just enough to stay ahead.  It’s not looking good for Team Canada.  Taleb almost steals the round with a takedown.  He manages to get to side control and that should clinch it…but Manawaroa sweeps into full mount!  He fights hard for a rear naked choke that’s going to look good to the judges even if he doesn’t get it.

The fight is almost too close to call.  Manawaroa takes it and I can’t argue.  I can, however, disagree with the assessment that it was a great fight.  It reminded me of the praise that was heaped upon Jessamyn Duke and Raquel Pennington last year.  Tough?  Gritty?  Hard fought?  No doubt.  But I don’t think either fight was particularly entertaining.  The personal investment of the fighters and the live atmosphere obviously add a lot to the experience, something anyone who’s attended even a minor league MMA event can attest to.

TUF Nations Week 4 WinnerThe Aussies, terrifying in victory.

It turns out Taleb injured his foot in the first round, which explains a lot about his performance.  He and Manawaroa get to talk and recount the battle in the hospital afterwards and it’s kind of awesome.  Taleb talks about how impressed he was with the younger man’s ability to control distance and Manawaroa compliments Taleb on a punch that messed up his nose.  I’m surprised we haven’t got more scenes like this in the past.  I like to think this is how it usually goes when fighters meet up in the hospital (*cough* Joe Riggs, Nick Diaz *cough*).

Hospital VisitThe glitz and the glamour of professional cage fighting.

The upset of Taleb got me thinking of other TUF favourites who were supposed to have their way with the competition.  This isn’t the first time the show has built someone up only to see them fall flat.  Here are some past contestants who suffered ignominious flameouts.

  • Bobby Southworth – the future Strikeforce light heavyweight champion struggled to make weight, but did manage to knock off Lodune Sincaid in short fashion. He would lose to Stephan Bonnar and then Sam Hoger at the first TUF finale, Southworth’s only fight in the UFC.
  • Chris Leben – Leben was nigh-unstoppable before entering the house, even having knocked out fellow contestant Mike Swick in the past (something he was not shy about bringing up).  He was blanketed by hated rival Josh Koscheck and then brought back as an injury replacement.  His second chance resulted in an emotional upset loss to Kenny Florian.
  • Keith Jardine and Mike Whitehead – the first two heavyweights picked, neither made it past eventual winner Rashad Evans.
  • Kimbo Slice – in retrospect, can any Kimbo loss really be considered an upset?
  • Marc StevensGeorges St-Pierre pretended to be invested in Stevens, only to trick Coach Koscheck into picking his boy first overall.  It was all downhill for Stevens after that as he lost by guillotine choke in both his elimination round and wild card appearances.  He never made an official UFC appearance.
  • Justin Lawrence – it might be unfair to list Lawrence here, since he did win his first fight in impressive fashion; however, he came into the tournament with a gaudy kickboxing record and flashy striking skills and it wasn’t enough to overcome the spirited Michael Chiesa in the quarterfinals.
  • Bubba McDanielJon Jones’s friend and training partner, he had a huge experience advantage over his first round opponent: Kelvin Gastelum.  Gastelum turned out to be pretty good.  Bubba was then given a wild card spot, which did net him a win before he was stopped in the quarterfinals by Uriah Hall.
  • Shayna Baszler – in a battle of 1st overall picks, Baszler was submitted by Julianna Peña, a talented upstart who would go on to become the first female TUF champion.

The funny thing is, there have also been plenty of situations where a fighter was expected to destroy his competition and they did exactly that.  I always enjoy an audience getting suckered into believing some schlub has a chance.  Sorry Jason Thacker and Wayne Weems, the fight gods care not for your underdog story.  Here’s a short list of fighters who lived up to or surpassed their lofty expectations (TUF champs only):

  • Diego Sanchez
  • Joe Stevenson
  • Mac Danzig
  • Roy Nelson
  • Diego Brandão
  • John Dodson
  • Cezar Ferreira
  • Rony Jason
  • Chris Holdsworth

Next week: Finally, Kyle Noke got to pick a fight!  He goes with Australian Richard “Filthy Rich” Walsh v. Canadian Matt Desroches.  Also, I continue my elusive hunt for the Canadian ring girl.  Until then…KAHILI!

Kahili Blundell Nations Week 4

The Ultimate Fighter Nations: Canada v. Australia – Week 3 Recap

I really was going to write about the “best looking TUF contestants”, but I’m skipping the preamble this week (in favour of…“post-amble”?).  Besides, I didn’t feel I’d put the proper amount of research into those rankings yet.  You’ve got to treat a subject like that with the utmost seriousness!

Team Colours:

Team Côté
Team Noke

This marks the third week in a row where the Australians are being made to look like chumps.  In the training segments they show, the Canadians come off as super soldiers and the Australians are shown gasping for air and vomiting.  Considering how dominant Patrick Côté’s boys have been so far, segments like this only serve to make the Aussies look even worse.

ContrastA fair and even handed portrayal.

There is also some manufactured drama with Canadian conditioning coach Jon Chaimberg helping out Team Australia.  I’m not buying into the Côté/Chaimberg beef for a second.  If anything, the Canadians should have called him up themselves and sent him over to make the fights more competitive!  They can’t seriously be criticizing him for assisting Kyle Noke.  Not only does he work with Noke regularly, this is what he does for a living.  If he can get himself some free publicity in the process, why not go for it?  If the Canadians are that aggrieved, then those fighters who have a working relationship with him should end that relationship after the show.  Somehow I don’t see that happening.

TraitorWearing Team Australia’s colours might have been pushing it.

The boisterous Kajan Johnson and the magnificent Elias Theodorou would be a tough act for anyone to follow, so I can’t be blamed for not gushing over Chad Laprise this week.  He’s a nice guy.  He pushes himself as a role model and preaches modesty and family values.  Smell the ratings!  LaPrise’s nickname is “The Disciple”.  I wonder if Dustin Pague will sue him for gimmick infringement.  Then again, “Disciple” might be the Christian version of “Pitbull”.

Chris Indich fares somewhat better, recollecting a troubled youth while espousing his personal philosophy in regards to martial arts competition.  There was one section that stuck with me:

I’ve thought so much about this and I’ve thought about a lot of things after this.  None of that happens if I don’t win.

That sounds like a dangerous mindset to carry into a cage fight.  I would think you’ve got enough to worry about when stepping into that cage, what with trying not to get your head kicked in or your arm ripped off.  It’s one thing to self-motivate, it’s another to add pressure to what must already be a stressful situation.  The question is whether or not Indich is the type to ramp up his performance to overcome those expectations.

The true stars of this week’s episode are actually the gentlemen who will be battling next week, Nordine Taleb and Tyler Manawaroa.  There is an obvious stern disciplinarian/class clown dynamic between the two, something that Manawaroa is probably aware of.  When he breaks out the didgeridoo to give the Canadians a rude awakening, it seems designed to drive Taleb crazy.  He is pissed and he’s pissed in French!  That’s, like, super pissed.

Taleb (en français): I’m gonna run over him, he’ll be paralyzed.  I’ll cut him into six pieces.  Like I’m telling you, the only bad luck is that there is a referee in the cage.  Vengeance will be terrible.  I’m the last person you want to mess with.

DidgeridooHe’s just asking for someone to shove that up his ass.

The fun continues when Manawaroa takes part in vandalizing the house moose.  Oh, come on!  They don’t do any permanent damage, resorting to hanging various objects like tampons off of the antlers.

Defaced MooseThis juvenile behaviour should only last a short period of time.

Perhaps all of these hijinks are meant to distract Manawaroa from the more serious issues he’s dealing with: a thumb injury and weight problems.  When he steps up to the scale, Israel Martinez likens the poor result to missing curfew and getting smacked by your mom.  Could this lead to…WEIGHT CUTTING DRAMA?!?  Don’t tease me like this, TUF Nations!

ConcernIn this situation, Coach Noke is mom.

Not to be outdone, Taleb gets a piece of the spotlight when he decides now would be a good time to start taking ice baths.  He does a ton of pre-bath stretching and posing without actually getting into the tub.  When he finally does, well…

Frozen FrenchmanI was just saying last week that Nordine needs to “chill out”.

He also adds this gem: On Titanic, I will die in two minutes.

The fight

Johnson describes Laprise as a “pretty fighter”.  He certainly looks the part in round one.  What he lacks in gregariousness, he more than makes up for with his deadly hands.  Right out of the gate, he lands a stiff jab and that sets the tone for the first five minutes.  He catches the occasional lunging punch, but other than that he’s in complete control.  His stand-up is fun to watch.  He lands a flurry that Indich survives.  The guy is tough!  I have no idea how he wasn’t dropped in that round.  There were a couple of punches that I could have sworn he jumped right into.  It’s an easy 10-9 first round for Team Canada.

The second round is more of the same, though Indich picks up the pace; still, he needs a miracle shot to get the win.  He’s just a step behind everything.  What a chin on him though.  With the second round closer than the first, Laprise makes a statement in the final thirty seconds with a pair of beautiful spinning back kicks.  He gets the unanimous decision victory.

Indich wasn’t finished, but he may as well have been.  He’s laid out in the locker room after, a pack of ice pressed against his forehead.  Shades of Josh Koscheck after Diego Sanchez drilled him on TUF 1.  Martinez says that’s the kind of fight that nobody should feel bad about and he’s right.

Indich FaceWith Team Canada running wild with seemingly no end in sight, I started to think about the most successful TUF teams:

  • Seasons 1 through 3 had the screwy schedules where fighters didn’t even have to fight to make it to the semi-finals so they were out of consideration.
  • The first time we saw one side truly dominate was during season 4 (“The Comeback”).  Team Mojo and their de facto leader Matt Serra won 7 of the 8 quarterfinal match-ups including a sweep in the welterweight bracket.  Team No Love’s Travis Lutter did manage to take the Middleweight crown though.
  • Serra’s second stint on the show, this time officially as a coach saw him earn a 6-2 record against his rival Matt Hughes.  Unfortunately, Team Hughes’s Mac Danzig and Tom Speer ended up making it to the finals.
  • On the flip-side, Rampage Jackson is easily one of the worst coaches in TUF history, with his two stints resulting in an unconscionable 3-13 record.  His only guy to make it the finals was C.B. Dollaway, a replacement for Team Griffin psychopath Jesse Taylor.

So we’ve had a couple of 7-1 records, but never a 1st round sweep.  This is a scenario more likely to occur in a Nations setting.  Normally, it would be almost impossible for all of the good fighters to end up on one team with coaches pickings sides, but in this situation where it’s simply the best of the best unsigned talents…hmm…add in the fact that (as I mentioned before) the loser of the opening coin flip got nothing while the winner got to control the fights and Team Australia could be in some deep doo-doo.

At least they’ve still got Kahili.

Kahili Blundell Nations Week 3Next week: Taleb v. Manawaroa.  Also, I rank the best looking contestants in TUF history (maybe). Suggestions?