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

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

Team Colours:

Team Côté
Team Noke

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

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

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

Broken JawNo hard feelings.

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

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

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

WhoopsTyler auditioning for the 2014 All Balls Brawl.

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

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

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

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

The fight

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

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

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

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

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

The winning fighter has only one concern:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chow Yun FatSeriously, watch this movie.

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

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

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

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

Team Sonnen

Middleweights

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

Heavyweights

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

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

Team Wanderlei

Middleweights

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

Heavyweights

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shocked AssistantsOh no he didn’t!

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

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

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

*deep breath*

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

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

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

NewChallenger:

S. PellegrinoAnd now I’m thirsty.

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

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

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

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

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

(Wagnão staredown image)
Ice-cold.

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

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

Rafaela Machado…who were we talking about again?

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

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

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

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

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

TattooSeriously…

This is going to be a fun ride, folks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Advancing: Rick Monstro

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

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

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

Advancing: Bomba

Bomba

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

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

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

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

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

Advancing: Pezão

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

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

Advancing: Marmota

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

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

Advancing: Montanha

Montanha

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

Advancing: Alves

Alves

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

Advancing: Lyoto

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

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

Advancing: Lex Luthor

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

Middleweights:

Borrachinha
Peregrino
Wagnão
Demente
Bomba
Marmota
Warlley Alves
Lyoto

Heavyweights:

Capo Job
Jollyson Francino
Magrão
Cara de Sapato
Rick Monstro
Pezão
Montanha
Lex Luthor

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

Sonnen: I accept his surrender.

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

Okay, I’ll admit it:

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

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

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

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

Team Colours:

Team Côté
Team Noke

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

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

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

Welterweights:

Johnson v. Laprise

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

Aubin-Mercier v. Walsh

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

Middleweights:

Theodorou v. Manawaroa

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

Westcott v. Grujic

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

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

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

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

Split ScreenCollusion!

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

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

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

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

Aubin-Mercier PoutNotice how sad Olivier looks.

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

Ragin' EntranceSweet dive.

The fight

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Ultimate Fighter Brazil 3: Team Wanderlei v. Team Sonnen – Week 1 Recap

*This week’s episode of TUF: Nations was a “recap show”, with highlights and unseen footage from the season.  It would be senseless to write about that, so instead I’ll be looking at the third edition of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil that premiered on Sunday.

That’s right.  It’s time.  It’s time to answer the age old question: How much of “The Ultimate Fighter” can one man take?  In the coming weeks, I will be providing my loyal readers with not one, but TWO TUF recaps.  For the low, low price of $0 (Canadian), you not only get a recap of The Ultimate Fighter: Nations, you’ll also be getting my slightly less coherent thoughts on The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 3!

For anyone unfamiliar with the TUF: Brazil series, it is best described as the wacky foreign cousin of TUF “Classic”.  The Balki Bartokoumos to our Cousin Larry, if you will.  Anyone who has watched a foreign game show (or a parody of a foreign game show) will know what I’m talking about.  The only thing more jarring than the bright and shiny atmosphere is the sheer phoniness that everyone agrees to go along with.  The first season stuck closer to the TUF format, even as its competitors shattered my expectations with all of their singing and crying.  The second season (which I’ll discuss in greater detail next week) exists in its own cartoonish reality and is one of the most purely enjoyable TUF seasons ever produced.

Much like TUF 1, the first TUF: Brazil season was a showcase for some excellent fighters who wouldn’t have been able to achieve as much exposure otherwise.  Guys like Rony Jason, Francisco Trinaldo and Serginho were already big names on the Brazilian scene and to nobody’s surprise they’ve emerged as solid competitors in the UFC.  Other fighters who are currently fighting for the company are Renee Forte, Hugo Wolverine, Rodrigo Damm, Pepey, Cezar Mutante, Daniel Sarafian and Thiago Bodão.  That’s ten out of the sixteen contestants on the show.  I’d say that the first foreign edition of TUF was a worthy venture.

From what I’ve seen in the commercials for this season, they’re heavily pushing this Wanderlei Silva/Chael Sonnen feud.  These are two of the most well known personalities in all of MMA, so it disturbs me that they’re going to such great lengths to fabricate confrontations.  I already believe these two don’t like each other.  Do they have to show us conveniently taped run-ins at conventions and staged brawls that are as believable as Sonny beating on Carlo for smacking his sister?  They hype the rivalry as the biggest in the history of TUF and “maybe even the sport”.  Off the top of my head, I can’t say it’s bigger than Chuck/Tito, Rampage/Rashad, Rousey/Tate, Cruz/Faber, Serra/Hughes…and that’s only talking about feuds featured on TUF.

Other questions I have:

  • With Sonnen’s testosterone issues, will we actually get the chance to see him and Silva fight?  Thankfully, the last four scheduled fights have gone off without a hitch, but before that there was an ugly streak of cancellations: From TUF 11 to TUF 16, five out of seven coaches’ matches never materialized.  It would be a shame if the “greatest rivalry” didn’t even include an actual meeting between Sonnen and Silva.
  • Will we finally have TUF: Brazil season where injuries don’t derail one of the tournament finals?  The first two seasons included featherweight, welterweight and middleweight tournaments.  Only the featherweight tournament featured the fighters who won their way to the finale (Jason and Pepey).
  • Does the UFC care about drawing in new viewers?  Let us not forget, that this is the reason TUF was created in the first place, to provide a fresh platform.  They’re starting off this season with two episodes of elimination fights.  While I find that easier to watch, I think it’s a terrible way to draw casual interest.  These episodes are just so monotonous.
  • Are they going to tone down the wacky hijinks of my beloved Brazilians?  I’m disturbed to see that the new production has overtaken TUF: Brazil.  They even got rid of the jovial voice-over guy.  And there’s the manufactured drama during the opening speeches.  *sigh*

Line-upOh look, there will be a ring girl pageant this year.

Okay, I’m back in it.

Another peculiar addition (that I can only assume is related to some deal with Brazilian television), two famous female athletes are being added to each team as coaches: Hortência Marcari (basketball) for Team Sonnen and Isabel Salgado (volleyball) for Team Wanderlei.  From now on, I’ll be referring to them only by their first names, which I think is appropriate given their stature in Brazil.

On to the fights!

Heavyweight Fight 1: Gonçalo Salgado v. Job Kleber

If Salgado is successful, he’ll be on his way to being the first Portuguese native to compete in the UFC.  He’s a former bodyguard for Ronaldo and we even get a video message from the football superstar!  That’s a big get for the show.  Can you imagine LeBron James or Peyton Manning doing a testimonial for an American TUF competitor?

Kleber is a cop.  His nickname is “Cabo Job”, which is Portuguese for “Corporal Job”, presumably his rank in the force.

Salgado comes out strong, smothering Kleber while constantly hitting him with short punches.  He’s not doing much damage, but is definitely ahead on the scorecards.  They break and when Salgado over-pursues, Kleber lands a sloppy hook that causes Salgado to fall right into a soccer kick to the face.  Brutal!  The fight was so short and the finish so sudden that it’s difficult to gauge the skill level of either man.  I have a feeling we’ll be seeing a lot of that from the heavyweights.  What we won’t be seeing is anymore Ronaldo.

Advancing: Capo Job

Capo JobMiddleweight Fight 1: Paulo Costa v. José Roberto Rocha

Hot on the heels of Elias Theodorou, we have another pretty boy at 185: Mr. Paulo Costa aka “Borrachinha”.  Even Silva says that “He looks better than his picture.”  His opponent, Rocha (“Negão”) is fighting for the memory of his deceased father.

Two fights in and we’re already getting only highlights.  Borrachinha looks a lot bigger, which leads to a predictable fight with Negão being completely overpowered.  The larger man ends it with a nasty looking standing guillotine in the second round.

Advancing: Borrachinha

BorrachinhaHeavyweight Fight 2: Ewerton Rocha v. Jollyson Francisco

If this fight were all about looks and cred, Rocha (“Gigante”) would take this in a walk.  He’s a riot policeman from the mean streets of Rio:

Gigante: I wake up in fear every day.  I’ve learned that fear keeps me alive.

Sounds like a fun guy.  His opponent, Francisco was a salesman and he looks about as intimidating as a guy trying to sell you a used RV.

So of course, it’s Francisco who gets the takedown early.  He’s aggressive with his jiu-jitsu, passing beautifully into full mount to set up an arm triangle choke.  Gigante taps.  He’s lucky he’s never ran into Francisco selling fake Rolexes on the corner.

Advancing: Jollyson Francisco

Jollyson FranciscoMiddleweight Fight 2: Douglas Moura v. Joilton Santos

In what has to be the first case of a TUF competitor being overshadowed by the athletic accomplishments of their significant other, we find out that Moura is married to world champion boxer/MMA fighter Duda Yankovich.  It doesn’t do him much good as he drops a split decision to the soft-spoken Santos (“Peregrino”) in a good back and forth contest (that we again only get the highlights of.  Are we only showing the heavyweights then?).

Moura also had Eric Albarracin in his cheering section!  Albarracin was Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira’s wrestling coach on TUF: Brazil 2 and emerged as one of the best personalities.  Fighters who have relationships with famous athletes on this show are 0-2 so far.

Advancing: Peregrino

PeregrinoHeavyweight Fight 3: Felipe Dantas v. Edgard Castaldelli

Both big fellas gave up a lot to be here.  Dantas (“Monstro”) left his job of ten years, while Castaldelli (“Magrão”) is missing the birth of his child.  We’re given highlights, with Sonnen noting that the fight was size versus power while Silva paints it more as boxing versus wrestling.  Monstro’s limited ground game proves to be his undoing as Magrão gets him down and busts him open.  The ground and pound isn’t thundering, but Monstro is a bloody mess and the ref waves it off.

Advancing: Magrão

MagraoMiddleweight Fight 3: Christiano Pontes v. Wagner Silva

Pontes (“Ferrugem”) boasts that what he lacks in competition experience he makes up for in breadth of training.  He believes that God prefers him because he is “pure”.  He should have no trouble against Silva (Wagnão), who is a divorcee.  We all know that God is going to pick the pure guy over the divorced guy.  Wagnão says that marriage conflicted with his life; what he doesn’t mention is that the conflict was over him wanting to have sex with more than one woman.

The fight ends up on the ground and Wagnão starts wailing on Ferrugem.  I’ve never seen someone give up their back so quickly.  That’s the difference between training and the real thing.  Even after victory by rear naked choke, Sonnen thinks Wagnão has a long way to go to be ready for the UFC.

Advancing: Wagnão

WagnaoMiddleweight Fight 4: William Steindorf v. Ricardo Abreu

The award for “most interesting hairstyle” goes to Steindorf, who sports a ghastly purple mohawk.  It’s a good thing he has something to help him stand out because he’s facing “Demente”, a fighter with a lot of buzz around him due to his training with Silva.  He was known for being hyperactive and he has channelled that into a world champion jiu-jitsu career.

Abreu looks great, but Steindorf is a tough out.  Somehow he doesn’t tap despite Abreu trapping him in an arm bar and threatening to break a limb.  Isabel says the prospect of that arm snapping almost made her leave the gym.  In the second round, Abreu switches to ground and pound to get the finish.  Steindorf is a tough son of a gun though, no question.

Advancing: Demente

DementeHeavyweight Fight 4: Guilherme Viana v. Antonio Carlos

Carlos is known “Cara de Sapato” or “Shoe Face”.  He looks like a giant Brazilian Urijah Faber.

Faber TwinCould he be hiding a butt chin under there?

Sapato shows off some excellent grappling, causing Viana to be on the defensive the whole fight.  As they get up, Sapato clocks Viana with an overhand right.  Viana takes more shots as he tries to walk away and the ref has to call it.  Both coaches are really impressed by Sapato, who has a nice motor for a heavyweight.

Isabel is fascinated by the poor mother having to watch her son get beaten (especially since Viana was riddled with illness as a child).  Viana’s brother complains about the stoppage, only for the show to run a clip of Viana asking questions that clearly show he had no idea what happened at the end of the fight.

Advancing: Cara de Sapato

Cara de SapatoNext week: Eight more fights to round out the middleweight and heavyweight brackets.  One of the remaining fighters is former Bellator heavyweight contender Thiago “Big Monster” Santos.  I’m rooting for him, if only because of his bouts with Eric Prindle.  There’s another rivalry that I’d put above Sonnen/Wanderlei.

Until we get a TUF ring girl pageant winner (I can’t believe I typed that), let me end this recap with a picture of Camila Oliveira, who really grew on me during her stint on TUF: Brazil 2

Camila OliveiraNice to see a Brazilian model with a decent set of buns for once.

The Ultimate Fighter Nations: Canada v. Australia – Week 8 Recap

I touched upon this last week, but this current iteration of The Ultimate Fighter just isn’t very fun.  From the darker, saturated look to the greater emphasis on the financial benefits of being a fighter, everything is so serious and so dour that following the show can be exhausting.  Somehow, they need to find a balance between life and death stakes and giving the audience some time to breathe.

Meanwhile, over on TUF: Brazil 2, they brought in a pole dancer to help the guys work on strength and balance.  A pole dancer.  Why didn’t I review this show instead?  Let’s carry on.

Team Colours:

Team Côté
Team Noke

What better way for a French Canadian to celebrate than with a poutine?  While that might have been a warm and familiar meal for the victorious Olivier Aubin-Mercier, apparently it could have been better:


Jake Matthews is less enthused.  It’s his first loss.  For someone so young, that’s an eye opener.  He had finished all of his professional fights in the second round.  Here, on the biggest stage of his career, Aubin-Mercier was able to completely control him on the ground.  It was a sobering reminder of how far Matthews is from being a finished product.  As a fan, I find that exciting, but it can’t be easy for him to see the forest from the trees right now.

Jake In BedAt nineteen, I also spent a lot of time under the bed covers when dealing with disappointment.

The Australians rally behind him, showing a surprisingly soft touch.  Rather than tell him to get over it, they essentially allow him a grieving period to sort through his emotions.  Richard Walsh wonders if Matthews’s loss is made worse by his father’s involvement in his career: His coach is his dad.  So he feels like he’s probably let a big part of his family down whereas my dad doesn’t even know what a f**king jab is.

Two of the oldest guys in the house, Vik Grujic and Luke Harris had to sacrifice quality time with their loved ones to be in the house.  Grujic has three little girls back home and he’d love the financial security that being a UFC fighter would provide them; Harris on the other hand just got married.  So yes, he chose to be crammed in a house with fifteen other men instead of going on his honeymoon.

Looking to get his team over the top, Noke brings in the UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones.  Well played, Australian.  Upon meeting Matthews, even Jones can’t resist making a Justin Bieber joke.  You know, Jones takes so much flak that you almost forget what an enormous star he is.  Just look at the faces of these grown men when they see him walk into the gym:

Vik AweBrendan & Zein Awe

Chris AweElias Awe

THIS…IS…SPA…OH S**T JON JONES!!!

If you’re wondering what’s going on in that last shot, both Elias Theodorou and Grujic go by the nickname “Spartan” so this was Team Canada’s way of helping him claim some territory.  Of course, he ended up looking like a complete ass in front of Bones, his favourite fighter.  That was nice of Noke to bring Jones over anyway, even if it resulted in him getting molested.

Warm WelcomeJones: This guy’s trying to hump me!  He’s trying to hump me!

The rigors of the competition are starting to weigh on the remaining contestants, whether they’re still in the running or not.  After an accident in training, Sheldon Westcott is now looking at a potential injury on top of his other maladies.  He can’t practice and he might need surgery.  On a lighter note, Brendan O’Reilly has a Nerf gun now.  Why do they allow this?

NuttedSeriously, have they just started programming Nerf guns to automatically target people’s dicks?

We’re treated to more Jones, who apparently is not too busy that he can’t spend some time chilling at the house, getting to know Grujic better and asking questions like “How do you shoot a kangaroo?”  He’s also nice enough to share the secret of his success: a scoop of honey twenty minutes before his fights.  That’s all it takes, people.

Chest Signing“This is definitely going on my Instagram.  You should check it out, Jon.”

If you’re a fan of Tyler Manawaroa, then you’ll be happy to know that he’s back to getting some camera time…I just wish we didn’t have to see so much of him.  He decides to sit naked in bed for some reason.  If you think you’re getting a screenshot of that, you’re sorely mistaken.

Team Côté’s guest star this week is an esteemed MMA and movie star.  Anyone who tuned in part-way and thought that was Cung Le, congratulations: You’re a raci…

Cung LeOh wait, that actually is Cung Le.

The fight

Somewhat awkward start for both men, who take on stances respectful of their opponent’s styles.  Harris is making it obvious that he wants to grapple and Grujic is completely unafraid of Harris’s stand-up.  Grujic lands a couple of big shots and Harris is dazed.  An aggressive takedown gets Grujic in side control as soon as they hit the mat.  A flurry of elbows slice Harris’s face to ribbons and that’s all she wrote.  That’s what happens when you study with Bones!

Luke's BruiseSome honeymoon, huh?

The stoppage was so nasty looking that Aubin-Mercier openly questions whether he’d ever want his girlfriend, mother, or daughter to ever see something like that happen to him.  Hearing that from him after coming off his own one-sided performance, you have to believe he’s genuinely shaken up.  For whatever reason, Harris is intent on finding a mirror.  I’ll chalk it up to shock and morbid curiosity.

As the first round comes to a close, the overall score is 5-3 in favour of Canada.  In the welterweight division, the fighters advancing are Kajan Johnson, Chad Laprise and Olivier Aubin-Mercier for Team Canada, and Richard Walsh for Team Australia.  In the middleweight division, the fighters advancing are Elias Theodorou and Sheldon Westcott for Team Canada, and Tyler Manawaroa and Vik Grujic for Team Australia.

That’s a more than respectable showing for the Aussies after a slow start.  Grujic ends things on a high note for his team and you know what that means…

Kahili Blundell Nations Week 8Never gone.

Next week: The semi-final match-ups!  Here are my predictions:

Welterweight

Laprise v. Walsh
Aubin-Mercier v. Johnson

Harris posited that the UFC is looking for a Canada v. Australia final and I think this is the best way to get there.  Either way, I think they’d be happy to have Aubin-Mercier make it through so they can continue the “Next GSP” buzz.

Middleweight

Theodorou v. Grujic
Westcott v. Manawaroa

If Westcott is injured and replaced by Nordine Taleb, I don’t see them booking a rematch with Manawaroa.  In that case, Westcott should face Grujic and Theodorou should face Manawaroa.  Then I’d have to root for both Manawaroa and Taleb to lose because I want to see some Spartan on Spartan action!  Yeeeeeah…wait, that didn’t come out right.