The Ultimate Fighter Brazil 3: Team Wanderlei v. Team Sonnen – Week 7 Recap

The_Vortex: We can’t escape from last week’s Brawl in the Hall. First thing we see this episode is Wanderlei Silva getting his hand checked out. Apparently, Wanderlei’s damaged one of the ligaments in his hand. He strained it punching Chael Sonnen, which is just hilarious.

The bad news continues on from there. Cabo Job damaged his hand in his losing effort last week, and because of this, they’re kicking him off the show. It sucks, but he’s all bandaged up, and in no position to re-enter as a substitute. He’s devastated, but he gives an inspiring speech to bring the team together. A few of the team members are tearing up, and so is Chael.

Yeah, I have no doubt that he’s playing it up a bit for the cameras, but Cabo Job is still very impressed with Chael as a coach, and a person, so there’s definitely some genuine feeling there.

NewChallenger: Cabo Job is such a nice guy! It definitely got dusty in my house seeing him go.

Team Wanderlei gets to pick the fight AGAIN and they’re running out of favorable middleweight options. Wanderlei goes all out sending 4th overall pick Borrachinha to take out #1 overall pick Lyoto. It’s pegged as a grappler vs. striker match respectively, which is interesting considering the styles of their respective coaches.

Before we can learn more about the fighters though, we have business with the big boss to take care of. Dana White is on a satellite call…and he ain’t happy. He’s got that “I’m so mad that I can’t believe it” smirk on his face and he lets them have it.

Dida? Gone. And rightfully so. He’s the one who White says should be arrested. I’m assuming Sonnen didn’t press charges. Not that it would matter since it’s Brazil and if I learned one thing from Fast Five it’s that Brazilian police are corrupt as s**t.

It bothered me that Wanderlei and Dida were still trying to justify their actions after. These kinds of people never learn. What do you think? Is this over for now?

The_Vortex: Wanderlei has no intention of burying the hatchet, I reckon, unless he gets to bury it in Chael’s skull. Wanderlei’s got a bit of a gang mentality going, he seems to be the only one invoking the whole “Chael vs. Brazil” thing.

GrudgeLooks like he’s forgiven and forgotten.

We see a bit of training, and Hortência’s taking a more active role in learning the fight game. She was surprised at Cabo Job getting tapped out last fight, even though he had the advantageous top position, and is learning some Jiu Jitsu. Bomba’s the lucky man, and he’s got Hortência locked firmly in his guard.

For what it’s worth, Bomba is a highly accomplished Jiu Jitsu player, so it’s not all fun and games. This segment was brilliant. There are a lot of people that don’t really know much about the fight game, and, speaking from experience, it’s really hard to get a solid grasp of all of these MMA things without taking classes, or becoming a super hardcore fight watcher. I think there’s some merit in pushing the educational angle of TUF. Don’t cut out the drama, but show us something basic each time.

Peep ShowBomba…what the hell are you looking at?

NewChallenger: The show has dabbled in educating viewers on the finer points of grappling, striking, weight cutting, etc. in the past, though for whatever reason they’ve never committed to that aspect of the show.  I agree that this was a neat look at the basics of jiu-jitsu and educational.  The sort of segment that might get someone to take a few lessons.  Is it weird that I found it cute when he made her arm pop?  I swear that’s not as weird as it sounds.

When Wanderlei and Sonnen are not embarrassing themselves, they do a fine job of bigging up there fighters.  Wanderlei thinks that Borrachinha is a shoo-in to get a UFC contract due to his talent and good looks.

ManscapingHard to argue with that.

Sonnen hypes up Lyoto’s undefeated record.  12 wins, all finishes.  He asks him about the Lyoto Machida influence and tells him not to keep his hands down like Machida does.  I was just re-watching some Machida fights the other night.  It astounds me how unique his stance and movement is.  Lyoto would be wise to keep in mind that there’s only one Machida.  This kid has promise though.  Sonnen issues one of his pre-fight gems to get him hyped:

Sonnen: There’s six billion people on Earth and they never found one that can beat you so far.  Today’s not gonna be any different.

There’s also a pleasant surprise for Team Wanderlei when Shogun Rua makes an appearance.  The dude is just so humble and so positive.  I want Shogun to be my friend.

Our octagon girl contestant this week is Miss Patrícia Andrade.  We’ve got an actress on our hands with dreams of making it to Las Vegas.  I like her.  I like her a lot.  Rafaela is still the best, I think.  She might be retaining on a draw this week.  A split draw.

Patricia AndradeBOO-YAH!

The_Vortex: I reckon Patrícia is way up there on her way to TUF: Ring Girl glory, as coveted a title as that may be!

NewChallenger: Prior to the fight, Borrachinha expressed his concerns about making weight.  He did so, though I think it’s fair to say that it affected his performance.

The_Vortex: Gotta agree with that. I’ve said it before, Borrachinha’s a big middleweight. There might be a little bit of beach muscle there, and as the fight went on, he slowed quickly.

Round 1: Borrachinha executed a pretty smart gameplan in this round. He closed distance quickly, and spent most of the round using his size to bully Lyoto. He hits some nasty ground and pound, and spends a large amount of the round sitting on Lyoto’s back, hunting for a choke. After Lyoto shakes him off, Borrachinha catches him in a very loose standing guillotine, and spends the better part of a minute trying to close it. The last minute of the round is just Borrachinha lying in Lyoto’s guard. He’s done more than enough to win the round, but he is exhausted. 10-9 Borrachinha, for positional control, and sub attempts.

Round 2: Lyoto takes the initiative early with some nice kicks, mixing low and high. Borrachinha is just shot, he’s moving much more slowly. Lyoto’s not Mighty Mouse speedy, but he’s moving better. This round is fairly uneventful. Again, a fair chunk of the round is spent with Borrachinha pressing Lyoto against the cage. Lyoto’s in better form, hits a very nice trip, manages to hunt for a submission, and is able to keep his range and strike more effectively. 10-9, Lyoto for activity.

Annoyingly, this round featured multiple “don’t hold the cage warnings”. Like, so many warnings. Take a point, jeez!

I’m calling it one apiece, but, after watching it again, I can see how someone could score that for Borrachinha. Fortunately, the judges see it as split, and call for a third round.

Round 3: Borrachinha is exhausted. Hands down, staggering around. He still manages to clinch up a few times, and drag Lyoto around. It’s not enough. Lyoto keeps his feet impressively, and manages to knock Borrachinha down. At one point, after failing to complete a takedown, Borrachinha falls flat on his face. He’s got no more gas left at all, and the clock runs down with Lyoto on Borrachinha’s back, hammering away. 10-9 Lyoto, probably the clearest round, as he circled around his slower opponent, and was able to pick him apart.

The judges call a split decision victory for Lyoto. Not an especially pretty fight, but Team Sonnen has their first win.

NewChallenger: Here’s my justification for the split decision.  If the final round isn’t scored separately and instead included with the other rounds, then perhaps it only went to a third because of a majority draw.  So the judges could have scored it 20-18 Borrachinha, 20-18 Lyoto and 19-19 draw.  Then even if all three judges gave the third round to Lyoto (as they should have), then the scores would be 29-28 Borrachina, 30-27 Lyoto and 29-18 Lyoto.  That’s assuming that the scores are added together, which I doubt.  And that somehow Lyoto was somehow able to win the first round in someone’s eyes.  I’m not sure this explanation was useful.

The gritty battle takes its toll on both fighters.  Lyoto might have injured his leg on a checked kick (it’s an epidemic!).  Borrachinha isn’t doing so hot either.  In the recap, the coaches point out that he might have worn himself out with poor submission attempts.  He can’t even stand up, despite Wanderlei barking at him to do so.  Borrachinha exhausted, Lyoto reduced to one leg.  What price victory, eh?

The challenge is shown after the fight.  You know how much I love when they mix up the format of the show.  It’s called “The Entangler” and it involves a lot of inappropriate touching…mostly from their own teammates.

MummificationI had a dream like this but it was sexual.

Total domination once again by Team Wanderlei.  They should be testing these guys for PEDs immediately after the challenges.

The EntanglerSeriously, who comes up with this s**t?

The_Vortex: This result just sucks for Team Sonnen. By losing this pick, they effectively lose the pick to the other heavyweight fight.

NewChallenger: For Sonnen’s sake, I’m just going to focus on Lyoto’s victory.

LyotoNext week: Not only did Team Sonnen lose the fight pick, Lyoto might be out of the competition.  Did this week’s fight even matter?

The Ultimate Fighter 19 – Team Edgar v. Team Penn – Week 2 Recap

We’ve got our teams.  We’ve got our first match-up.   We don’t have Pranksters with Dynamite.  Soldier on, dear friends.

Penn IntroGet hyped!

Team Colours

Team Edgar
Team Penn

The arrival at the house is mostly uneventful.  I couldn’t help but notice that this is as culturally diverse a cast as I’ve seen on the show, always a welcome sight.  This season we have several black men, a Mexican, two Irishmen, and Anton Berzin who comes from a family of Russian immigrants.  I’m not saying the show should have diversity just for diversity’s sake, but on the most basic level it helps the fighters to stand out.  I still have nightmares of the blandly vanilla characters from TUF 11.

Todd Monaghan even goes as far as to joke that Patrick Walsh will be allowed to stay in the “coloured room”.

Race RelationsPatrick is the one in the…ah, never mind.

The build up for this week’s match revolves around the hype for Cathal Pendred (who was BJ Penn’s top middleweight pick) versus the relative anonymity of Hector Urbina, who was Frankie Edgar’s last middleweight pick).  Pendred certainly isn’t lacking in confidence and why should he?  He was the reigning welterweight champion for Cage Warriors, one of the top promotions in the UK.  The whole situation gives me flashbacks to Shayna Baszler/Julianna Peña from TUF 18.  While Baszler and Peña were both top picks, Peña was dismissed just as quickly as Urbina is in this episode.

The first training days are standard fare.  Highlights include:

  • Penn watching his guys roll and saying “this is the future of mixed martial arts”.  That made me wonder if he’s seen the show at all since the last time he coached.
  • Edgar noting that it was a good thing that some of the guys he picked had to gut it out to win a decision.
  • Ian Stephens saying he wants to fight like Edgar.  They don’t show anyone saying they want to fight like Penn, though I’m not sure if that’s even possible.

Pendred and Urbina are a contrast in motivations.  While Pendred does declare himself to be a representative of the MMA scene in Ireland, he also wants to make it clear that his biggest reason for fighting is that he wants to be the best.  No money woes, no sob story, just the spirit of competition.  He’s one of those guys who the UFC could have signed outright instead of making him go through a reality show.  Dana White says as much himself.

Urbina is all about setting an example for his younger brothers who are aspiring athletes.  He comes from wrestling crazy Ohio.  That explains why his stand-up is so sloppy.  He and Edgar take their time drilling some basic boxing, particularly variations on the standard 1-2 combination.  It’s too bad Urbina has to fight first.  His stand-up has a long way to go.  There’s only so much that can be done when you have less than 48 hours to get prepared.

We get a heck of a staredown after the weigh-ins.  Penn is loving it!  He can’t stop laughing.  I believe he’s genuinely happy to be part of this show again.  The teams start yelling their support for Ireland and Mexico.  Pendred and Urbina don’t need much to spur them on.  They butt heads until their coaches intervene.

Ireland v. MexicoThis would make for a decent poster.

We now interrupt your regularly scheduled programming for a message from our sponsor (delivered by Mike King).  I’ve harped on the American editions of TUF for not showcasing their sponsors front and centre.  At last, we’re getting some decent product integration.  The gauntlet has been thrown down.

KFCEat your heart out, TUF: Brazil.

The fight

Let’s get the positives out of the way: the first round was fun.  Urbina played the scrappy underdog to a tee.  His hands are down, his posture is too stiff and he’s unable to control Pendred against the cage.  So of course it’s Pendred who ends up getting caught.  He gets way too careless separating from Urbina and he takes two or three good punches that wobble him.  Urbina is all over him looking to finish, but Pendred recovers.

Urbina doesn’t let up, getting a big slam.  The bad news is that Pendred is getting more stable with every second.  Urbina then makes the common mistake of going for a guillotine choke that isn’t there.  They both fire away and Urbina’s gas tank becomes a serious concern.  He lets his hands drop again.  Neither guy seemed too interested in stand-up defence.

Penn wanted a street fight and he got a damn street fight!  Urbina takes the first round 10-9 with a knockdown and two takedowns.  It doesn’t take an expert to see that he’s worn out though.

The next two rounds look a little something like this:

Front FacelockIf you’re a fan of this position, this was the most exciting fight of all time.

Penn advised Pendred to get in and out and stop exchanging.  Ironically, he wants him to fight like Edgar.  The tactics prove unnecessary after a labouring Urbina falls prey to a slow double leg.  Then comes the front facelock.  The interminable front facelock.  The most Urbina can do is to put himself at a weird angle where neither man can do much.  Pendred can only score with piddly knees and punches, Urbina can’t get up.

The ridiculousness of the “three point” rule is on full display.  Urbina keeps trying to touch the mat, but Pendred is big and strong enough to lift him up and throw knees in the brief window where Urbina isn’t making contact.  It’s impossible to officiate properly.

Urbina’s limited stand-up proves costly.  All Pendred has to do is press forward and Urbina turtles up leaving him open to body shots or, in this case, takedowns.  Edgar begs him to get to his feet.  I’m a little disappointed that he resorts to the Rampage Jackson “Get up!  Get up!  Get up!” method of coaching.  After a great first round, Urbina didn’t have anything left and Pendred wins the fight.  In an odd bit of embellishment, Steve Mazzagatti announces that Pendred won by “hard fought decision” (HFD?).

One more positive: Vanessa Hanson and Chrissy Blair are making their first TUF appearances.  Good on ya, ladies.

Penn gives Edgar a hearty pat on the back as they emerge from their locker rooms.  They can’t even pretend to be enemies?  This is the anti-Sonnen/Wanderlei.

The first light heavyweight fight is next, with Penn picking Daniel Spohn to fight Todd Monaghan.  Urbina was Edgar’s last middleweight pick and now Penn is going after his last heavyweight pick.

I prefer to keep these as recaps rather than reviews, but I have to vent: this episode was mind-numbingly boring.  To say nothing happened this episode would be an insult to the abstract concept of “nothing”.  If these first two episodes were someone’s first exposure to TUF, I doubt they’d tune in for week three.  They didn’t show anything interesting happening in either the house or at the gym.  We didn’t learn much about Pendred and Urbina beyond the most basic observations.  Not only was the fight awful, but because it went three rounds it ate up almost the entirety of the show.

They need to be more open to changing the format.  When you have a fight this plodding, just give us the highlights.  That would not only save the viewing audience from being bored, it would allow them to include a greater variety of segments on the program.  Then again, that would also take more work and who has time for that?  Certainly not the folks who run this show.

Just look at the ring girls…pay no attention to the man behind the curtain…

Next week: Spohn v. Monaghan.  Also, Edgar and Penn exchange BFF bracelets.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enter Frankie Edgar.

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

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

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

*****

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

On to the fights!

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

Light Heavyweight Fight 1

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

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

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

Down He GoesSorry Mom

Daniel SpohnAdvancing: Spohn

Middleweight Fight 1

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

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

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

Hector UrbinaAdvancing: Urbina

Light Heavyweight Fight 2

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

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

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

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

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

Todd MonaghanAdvancing: Monaghan

Middleweight Fight 2

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

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

Cathal PendredAdvancing: Pendred

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

Middleweight Fight 3*

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

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

Roger ZapataAdvancing: Zapata

Middleweight Fight 4*

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

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

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

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

Ian StephensAdvancing: Stephens

Light Heavyweight Fight 3

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

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

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

McGregor: Luck of the Irish!

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

Chris FieldsAdvancing: Fields

Light Heavyweight Fight 4

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

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

Anton BerzinAdvancing: Berzin

Middleweight Fight 5*

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

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

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

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

Tim WilliamsAdvancing: Williams

Middleweight Fight 6*

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

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

Eddie GordonAdvancing: Gordon

Light Heavyweight Fight 5*

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

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

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

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

Josh ClarkAdvancing: Clark

Light Heavyweight Fight 6

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

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

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

Patrick WalshAdvancing: Walsh

Light Heavyweight Fight 7

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

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

Matt Van BurenAdvancing: Van Buren

Light Heavyweight Fight 8*

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

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

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

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

Corey AndersonAdvancing: Anderson

Middleweight Fight 7*

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

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

Dhiego LimaAdvancing: Lima

Middleweight Fight 8

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

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

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

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

Mike KingAdvancing: King

 Team Selection

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

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

Team Edgar

Middleweights

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

Light Heavyweights

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

Team Penn

Middleweights

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

Light Heavyweights

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

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

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

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

Blast from the past.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First WinMore like “The Ultimate Writer”, AMIRITE?

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

Mr. CharismaThe “Peregrino dance” is SO good.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She’s huge.

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

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

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

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

TakedownForeshadowing?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yeah.

Back over to you, man.

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

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

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

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

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

Final thoughts for this week?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beach BoysDon’t strain yourself, fellas.

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

Raft Race WinEven Team Wanderlei loves Hortência.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The fight

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

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

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

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

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

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

Team Colours:

Team Côté
Team Noke

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Abominable CoteBoogaboogabooga!

Later, Grujic meets a horse.

HorseSo majestic.

The fight

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Team Colours:

Team Côté
Team Noke

The episode begins with a trip to a hunting lodge, where the team gathers for this season’s coaches’ challenge.  The owner looks like a real man’s man and he has the taxidermy to back it up.

Wolf HeadI can see you…

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

GreenbacksYour currency lacks “flava”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Defaced Picture…that’s disappointing.

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

RetaliationOh!  The moose-manity!

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

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

Snow SurfingDO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME

Flying ManawaroaDEFINITELY DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME

The fight

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

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

Australian HairlessWeird…

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

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

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

Stylish BorrachinhaBorrachinha remains stylish the entire time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

HortenciaIt’s the skirt that does it for me.

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

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

DipChael, you sly dog.

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

Eating HabitsHow, precisely, does a motherf… eat?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Francine PantaleaoReady for her close-up.

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

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

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

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

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

Cara De Sapato VictoriousI might as well jump!

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

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

Anything else important to discuss?

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

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

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