The Ultimate Fighter Brazil 3: Team Wanderlei v. Team Sonnen – Week 12 Recap

The_Vortex: This is it. The final episode. We’ve got two exciting fights here, and a whole lot of emotion (from us, the episode’s kinda straightforward). Whilst the winners of the fights might be apparent to those of you that have seen the main card for this Saturday’s fights, it’s still a fun couple of fights, and a solid season finale.

We hit the ground running here, straight into the weigh-ins for the Lyoto-Demente fight. There’s very little in the way of extraneous interviews or training montages, which is fair enough; we know the guys, we know what they’re gonna do. Lyoto says he’s going to sprawl and brawl, and Demente wants to drag it down to the ground, where he can work his superior jiu-jitsu.

Weigh-ins go off without a hitch, both guys weighing in at 184lbs. Eric is there, looking as fabulous as ever.

Eric's GlassesEric is the gift that keeps on giving.

Well, NewChallenger? You ready to bear the final witness to the fitness of these modern warriors?

NewChallenger: I am not ready.  If we don’t recap it, it can go on forever.  Right?  Right?

*sigh*

Thank you for those beautiful lyrics though, that made me feel better.

As you mentioned, this is a prototypical striker v. grappler match-up.  Lyoto is moving a lot and striking from distance, Demente is doing everything he can to get in close.  According to the subtitles, someone calls for a “Twizzler collar choke”.  Eddie Bravo in the house?  There is some interesting, uh, foot fighting as Demente presses Lyoto against the cage.  Lyoto makes expert use of a whizzer to avoid being taken down, even getting a trip of his own to set up some punches.  That failed attempt seemed to take a lot out of Demente or maybe it’s the snapping body kicks that Lyoto keeps connecting with.  You can see Demente visibly wince.  I know I did.

Demente looks so heavy, I’m blown away by Lyoto’s ability to stop the takedowns.  I gave Lyoto the first round 10-9, but the second was a different story.  It’s dirtier and uglier and Demente takes full advantage of it.  Lyoto said he had trouble making weight and I think we see the effects of that here.  How’d you see the fight?

The_Vortex:  I think the first round was definitely won by Lyoto for using Demente’s aggression against him. Demente’s a very strong dude, and he’s pretty relentless in pursuing takedowns. Whilst he did lose the first round, he sapped a fair chunk of Lyoto’s energy. Maybe we didn’t notice in his last fight, because Borrachinha gassed way, way harder than Lyoto did, but there is a very noticeable slowdown in Lyoto’s movements, and way less pop to his punches. Demente lands some nice clean strikes in the second, and is able to bully him a little as well.

Because we’re in the semi-finals, we go straight into the third round. The third round not the prettiest. Lyoto moves well, and apart from a few seconds where Demente connects with some big swinging hooks, is able to stay out of range, and nail him with jabs and high kicks. Demente was definitely more aggressive, but it didn’t always work out.

NewChallenger: I actually had Demente taking the last round with his berserker style.  Making Wanderlei Silva proud!  Lyoto was running out of gas.  He should be fine once he hooks up with a top shelf nutritionist.  Good, gutty performance from both guys.

The_Vortex: The pre-score recap is pretty interesting. Once again, Lyoto hurt his foot during the fight. FFS. Wandy mentions that the huge body kick in the first round nearly knocked Demente out, and yeah, I was very impressed at his toughness. It really, really looked like it hurt.

Lyoto wins in a split decision, and funnily enough, every three round fight so far has ended in a split decision.

FFVEh, it’d be worse in Texas.

Demente is tough, and he’s fighting Wagnão this weekend. That’s a winnable fight, and hopefully he’ll be able to hang in the UFC for a while. I’m pretty excited for the all Green Team middleweight finale, they’re both solid fighters.

NewChallenger: You’re not the only one who’s excited about it!

Teammate LoveSuch a great reaction from Warlley.  That’s respect, right there.

Lyoto Moves OnI believe I can fly…

Lyoto & WarlleyWarlley:  “I’d like to apologize because I’ll be smashing your face.”

The_Vortex: Ready for the next fight?

NewChallenger: Almost.  I realize that we don’t put enough emphasis on the ladies sometimes   With that in mind, here’s a shower scene with Demente…

Demente ShowersYou’re welcome.

…followed by the guys deciding to get TUF tattoos.  It’s Jollyson Francino’s first.  No regrets!

The_Vortex: Oh man, how great was the tattoo artist segment? Chael Sonnen goes into this later, but everyone here is pretty united and supportive, and getting tattoos really cements that.

Unique ExerciseNow this is rolling!

NewChallenger: I was really disappointed that they had to explain the tension caused by Lex Luthor calling out Rick Monstro instead of having it unfold on the show.  The beef is completely squashed by the time the Nogueira brothers show up (both Lex Luthor and Rick Monstro train with them).  With all that out of the way, the two friends are free to concentrate on the fight.

You know Lex Luthor is focused because he enters doing his best Triple H impression.

Water SpitOr Kwang if you’re so inclined.

This one didn’t go to a decision.  Hell of a round though, don’t you think?

The_Vortex:  That was a fantastic fight.  Both guys just went at it in search of a finish, and Lex Luthor walks out with his hand raised. He looks very well rounded, and man does it seem like he hits hard. Even though he survived into the second round, Rick was done. He shoots at the start of the second round, gets stuffed, and GnP’d out.

NewChallenger: It bears mentioning that at one point Rick Monstro was straight windmilling punches like Bart Simpson.  The way these two went at it, it is hard to believe they are friends!

I was thrilled by Lex Luthor’s performance.  He has a natural killer instinct.  Rick Monstro was coming at him hard and he weathered the storm until the other man gassed out and then he went in for the kill.  That’s the kind of thing Dana White likes to see.

Lex Luthor Moves OnHe could work on showing some emotion though.

The_Vortex: Rick Monstro has probably the most gracious approach to defeat I’ve ever seen. He says to anyone listening, that they should be happy, because he’s happy, and he did his best (praise God). He says he’ll come back stronger, and I believe him.

Wow.

I am just blown away by that, way to be a man about it. He’s fighting Pezão on the finale card, so he might end up in the UFC. Best of luck to him, lotta respect there.

Rick Monstro & Lex LuthorNewChallenger: And much respect to Sonnen who has now coached five out of a possible six finalists in his two TUF gigs.  They should bring him back every year.  Here he is doing a beautiful job of summing up the class and character of the TUF: Brazil 3 cast:

These guys looked after one another…and it’s really easy to do in victory but you find out who your friends are in defeat.  The support on both sides of the aisle was incredible.  It’s not something I’m used to.  It’s not done like this in America.  They look after one another in Brazil.  They take care of one another.  They care about one another.

The_Vortex: Big emotions coming now. Isabel and Hortência are giving goodbye speeches. It’s amazing how much of a presence they’ve been. Over the last few episodes, Hortência is easily the loudest voice heard cheering for her team. All the guys talk about the advice they’ve been given. I’m gonna miss this side of TUF.

NewChallenger: Honestly, if you watched that fond farewell and didn’t feel anything I don’t even want to know you!  I’m not sure if there is actually a closer connection between these people or they just don’t show us these gushy moments in the American versions.  Regardless, it’s always a welcome sight.

Group HugGet in here ya big lugs!

All four guys deserve the lavish Vegas vacation they are treated to.  Cara de Sapato describes the experience as “presidential”.  Lots of good stuff here.  Cirque du Soleil and the UFC (there’s something I never thought I’d type), a shopping trip and the guys getting flown around in fighter planes.  This could have been an entire episode.  I feel robbed that we only get about 10 minutes of footage.  This is the kind of stuff they should put on Fight Pass.  Just 24 hour coverage of these Brazilian monsters romping around the strip.  What was your favourite part?

The_Vortex: That was just fantastic. The Cirque du Soleil section involved the heavyweights learning fight choreography, and was just brilliant to watch, but easily the funniest moment is watching the guys go on a fighter jet ride. Not only is it great to watch them having so much fun, but Lyoto legit passes out, just straight up faints. I can’t imagine the jokery he had to endure after that.

KaPreview of the finale.

Air Up ThereShould he be doing this before the biggest fight of his career?!?

After all of this, we get the standard promo talk for the card this weekend. “I’m hungry for the win”, “He’s never fought anyone like me” yadda yadda yadda. The finals fights should be interesting, and I think Sapato and Lyoto will walk away with the titles. I know, Warlley Alves is the best pizza, but he’s just been too dominant for me to trust that he’ll do the same thing again.

NewChallenger: Damn, you’re picking Cara de Sapato and Lyoto too?  This is a bad sign for you.  I am one of the worst people in the world at picking fights in general, but particularly TUF finals.  Chris Holdsworth broke a streak of incorrect picks for me (and yes, that includes me picking Jessica Rakoczy to beat Julianna Peña).  Nevertheless, Cara de Sapato has been dominant and Lyoto has found a way to eke out decisions.  Lock it in!

(to anyone actually putting money down, this definitely means you should pick Lex Luthor and Alves)

The_Vortex: Augh, yes, people should definitely pick other winners, I got BOTH TUF: Nations winners wrong.

Now, we have to talk about the coaches’ fight.

Oh, what? It’s not happening? After Chael hinting at this for the entire season? Really? Colour me shocked.

I dunno man. Either Wandy is too injured, or too substanced up for the fight to go ahead. I’m leaning on the former (be funny if he broke his hand during that s**t stupid brawl in the hall), mostly just because. Anyway, it’s a really bad look for Wanderlei, who has effectively lost his entire home crowd support (and the support of like, all 15 foreigners watching this show). Not a good look.

Thoughts and summary NewChallenger?

NewChallenger: I still love Wandy.  I don’t know what the hell has been going on with him for the last few years, but I’ll never turn on the guy.  That said, Sonnen won me over during his first TUF coaching gig and this second one was even better.  I want a reality show of him just training and bonding with Brazilian fighters.  Or any fighters for that matter.  When it comes to television, Sonnen rules.

It sucks that we won’t get to see these guys throw down.  It joins an infamous list of coaches’ fights that will likely never happen.  This was easily one of the most anticipated even before they appeared on this show.  The UFC injury bug cares not for justice or entertainment.

Overall, this was an incredibly enjoyable season and as much as I’m harping on TUF 19 in my other reviews, TUF: Brazil 3 actually continued a decent trend of entertaining TUFs.  TUF 17 and 18 were both really good, TUF: Brazils are always fun to watch and even TUF: Smashes and TUF Nations: Canada v. Australia had their moments…though we might be biased on that last front.  Even the guys who didn’t make it past the first round left an indelible mark…Peregrino, Borrachinha, Bomba…I love ‘em all.  It’s going to be hard to let these guys go.  I hope they all get signed.  I really do.

And thank you Mr. Vortex for agreeing to do this collaboration.  For a minute there, it looked like we’d have to continue the TUF Nations feud, which would have torn the Bloody Elbow community apart!  Somehow, through cultural differences, time zone issues, and faulty Australian internet, we managed to put this series together.  I can say without question that it made this awesome show even better.  Now play us out before I start bawling like Hortência.

The_Vortex: This has been an excellent way to look at an Ultimate Fighter season, and, in all honesty, I’d place it as one of the best I’ve watched. Being a part of this definitely made the season a hell of a lot of fun to watch.

I’m really hoping we see more of these guys in the UFC. Chael keeps mentioning how good these guys are, and it’s not all hyperbole. There was some good talent there that might end up as stalwarts anywhere from welterweight to heavyweight. We’ve just recently gotten a TUF winner as champion, so anything is possible.

Thanks to everyone for reading these recaps, they’ve been heaps of fun to work on. Seriously, everyone should watch this show. It’s been fantastically entertaining, some of the fights were great, especially Monstro-Lex Luthor. It was an experience.

Saturday, May 31st: The TUF: Brazil 3 finale featuring Chael Sonnen and Wanderlei Silva Stipe Miocic and Fabio Maldonado!

The Ultimate Fighter 19: Team Edgar v. Team Penn – Week 6 Recap

You’re really making me watch an episode with Matt Hughes in it, eh?  That’s what’s up?  Okay, TUF, okay.  In the interest of full disclosure, let me say a few words first.

I’m not playing the contrarian by saying I don’t like Hughes.  There are a large majority of fight fans who recognize that he’s one of the twenty greatest professional mixed martial artists of all time and also one of the biggest douche bags in any sport.  My opinion of Hughes might be unfairly skewed by how he was portrayed as a coach on TUF 6, Sean McCorkle’s review of his biography, and his long time rivalry with my fellow Canadian Georges St-Pierre.

Obviously I’ve never met the man, but there’s no shaking the feeling that he’s this holier than thou art prima donna who still probably can’t resist dishing out a good wedgie.  I don’t know.  Maybe he’s grown up.  Maybe, like BJ Penn, he’s an older, wiser man than when he was on top of the UFC.  Maybe.

I’m going to assume he’s the same old piece of s**t he’s always been though.  Just remember, I’m doing this because I love you guys (and I hate myself apparently).

Team Colours

Team Edgar
Team Penn

All everyone is talking about this week is what happened in the fight and for good reason: I’ve never seen anything like it in MMA, much less TUF.  The fight and the aftermath take up about 80% of the episode.  There are a few other things worth mentioning.

This week’s competitors, Ian Stephens (Team Edgar, 1st overall) and Roger Zapata (Team Penn, 8th overall) are driven by familial dedication, albeit for different reasons.  Stephens’s father was in the air conditioner business.  He was involved in an electrical accident that, unfortunately, did not make him become all blue like Jamie Foxx.  Stephens was only six years old.  He prides himself on making something from nothing.

Zapata is on the other side of things, having had to leave his daughter just days after she was born so he could be on the show.  He talks to Tim Williams about how he can’t wait to see what colour her eyes changed and how she peed on him while taking a picture.  It’s a sweet moment.  Williams caps off the heartfelt conversation by letting us all know that he “has to take a fat s**t”.  Well alright then.  Maybe I should have just skipped to the fight.  Ah, I’m sure it can’t get any worse…

Guest HughesF**k you, ya f**kin’ f**k.

As disappointed as I was that Penn and Frankie Edgar were friends, it’s nothing compared to finding out that Penn and Hughes get along too.  Damn it.  I always imagined that Penn enjoyed choking the life out of Hughes and punching his fool head in.  Subdued, gracious Penn is not doing it for me at all.  He sounds…retired.

Somehow we don’t get the magic of Hughes and Todd Monaghan in the same room.  A missed opportunity if there ever was one.  Hughes is complimentary of Zapata’s wrestling.  I’m guessing nobody told him about how Zapata dissed the sport last time.  Overall, it’s not an unbearable guest appearance, probably because they didn’t let Hughes say much.

Bird's EyeArtsy-fartsy.

Other than that there’s a ton of stock footage and generic tough talk (TUF talk?) from Stephens and Zapata.  There doesn’t seem to be any sort of grudge; in fact, I’m not sure these two have met based on their testimonials.  You can almost see the editors digging their fingers into the footage to stretch it out as much as possible.  They don’t even bother with a #HowDoYouKFC segment this week.  Such a shame.

The fight

News flash: Stephens wants a takedown.  The first shot comes a minute in and Zapata defends it surprisingly well.  Stephens has a waist lock for a while and it isn’t until he executes an unorthodox slam that he actually scores:

Back ThrowAny wrestlers out there looking for a new finishing move?

Now there were two ways to judge this fight and neither is 100% correct or incorrect.  One way is to reward control and submission attempts, which would have given Stephens both rounds in a landslide.  He was locked on to Zapata like a remora, taking his back at will.  He was always going for a submission or at least attempting to improve his position.  He definitely could have mixed in more strikes and maybe committed more to his sub attempts.  As it was, he was focused on maintaining position.  It’s hard to blame Stephens when dominant positions usually win fights.

The other way is to reward Zapata for his non-stop activity.  Post-fight, he described his strategy of throwing punches and elbows from any position as “freestyle striking”.  While it usually bothers me to see a fighter rewarded for attacks that do minimal damage, I’m not sure you can completely ignore what Zapata was doing either.  Sure, Stephens was all over him, but Zapata was definitely hitting him even if he wasn’t hurting him.

Muddying up the picture even more is the fact that neither fighter came particularly close to finishing.  Stephens could never flatten Zapata out enough to properly go after his neck; Zapata’s most effective elbow was ruled as illegal and it almost ended the fight in his opponent’s favour.  Let’s talk about that more for anyone who hasn’t seen this episode or heard about the incident.

For the majority of the fight, Zapata’s preferred tactic to counter takedown attempts were elbows angled at the side of Stephens’s head (exactly like Travis Browne has been doing).  Referee Steve Mazzagatti mentioned the potential infraction many times (in addition to Zapata’s cage grabbing), but at no point does he actually stop the fight to issue a warning.  This is a key aspect of contention later on.

The fight ends up going to an extra period.  I had Stephens winning the first two rounds (though the second was much closer than the first).  He did fade in the latter stages of regulation and Zapata’s pitter-patter defence proved to be enough to earn him five more minutes of cage time.  He continued to throw elbows until out of nowhere, Mazzagatti docks him a point for the illegal manoeuvre.  Dana White freaks out.

The Commish accuses Stephens of milking the infraction, a mere appetizer for the ensuing rant against his favourite referee.  The lack of an official warning drives him nuts.  It’s especially crucial since they’re in the extra period and that means there’s almost no way for Zapata to win the fight.  After a third round that is similar to the first and second, Zapata wins the fight.

Wait what…

It gets worse when Mazzagatti raises Zapata’s hand while calling him “Ian Zapata”.  He brings them back to announce the winner again, expecting that they’ll use the magic of editing to fix his flub.  No such luck.  As I was watching, I had no clue what was going on.  Two of the three judges would have had to reward Zapata a 10-8 (9-8 after the deduction) for him to have beaten Stephens and he did absolutely nothing to warrant a score like that.

Pandemonium erupts in the TUF gym, understandably so.  White is barking at the judges, pointing out that there’s no way that score makes any sense.  The winning team look just as confused as everybody else.  Penn instructs Zapata on how to proceed.

GetawayPenn: “Walk!  Please, leave so they can’t reverse the decision!  That’s what I would do!  I would leave!”

Based on math alone, we have a new candidate for the biggest robbery in MMA history.  This is not even a subjective call, there’s literally no way that Zapata could have won that final round.  Nam Phan/Leonard Garcia, Matt Hamill/Michael Bisping, Murilo Rua/Rampage Jackson, everyone…lay down your crowns.  That said, I wouldn’t call this a tragedy since both guys were kind of terrible.

Elbow Exhibition“12-6” THIS!

Penn says the right man won anyway.  “It should always be judged like that: look at his face and look at mine!”  Remember kids: Submission attempts mean nothing.  Just bleed.

White finally gets an explanation that he relays to the two teams: One judge scored it 10-8 for Stephens, the other two 9-9.  Because it was a majority draw, they were asked to circle who they thought won the fight and everyone chose Zapata.  So the point deduction was meaningless.  Since it was also somewhat unwarranted, I guess…everything worked out…?

Did the guy who scored the round 10-8 for Stephens also pick Zapata?  White must be mistaken.  I hope he is anyway.  Regardless, as much as I hate people saying to never leaving it in the hands of the judges…they really shouldn’t have left this one in the hands of the judges.

This kind of fight only adds credence to my suggestions to give some match-ups the montage treatment.  This is a television show, not a live event.  You’re allowed to play around with your product.  It’s not like you’ll be threatening the sanctity of TUF.  It’s TUF.  This whole operation reeks of laziness.  The more fight footage they have, the less work they have to do on the rest of the episode.  Would anything have been lost by slicing this fight up and interspersing commentary from White, the cast and the coaches?  It would have cleared up the situation and spared us an ugly contest.

Let’s just blame Matt Hughes for everything bad that happened and move on with our lives.

Next week: Team Penn’s Anton Berzin v. Team Edgar’s Matt Walsh.  Also, an update on Tim Williams’s bowel movements!

The Ultimate Fighter Brazil 3: Team Wanderlei v. Team Sonnen – Week 11 Recap

Hair DidWe’ve come a long way from the days of Willa Ford.

NewChallenger: Alright, time for another exciting installment of the best TUF series around.  I…wait…what’s that…could it be…

The_Vortex: That’s right, I’m back! Hold your applause, please. Still no internet at home, but it’s important to prioritise some things in your life, and TUF: Brazil is clearly one of those things. Very excited here, we’ve got two fights in an episode, and, we start this episode with the most important thing first: that’s right, we’re deciding the finalists of Miss Ring Girl TUF: Brazil 3 2014!

Big DecisionAnd poor Lex is still petrified.

Because the guys might have been paying attention to other things at the fights (like, say the fights), they get to watch a highlight reel of the girls shaking it. Probably the best afternoon that anyone on this show has ever had, ever.

Any thoughts? Any early predictors of ring girl glory?

Also: please hold your celebration of my return until the end of the episodes. Don’t forget to go by the gift shop on the way out.

NewChallenger: Being a professional fighter is hard work, no?

Rafaela is not one of the two finalists so this whole competition is invalid.  Ana Cecília is the first finalist.  No lesser authority than Rick Monstro himself proclaimed her to be the prettiest, so I guess I can’t argue with that.  The second finalist is Fernanda Hernandes, a curvy blonde.  Magrão justifies the selection by saying she’s curvier than the American ring girls.  He put way more thought into that than he had to.

Fernanda And Ana CeciliaI guess this makes them the Kenny Florian and Diego Sanchez of TUF: Ring Girl.

The weird thing is that neither Fernanda or Ana Cecília are on octagon duty later in the show; instead, we get the pros Camila Oliveira and Jhenny Andrade.  Maybe they already flew the finalists out to Las Vegas?  We should probably stop thinking about this and just move on.

In addition to the ring girl competition, I’m going to miss Chael Sonnen’s speeches.  I could be mistaken, but I think he gives Warlley Alves a variation of a speech he gave on TUF 17:

Sonnen: I know you get scared and I know you get nervous and I know you get excited and I know you feel every emotion that a human feels.  Not one of those emotions is going to help you in there.  The only thing that matters in sports or in life are your actions.  Actions is what wins fights.  This is the only thing that matters.  It is not the best fighter that wins, it’s whoever fights the best.

Blink

But who cares about that because we get possibly the best guest star of the season: TUF: Brazil 2 assistant coach Eric Albarracin!  I just love this guy.  Are you familiar with his work?

The_Vortex: Eric Albarracin: Team Nogueira wrestling coach.

Eric Albarracin: Former US Army Captain.

Eric Albarracin: Jumps one hell of a jump rope.

Eric Albarracin: Completely bonkers.

Size DifferentialOne of these men is an army captain.

Eric is fantastic. He was a key part of the best moment of TUF: Brazil 2, when Fabrício Werdum legitimately kidnapped him, and bombarded the house like an invading army.

Eric being here softens the blow of Rafaela losing the ring girl contest.

Eric brings a lighter side to Team Sonnen training (once again), with a jump rope exercise.

NewChallenger: An insane jump rope exercise.

Eric Shows OffI can barely double dutch.

The_Vortex: Team Silva, on the other hand, are taking no prisoners. They’re beating each other up, to simulate fight training.

NewChallenger: No kidding.  It’s in sharp contrast to Team Sonnen who are focusing on their cardio.  Wanderlei Silva even has Rick Monstro and Cara de Sapato going at it, which is interesting because they could potentially face each other in the finals.

The_Vortex: Both Warlley and Wagnão are ready for this fight, but we go to weigh-ins, and another surprise guest…

NewChallenger: You might say it’s tiiiiiiiime for another surprise guest.  Get it?  Get it?

It’s Bruce Buffer.

The fighters are over the moon that the voice of the octagon is at the facility.  In all these editions of TUF, he’s never made an appearance on the show.  It’s crazy what a legend he is in the fight business for someone who doesn’t actually compete.  I’ve always loved his enthusiasm for the sport and you can tell he’s having a great time on the show.  He handles the weigh-in commentary, referring to Wagnão as “Wagner”.  I’d make a Das Nibelung joke here, but my Portuguese pronunciation is suspect so maybe he’s doing it right.

They announce that the finalists will get an all expense paid trip to Las Vegas to see a UFC event.  Please have them travel with the ring girls and film it!  I will watch this!

The_Vortex: You’re forgetting the most important part of the weigh-ins. Eric brings Team Sonnen mustaches to wear, because “it’s a symbol of manly respect”. Brilliant.

NewChallenger: I feel like we should explain this further for the readers but…just watch the gif, folks:

Let's DanceNo further explanation needed.

TUF: Brazil…it’s so good.  As for the fight, I expected it to be a close one.  My prediction was slightly off.

The_Vortex: Whoah yeah it was. I thought we’d get a bit of a grinder of a fight. Instead, flash submission, They come out, exchange leg kicks, and Wagnão charges in. Warlley catches him in a guillotine, and sinks it. Wagnão can’t get his head back outside, and can’t get rid of Warlley. He taps within 25 seconds.

Warlley GuillotineOw ow ow ow ow ow…

Warlley’s stoked, and breaks out into a chorus of Viva Las Vegas.

Warlley Moves OnNo self-respecting bookie would take action on the winner not singing Viva Las Vegas afterwards.

NewChallenger: Lex Luthor points out that Wagnão is considered one of the best jiu-jitsu practitioners in the house and he got subbed by Alves who is primarily a striker.

The_Vortex: Chael can’t stop extolling Warlley’s speed and techniques. The last time Chael was this excited about a middleweight prospect was Uriah Hall. Hmmm.

Chael even calls out 2015 Weidman. Hey, gotta aim high.

NewChallenger: You just had to bring up Uriah Hall, didn’t you?  Sonnen’s exact words are: Chris Weidman, you better get in the gym ‘cause somebody’s’ comin’ for ya!  Vintage.

The_Vortex: So, straight onto preparation for the next fight.

NewChallenger: The separation from family and personal issues with Pezão are taking their toll on Cara de Sapato.  He feels like his sense of humour has been misinterpreted.  The situation brings him to tears.  I look at it as Pezão just motivating himself, finding a reason to dislike Cara de Sapato.  Or maybe Cara de Sapato needs to stop touching him so much.  A call from Junior dos Santos lifts Cara de Sapato’s spirits just in time for him to get into the cage with Pezão.

His spirits might have been lifted a little too high.  Pezão has a considerable weight advantage, which doesn’t stop Cara de Sapato from throwing heavy leather with him!  Cara de Sapato goes for a takedown against the cage.  He’s able to avoid the guillotine choke that felled his teammate earlier.  To nobody’s surprise, Cara de Sapato has the superior cardio and he doesn’t give Pezão a second to rest.  He scores a takedown from behind then goes for a rear naked choke!  Pezão taps, but still goes unconscious.  Damn, another quick finish!

The_Vortex: Pezão going out was pretty crazy. It’s not like Sapato torqued the submission after the tap, or even held it awhile. Delayed reaction naptime.

Sapato looked good, and he’ll be a solid light heavyweight in the UFC. He weighed in at 212, so I don’t think there’s any chance he’s going to stay with the fat boys in the big show. Team Wanderlei is going bonkers at having snapped a five fight losing streak, but, continuing the good sportsmanship we’ve seen this week, Sapato still finds the time to speak to Pezão.

Pezão is understandably distraught, even saying that he needs to rethink his life. He seems to have calmed down in the confessional, and gives a great speech to Chael about what a fantastic dude Chael is, negative perceptions be damned. I think this bit is quite legit, as friendly Chael seems able to win anyone over, as well as coming across as really genuine.

NewChallenger: Loved, loved, loved Pezão’s reconciliation with Cara de Sapato and the heart to heart with Sonnen after.  It got real MTV up in there for a minute.  I don’t know if Pezão has a future in MMA to be honest, but I’ll remember him as a solid cast member.  As he said himself, just making it onto the show was a miracle for a guy whose life was going down a dark path just a few years ago.

The_Vortex: This was a great episode, entertaining as hell, some good action, and great guests. Robbery of the year goes to anyone not named Rafaela Machado continuing in TUF: Ring Girl, but I might, MIGHT be over it by next week.  Any thoughts NewChallenger?

NewChallenger: This was a great episode, wasn’t it?  Let us appreciate the show now while it’s still relatively fresh, before it goes the way of its over-saturated American brethren.  There is such a wonderful liveliness to the characters and a lack of cynicism, I’d recommend any of the three seasons for anyone who still likes the concept of TUF but is tired of what the original show has become.  I’m already sad inside that next week is the finale.

Cap off your triumphant return with some closing words, Australia.

The_Vortex: That was one hell of an episode to return for. We’re getting two fights again next week, and it’ll be sad to see everyone go. I’m definitely looking forward to whatever inspiring speech Chael has stored away for the season end, it’s going to be something else!

Cara de Sapato Moves OnNext week: Lyoto v. Demente and Lex Luthor v. Rick Monstro!

The Ultimate Fighter 19 – Team Edgar v. Team Penn – Week 5 Recap

It’s possible that I’ve been too harsh in my appraisal of the 19th edition of The Ultimate Fighter.  This is not the most boring season, nor does it have the least talented cast or the worst coaches.  But you can’t escape the feeling that this is a lame duck, wedged in between the historical TUF 18 (first season with female fighters and coaches) and the intriguing TUF 20 (introduction of the women strawweights with the tournament winner becoming an instant UFC champion, coaches who will battle for a title at the end of the season).  You’d have to go back to TUF 14 (Team Bisping v. Team Miller) to find a coaches’ fight where there was so little on the line (even Roy Nelson and Shane Carwin were not far removed from the title picture) and that season had the distinction of showcasing the bantamweight and featherweight divisions.

The UFC has to regularly provide TUF related programming so this is what we get.  It’s a shame too because I love Frankie Edgar and BJ Penn and the light heavyweight division could certainly use an influx of fresh faces.  If only they were willing to make changes to the format or come up with a new kind of vehicle entirely, we might not feel so worn out by what was once an illustrious television show.  The machine rolls on.

Team Colours

Team Edgar
Team Penn

I thought last week’s “bedroom time lapse” clip was as symptomatic of this show’s ennui as you could get, but Team Penn’s training takes the cake.  The last thing anyone expected was for Tim Williams to have to deal with his body shutting down on him so Penn stresses finding the balance between work and rest.  His men need to have the right “recipe” as he puts it.  I don’t want to hear anyone making jokes about how Penn knows all about taking it easy in training.  I don’t want to hear it!

You know how every episode shows quick cuts of gym action?  It turns out the only thing more exciting than stock footage of fighters training is stock footage of fighters training at half speed.

Going HardTHIS IS THE ULTIMATE

On the bright side, I just realized that André Pederneiras was on both TUF 19 and TUF: Brazil 3 this week.  It’s Dedé-mania!  If you’re a fan of Dedé, you’re in heaven right now.

With this week’s competitors (Corey Anderson and Josh Clark) playing the “I have no problem with my opponent” card this week, it’s up to the production team to drum up something for the viewers to sink their teeth into.  How about some Halloween for ya?  They bring them costumes!  Thank you production team!

Costume PartyHello ladies.

Seeing Clark and Mike King dressed in women’s costumes makes Anton Berzin uncomfortable.  Maybe he’s afraid it will awaken something in him.

Berzin: How am I gonna…when the other team makes fun of us, how am I gonna…
King: There is no defence for this.

An exciting finish last week, playful shenanigans this week…am I…am I actually enjoying myself?

Backing Berzin on team buzz kill is Matt Van Buren.  He’s not impressed by Team Penn skipping night practice to carve pumpkins and eat candy.  Van Buren’s attitude makes for good television, though I doubt it will be able to carry over into his career after the show.  Dry cynicism does not make for a thrilling pre-fight promo.

To cap it off, we have Edgar bringing his kids by the house for trick-or-treat.  D’awww…I cannot hate on this episode now.  It’s too charming.

Edgar ClanNo Donatello?

The next day, Edgar takes the team to Mount Charleston to enjoy a beautiful view at the top.  Not everyone is having it.  Todd Monaghan is lagging badly.  Along with Van Buren, Monaghan has emerged as an early favourite for the show’s editors.  He just keeps giving them material to make him look bad.  Edgar says everyone had fun but all I heard was a lot of bitching.

Clark plays up the “aw shucks, Hillbilly Heartthrob” image in his interviews.  He grew up in a small town in Kentucky, he loves his wife, and he only got into MMA after winning a free membership at a nearby gym.  He’s a big soft-spoken guy with confidence issues.  We see him struggling against Berzin (Team Penn’s best grappler), getting caught with a flying arm bar at one point.  A Team Penn assistant wonders if he is just “happy to be there”.  Penn describes him as a “game-time player”.  That’s like when I’m throwing up bricks before a pick-up run and I tell everyone I make them when it matters.

He’s in tough against Anderson, Team Edgar’s top light heavyweight pick.  Anderson is an NCAA finalist who trained with Ben Askren in college.  He had no interest in fighting until Askren coerced him into working with Duke Roufus.  Anderson is 24 years old with just 7 months of professional MMA experience.  Most aspiring fighters would kill to be able to learn from Roufus and then get six weeks of dedicated training from Edgar and his team.

Guard TrainingThere’s nothing like a good ol’ fashioned knee to the scrotes to open up a dude’s guard.

Roger Zapata gets under Anderson’s skin when says that wrestling is simple.  Eddie Gordon says it’s the dumbest thing someone could say.

Zapata: All my boys that wrestled D-I that I train with, they all hit the air just like you about to hit the air.

I look at it as Zapata trying to get under Anderson’s skin to help out his teammate.  Everyone knows what Anderson wants to do and if they can throw off his timing by even a fraction of a second, it could do wonders for Clark’s chances.

The fight

There isn’t much action in the early going.  Anderson reminds me of early Phil Davis, hands up strictly for protection and not much else.  He takes some punches that don’t do much to change his strategy.  Clark manages to avoid a single leg takedown by doing some sort of crazy flip that somehow doesn’t result in him breaking his own neck.

Single Leg CounterTextbook.

Anderson is able to stay close to work for a trip.  Eventually, he eases Clark down onto his back…score that a takedown?  Clark is able to recover leading to a couple more minutes of tentative stand-up.  Anderson gets low and just powers Clark up for a slam.  He stays on top with good activity.  More than Daniel Spohn did anyway.  Anderson nearly gets caught by a heel hook.  He has no idea how to free his leg; luckily, Clark doesn’t quite know how to attack it either.  It should be a 10-9 first for Anderson, though Clark was definitely ahead in the striking.

Less than a minute into the second, Clark gives up another takedown.  Dana White can be heard saying that he “has got no takedown defence at all”.  Anderson is content to work from half guard.  The referee does Clark a favour ordering a stand-up…though maybe he shouldn’t have because a checked leg kick causes Clark to trip and fall.

Wayward KickTextbook.

Anderson is all too happy to get on top and not do much, though he does throw the occasional punch.  He really is unable to advance from half guard without endangering his leg.  A scramble ends with Clark giving up his back.  Anderson is able to roll him over and end up in full mount to close out the round.

White speculates that Penn’s fighter ran out of steam again.  He announces Anderson as the winner with an obvious lack of gusto.  A flat ending to what was an otherwise not-terrible episode.

Anderson VictoriousNext week: Ian Stephens v. Roger Zapata.  Also…oh f**k me it’s Matt Hughes.

The Ultimate Fighter Brazil 3: Team Wanderlei v. Team Sonnen – Week 10 Recap

The quarterfinals come to a close with our last heavyweight match-up: Pezão (Team Sonnen, 1st overall) v. Jollyson Francino (Team Wanderlei, 3rd overall).  To recap, Pezão pulled off an upset by quickly submitting Bellator standout Thiago Santos with a guillotine choke.  Since Santos was the biggest name on the qualifying roster, that catapulted Pezão to the front of the line.  Francino was also a surprise, using beautiful jiu-jitsu to set up an arm triangle that put away tough talking riot cop Gigante.

Much of the spotlight this week is put on assistant coaches Isabel and Hortência.  Isabel gives a speech to help Team Wanderlei break out of their slump (they’ve lost three fights in a row).  You can tell there’s closeness between with her and the guys.  She’s not as loud and boisterous as Hortência, but she shines in some smaller moments.

Speaking of Hortência, she’s getting harassed by Team Sonnen as usual.  This week they encourage her to take an ice bath.  Even after she agrees to do some circuit training, the fighters are still on her case.  Warlley Alves in particular has a lot of fun with it.

Hortencia BoxingWell…yeah…

Chael Sonnen saves Hortência from the ice bath, which somehow leads to them dancing again.

More DancingAnd you wonder why there are rumours about them having an affair.

After all that, Hortência decides to hop in the ice bath anyway.  There’s nothing she won’t do for her boys.  Can we get female assistant coaches on future American TUFs please?  Like, Kristi Yamaguchi and Kerri Strug or something?  I don’t know.  Isabel and Hortência bring both an outsider perspective and a much needed female touch to the proceedings.  It’s like when they put Liv Tyler in that first The Lord of the Rings movie or when Brad Pitt goes to see his ex-wife in Moneyball so you know that he and Jonah Hill aren’t up each other.

What was I talking about again?

Oh, right, the ice bath.  Hortência reacts as you’d expect (“Everything hurts.”) for a former athlete who probably never did anything like that in training.  She also has immaculate eyeball control.

WonkyHortência is the best, you guys.

The first thing she does when she gets out is walk over to the sauna to hug Sonnen for warmth.  I joke about them fooling around, but they really do have a cute relationship.

The profile on Francino presents him as a calm, easy going guy.  He looks like he’s in better shape than when he was in the first episode.  All this training is doing wonders for him.  Wanderlei is convinced that he’ll be able to outlast Pezão in a drawn out fight.

Pezão is a more conflicted, serious individual.  He used to live on the streets doing drugs and fighting for no reason.  His father used his brother as an example to challenge Pezão to live to a higher standard.  Something must have clicked because here he is with an opportunity to fight for one of the biggest sports organizations in the world.  They show a lot of footage of him practicing his guillotine.  If it was good enough to get into the house, it might be good enough to advance him in the tournament.

Our last quarterfinal fight also means our last ring girl contestant.  Big sigh.  Wendy Meira (or just “Wendy” as she introduces herself) is an expert at communication and socializing.  I doubt those are skills that most fighters can relate to.

Wendy MeiraShe’s certainly speaking my language.  Heyo!

The fight

Let’s see if Pezão can live up to the hype here.  He has some thunderous kicks and looks the part of a top pick as he shrugs off Francino’s takedown attempts.  A stiff left jab shakes Francino forcing him to clinch up.  Pezão jumps for a guillotine, but Francino is able to slip out of it and Pezão falls to the mat.  Francino moves into Pezão’s guard without much confidence.

Back on the feet, Pezão punishes Francino every time they get close.  The constant pressure allows him to lift a tired Francino up in the air for a slam.  Then things get really weird.  Francino plays a dangerous game pawing away at Pezão’s face, specifically his mouth and eyes.  An alarming cry from Francino forces the referee to call for a “time out” (is that even allowed?).  They think Francino dislocated his finger, but he says Pezão bit him!  He’s calling for Pezão to be disqualified!  That’s not a good look for Francino who was clearly losing the fight up to that point.

Despite the complaints, the referee tells both men to stand up and return to their corners.  The fight just continues without any clarification.  They don’t even mention it in the post-fight breakdown.  Absolutely bizarre.

Francino is able to end the round in full mount when Pezão goes for a sloppy takedown.  I could be mistaken, but it looked like Francino went for a chest smother in the closing seconds.  What the hell is this guy doing?  This is one of those times I wish The_Vortex were around to provide a second set of eyes.

Chest SmotherI’ve seen this referred to as “Mother’s Milk”.  Ew.

The second round is awful for both men.  They take turns looking exhausted.  There are no actual takedowns, just collisions between their bodies with one man tripping and falling.  In this case, it’s Pezão who ends up on top more often than not.  He does throw some nice short punches and elbows.  Too bad there isn’t much behind them.  Fortunately for Team Sonnen, Francino presents zero threat for the last three minutes of the fight.  I don’t see why this should go to a third round.  Even Isabel agrees.

Rough OutingWanderlei Silva, MD

Pezão takes the fight via unanimous decision.  Ironically, it was Francino who gassed out, not Pezão as Team Wanderlei anticipated.  Pezão isn’t too happy with himself, which I find encouraging.  He should recognize that it will take a much better effort than that to compete in the UFC whether he wins the tournament or not.  I also like how he took his and teammate Lex Luthor’s portraits and placed them on the “Final” section of the tourney board.  Presumptuous?  Maybe.  But you gotta believe, right?

Pezao VictoriousYou can’t do that on television.

Just like that it’s 4-4 going into the semi-finals.  This leads to one of my favourite segments: “Who do you want to fight?”

  • Wagnão wants Lyoto
  • Lyoto wants Wagnão
  • Alves wants Demente
  • Demente wants anybody
  • Cara de Sapato wants anybody
  • Lex Luthor wants Rick Monstro
  • Rick Monstro wants anybody
  • Pezão wants Cara de Sapato

That last one is interesting because Pezão’s reasons for the callout have nothing to do with a potentially entertaining fight or the easiest path to the finals.  He says “We’re not fond of each other and I want to get it over with.”  Dana White inquires further and Pezão explains that he isn’t fond of Cara de Sapato’s ass slapping.

Based on the fighter and coaches’ comments, the match-ups look obvious buuuuuut…

Middleweight

Wagnão v. Alves
Demente v. Lyoto

…I guess White wanted to f**k with the middleweights for whatever reason.

Heavyweight

Pezão v. Cara de Sapato
Lex Luthor v. Rick Monstro

I got Demente and Cara de Sapato going all the way.  Who you got?

Semi-FinalsIt is so on.

Next week: Two, two, TWO fights in one week: Wagnão v. Warlley Alves and Pezão v. Cara de Sapato!  Also, I assume we’re going to get some progression in the ring girl competition too.  It matters!

The Ultimate Fighter 19 – Team Edgar v. Team Penn – Week 4 Recap

Zzzzzzz…

Oh…what’s that?  It’s time for another thrilling edition of TUF 19?  Hooray.

R.E.MMark Coleman looks like Michael Stipes on steroids.

Team Colours

Team Edgar
Team Penn

Last week’s episode ended on a sour note.  A safe performance by Daniel Spohn failed to move the needle even though he won.  Dana White and the others must have spoken to him because he takes an opportunity to respond to the criticism.  The tournament is chess, not checkers.  All it takes is a freak injury to end your chances of winning, so you should do whatever you can to minimize that possibility.  In a business where providing entertainment is as important (if not more so) than the end result, that might not be the best way to approach things.  He’s also 100% right.  The only way you guarantee yourself at least one official UFC fight is by making it to the finals.

Todd Monaghan gets some more TV time this week, though nothing as controversial as last week’s sermon.  His frustration over Spohn’s refusal to engage him in the stand-up is compounded by teammate Patrick Walsh approving of Spohn’s strategy.  Monaghan preaches team unity when he should really be listening to what Walsh is saying regarding the importance of game planning.

This week’s match-up is between middleweights Dhiego Lima (Team Edgar, 3rd overall) and Tim Williams (Team Penn, 4th overall).  The two men are a contrast in look and demeanour.  Lima is a happy-go-lucky, super positive competitor while Williams has some hardcore scars that he got in a DUI-related car accident when he was 18.  If that’s not enough, Williams goes by the convivial nickname “The South Jersey Strangler”.

In actuality, Williams is a gentle soul tempered by his youthful mistakes.  He even starts singing a little song while running with Roger Zapata.  What does he think this is, TUF: Brazil?  It’s almost a shame that he’s so nice because he’d make for a great heavy.  Nobody would mess with you if you had Williams in your entourage.  We learn that his first pro fight was supposed to be against Chris Weidman, but he had an aneurysm.  Yikes!  Still, I think I might rather have an aneurysm than fight Weidman.

Williams is all about hard work and doing more than the next man up.  Good thing too since Team Penn is put through the wringer in this episode.  They’re pushed to the point of vomiting, which is supposed to be a good thing…?  Williams’s work ethic has endeared him to Penn who goes as far as to say that he is the pick to win the whole thing.  If only the whole team could be so diligent.

Ball To Ball ActionYou train your way, we’ll train our way.

We’re only four episodes in and we’re already getting chatter from the cast about how there’s nothing to do in the house.  They actually show a time lapse of the fighters sleeping.  I am hating this season so much.

The drama we do get stems from a lame feud between Matt Van Buren and Chris Fields.  Van Buren is nicknamed “Gutter” because he started from nothing.  His dry manner of speaking is a source of amusement for his housemates.  He and Fields end up mocking each other’s accents (Van Buren is from the south, Fields is from Ireland) and that’s about as far as it goes for now.  Dumb as it is, I always like it when the show plants the seeds for a future meeting ahead of time rather than just waiting until the week of the fight.  I’m not saying Van Buren/Fields is going to go down in history with Josh Koscheck vs. Chris Leben or Julian Lane vs. the world, but it can’t hurt.  Fields needs as much help as he can get.  Since making it into the house via opponent injury (in a fight that he was losing badly), he’s been viewed as a non-threat.

We don’t learn much about Lima other than the usual chatter about how he and his brother were hooked on action movies and PRIDE tapes.  He’s got a supportive family, including two kids with a third on the way.  He’s just loving life right now.

Happy FighterThis is what he looks like when he’s angry.

The morning of the fight, they show us a disturbing picture drawn by Anton Berzin that was inspired by Williams.

Portrait Of A StranglerHow flattering.

The fight

Saying that Williams looks like a zombie is harsh, but he certainly fights like one.  He comes forward the whole time until he’s able to snag a single leg and drag Lima to the mat.  I start to nod off in anticipation of yet another ten minutes of a Team Edgar fighter being unable to get up.  The first round can’t go any worse for Lima.  He defends against an arm triangle, gets smacked by elbows and nearly loses a point for messing around with his fingers in the fence and Williams’s gloves.  In one particularly ugly moment, Edgar yells at him to hand fight to which Lima responds by trying to dislodge Williams’s feet from his waist.  You could make an argument for a 10-8 round, meaning Lima is essentially screwed if he doesn’t finish.

Round 2 starts with another takedown for Williams and I start wondering what Arsenio is doing.  Then it happens.  Lima gets back up.  Williams is noticeably less active.  Lima CRACKS Williams with a counter left.  During the follow-up, Williams’s mouthpiece falls out and he juggles it around before getting it back in.

Carnival ActTotally on purpose.

Penn implores him to clinch again, but he’s taken a lot of damage.  He does get in a couple of good knees.  It doesn’t matter though, because Lima is cooking now.  He sprawls beautifully to counter a desperation takedown and spins right into back control.  He sinks in a rear naked choke!  Williams taps!  What heart by Lima!

Lima plays it cool as a cucumber after winning.  For once, he’s not smiling.  He tells his corner man not to lift him so that he can pay his respects to Williams first.  Williams is distraught, knowing that he let one slip away.

Mike King: He got lazy for one second and in this sport all it takes is one second.

They try to cheer him up by saying it was a “Fight of the Night” performance.  The compliment doesn’t provide much solace.  He knows this was his second crack at TUF and he’ll be going home empty handed again.  I wish I could tell him that that fight was the most exciting thing to happen all season.  For the first time, I’m actually looking forward to next week’s episode.

Lima VictoriousTake us out, Dhiego!

Next week: Van Buren campaigned to get Fields, but Edgar told him that wasn’t part of the plan.  Instead it will be Edgar’s top light heavyweight pick Corey Anderson v. “The Hillbilly Heartthrob” Josh Clark.  Also, Team Edgar goes on what is sure to be a thrilling nature walk.  Get your popcorn ready.

The Ultimate Fighter Brazil 3: Team Wanderlei v. Team Sonnen – Week 9 Recap

(Internet issues will be keeping The_Vortex out of action this week, so you’re stuck with me again.)

As anticipated, Wanderlei Silva’s strategy of targeting Team Sonnen’s lower ranked fighters could only be effective for so long and “The Bad Guys” have rallied back with two straight victories.  The last middleweight quarterfinal fight sees Warlley Alves (Team Sonnen, 5th overall) v. the ever serious Marmota (Team Wanderlei, 8th overall).  Marmota has been mean mugging everyone the whole time he’s been in the house so now he gets a chance to show what he can do.  Chael Sonnen is so confident in the match-up that he says he’ll call Dana White personally and tell him to sign Marmota if Alves loses.

We get a lot of differing opinions on Alves this episode.  Up until now, he’s come off as friendly if somewhat aloof.  Apparently he’s rubbed his teammates the wrong way.  They warn him about how unpleasant he can be.  Peregrino dances around the wording until Pezão just comes out and says he can be “a prick”.  Alves doesn’t understand and Pezão says he’s not doing it in front of a mirror so of course he doesn’t see it.  Ouch.  Geez, a guy doesn’t want to party with the octagon girls one time and this is what he gets?

If there’s anything seriously wrong with Alves’s behaviour, Sonnen is unaware of it.  He’s hyping him heavily as being in perfect, peak condition for his upcoming fight.  I’ll leave it to him to explain it:

Sonnen: You know how sometimes you’ll eat a piece of pizza and then you’ll tell everybody that’s the greatest pizza in the world even though there’s plenty of other pizza you haven’t had?  But, you just know there’s no pizza better than this pizza I’m eating right now.  I told them that’s Warlley.

I hope the translator got paid overtime for that one.

Listening IntentlySo…you want me to eat Warlley?

On the other side, we learn more about why Marmota has developed such a hard shell.  He was adopted at age 7 and his father passed away when he was 14.  His family has never supported his fighting.  He and Isabel hit it off from day one, probably because they’re both so dour.  He tells her that he’ll become completely focused and intense on fight day.  You know, because he’s such a warm and cuddly teddy bear normally.

One GloveShout out to Art Jimmerson.

They do an excellent job of hyping the fight this week.  Most of the cast is convinced that the fight will be an exciting one, whether it’s a quick finish as Peregrino predicts or a thriller that will need an extra round according to Lyoto.  I have no idea what to expect since Marmota got into the house when his opponent suffered a freak injury and we only got to see the highlights of Alves’s entry fight.  Sonnen’s coaches have been high on Alves since they first saw him though.

In case you forgot that this was TUF Brazil, it’s game show time!  I don’t want to alarm anyone, but the TUF Brazil Coaches’ Challenge involves football.  Take a second to recover from the shock, please.  In addition to a cash prize for the coaches and the fighters, the winning coach will also receive a jersey autographed by Pelé.  Whoa!

Signed JerseyOkay, that’s pretty good.

Proving once and for all that the tides have turned, Sonnen does amazingly well.  I’m not surprised since Sonnen strikes me as the kind of guy who’d be interested in a variety of athletics.  Wanderlei has always been about one thing: destruction.  He looks sluggish and disinterested, knocking over pylons as he tries to hurdle them.

It’s another win for Team Sonnen.  They’re going streaking!  Er…they’re on a win streak.  Though this is TUF so it could go either way.

The SpoilsFirst I mock your entire country, then I take your money and a trophy from one of your national heroes.

It’s party time back at the house (it’s always party time back at the house), a Hawaiian themed brouhaha complete with bad shirts and hula girls.  Everyone agrees that Marmota’s grim attitude makes him fun to laugh at.  Jollyson Francino suggests TRUTH OR DARE and I think I just peed a little.  The only question they show is him asking Patrícia Andrade who the prettiest and ugliest guy is.  She says Cara de Sapato is the prettiest, but they don’t say the ugliest.  Come on!

The game takes a strange, yet obvious turn when people start getting called out to kiss each other.  Wagnão has to give Patrícia a kiss, which is uneventful.  Then Rick Monstro gets to kiss Ana Cecília.  The house is delighted.  They chant “On the mouth!” and taunt him about being so into it.  Rick Monstro is happy he got to kiss the prettiest one.  Then everybody jumps in the pool.

AlohaSeriously, how much does the American TUF experience suck compared to this?

Reports say that Sonnen is winning the popularity contest in Brazil, something that would have been unfathomable a year ago.  The editing certainly portrays him in as positive a light as possible.  He’s frequently visiting the house to buddy up with his team.  He goes to check on Alves’s weight and the staff is pleased to see Alves a couple of pounds under.  Sonnen tells him he can have some more pasta.

On fight day, it’s Hortência’s turn to support for the boys.  She wakes Alves up by rubbing his chest and then slaps Lyoto on the ass.  And to think, all Jason Thacker ever got was pee on his sheets.  Alves doesn’t seem like he’s that into it.  He says he dreamed about the fight.  He doesn’t say whether he won or lost.

Bedside MannerJust let me sleep, woman.

Octagon girl contestant Fernanda Hernandes knows that her job is to “make the event prettier and more feminine”.  That’s a nice way of saying it gives guys something to look at in between all the dry humping.  Thank goodness the quarterfinals are almost over because I’m running out of superlatives to describe how attractive these women are.

Fernanda HernandesYou know, if Rafaela hadn’t gone first I’m not sure Fernanda wouldn’t be the champ right now.

Master Dória and Dedé Pederneiras, two TUF Brazil staples, are brought in to give Marmota’s training a boost.  Dória is the boxing coach for Team Nogueira and a mentor of Cara de Sapato.  Marmota is enamoured by Dória’s striking expertise, he only wishes he could have come sooner.  Dedé is Marmota’s coach from back home.  Everything is in place for him to succeed.

Fight InfoYour first name is not a nickname.

The fight

As promised, the fighters come out aggressively.  They attack each other with kicks.  Marmota backs Alves up and lands an overhand right.  Alves shakes it off then clinches up.  The action moves to the cage with Alves putting on the pressure.

Marmota gives Alves too much freedom in the clinch.  He eats a big knee that drops him into a crouch.  A second one catches him square on the chin.  It’s a miracle that he’s able to stand up after that.  A third knee makes sure he goes down and stays there.  A fast, brutal finish.

Wanderlei offers a harsh appraisal of Marmota’s performance. He says that he didn’t show up and that he “zoned out”.  Marmota always looks the same to me so I don’t know if that’s the case.  Even in the locker room after, he’s stone faced.

Alves is so pumped that he rips his portrait right off the dressing room door and slaps it onto the tournament board.  You can’t blame him for being excited.  After that knockout, he looks like one of the favourites to win the tournament.  Vinny Magalhães wants to sing a song, but Hortência cuts him off.  This is the first time I’ve ever disapproved of her actions.

Alves VictoriousNext week: That’s three straight wins for Team Sonnen and he still has his top heavyweight lined up to fight.  It’s Team Sonnen’s Pezão versus Team Wanderlei’s Jollyson Francino for the final spot in the heavyweight semifinals!

The Ultimate Fighter Brazil 3: Team Wanderlei v. Team Sonnen – Week 8 Recap

The_Vortex: Finally, the waterworks have begun. It’s not TUF: Brazil without tears, and this episode is really the most teary of them all. We start by getting back to Lyoto’s foot (disclaimer: not actually Lyoto Lyoto, just a rangy Brazilian karateka that also strikes reasonably well). It’s not broken, which is a relief, but he’s going to have to rest it for a few days. I’m not convinced he’ll be fully healthy for his next fight, and he’s pretty evasive about his recovery time.

NewChallenger: It’s not looking good for our boy Lyoto.  Shame too since he’s interesting to watch and seems like a cool dude.  First Capo Job, now this?  I don’t think I have any tears left.

This week’s heavyweight match-up is Montanha (Team Wanderlei, 7th overall) versus Vitor Miranda aka “Lex Luthor” (Team Sonnen, 4th overall).  I still can’t believe Team Sonnen lost this pick because of one of those ridiculous challenges.  If they’d kept it, maybe we could have avoided some of the drama this week.  As it turns out, Montanha and Lex Luthor are friends who have trained together in the past.

Neither guy is too happy about it, but they don’t protest.  It’s Vinny Magalhães who brings up the season 1 incident where Vitor Belfort picked Rony Jason to fight Gasparzinho.  Those two actually lived together and were like brothers, so it was extremely distressing when Jason ended up breaking Gasparzinho’s arm.  Wanderlei Silva threw a s**t fit at the time, though he doesn’t seem to have a problem with it now.  Hypocrite much?

Magalhães: He’s a false moralist.  He says one thing, but he does another.

I’m with Vinny on this one, which is weird because I don’t like Vinny all that much.  Do you feel Wanderlei was able to justify the selections?

The_Vortex: The biggest crime of this series is making Vinny seem likeable. Everyone seems a bit disappointed by the selections, including the fighters, and Wanderlei seems to be the only one unaffected.

Back at the house, it’s the “filthy house” episode. Unsurprisingly, sixteen combat athletes, focused only in punching each other in the face, are really bad at doing their dishes. Cara de Sapato is the one that get aggravated, strutting around and whinging at the whole green team about disrespect. Wagnão, Peregrino, Lex Luthor and Demente end up cleaning everything, whilst Sapato sits outside and has a bit of a b*tch fit. He doesn’t touch a dish.

Next up, Yushin Okami (THANK YOU!) joins Team Sonnen for some training. He always seems so happy to be everywhere, and joins them in sparring. We see him training with everyone.

Okami ChokeChael faces off against an old nemesis.

Hortência also learns some more jiu-jitsu, and again, it’s Bomba who’s the lucky victim. He collapses when she sinks in a choke, and everyone plays along, getting the medics ready. It was pretty obvious, but even so, hilarious all the same.

Sleeping BombaIt works better if you don’t smile the whole time.

NewChallenger: Okami looks bigger than some of these heavyweights, doesn’t he?  Massive dude.

These training segments with Hortência just slay me.  I can’t explain it.  This Brazilian cast is the best.  Isabel seems a lot more reluctant to join in on the fun and games, though her personality is more reserved overall.  Nothing wrong with that.  Here, we get to see her learn some striking from Marmota.  He says that she’d be able to beat up Hortência with her long limbs.

The_Vortex: Hey man, Isabel’s almost got Dan Kelly level striking! (too soon?)

NewChallenger: This week’s challenge is “The Bridge” and I’m already excited because it involves the octagon girls.  The fighters have to stand in a line holding planks while the ladies walk over them.  The pair holding the planks have to move to the end of the line to keep the bridge going and so on and so forth.  The winning team gets a day at the spa.

Odd CoupleThese two would make some beautiful babies.

I feel like the girls themselves could affect the results.  It would have been hilarious and cruel if the teams had to pick the girls like it was a recess kickball game.  However they chose the girls, Team Wanderlei wins handily again.  Why are they so much better at these games?

The_Vortex: Team Wanderlei’s got the skills that kills. Maybe not all the fight skills, but they’re clearly training hard to win these wacky minigames. Team Wanderlei certainly enjoys their time off, and maybe Marmota enjoys it a little too much…

Marmota SpeaksTranslation-Phrasing – Boom! 

NewChallenger: It is a crime, a crime I tell you that they didn’t show us more of the fighters’ day at the spa!  This could have been half an episode right here.  At least what we got was spectacular.  And Jollyson Francino certainly made the most of it:

Francino: This is so great.  Too bad our friends couldn’t make it.  They didn’t win this prize.  We won.  But that’s fine.  I’ll enjoy it in their place.

Spa DayJollyson: “I’m a new girl!”

The_Vortex: Afterwards, Chael Sonnen shows up at the house with a sh*tload of food. It’s for fun, and Borrachinha ends up asking Chael about his opinion on Brazil. Chael’s evasive, in a fun way, and promises to tell him his real opinion before he leaves. Marmota’s having none of this. Something something loyalty something patriotism something team something something.

Not much of a fan of Marmota, his confessionals are painting him as way, way too obnoxiously serious.

NewChallenger: Methinks that Marmota is auditioning for the role of Dida in Wanderlei’s gang after the show is over.  He’ll fit right in with all that nonsense.

The_Vortex: Montanha used to be a fat kid. He’s turned that around, and describes himself as very competitive. The training’s harder than the fight, in his opinion, and because of that, it doesn’t really bother him that he’s fighting a friend.

NewChallenger: Lex Luthor comes from a basketball background, which makes me like him even more.  I’ll be sorely disappointed if we don’t get to see him play some pick-up ball with Hortência at some point.  He experienced a great tragedy in 2011 when his 4-year old son passed away in a pool accident.  I’m surprised that he’s able to recount this story with such composure.

The two friends agree to wear sunglasses and a cap to the weigh-in to make it less awkward.  It may have had the opposite effect.

Friendly FaceoffTwo crude dudes.

There’s not a lot of suspense for heavyweight weigh-ins, is there?

The_Vortex: Fantastic weigh in there. It really highlights how ridiculous the whole damn thing is. Lex is smaller and has a shorter reach. Again, he’s probably a light heavyweight, but being nine years older, and having nine more pro fights, he’s got an experience edge.

NewChallenger: This week’s octagon girl contestant is Camila Bortolazzo.  She’s hoping this gig will open up other opportunities for her.  I don’t like that.  You should aspire to be an octagon girl FOR LIFE.

Camila BortolazzoAlready looking beyond the cage…

Back on TUF 17, Sonnen helped Tor Troéng warm up by using his body like a human rolling pin to massage Troéng.  He continues that tradition here by massaging Lex Luthor’s head and ears.  Weird.  I’m not a professional fighter.  What do I know?

The_Vortex: As the fight begins, they circle for a while, and Lex lands a heavy leg kick. Montanha bulls him against the cage, and holds him there for a while. Lex Luthor lands some hits and is eventually able to reverse position. Montanha eventually re-reverses, and still tries unsuccessfully for a takedown. Eventually they break away, and Lex Luthor is able to maintain his range and strike a little. Montanha trips over himself, and falls down into butt-scoot position, where he remains for a minute or so, while Lex kicks his legs, and lands one sick looking body punch, unwilling to jump into his guard. With just under a minute to go, he’s stood up. They circle, until Montanha is backed into the cage. Lex Luthor lands a beautiful three punch combination that drops Montanha like a rock, and punches him until he gets the stoppage.

NewChallenger: I was really impressed by Lex Luthor.  Calm, composed and patient…he waited for an opening and that was it for Montanha.  With all due respect to Montanha, it didn’t look like he had much to offer offensively and it was only a matter of time until Lex Luthor found a way to put him down.

The_Vortex: Lex Luthor doesn’t seem overjoyed, fair given the circumstances, and the green team cheer for Montanha as the results are read, which was some really nice sportsmanship.

Happy TeamThis isn’t where Yushin parked his car…

And now, as promised, and for very good reason really, the tears begin…

NewChallenger: Montanha, Lex Luthor, Hortência, Francino, me…everyone is crying.  It’s glorious.  Lex Luthor is actually loudly sobbing, just overcome with all kinds of emotions.  He even apologizes to Montanha after.  Montanha, showing what a star he is, tells his team that they should focus on the upcoming fights for Marmota and Francino.  Oh man, here I go again…

Team Sonnen finally gets to pick a fight!  Yay!  Hmm…what’s that?  There’s only one possible match-up left in each division?  Oh.

Lex Luthor VictoriousNext week: Is it time for the Coaches’ Challenge already?  This season is just flying by.  I guess that’s how it is when TUF is actually good.

The Ultimate Fighter 19 – Team Edgar v. Team Penn – Week 3 Recap

Is the world ready for a kinder, gentler BJ Penn?  Based on what we’ve seen in these first three episodes, Penn is relaxed.  Humble.  Mature.  Zen-like even.  None of this is to say that he was some raving egomaniac before, but there was always some element of haughtiness and arrogance surrounding the old Penn (that he was able to back up more often than not).  I’m not sure what I expected.  He’s been on the shelf for so long and been through so many ups and downs career-wise, it’s good to see that he’s settled down.

Still, it’d be nice to see him just rear back and slap Frankie Edgar in the face for no reason, right?  I’d laugh.

Team Colours

Team Edgar
Team Penn

Tension is rising.  First blood has been spilt (figuratively speaking, last week’s fight devoid of any bloodshed) and Team Penn is up one to zip.  Cathal Pendred plays the good sportsman even as Hector Urbina stares a hole through him.  After Pendred leaves, Urbina jokes that he might just “shank his ass later”.  It’s funnier when you actually hear him say it.

Staring DaggersSleep with one eye open, Irish.

Renzo Gracie, er, graces Team Edgar with his presence.  It’s unfortunate that my last memory of him is that brutal fight with Matt Hughes.  For anyone who hasn’t seen it, I mean “brutal” as in unwatchable, not in terms of actual violence.  At one point, Hughes actually helped Renzo to stand up off the mat he was so gassed.  That one made Pendred/Urbina look like Don Frye/Yoshihiro Takayama.

I do always enjoy watching Renzo talk and teach.  He has such an upbeat attitude.  He pumps up Team Edgar by telling him that when he was younger he would have to beat up his larger, younger brothers all the time.  It’s a fun story that reeks of Gracie revisionism.  I bet his brothers tell it differently.

Penn demonstrates how he spins like a break dancer to get an armbar from bottom position.  It looks awesome.  Does he think the others are going to be able to do it like him?  He forgets that he’s BJ Penn sometimes.

This week’s storyline revolves around Todd Monaghan’s life as an evangelist and a preacher.  He decides to preach to the team every Sunday.  Many religious fighters have passed through the TUF house.  I can’t recall any of them being so eager to integrate their spirituality into the house.  Were this to happen on a previous season, I can imagine the segment being played for laughs with lots of shots of bored or disapproving faces and wonky music cues.

ChurchHector and the others feeling the Holy Ghost.

Instead, like everything else on the show these days, they play it straight.  Monaghan’s opponent, Daniel Spohn, attends out of respect and also to see where Monaghan’s head is at.  Questions about Monaghan’s mindset dominate the episode.  None of Team Penn is convinced by his schtick, particularly Pendred who seems downright annoyed that Monaghan would feel the need to muddy up his message by emphasizing the material things that God had blessed him with.

Pendred: Actions speak louder than words.  He’s full of words, no actions though.

Later, Corey Anderson expresses his concern that Monaghan might be overconfident.  The team fears that he only focuses on positive results, a consequence of his faith perhaps?  Team Edgar is smart to advise caution, but on some level they might have messed with his head too much.

Spohn has a certain intensity about him as well, though it’s channeled more noticeably through his training and exercise.  He rings Josh Clark’s bell when they’re sparring, a callback to the vicious knockout he dished out to get into the house.  Penn has him pegged as a dark horse.  The team suggests that Spohn go for ground and pound rather than a one punch KO.  They believe Monaghan will be looking to stand.  Penn pegs Spohn as a dark horse to win the competition.

Pendred gets the smart idea to have gym mats brought to his room.  Has nobody done this before?  Now Team Penn guys can train whenever they want.  I anticipate conflict over whether or not Team Edgar guys can roll on them followed by the mats being destroyed or disposed of in some inappropriate way.

Mat RoomI think this qualifies as a fight club.

Spohn is a sensei at his gym and he teaches his team the “iron body” technique, which is supposed to help them relax.  It just ends up making them really sweaty.  Those mats are going to be friggin’ disgusting after a couple of days.

These #HowDoYouKFC segments are rough.  That’s the last time I’ll mention them unless something interesting happens.

The fight

Everyone describes Monaghan as a go-getter with a big heart.  He’s all offence and no defence, something which Spohn takes full advantage of.  As soon as he starts coming forward, Monaghan freezes up.  Two hard punches land and then Spohn gets a takedown just like Team Penn instructed.

From there, the action becomes nearly non-existent.  I wouldn’t describe it as “lay and pray” since Spohn executes some nice guard passes.  However, his ability to improve position so skillfully only makes his lack of output even more noticeable.  He is so reluctant to throw punches or elbows or go for submissions that there is legitimate risk of the action being reset even though Spohn is in full mount.  I haven’t seen that happen since Bobby Lashley had the same thing happen to him against Chad Griggs.

At one point, Spohn gets too high on the back and Monaghan decides to duck down and spike him into the mat.  I’m not sure how legal that was and it looked like it could have gone poorly for both guys.

Monaghan EscapeUgh.

An arm bar escape by Monaghan puts him in good position to throw hands from up top.  Somehow he trips and falls right back to the floor.  He’s certainly…unorthodox.

Ground And WhoopsAnd this with the “Godfather of Ground and Pound” cageside.

This is the second straight fight where Edgar’s fighter has looked flat in the wrestling department.  Monaghan would later say that he anticipated a stand up battle and neglected his takedown defence.  Well that was f**king dumb.

Dana White is furious at both guys: Spohn for not letting his hands go and Monaghan for not listening to his coaches.

White: So then you’ve got Todd Monaghan who has Renzo Gracie and Frankie Edgar in his corner yelling instructions…and [Monaghan] literally did not do one thing that they said.  These guys who are unbelievable cornermen are telling you how to get out of the mount, telling you to do these things…he literally did nothing that they said!  You may as well have me in your corner or somebody else that knows nothing.

Spohn takes the decision (though Monaghan almost tapped out to a rear naked choke at the very last second), which is somehow both one-sided and lacklustre.  He failed to impress the most important judge: Dana White.  If Spohn doesn’t make it to the finals, don’t be surprised if neither guy gets scheduled for a fight after the show.  This one made Hughes/Renzo look like Don Frye/Yoshihiro Takayama.

Spohn VictoriousNext week: Tim Williams v. Dhiego Lima.  Also, is a good fight too much to ask for?  That’s two snoozers in a row with no heat or storyline between the competitors.  Has TUF season ever been cancelled before?  Hang in there everybody.  We made it through Shane Carwin, Roy Nelson, Julian Lane, and Colton Smith, we can make it through this.