Entering this season, I knew little about Cathal Pendred besides the fact that he held a title in Cage Warriors, he’s Irish, and his name is difficult for us North Americans to pronounce.
Eleven episodes in, all I know about Cathal Pendred is that he held a title in Cage Warriors, he’s Irish, and his name is difficult for us North Americans to pronounce. Oh, I think he said something about having studied to be an engineer or a doctor or some such thing. I can’t remember.
Not only has this season failed to entertain or produce a potential star, it hasn’t even been able to help in promoting a fighter like Pendred who already had considerable buzz before appearing on the show. Even knowing that he would eventually lose to Eddie Gordon in the semi-finals, the makers of the show have to be aware that Pendred still projects as a valuable commodity in the future especially when he returns to his natural weight class. As it stands, I’ve been given no reason to care about him or Gordon or any of the other fighters for that matter. The Ultimate Fighter has long been one of the UFC’s last reliable and controllable outlets for manufacturing personalities and now it can’t even seem to get that right.
Pat Walsh wants more practice time so he decides to talk to Mike King about working with Team Penn. This isn’t going to cause any problems whatsoever. You may recall back in season 5 when Nate Diaz went to train with Team Penn prior to his match-up with Corey Hill, his teammate at the time. And that didn’t…oh wait, Diaz was ostracized by his teammates and called a traitor. But you have to think Fat Pat is easier to get along with than him.
I like that Walsh isn’t intimidated by the technical acumen of Corey Anderson. Once you get in that cage, there are so many variables that sometimes the advantage goes not to the man who prepares to do everything right, but the man who is ready when the action goes haywire.
If I were Team Penn, I wouldn’t Walsh training with my guys. Daniel Spohn is still in the competition. What if he faces Walsh in the finals? Team Edgar’s worst fears are realized as they show us clips of Walsh telling the other team about his training partners. You know you’re on camera! It goes to show you that even the people on TUF 19 don’t care about TUF 19.
Anderson has no choice to confront Walsh about it the next day while Gordon and Ian Stephens look on.
Putting the format of the show aside, I’m with Walsh. We say it all the time: MMA is not a team sport. He has to look out for himself. You can see Anderson back off when Walsh starts to get upset, which is lame. Especially when you consider that he and the others tattle on him to Frankie Edgar later. I would have liked to have seen Walsh tell his teammates to screw off. Diplomacy does not make for exciting television.
The confrontation carries over into the locker room. Walsh is forced into the humiliating position of getting dressed down in front of everyone, though I’m not sure that was the intention. Everything Ricardo Almeida says sounds like he’s angry because he’s Brazilian. It’s too much for Walsh and he has to take a powder.
Nobody wants to see the fat kid getting teased to the point of crying. Edgar and Almeida calm him down, though he’s not allowed to train with the other team anymore. I’m not sure Edgar did the right thing there by accommodating his team’s complaints. Sounds like the squeaky wheels got the oil. Stephens says he can see both sides of the argument. He’s always offering a reasonable viewpoint, which is probably why he’s not featured on the show all that much.
About a minute into the fight, Walsh does that thing where a guy gets clipped and then smiles. That’s the universal sign for “you got me now please don’t hit me again because I’m kind of f**ked up right now.” His Keith Jardine-esque countering style doesn’t stop Anderson from landing. Walsh is in all kinds of trouble.
The first is a clear 10-9 for Anderson. Walsh actually starts the 2nd round off strong, tagging Anderson with some wacky hooks. It’s…kind of fun to watch? He’s either driven by creativity or a concussion. Either way, Anderson sticks to the gameplan and turns things back in his favour.
The story of all three rounds is Walsh flailing around and Anderson doing enough to win without endangering himself. Look, nobody wants to be the guy who rushes in and gets caught at the last second (*cough* Pat Barry *cough*), but…damn, do you want this or not? Anderson’s utter lack of finishing ability is not going to ingratiate him with Dana White. Going into the third, his own corner yelled at him to finish the fight and he was up two rounds!
Walsh is rocked badly by a knee. It looks like he doesn’t know where he is. Anderson refuses to go for the finish. Refuses. I should be impressed by his dominance. I’m not. White isn’t. Even Anderson is subdued when his hand is raised. Congratulations on making it to the finals. Good luck convincing anyone to care.
I know I’m being too harsh. I’m defending Walsh’s selfish actions while condemning Anderson for fighting smart to guarantee his spot at the finale. But I really feel that Walsh did everything in his power to prepare himself against a bigger, more highly regarded opponent (Anderson was the top light heavyweight pick). Anderson, on the other hand, fought well enough to make Walsh look bad, but not well enough to make himself look good.
It goes back to what I was saying at the beginning. The show hasn’t been showcasing the fighters. At the same time, the fighters haven’t been giving them much to work with.
Just one episode left.