The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America – Week 10

The_Vortex: The season’s beginning to wind down, as we’re hitting our third last episode. This has been a great season so far, but unfortunately, it’s been pretty short on tears. Don’t worry, fight fans, there’s some quality joy-sobbing in this episode. We start this time with Marlon “Chito/Pollito” Vera. He’s fighting against Alejandro “El Diablito” Pérez later this episode. It’s not looking good for him, though. Remember those rashes and scabs he developed last episode? Well, holy crap, but they’ve multiplied out of control. They’re spreading across his face and back, and he’s genuinely quite ill because of it. It’s not a good sign, and his teammates are cautious, as no one wants to catch anything funky.

Skin ConditionGYAAAAAAH

Even the coaches are being realistic about the situation. As they take Chito off to see a specialist, they mention that he could very easily be removed from the fight, leaving one of the other 135’ers to take his place. Between Bentley (copped a whupping), Fredy (lost a close, yet boring decision) and Guido (lost a hugely controversial decision that he almost certainly would have won with judges that had fully working brains), Guido seems to be the best pick to replace poor Chito.

With Chito off in quarantine, it all seems up in the air. Thoughts, NewChallenger? Think we’re gonna get a schooling from The Professor, a visit from the Doctor, or have the Revenge of the Ninja?

NewChallenger: Putting aside our shared distaste for Guido, it would be crazy for anyone but him to get the second chance.  As you said, Bentley got taken out in the first round and didn’t show much to warrant further consideration.  Fredy’s case is even worse.  The Professor is dealing with an ankle injury and Alejandro is the one who took him out of the competition in the first place.  Moggly isn’t convinced that the Team Werdum bantamweights even want back into the competition.  In particular, he doesn’t like Bentley’s chances against Alejandro.

Moggly Talking JunkGuido is still talking and talking and talking…this whole episode he is talking.  Did the judges get to know him before the fight?  Because that might explain how they came up with their scores.  I do have to give Guido credit for not treating Chito like the Outbreak monkey (he applies Chito’s rash cream for him) and declaring that he’ll give half of the prize money to Chito if he wins the tournament.  Nice one, Guido…*mumble, grumble*

Speaking of Chito, he earns a dubious TUF first by being put into isolation at a hotel.  He’s stuck there the whole day while he waits to see the doctor.

Happy MDThis doctor is way too chipper considering the news she brings.

The good news is that it’s not contagious and the scabs have already begun to fall off.  The bad news is that there’s a high risk of becoming infected again if he uses the sauna or if he fights.  “I already cried in the house, so I don’t want to do it here.” he says.

The_Vortex: Chito is easily the most likeable of the Team Werdum guys. I agree, he’s taking this with an insane amount of grace. The most important thing though, is that it’s just an immune system issue, and not contagious. After the doctor nixes his chances of fighting, obviously the next step is to meet with Dana and Werdum. This is honestly one of the better scenes this entire series. First thing Chito does, is he shoots in for a hug. Werdum’s not having any of it, until Dana assures him it’s not contagious, and even then, Werdum’s still not keen on the touching.

DiagnosisWell, that’s a relief.

Despite being removed from the tournament, Dana is guaranteeing Chito a spot on the finale, somewhere in the undercard of UFC 180. This is awesome news for him, that he’s able to salvage something out of this situation. They all end up laughing at Chito’s stories of being regarded by other hotel goers as a zombie/leprosy patient. It’s kinda touching, and amazing that Chito’s so accepting of all of this. He probably knew what was going to happen when they quarantined him.

NewChallenger: I was also impressed with Chito’s maturity and understanding.  No doubt having to raise a daughter with an illness of her own has provided him with the proper perspective.  Guys usually beg or bargain with the doctor in these situations, but as you mentioned he had to expect that this was coming.  The whole segment was a welcome departure from the gloom we’re used to (not to take anything away from someone like Justine Kish on TUF 20), with Werdum in particular continuing to come off as everyone’s favourite coach/big brother.  Along with Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira, he has to be one of the most likeable coaches ever.

No TocarWho knew Werdum had such a lively sense of humour?

In a moment devoid of suspense, Dana makes the Guido/Alejandro match-up official.  You would think Guido would finally be satisfied.  You would be wrong.  He can’t stop tweaking Marco about the result of their fight.  It does say something that Marco doesn’t offer a strong response when Guido asks if he felt like a winner when he got the decision.  Still, it’s ridiculous that the man can go on like this even though he got a second chance.

Chito to the rescue!  He busts Guido’s chops by reminding him that he said he would retire if he lost to Psycho.  Verbal shots are fired at poor Vinny Magalhães to illustrate the point:

He said, “If he hits me, they can take me out.”  The other guy did this (mimes a weak punch), and Vinny fell like this (eyes roll to the back of his head).  And he had fought three rounds against Phil Davis.  And an old man came and knocked him out.

As for the fight…I have to leave the recap to you, sir.  Lord knows you have waited long enough for this day to come.

The_Vortex: So, Chito doesn’t even mention Anthony Perosh by name, just refers to him as nothing but the “old man.” I’d leap to my countryman’s defense, but, yeah, that’s really the only way to describe the Hippo these days…

As for the fight, yeah, it’s a good one. This season has really delivered on the entertainment value of the fights, and this one was a crazy few minutes. After the glove touch, Guido just comes out firing on all cylinders, throwing bombs like they’re going out of fashion (not that bombs were ever in fashion, but I digress). Guido is flurrying like crazy, roaring in and swinging hard.

NewChallenger: All I have in my notes for this fight is “What the f**k is Guido doing?”  He’s just out there winging haymakers.

The_Vortex: He’s getting some hits in, but for the most part, Alejandro is able to stay elusive, and clip him with a couple nice counters. About 90 seconds in, they both connect with hard hits nearly simultaneously, and Guido gets sent flying away. He recovers well, and three seconds later, he’s right in the face of Alejandro again, swinging wide with the right, and launching himself behind his fist. This time, it doesn’t work so well. Alejandro is out of range, and clobbers Guido with this huge left hand. Guido drops, and he’s basically already out, but Alejandro is taking no chances, and straight up murders him with the next shot, and a couple more before the ref officially stops the fight.

El Diablito KOOne of the most brutal follow-up punches after a knockdown I’ve ever seen.

Remember last week, when everyone was deathly silent when the fight ended? Yeah, this ain’t like that. Guido’s still down for a few seconds, and he went full facedown Fedor-Arlovski for a short while. Guido intentionally fought a fight that wasn’t going to go to the judges, and by crap, it most certainly did not.

Guido is still in a daze, super confused. Guido, I’m a let Chris Tucker tell you what just happened:

NewChallenger: There’s no other way to describe Alejandro’s reaction after other than “unrestrained squealing”.  Earlier in the episode, we found out that he and Teco had formed a close relationship over the years having fought in the same circuit (Teco having beaten him twice in the past).  Openly sobbing, he exits the cage and calls for Teco.  All Alejandro can say is “To the UFC!  To the UFC!” as they embrace.  Damn this show for making me feel feelings.

Guido has now lost twice on the show, a rare feat.  He muses on his experience:

I thought I could beat everyone, and I think God made me fall.  He said, “Now you’ll see that you can fall, too.  And that you need to be careful because you’re just human.”

Humbled by God, knocked out by a guy whose name translates to “The Little Devil”.  How poetic.

El Diablito Moves OnNext week: Teco v. Psycho.  Also, we find out the truth behind Chito’s alleged illness…

Collusion

The Ultimate Fighter 20: A Champion Will Be Crowned – Week 5

I’m still getting my TUF schedule in order, so it took me the weekend to get around to watching this episode.  Would the Felice Herrig/Heather Clark drama overshadow their actual match-up?  Would Heather be able to make peace with her teammates?  Would someone on Team Melendez win a damn fight?

Team Colours

Team Melendez
Team Pettis

The second question gets answered in the first quarter of the show.  Bec Rawlings jokes that Heather and Felice are both “drama mamas”, which is the most PG way she could have expressed her thoughts.  Things get a lot more serious when they get to the gym, the animosity from the ice bath incident still fresh in the mind of Angela Magaña.

Angela M. surprises me with how vocal she is about her dislike for Heather.  In the first episode, she struck me as this “Zen mother” living peacefully in Thailand.  I blame the house and the constant filming for bringing out the worst in her.  Gilbert Melendez is smart enough to step in and mediate before the relationship gets worse…or maybe it’s too late because the rest of the is merciless in their criticism of Heather.

The sport of mixed martial arts is still in that stage where admitting that you’re hurt or allowing an injury to affect how you train is still frowned upon.  Heather’s knee injury has limited her ability to work with her teammates and that is a big no-no.  Worse, Angela M. claims that she limps during practice, but not at the house.  The more Heather talks, the deeper she sinks…

Heather: I’m not here to hurt myself because you guys need me…
Bec: We don’t need you.  Don’t get that twisted.  We don’t need you.
Angela M.: Don’t flatter yourself.

I can absolutely see why Heather’s attitude might grate on the other girls, but they’re relentlessly ganging up on her.  Angela M. spitting bars and then covering her ears and going “la la la la” only makes Angela look bad, not Heather.  Coach Melendez must feel like he accidentally wandered into the Player Haters’ Ball.

Over on Team Pettis, Felice is having her own problems.  For one, it must suck to have to beat the same opponent again and this time for no money.  Sure, it’s on a bigger stage, but that just means if she loses then that’s the only result that will count in the minds of most fans.  Luckily, Felice claims to be undefeated against girls “who talk a lot of s**t” about her.  She’s feeling the pressure of keeping the streak going for Team Pettis and to kick Heather’s ass for Team Melendez.  The anxiety has her in tears.  As mean as this sounds, I don’t find the storyline that compelling.  It pales in comparison to what Heather is dealing with, not to mention the Justine Kish situation.

Justine’s experience has been a nightmare so far.  Her body isn’t cooperating so she hasn’t been able to train properly, which is also affecting her ability to stay in shape and make weight.  The time comes to see the doctor and it’s not good news.

Doctor BroCheck out the doc coming in for the real thing.

She has a torn ACL.  That’s that as far as the competition goes.  It’s such a painful scene to watch.  She sounds like she’s going to vomit.

DevastationJustine keeps it together as long as she can and just loses it when she sees Jessica.

In a show of consideration rarely seen on TUF, Justine makes sure to apologize to Bec because they were scheduled to fight.  It’s also worth mentioning that we later see Justine sweating in the sauna with Felice even though she’s out of the competition.  This is how a real athlete acts.

With Justine gone, the rumour is that Tecia Torres will get her spot back since she’s the highest ranking fighter who was knocked out of the competition.  Nobody on Team Pettis is excited about the idea, especially Carla Esparza who will end up with Torres in her side of the bracket.  In an even stranger twist, Torres is put on Team Pettis so Anthony Pettis gets to coach another top seed.  Dana justifies it by saying he can’t have two Melendez fighters going against each other because then Melendez would be guaranteed to get control of the next fight.  He then pulls out the “this is not a team sport” line.  Why do we keep going with the team format year after year then?

While Tecia tries to acclimate herself to her new surroundings, Heather is getting more advice from Gilbert.  He tells her that he was watching her previous fight with Felice and that she needs to work on her back escapes.  Heather says her arm was broken.  Gilbert doesn’t care.  In a testimonial, she casually talks about the time she trained with Anderson Silva.  Ugh.  Is it too late to hook her up with TUF: Latin America’s Guido Cannetti?

Positive ThinkingEven Heather’s mock celebrating is awkward.

It’s probably a bad sign that on the morning of the fight Bec is providing verbal support for Felice and not her own teammate, right?  At least Team Melendez offers a polite clap for Heather before the match starts so she has that going for.  And the referee calls her and Felice “ma’am” when asking if they’re ready.  That’s a new one.

The fight

Usually we get some idea of what each team’s gameplan will be, but since this episode had to cover so much emotional ground I don’t know what to expect.  I know that Felice is a good grappler so I expect Heather to keep it standing…and I’m wrong right away as she goes for a standing guillotine about a minute in.  It looks real tight and Felice shows serious grit in surviving it.  She gets a nice trip out of the clinch and moves into half guard.  Is it legal for Felice’s braids to get in Heather’s face?

A nice sweep by Heather puts her back on top, though she soon falls into a triangle.  Felice transitions and nearly gets a submission with a dangerous looking armbar.  They then scramble into an awkward position.

North-ish South-ishThere’s not much you can do here besides punch your opponent’s ass.

The referee offers two warnings for them to improve position.  There’s no “three strike” rule in MMA buddy, just stand them up!  Felice takes things into her own hands and rotates beautifully to end up on top to close the round.  Not a lot of damage by either fighter.  I give it to Felice 10-9 for the submission attempts.

Felice gets Heather’s back in round two, spells Heather’s doom.  She does her best to spin out, but Felice’s hips are glued to her.  If only someone had told her that she needs to work on her back escapes!  Team Melendez is yelling for her to shake Felice off.  Somehow, she does manage to get back into Felice’s guard.  That’s all she can do though and after a reset, Felice gets a big takedown to clinch the round and the fight.

There’s not much to analyze.  Felice is the better grappler and it showed.  Heather brings up the knee, though even she says that the injury got in her head.  She makes sure to apologize to Felice after for all the things she said about her in the past.

Beef SquashedHug that s**t out ladies.

A somewhat satisfying end to that feud, wouldn’t you say?  The action couldn’t match the alleged intensity of their personal rivalry, but maybe it’s better that nobody got their face smushed or their arm popped.  That would have led to even worse feelings.  The funny thing is we didn’t actually see that much interaction between Felice and Heather in the house.  Heather’s worst enemies are her own teammates.  Her foil, Angela M., fights next week, so we’ll see if Heather is able to bury one more hatchet and help out.

Felice VictoriousNext Week: Team Pettis’s Aisling Daly v. Team Melendez’s Angela Magaña.  Also, Gilbert calls Rampage Jackson for some coaching advice.

The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America – Week 9

The_Vortex: It’s time for another episode, and this week we have the first proper Mexican standoff, as Yair “Mexican Rory MacDonald” (Cheers TyrionWoodley) Rodríguez takes on Rodolfo Rubio. Team Mexico’s a little bit upset about this, as they’ve spent the whole season talking about how awesome their team is, and how strong their brotherhood has been, and now they finally get to kick the stuffing out of each other. Cain has decided that for this fight, his fighters will be performing without having advice screamed at them from their corners. It’s an interesting move, and probably safer than obviously picking sides. They’re not going to hand the victory to one Mexican at the expense of another.

NewChallenger: In these scenarios where teammates have to fight each other, we’ve seen the coaches give the “we won’t help either fighter” talk too many times to count.  Just once I want to see the coaches admit that they like one of their fighters more and that the other guy is s**t out of luck.  Then again, that kind of happened to Kajan Johnson on TUF: Nations and that turned out to be really depressing.

The_Vortex: Back to the house, and it is once again, completely filthy. Apart from Yair, aka MexiMac, going bonkers with a can of fly spray, the only thing of note to have happened is that Guido is once again a little bitch, and proceeds to place all of the blame about the state of the house on Team Mexico.

NewChallenger: Guido did get in a funny when he said that “Yair also killed a couple of us while he was killing flies.”  Wait, did I just write that?  What is wrong with me?

The_Vortex: I’m pretty disappointed with the editors. This whole scenario is so played out and repetitive, they’ve done it like five times this season already. Surely there’s some other event, no matter how minor, to fill the time. Show them drinking, show them reading, playing cards, training, heck, give us breakdowns of techniques so that we understand what’s going on come fight time, but for god’s sake, don’t show us any more of this stupid dirty kitchen and its junk drama. It’s the TV equivalent of clickbait.

/rant

NewChallenger: In their defence, this is the dirtiest kitchen I’ve ever seen in the final weeks of TUF.  Normally the kitchen drama is resolved by week four, but I guess these cats just couldn’t work it out.  You can actually see flies all over the place.  I don’t envy the camera crew.  Though at least they probably got to go from this to hanging out with Felice Herrig and Rose Namajunas all day.

Kitchen BugsBentley: “Ah!  They are making love, look.”

How embarrassing is it when a world famous athlete like Fabrício Werdum has to come by and tell you to clean your f**king house?  He has the brilliant idea of making it so that whoever loses the Coaches’ Challenge, their team has to do the housecleaning from now on.  It’s an exciting wager and a way to guarantee that someone takes care of this ridiculous kitchen issue.  Werdum is a modern day Solomon.

Mystery GuestNobody is going to explain who this kid is?  We’re just going to leave it at that?  Alright, then.

That wouldn’t be the only helpful suggestion Werdum has.  He also has some words of encouragement for Marlon Vera aka “Chito” aka “Pollito” (apparently).  I’m not sure who has more nicknames: Latin Americans, Brazilians, or Boston suburbanites.

The_Vortex: They’re really laying it on thick with the Chito situation. I mean, I’m sympathetic, it must really suck, and it’s no medical condition that I’ve ever heard of, but man, Chito’s daughter has had more discussion on screen than The Mysterious Nicaraguan. To his credit, Chito has come across as a really good dude. He definitely seems really genuine about getting the surgery and raising awareness for his daughter.

NewChallenger: I also like how Chito is grateful that his daughter’s condition isn’t one of the more severe cases (in some situations, it can lead to paralysis).  Werdum has the great idea to raise money for Chito even if things don’t work out on the show.

The_Vortex: Unfortunately, it seems like there’s a bit of an ulterior motive to showing Chito on screen. He’s got some really bad scabs all over his face, neck and back. It’s almost certainly a skin infection of some kind, and possibly means he might not be cleared for his next fight. Team Latin America isn’t too worried, as Guido says, as long as they don’t touch him, they’ll be fine. It is gonna be tough rolling with him in training without touching him…

Chito's FaceThat’s naaaaasty. And the scabs don’t help.

Back across to the gym, we can see that the fight between the Mexicans is turning really awkward for everyone involved. The coaches have really stayed true to their promise of providing any strategy coaching to the fighters. Yair’s all about using his kicks and his range, and Rodolfo…well, we learn as much about Rodolfo as we did when he was spotlighted before his other fight. Which is to say, nothing. We have learnt precisely nothing about Rodolfo, at all, ever.

Little DCAlso, someone on Team Mexico brought a dog along. It’s totes adorbs.

NewChallenger: We know more about “Little DC” than we do about Rodolfo.  I couldn’t tell you two things about Rodolfo Rubio other than his first and last name.  Even when they announced the fight last week I was like, “Who is this guy?”

The_Vortex: Forget all that though. Now, we’re up to what has usually been the best damn part of many TUF seasons: the Coaches’ Challenge. It’s penalty kicks! This Coaches’ Challenge has everything. Drama, intrigue, chanting, dancing, an annoying bald dude hosting (not Dana, but some Spanish speaking schlub), scantily clad women holding bricks of cash.  It was freaking great. Werdum is like, amazingly super fired up. After all of these losses, he can finally go out and win something. Cain is a little bit out of his element, but, really, unless he’s grinding people into the ground, Cain always seems out of his element.

That's The SpiritThat’s a champion’s attitude right there.

NewChallenger: The challenge takes place at Bishop Gorman High School, the institution responsible for the Fertitta brothers, Dana White, and Snoop Dogg’s son.

They take turns shooting and playing goalie.  Werdum does a terrible job in net.  It looks like he doesn’t want to risk diving and Cain’s shots are just barely getting past him.  I’d be more critical, but one of these guys has been a healthy and active fighter over the past couple of years and one of them hasn’t…

Goal CelebrationThey say you shouldn’t “eat the worm”.  These guys shouldn’t try to “do the worm”.

Guido uses one of his ninja tricks to hypnotize Cain into kicking a ball wide of the net and that actually helps to even up the action.  The competition goes to overtime and they wisely cut most of it out.  There’s no way that even this cast could keep up their regular levels of enthusiasm after watching a dozen bad penalty kicks.  Werdum wins, which means that it’s on Team Mexico to do the housecleaning from now on.  Guido twice refers to the other team as his “Mexican servants”.  I’d love to see someone get away with that on an American edition of TUF.

Our first semi-final fight starts off eerily quiet.  The corners aren’t talking, there’s no commentary, and the Mexicans don’t want to show too much support for Yair or Fito.  You can tell that the competitors themselves aren’t into it.  It’s a really sloppy start as they work to get motivated to hurt each other.

The_Vortex: It’s not too much of a long fight either. Rodolfo quickly dumps Yair onto the round, after about a minute or so, Yair forces his way up. So, that’s the first unexciting minute over. Otherwise, it’s Yair that gets warmed up faster, he’s more aggressive on his feet, and manages to keep it there. He ends up on top of Rodolfo as they both manage to throw each other, and cuts up Rodolfo with a couple of elbows and wild punches. Yair’s throwing a lot of odd spinning s**t on the feet that he’s not even bothering to set up properly, and some of it is landing, so it’s that kind of fight. Eventually, Yair backs Rodolfo into the cage, and launches at him with a crazy-wild flurry. He wails on him for a while as Herb Dean looks on. Rodolfo Continue reading

20 Thoughts About The Ultimate Fighter 20

For the past two weeks, the latest season of The Ultimate Fighter has been on hiatus to accommodate the Major League Baseball playoffs.  In anticipation of the show’s return tonight, I engaged in a binge watch of the first four episodes over the weekend and here are some random comments and information for anyone watching or fans wondering whether they should consider doing so.

1.  The first episode had a lot of good ideas I’d like to see the show expand on in the future.  For one, having short, well produced profiles of the contestants is more memorable than two hours of mostly insignificant fights to get into the house.  Secondly, I liked seeing the tryouts.  That’s not a segment that will necessarily make sense every season, but it can’t hurt to show us more of the pre-show process.  I especially liked that they contrasted the paths of the more well known fighters with those who had to audition.

Right off the bat, we got to know more about Carla Ezparza (the favourite), Felice Herrig (notorious for self promotion), Alex Chambers (the astrophysicist), Angela Hill (the rookie), Heather Clark (the professional), Angela Magaña (spiritual), Rose Namajunas (beast),  Lisa Ellis (mommy), Tecia Torres (the undefeated prospect), and Randa Markos (the underdog).  They’re already treating these women like stars, which makes sense because regardless of who wins the show the rest of the cast will form the foundation of a new division in the UFC.

2.  The inclusion of Invicta fight footage was brilliant.  The clips showed us that these fighters have been performing at a high level already while also serving to promote a product that is now part of the UFC Fight Pass experience.  I’m also a believer that you can learn a lot about a fighter even if you’re only seeing snippets of what they can do.  Anything that helps foster familiarity in your viewing audience is a good thing.

It was also smart of them to acknowledge that there’s a lot of history between the girls both inside and outside the cage.  They know each other, they’ve trained with each other, and they’ve fought each other.  Whether you’re looking for fresh match-ups or high stakes rematches, every fight this year is going to carry extra weight.

3.  Once they were all gathered in the gym, Dana White declared that these are the sixteen baddest girls in the weight class.  Somewhere, Jessica Aguilar was throwing a remote at the television.

4.  As unpopular as this opinion might be, I should note that I’m not the biggest fan of women’s MMA.  That’s not to say that I don’t support it or that I don’t find it exciting.  I just feel that it’s not on the level of the men’s game.  I’m aware that’s a “duh” statement.  The most obvious comparison to make would be the NBA and the WNBA.  The WNBA is a fine product if you’re a basketball fan, but it lacks that elite level of athleticism that makes basketball a transcendent experience.  I’ve watched and enjoyed women’s basketball and I’ve watched and enjoyed women’s MMA.  I just prefer my basketball with acrobatic lay-ups and thunderous dunks and my MMA with greater potential for one hitter quitters.

5.  And to continue on this piggish bent, there’s no getting around it: there are some attractive women in this cast.  I’m not only talking about physical beauty either, though obviously most mixed martial artists are appealing on that level just from being in fantastic shape (I’m looking at you Roy Nelson).  Beyond that, these girls have great attitudes and personalities, which to me is the essence of attraction.  Take Herrig for example.  Yes, she’s cute, but (at least to me) she’s not on the level of a super model.  It’s her confidence and outgoing personality that makes her truly “hawt”.  Others may disagree and find her personality to be grating, but “eye of the beholder” and all that.

Felice BumThis is my reward for all the male nudity I normally have to deal with on this show.

6.  Since you asked, the girls I like the most are Felice, Alex (so purdy and smart), Rose, and Joanne Calderwood.  Rose consistently gives some of the best confessionals and I never get tired of hearing her rail on Heather Clark.  She also has amazing eyes, the most adorable nose, and a fantastic bum.

Rump ShakerI’m sorry, Pat Barry.  It’s not my fault your girlfriend rules.

7.  The tournament seeding is awesome!  Thank you TUF show runners for respecting that this season is unlike any other and that the crowning of a champion needs to be treated thoughtfully and respectfully.

For anyone who missed it, this is how it went down: Without the coaches’ knowledge, the UFC seeded the women from 1 to 16 based on the fighters’ history and the tryouts.  The coaches would still pick the teams, but depending on who they picked the other coach would then automatically get that pick’s opposite number.  For example, if Anthony Pettis picked #1, Gilbert Melendez would get #16, then if Melendez picked #2, Pettis would get #15 and so on.  This ensured that the high seeds would deservedly get an easier path to the finals and also challenge the coaches and their staff’s ability to assess talent.

(fighters listed in order of selection alternating between Pettis and Melendez, official seeding in parentheses):

Team Pettis

Carla Ezparza (1)
Randa Markos (14)
Joanne Calderwood (2)
Alex Chambers (10)
Jessica Penne (4)
Felice Herrig (6)
Justine Kish (9)
Aisling Daly (5)

Team Melendez

Angela Hill (16)
Tecia Torres (3)
Emily Kagan (15)
Rose Namajunas (7)
Lisa Ellis (13)
Heather Clark (11)
Bec Rawlings (8)
Angela Magaña (12)

8.  Just based on the seeding, Pettis killed it by ending up with five of the top six picks.  Aisling Daly really threw a monkey wrench into things.  She’s been dealing with depression and her understated persona might have caused them to overlook her impressive record.  Pettis nailed the top pick, highly regarded the highly regarded Esparza who I’m sure Melendez would have taken as well.  It’s the bottom of the draft where things got even better for Team Pettis as they somehow got the better of three of the last four picks (and Rawlings/Kish is essentially a toss-up).

9.  I don’t see why that tournament style seeding isn’t something they couldn’t try every season, since a natural pecking order always develops anyway.  The fact is that most fighters they find these days have at least heard of each other.  In the past it might have been a good idea to sell every fighter as some unknown property to increase the believability of anyone winning, but people are smart now.  As much fun as it is to see how guys react to where they were picked by the coaches, it would add even more intrigue to have official rankings as well.

10.  I’m still trying to figure out if it’s a good idea to reward the belt to the winner of this show.  On the one hand, it’s a heck of a prize and it makes TUF somewhat relevant (at least for one season); on the other hand, the multitude of belts has already diminished their drawing power so tying one into a reality show could do further harm.

11. Speaking of titles, based on what we’ve seen so far, the show has done nothing to disprove the notion that having Pettis and Melendez coach this season was a bad idea.  Neither is Mr. Personality in front of the camera, there doesn’t appear to be any real animosity, and that lightweight belt continues to hover in limbo.  With the recent news that Cain Velasquez will miss The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America coaching match-up with Fabrício Werdum, I can’t fathom how the organization thinks it’s a good idea to wilfully waste their champions’ time filming these shows.  I’m not saying Cain got hurt because he was a TUF coach; however, if there’s even the slight possibility he could have fought instead of doing the show then you have to make that a priority.  If Pettis or Melendez suffer an injury that pushes their showdown even further back, it will be a disaster.

12.  Tecia Torres became the first high seed to get upset and in the very first episode no less.  It is a close fight, one that is difficult to judge because her opponent (Randa) was on top for the majority of the contest, but Tecia was aggressive from bottom position.  It goes to a third round that I scored for Randa due to her top control.  I might be slightly biased because she’s flying the greatest colours in the world.

Proud Iraqi CanadianAnd don’t you forget it.

13.  Oh JoJo, my heart sings for thee, lassie.  So much so that you get your own bullet point.  Maybe it’s my love of accents, maybe it’s my love of pale women, maybe I’m just a total weirdo, but I think Joanne is SO HOT.  That near whisper she speaks in is so seductive, am I right?  Am I right?!?  I know I’m not the only one who thinks this.  Urijah Faber (stepping in for an absent Pettis) commented on it and he also said “You sound like Braveheart.”  Smooth.  You stay away from my girl, Faber!  (And you too, Joanne’s boyfriend!)

Some of JoJo’s highlights:

(After being matched up with Emily Kagan)

I’m pretty happy with that match-up even though before we were talking and I was like “I’m a wee bit hungry” and she’s like “Oh, I’ve got some food in my bag”.  So she went away and brought me two carrots.  Then when we got matched up I was like “Aw f**k she’ll be wanting her carrots back.”

Arm BreakerPettis: Oh!  Not so hard!  She took my arm out.  We’re just practicing right now.  Go light, okay?  I know you’re in fight mode.

Joanne: That was light.

(Filming a home video)

Joanne: I’ll go to Jemma first, my sister.  Will you miss me when I go away for six weeks?

Jemma: Of course not.

Joanne: Okay.

JoJoThe purple and pink shades put it over the top for me.

I can tell you this: if she walks out of this tournament with the title, she immediately becomes the UFC’s most distinctive champion (until Mark Hunt knocks out Werdum, of course).

14.  Poor Heather has been singled out by the cast (and the production crew) as the house pariah.  We all know people like her who are trying really hard to fit in and the harder they try it just makes things worse.  She also seems to be the neat and orderly type and those are two things that the TUF house has never been.  Everything she does rubs her teammates the wrong way, whether it’s playing rules lawyer during a raunchy question and answer game or using the ice bath at the wrong time.  The latter incident resulted in Angela M. yelling “I don’t want to hear it!  Shut up!”  And considering Angela M. is normally pretty chill, that was bad.

RefugeThe two Angelas and Rose hiding in the opposing locker room to avoid having to deal with Heather.

15. Angela H.’s farting.  This is a thing apparently.  I was wondering how she made it onto the show ahead of other more experienced women and I guess this explains it.

Angela's EntranceKickin’ in the door like Frankie Edgar!

16. Episode three started off on an awful note when Bec Rawlings found out that her dad passed away.  He had been suffering from Parkinson’s disease.  This harkens back to season 15, when Michael Chiesa received the same news.  He went on to win the show and it remains to be seen whether Bec can find the same inspiration he did.  Jake Shields visited the house to give his condolences.  He had to deal with the death of his father a few years back, weeks before a big fight with Jake Ellenberger.

Shields's FlowersI bet y’all feel bad about all those mean things you’ve said about Jake Shields now, don’t you?

17.  It never ceases to amaze me that in addition all the difficulties that come with being a professional athlete, women also have to deal with the possibility of becoming pregnant.  Starting a family can interfere with a woman’s career in any field, but when you add in the physical demands required to be a successful martial artist the challenge is mind boggling.

Lisa (wife of TUF 16 cast member Eddie Ellis) is only a year removed from having a baby.  She was dealing with a lot of issues, particularly a lack of confidence from having to endure such a long layoff.  The seeding did her no favours, matching her up with Jessica Penne who was mega focused.  Just as Melendez feared, Lisa froze up when Jessica got aggressive.  She was on defence the whole time and eventually succumbed to a rear naked choke.

18.  This season still doesn’t have as much crying as the TUF: Brazil series.  Yes, these women get emotional when they lose or when they’re talking about their struggles or missing their families.  The men in Brazil cry because it’s Tuesday.

The ProposalNow this is some progressive programming.

19.  Team Pettis started a tradition of hanging their underwear on the Team Pettis sign in their locker room.  I suppose that’s one way to add a feminine touch to the proceedings.  Team Melendez gets the wise idea to put a pair of granny panties up there, which isn’t a bad gag.  Jessica’s counter prank is better.  She takes the panties and stretches them across Melendez’s portrait.

Melendez DefacedMost men would be happy to have women’s underwear being shoved in their face.

20.  Overall, this season has definitely been worth watching even for lapsed TUF fans or even newcomers to the program.  Instead of relying on the novelty of an all female cast to carry the season, the show has stepped up its coverage of the fighters by giving us lots of footage of their lives outside of the house and drawing upon their shared history.  The fights have been good (if unspectacular) and there’s been little forced drama inside the house.  The conflicts feel real, almost uncomfortably so at times (at one point, the girls wonder if Heather has “real person feelings”.  Ouch!).

There’s also great camaraderie.  This is an enormous opportunity for every person in the house and they know it.  No cast will ever approach the significance or success of the original TUF (can you imagine the likes of Kenny Florian, Forrest Griffin, and Josh Koscheck all living in the same house today?), but this is as close as you’re going to get for a while.  You get the feeling that they want to elevate each other, whether it’s through bringing out each other’s personalities or pushing each other to the limit during training.  Friends or enemies, they have the chance to make a lot of money together.

But what do I know?  I watch every season of this show anyway so I can’t be trusted.  If you haven’t already, it can’t hurt to check out an episode and make up your own mind.  And if you won’t do it for me, do it for JoJo.

Miss Manners

The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America – Week 8

The_Vortex: Up tonight, we’ve got the last of the preliminary fights, and yes, the previews haven’t lied to you, it does end in glorious violence. Spoiler alert, it’s an awesome finish. Our fighters tonight are Team Mexico’s Masio Fullen, one of the bearded funny guys, against Leonardo “Chimy” Morales, a guy that I genuinely know nothing about. He’s had zero confessionals, minimal screen time, and he’s barely on screen for training montages. He’s the mohawked guy of this season, and even the show’s intro-promo categorises him as “mysterious”.

NewChallenger: The Mysterious Nicaraguan is his nickname from now on.

The_Vortex: So, back in the house, surprise, surprise, Guido’s having a whinge about losing his fight. Unfortunately, I have to agree with him here. He did win both rounds, and Marco’s pretty banged up. He’s limping noticeably nearly every time we see him. Of course, this doesn’t take away from the fact that Guido is a d**k. He’s complaining about the fight in the kitchen, in the bathroom, in the bedroom, outside, inside, everywhere. He’s not winning any friends, although I think he might have solidly lost them in the first place. Whilst it seems silly to criticise someone for the quality of their tattoos, let me just say: Your nipple tattoo ain’t looks pretty dumb, bro.

Ninja TattooSeriously, it ain’t great.

NewChallenger: If you thought Guido was grating on the other cast members before, this whine and cheese party has them all looking like they want to get him back in the tournament just so they can hand him a more convincing loss.  In fairness to Guido, I’d want to fight Teco too the way that mustachioed Mexican was staring at him.

GlareSo smarmy.

You know someone has an abrasive personality when he’s clearly been wronged and yet it’s still nearly impossible to sympathize with him.  He actually reminds me a lot of TUF 6 winner Mac Danzig, though even that guy loosened up after a while.  Through some fancy editing, they make it look like Guido has been talking from sun down to sun up.  I’m sure it just felt that way to everyone else in the house.

The_Vortex: Finally, we get our first introduction to Leonardo. He’s apparently a very solitary dude. Team Mexico has only heard him speaking once or twice, and his own team mates have to push him to join them whenever they’re doing something. Everyone seems accepting of this, though, that’s just the way some people are. However, Leonardo does have some legitimate “international man of mystery” traits that I was pretty surprised by.

NewChallenger: Yeah, you weren’t kidding when you said you had barely noticed him before.  Even his own teammates don’t know much about him!  I’m also disappointed that they are so accepting of him.  Where is the teasing, the unjust persecution, the borderline homoerotic hazing through juvenile pranks?  I feel sorry for the Latin American fans if this is their first taste of TUF programming.  They must be getting the wrong idea that fighters can be professional and mature.  You know, aside from all the nudity.

Leonardo gives off a borderline psycho (and I’m not talking about Marco) vibe, with his disdain for communication and his love of violence.  Thankfully, we see that he has a family which suggests that he’s at least capable of love.  At least I think he is.  A couple of interesting facts about his wife: she’s a professional boxer and she’s thirty-one, ten years his senior!  Who says older women are intimidating?

In case you forgot, the Mexicanos won a challenge last episode and there reward was a night out in Vegas.  They get the big limo treatment, which is a good thing because Coach Cain is coming along for the ride.

Limousine Ride​I’ve had nightmares where Cain Velasquez just emerges from the darkness.  Sexy nightmares.

In a truly inspired choice, they take the Mexicans to a Mexican restaurant.  I’m missing Claudia already.

The_Vortex: The way Cain just appeared in the back of the limo makes me hope that it was just as much a surprise for the team as it was for us. Cain’s really starting to loosen up, but he’s still a very humble guy at heart.

Most importantly, though, the guys head back to the house to get their drink on. And, as Mike Goldberg would say, “Get their drink on, indeed, do they… Joe.” They head back to the house for some tequila, Cain ends up eating the worm (seriously, not a great idea, I had one a few weeks back), and it turns into a proper Team Mexico party.

That is, everyone gets shirtless, and jumps in the pool.

Everyone.

Cain Gets In ThereAs a fight promoter, this is what you like to see your heavyweight champion doing when injuries have kept him off the shelf for almost a year.

It’s refreshing to see some guys having fun, especially after Guido’s eternal whinging.

Too Much Fun 1Too Much Fun 2Although, maybe they’re having a bit too much fun…

NewChallenger: He does not shy away from fraternizing with the troops, eh?  Not one bit.  This is a cool side of him, a far cry from the quiet, stoic champion that he is usually portrayed as.

The_Vortex: It’s profile time for Masio now. He lives with his parents, and four sisters. His father doesn’t think much of his fighting career, and has only seen one fight. On the other hand, his mother and sister are at every one of his fights they can get to, and I’d like to imagine that they’re all Ma Woodley-esque. Masio’s primarily a boxer, so he’s going to need to close down the kicks and range of Leonardo’s Muay Thai.

NewChallenger: No weigh-ins again and we’re getting right to the fight with just under thirty minutes left in the show.  The Mysterious Nicaraguan is sporting a Jason mask.  You are not Rony Jason, sir.  YOU ARE NOT.

Masio starts counting some un-hatched chickens, thinking about what it will be like to face his teammates in the semi-finals.  I’m sure it’s something that’s had to have come up considering Team Mexico’s dominance of the competition so far, but still…it seems unwise.

At the start of the fight, I’m really liking The Mysterious Nicaraguan’s demeanour.  Tightly coiled, with just enough movement to keep his opponent honest.  As you said, this is a clash of styles and The Mysterious Nicaraguan is keeping this at Muay Thai range, not boxing range.  Cain and Daniel Cormier are shouting at Masio to get in closeLucha!  Lucha!”, Cormier commands.  Sure enough, when Masio gets close he’s able to show some sharp boxing.  The tactic is much easier to implement in theory though since The Mysterious Nicaraguan has some nasty leg kicks.  I give the first round 10-9 to The Mysterious Nicaraguan, though Masio might have taken it with some late action.

The second round starts off with the kind of sequence that reminds me why I love mixed martial arts.  Leonardo attacks with a leg kick, Masio enters with boxing, Leonardo counteres with a Thai plum, Masio goes for a double leg to drag the action to the mat.  This has already been a vast improvement over the action from the last couple of weeks.

SkillsThat’s how you mix it up, fellas!

The_Vortex: Yup, this has been a good fight. Respect to Masio, as he’s really hanging in there, but Leonardo has done an awesome job of chopping away at that lead leg, forcing Masio to devote all of his attention to it. It turns out to all be part of his plan.

NewChallenger: It has to be noted that Leonardo is fighting with a large stain on the back of his shorts.  I’m going to assume it is sweat and that he didn’t Tim Sylvia himself.

The_Vortex: Eventually, about halfway through the pretty close, pretty awesome second round, he swings a kick high, and Masio, expecting yet another leg kick, drops his guard downwards, and kind of ducks into it. It hits him perfectly, he drops like a rock, and two laser accurate punches from Leonardo end any chances of recovery. Herb Dean bolts across the Octagon to stop it. The big man full sprints, it is nuts.

Nicaraguan KickTwo Team Werdum wins, two vicious knockouts.

Leonardo’s ecstatic, Werdum’s happy, and Dana’s f**king stoked. Dana even breaks down the fight, and the lead-up to the finish in a confessional, which is something I haven’t seen him do in a while, if at all, really. Dana f**king loved that fight, and as he tells us later, he loves these guys, and this entire season. That was a good fight, and a great finish.

Now, with all of the first round fights over, it’s time to pick the next round, and we get the traditional meeting with Dana to sort things out. With only two Team Werdum guys left, they’ve got loads of choices, and Chito calls out Marco, whilst Leonardo is willing to fight either Moggly or Rodolfo.

Smart call outs, I can dig it.

NewChallenger: The Mexicans also stay true to the crew, all picking either Chito or Leonardo.  The exceptions are Moggly (who says that he’ll fight anybody) and Alejandro Perez who says he wants a rematch with Teco since they’ve fought before.  Dana jokes with Teco that he should have picked Perez since Teco won both of their previous encounters.  We end up with…

Bantamweight

Alejandro Perez v. Chito Vera
Teco v. Psycho

Featherweight

Yair Rodriguez v. Rudolfo Rubio
The Mysterious Nicaraguan v. Moggly

Yair and Fito have one of the most solemn face-offs I’ve ever seen, neither man raising their head to look the other in the eyes.  I’m confident they’ll be motivated to murder each other when the time is right.  Onto the semi-finals!

Leonardo VictoriousNext Week: The Coaches’ Challenge and Pantera v. Fito!  Also, I start campaigning for a Leonardo Morales/Rony Jason fight.

The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America – Week 7

The_Vortex: It’s time for another installment of the best season of TUF screening right now that doesn’t contain Felice Herrig. The fight coming up this week contains both mine and NewChallenger’s favourite cast member, Guido Cannetti (note: he is not our favourite. Not at all). I cannot wait to see him get punched in the face as this episode continues.

As we blast into this episode, we get some idle fighter talk, and it turns out that both Guido and his opponent, Marco “Psycho” Beltrán, typically fight at 145, despite competing at 135 for the show. Are we foreshadowing some weight cutting issues here? The drop in weight seems pretty strange to me, as typically TUF winners drop down a division after the show. You can basically count on one hand the amount of Ultimate Fighter winners that have not dropped down a division (Diego Sanchez dropped down two!)

Guido is talking a lot at the start of this episode. About himself, about the fight, about everything. It’s grating on everyone. Apparently, he’s somewhat legit though. He seems to have a solid reputation that somewhat holds up (his only loss is to Cristiano Marcello), but he’s still managing to annoy the entirety of Team Mexico with his non-stop big-upping of himself.

MateCome on, you know better than to accept a pre-fight drink from a ninja!

NewChallenger: There shouldn’t be anything wrong with Guido talking about his experiences, but for some reason I just find it all so annoying.  Maybe the problem is with us…nah, it’s him.

The Mexicans are skeptical about his claims, if only because he won’t shut up about them.  It’s like that guy you know who claims to have been with so many chicks yo.  If you’ve done it, then say it once and shut the f**k up about it.  Completely unrelated to all of that, I just realized why Moggly looks so familiar.  He’s a dead ringer for former Toronto Raptors swingman Carlos Delfino.

Carlos & MogglyKind of sort of?

We get another Latin American celebrity appearance and it is a negligible upgrade from Latino Kelsey Grammar.  I don’t know who Claudia Álvarez is, but the boys seem a lot happier to see her than they were that other guy.

ClaudiaWouldn’t you be?

The fighters get to unwind, hang with a pretty lady, party, and watch a UFC event all in the comfort of what looks to be a luxury suite.  However, it’s not all fun and games as Claudia tells them there will be a billiards contest with some big stakes: The winning team gets to have a night out on the town of Las Vegas, while the losing team has to…get in the hot tub?  You know what Team Mexico calls that?  “Tuesday.”  I guess it is all fun and games.

The_Vortex: That was genuinely the most half-assed punishment I have ever seen anywhere, at all. Jumping in the hot tub is virtually all we’ve seen any of these guys doing. I do feel sorry for the Team Latin America guys, losing at something else. It just can’t help morale to just be beaten at inconsequential stuff like that.

Back to the house, we learn a bit more about each guy. Guido’s 34, and he says he’s been practicing MMA since he was 21 or 22. That’s quite a while for a guy with a 5-1 record. He’s just recently had a child, and had his grandmother pass away whilst he was training out of the country. Coach Werdum is also pretty high on Guido. He’s quite strong for his weight class, and apparently quite technical. It does seem as if Guido was intentionally avoided by the Mexican team to get better earlier matches for their guys.

NewChallenger: Okay, Guido does kind of get me with the way he phrases his struggle: I went to Argentina because my son was born.  My girlfriend at one point said, “Why don’t you find another occupation?”  And I would say, “Give me one more year.  Give me more time.”  Anyone who has chased a dream can relate to that.

His claims that Psycho was little more than a sacrifice to him rubbed me the wrong way.  As if Psycho is some scrub and Guido is just such a great fighter.  He also believes that Cain didn’t want to give him time to rest before the next round of fights.  Yes, Guido, he based all the picks around you.

The_Vortex: We move on to Marco now. I kind of like Marco. He’s come off in the confessionals as a nice enough guy, and along with Masio and Moggly is one of the actually funny guys. He’s reading a new letter from his girlfriend, and unlike Noah Inhofer, doesn’t run sobbing from the TUF house to go be with her. I’m confused here. Marco mentions how he just got this letter, so either he brought it with him and just opened/noticed it now, or the real life lockout in the TUF house has gotten way less strict.

NewChallenger: For a second there I thought that Psycho was getting Dear John’d.

The_Vortex: The letter is all good news, and it reminds Marco of his home life. He was raised poor and humble, and his father was his grandfather. In a “abandoned and raised by positive older role model” way, not a “creepy, creepy Deep South yee-haw, y’all gots a purty mouth” way.

NewChallenger: At the weigh-ins, Team Werdum chants for Ninja but they do not break into a full blown Ninja Rap, which is incredibly disappointing.

Now, just like you, I was looking forward to seeing Guido finally get his comeuppance for his overwhelmingly off-putting behaviour inside the house.  That is not what we got.  Guido looked to be more prepared and more experienced than Psycho in every aspect.  The Argentinean gets the first takedown and shows good top control.  So the opposite of everything we saw last week.  Psycho defends well from the bottom though and eventually gets up.

Guido consistently gets the better of Psycho, especially during scrambles.  For some reason, he decides to throw an irresponsible kick to the head while Psycho is grounded and I’m back to hating Guido again.  The error is compounded when he says the kick was to the body.

Ninja KickYou be the judge…no, don’t bother.  That’s an illegal kick.

Werdum starts shouting “Fake, fake, fake!” as Psycho lays on the mat.  Dana White doesn’t seem too convinced either.  Werdum then changes tactics, encouraging Psycho to get up by telling that he is a warrior and to continue (so that Guido doesn’t get disqualified).  Cain tells him to worry about his own fighter.

After all that, the referee takes a point!  Intrigue!  Other than some unconvincing back control to close the round, I didn’t see much from Psycho.  At worst that penalty should have made it a draw going into the second.

The_Vortex: Taking a point was certainly justified in my eyes. I’ve got it 9-9 after round 1. Whilst Marco plays it up a bit, he didn’t use the whole 5 minutes allocated to him, so that’s suitably hardcore. It doesn’t take away from the fact that that kick was one of the dumbest kick attempts I’ve seen on TUF.

The second round is absolutely Guido’s. He’s more aggressive throughout, and he does an excellent job of chopping away at Marco’s legs. Aside from one very nice knee and a throw that ends up getting reversed astonishingly quickly, Marco just really doesn’t offer much offensively this round. He’s never very active when he’s trapped under Guido (which happens a few times), allowing the ground game to get stalled out and returned to standing. Guido is pretty adept at hitting Marco, dragging him to the ground and slowly doing some damage. Never enough to put him in any danger, but enough to remain in control of the fight. In the last 20 seconds, Guido flurries all out, and gets some momentum and chains together some ground strikes. It looks like he could push for a finish, but an up-kick scares him off.

That round was clearly a Guido 10-9.

Marco is absolutely toasted after the two rounds. He needs to be helped up into his corner, and slouches around, exhausted.  He can barely stand up from his stool, and limps around. According to Stockton Rules (i.e, whoever was most f**ked up after a fight loses), Guido’s got this victory in the bag. Due to the point deduction, we’re assured a decision here. I’ve got it 19-18, so does NewChallenger. In the post-fight but pre-decision clips, Werdum backs his fighter, and even Cain acknowledges that Guido had a good first round.

So, of course, the judges f**k it up.

One of these judges is “Judge Byrd”. I’m assuming it’s Adalaide Byrd, and she gets the score wrong, and gives one round to Marco, so it’s a 19-18 win to him.

Adalaide Byrd.

Adalaide “29-28 Garcia-Phan” Byrd

Adalaide “30-27 Guillard-Varner” Byrd.

Gah.

NewChallenger: I have…no idea how that score was even possible.  As much as I dislike Guido, that was ridiculous.  Even Cain thinks his man lost and he tells Werdum as much.

Werdum: I liked Cain’s attitude after the fight.  He told me: “Werdum, you won this fight.”  And I loved that.  And that shows that Cain Velasquez is a great champion, not only inside the Octagon, but outside as well.

We got the worst possible outcome: another Werdum loss and barely any face punching for Guido.  These last two fights have been a real bummer.

Beltran VictoriousNext week: Team Mexico’s Masio Fullen v. Team Werdum’s Mohawk Guy.  Also, more Guido Cannetti.  Yay.

The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America – Week 6

The_Vortex: Ok, ok, ok. We back.

Panic, bitches.

So, what’s new and exciting in this episode of TUF: Latin America? Will we see more dirty kitchen drama?

Well, last we saw a beast thought to be extinct; a Latin American victory, as Chito Vera scored a crazy up-kick knockout. The Latin American team are understandably stoked about having won their first fight, and I’m actually pretty happy for Chito. He seems like an alright dude.

To their credit, the Latin American team takes their win very humbly. No excessive celebrations at the house, no keeping everyone up, no banging on the wall a la Josh Koscheck. It’s like, even though a win is great and all, they still recognise that they’re down 1-4. Celebrating at a time like that makes you look pretty out of whack with reality, in my opinion.

NewChallenger: I agree that seeing them celebrate in a subdued manner was refreshing.  After criticizing the Mexicans for their excessive partying and nakedness, Team Werdum stuck to their guns.  Not a stray pair of Colombian or Argentinian cojones to be found.

Chito is emerging as a sentimental favourite, promising that the first thing he’ll do if he wins the tournament is to use the money to pay for his daughter’s surgery.  I’ll be supremely disappointed if he wins and I see him roll up in a brand new Mercedes a few months from now.

Competing this week are Rodolfo “Fito” Rubio (Team Velasquez) and Alex “Rolo” Torres.  Fito literally has no backstory worth sharing.  He always liked martial arts.  He started training.  He received an offer to fight.  He likes fighting so he keeps doing it.  I even had to embellish the details there to make it sound more interesting.  At least Torres used to hang out with a bunch of drug addicts!  Give us something to work with here, Fito.

The_Vortex: There are actually a few cool things to learn about Rolo Torres. In addition to his good old druggie mates back home, he’s actually the student of renowned wrestling coach Fredy “El Profe” Serrano. That’s right, the same Fredy that competed a few episodes ago. It’s gotta be pretty reassuring to Rolo to have his regular coach there as well, that’s a level of comfort and normality most of these guys don’t get on TUF.

NewChallenger: Daniel Cormier is here and I just realized how strange it is to hear someone speaking English.  He and Fabrício Werdum have known each other for six years.  Cormier says that when they first trained together he was able to get Werdum to tap to a guillotine choke.  Werdum counters by claiming that he took Cormier down three times.  He goes as far as to call his wrestling coach, Ryan Parsons:

Phone Call“Daniel Cormier is here.  I want to f**k with him.  Hey, how many times I take down in the first training?”

“Three times.”

(Werdum squeals)

The_Vortex: That was a high quality trolling phone call. Easily the best part about that is poor Marco “Psycho” Beltrán of Team Mexico, who was dragged into the room to serve as a Mexican witness.

Team Werdum is always ready to surprise us, and today the coaches are hosting “UFC Cafe”. It’s great to see them having fun with the reality TV format and mock shooting their own show. We learn some fun things, like, the rest of the team calls Rolo “Ostrich face” right to his Ostrich-y face. Also, Mohawk Guy on Team Werdum (probably the only fighter on the show whose name I don’t know) does some hard hitting journalism, asking the tough questions.

UFC CafeMohawk Guy would prefer the lycra.

We go back to the house, and as always, it’s filthy. To follow on from the tradition that was set from the very first episode of this season, one team leaves a passive-aggressive note to the other. It’s Team Mexico’s turn this time, and, spurred on by Coach Cormier, they leave a note loaded with passive-aggression.  I can’t handle this heightened conflict.

NewChallenger: I am just…so done with this kitchen and house cleaning drama.  If I were to wager a guess, I’d say that the teams probably get along really well and this was the only source of tension so they’re just pounding it to death.  Then again, I’m ignorant to the real life politics involved in Mexico’s relationship with other Latin American nations.  I doubt there’s anything as intense as the centuries old Canada-Australia blood feud.

Team Werdum responds with another note and we at least get to see Moggly read it in his best Guido Cannetti voice.  You know it’s good because it makes me want to punch him.

The_Vortex: Man, f**k Guido.

Teco's RetortTeco taking Team Werdum’s note very seriously.

NewChallenger: For the second week in a row, no weigh-in!  I’m actually glad they’ve chosen to skip it if there’s nothing worth showing us.  I’m always harping on them to play with the format, even if it’s a minor exclusion like that.

I’m actually intrigued by the storyline going into this fight.  For one thing, Team Werdum has the momentum (not that I believe in that sort of thing) and this is the first time they’ve got to select the match-up.  Team Velasquez has been game planning as if Torres is going to focus on taking Fito down even though Torres has told his team he wants to win on the feet.  Hmm…

On to the fight, which I thought was…how do I put this nicely…terrible.

The_Vortex: So. Sloppy striking in fights = mostly entertaining fights as both guys wing punches at each other. Sloppy grappling in fights = both guys rolling around on the ground, or near the cage, or stalling bad, as neither really has any idea of how to get to a better position, or what to do once they’ve got there. Boy howdy, was this fight a perfect example of the latter.

For all his talk of keeping the fight standing, it takes Rolo Torres just slightly over 30 seconds before he takes it to the ground. Way to stick to your gameplan, bro. After fighting off a guillotine attempt, Rolo ends up in this bizarre standing back grapple position that kind of reminds me of some odd dance show. Eventually he’s able to pull it to the ground, and spends an exasperatingly long amount of time secured to Fito’s back, with both hooks in, completely forgetting to complete the choke. After Fito fights his way out of this, we get a ton of clinching against the cage.  Like, basically the rest of the round.

NewChallenger: Don’t forget Fito getting back up only to go down again after going for…I’m not sure what exactly.

Fito FallUh…single leg…something?

The_Vortex: With 30 second to go, the separate and swing wild punches at each other. Right from the hips, huge arcs, like the Leonard Garcia of old. And then, 10 seconds to go, the best thing ever happens. Rolo just straight up stops fighting. He turns his back, and walks around the cage for the next few seconds. Fito doesn’t know what the f**k to do. Does he swing, does he charge? Eventually he charges in, gets taken down, and the round is done.

Wat.

NewChallenger: We get some mid-match commentary from Werdum who does his best to try and comprehend what the hell Rolo was doing at the end of that round.  I don’t know if I’ve ever seen the show do that before.  More of this sort of thing please!

A minute into the second, Torres gets full mount but is WAY too high up on Fito’s chest.  Somehow, Fito is able to reverse into a leg lock from there which I didn’t even know was possible.

Bad MountJake Shields, I will never take your top game for granted again!

Another Torres takedown goes nowhere and Fito ends up on top where he is able to wail away on his Columbian counterpart.  Fito tries to posture up and trips over Torres ending up on his back.  This fight is a f**king mess.

Fito puts on what I think is supposed to be a weak looking triangle…which Torres escapes and then falls right back into.  Torres turns into it, eventually giving up an armbar that forces the tap.

Look…I hate to be a negative Nancy because both men certainly put in the effort, but…damn that fight sucked.  I hated it.  Hated it, hated it, hated it.  Hated it!

The_Vortex: Totally agreed. Sloppy grappling can just make a fight painful to watch, regardless of the “heart” each guy is putting in. Rolo just couldn’t stick to a gameplan, and Fabrício is more than a mite ticked off. 1-5 is not a great TUF record, and the worst part is that the team aren’t using what he’s teaching them whilst they’re in the Octagon.

Back in the Team Mexico locker room, the Moggly-Masio-Psycho trio once again begin their funny-man schtick, imitating the last ten seconds of the first round.

Moggly FlopTo be fair, it is hilarious.

Even Cain joins the dance party.

Courtesy of sklart.

The second last fight is announced, and it’s “Psycho” Beltrán of Team Mexico, taking on resident d-bag Guido Cannetti.

I’m very conflicted over this fight. Trust me, I want to see Guido get punched in the face more than nearly anyone here, he’s an annoying s**t stirrer that doesn’t know when to shut it, but I also don’t want to see Team Werdum go down 2-6, or even 1-7. That’s Rampage Jackson levels of bad TUF coaching. Even with his guys being super, super raw and unpolished, Werdum doesn’t deserve it.

I’m ready for it, you keen on seeing Guido get punched, NewChallenger?

NewChallenger: If Werdum has to suffer more embarrassment for us to see “El Ninja” (ugh) getting knocked the f**k out, then so be it.  Go Psycho!

Rudolfo VictoriousNext week: Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo.