The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 4 – Week 8 Recap

This season has been so lopsided and yet still so entertaining. I’ve found that it usually doesn’t matter how competitive a season is, it’s more about how the respective teams handle the situation. The same was true of TUF 20 (Team Pettis v. Team Melendez), which we slyly referenced in our last recap. If anything, it is fascinating to me how a team can dominate in this setting with an unfamiliar training environment and such little preparation for their contests.

In this case, it’s fair to say that Team Nogueira has been in turmoil ever since Anderson Silva had to bow out. The ensuing dysfunction has been too much to overcome and it doesn’t help that The Spider might not have been the best judge of talent. And Shogun’s fight selection has been on point. He has a great feel for putting his guys in the right place at the right time. Like, I didn’t think Korea would be able to handle Pitbull, but that’s why Shogun is Shogun and I’m writing about TUF on my computer.

Team Colours

Team Nogueira
Team Shogun

The pre-show narration offers the sobering reminder that Adamas is the last chance for Team Nogueira to advance a bantamweight to the next round…or at least that’s the case when the episode starts. DUN DUN DUN!

Pitbull apologizes to Korea for not congratulation him after their fight. Another fine showing of etiquette that probably wasn’t necessary considering how chaotic things can be before and after a fight. The positivity is flowing as Soldado addresses the house. “I look around,” he says. “And I don’t see any losers.”

(Of course, that’s an easy sentiment to express when your team has won everything).

Adamas echoes the statement. This cast is really close, even by TUF: Brazil standards.

SelfieI want to live in the TUF: Brazil house someday.

Representing Team Vermelho this week is Netto BJJ. Don’t ask me why he is called that. All they seem to talk about is his knockout power. Netto believes his style can nullify Team Azul adversary Índio Brabo.

Like many who have appeared on TUF, Netto talks about how hard it has been to leave his family to pursue this opportunity. I don’t mean to sound jaded, but I wish they would give us more specifics about their struggle, like maybe some kind of anecdote. Even though it would lead to static, talking head segments, it would also help with differentiating the fighters and their backgrounds.

Índio is from Manaus, the Amazon, hence the nickname that translates to “Mad Indian”.  He got the name for being an absolute animal in practice, something we get a glimpse of in his training montage.

Flip & ThrowThat almost ended horribly.

Okay, I have a stupid question to ask now. Are natives in South America also referred to as Indians? Why would that be? My gratitude to anyone who can help me with this. History and geography are not my strong points. Be gentle.

Indio SignatureÍndio’s “bow and arrow” pose is dope.

The main storyline this week revolves around the accumulating medical issues of Soldado. Not only are his injuries worsening, he has also contracted a bacterial infection. Next week’s fight with Adamas is in serious jeopardy. He returns from his latest trip to the doctor’s office with a new fashion accessory.

Michael JacksonKind of mean.

The doctor prescribes him antibiotics to combat the infection, which wreak havoc on Soldado’s body. He can’t train at all. Back in the locker room, he breaks down into tears. They calm him down and tell him that he needs time alone to think about whether he is truly able to continue. The coaches worry that his “mind-set is gone”.

Soldado confirms the worst: he won’t be ready in time for the fight. Everyone starts bawling (author included). Even Shogun can’t escape the emotional outburst.

Shogun's TearsShogun crying. Something I never wanted to see.

Respect & LoveTeam Vermelho bids farewell to one of its leaders.

Dana White shows up to ask Soldado if he is quitting. After Soldado exits, Dana says that Soldado “couldn’t make it here”. That is harsh. Is it possible that they didn’t inform him of the circumstances of Soldado’s departure?

Things only get more awkward when Dana asks Pitbull if he wants to fight again. Pitbull explains that he’s both hurt and heavy. It sounds like one of his teammates cusses him out (“Leandro, what the f**k?”) and when he eventually agrees to fight it is without any conviction. There is no explanation given as to why Pitbull was chosen over Bulldog or Reginaldo Vieira. Vieira’s exclusion is particularly glaring since he was the only one of the three Nogueira bantamweights to go to a decision and he’s had the longest rest period.

I’m going to give Dana the benefit of the doubt here and say he was the victim of bad editing, because he comes off as a super dick with the way he dismissed Soldado and put Pitbull on the spot. A rare TUF: Brazil segment that left me cold.

Here to raise the temperature (ugh) is Noelle Freeman. She believes she has what it takes to be a UFC octagon girl and, pardon my crudeness, does she ever. Noelle is very much my type and I like her energy…which makes it all the more difficult for me to cut her for being yet another non-Brazilian.

Noelle Freeman*sigh* Disqualified.

Lightweight Bout: Team Shogun’s Netto BJJ (7-0) v. Team Nogueira’s Índio Brabo (16-4)

Team Shogun’s strategy is obvious: Netto needs to stay calm and counter while Índio tires himself out. It leads to a good first frame for Índio, who is more than happy to juke and jive while scoring with leg kicks. When Netto gets impatient, the two end up trading with no conclusive winner. The round ends with Netto pressed against the cage. I lean towards Índio (10-9) for the effort.

Índio is noticeably slower in the second round and that is bad news for Team Azul. We find out later that his nose was broken in the first. Air is at a premium for him and as the round goes on he becomes a stationary target. Netto rocks him.

Big Netto PunchNetto has a heck of a chin himself, absorbing hard shots from Índio who is still winging punches even though he’s hurt. Still, it’s only a matter of time until Netto starts to pull away. He avoids Índio’s sloth-like overhands and connects with anything he wants. With two minutes to go, I’m not sure Índio would be able to get off his stool for a third round. He’s moving with his back to the cage, as if he needs it to stay upright. I’m surprised Big John doesn’t call it off.

Instructions are flying from the perimeter of the cage. Shogun wants Netto to finish Índio with a Muay Thai clinch and the Nogueiras want Índio to get off the fence so he can take Netto down. Both men have taken a lot of punches to the head, so I doubt all the signals are coming in loud and clear.

They need a third round to settle things. I saw Índio as being a dead duck, but he comes out firing and actually lands several times. He’s giving as good as he’s getting. The turning point comes when he goes for one last takedown, expending a lot of energy to drag or lift Netto off of his feet. The end result is Netto still standing and Índio bent over with his hands on his knees.

It’s a great fight, one that goes to Netto for being more precise in the final round. Índio showed incredible heart throughout. The judges make it official and Netto dedicates the win to Soldado. That’s six straight wins for Team Shogun.

The episode ends with both good and bad news for Team Azul. The bad news is that Pitbull is out. There just wasn’t enough time for him to recover from his injuries (again, why was he chosen when they knew he was hurt?). He is replaced by Reginaldo, who should have been the pick in the first place. So I guess everything worked out…?

As for the good news: Reginaldo is facing his teammate Adamas, so Team Nogueira is guaranteed to have at least one fighter in the semi-finals. Default! Default! Default!

Netto BJJ VictoriousNext Week: Team Nogueira’s Adamas v. Team Nogueira’s Reginald Vieira. Also, we get the rollercoaster ride we were promised.

Cat

The Ultimate Fighter 21: American Top Team v. Blackzilians – Week 6 Recap

Before we place this season in the pillory, allow me to be the voice of reason: This is still better than TUF 16 and TUF 19.

For those unfamiliar with either season, I’ll summarize. TUF 16 had the unfortunate timing of airing just as the UFC was starting to expand the brand globally and it paled in comparison to the relatively fresh TUF: Brazil and TUF: The Smashes (Australia/UK). The coaching pair didn’t help. Shane Carwin was known for his explosive punching power, not personality, and the normally reliable Roy Nelson seemed more determined to skewer Dana White (and vise-a-versa) than actually do his job.

What followed was a tepid season of forgettable fights and even more forgettable personalities…except for Julian “Nitrane” Lane who came off as a parody of every TUF malcontent that appeared before him. Let me bang, bro, indeed.

The finalists were Mike Ricci and Colton Smith. Smith would defeat Ricci in a snoozer of a finale and then lose his next three fights en route to being released. That has never happened to a TUF winner before. Ricci split two fights before washing out.

TUF 19 is only two years old, so it might be unfair to judge the resulting talent but I’m going to do it anyway. The show itself was an ordeal despite the coaching presence of two of my favourite all-time fighters, Frankie Edgar and BJ Penn. I don’t know what went wrong with the casting, but they somehow gathered the least interesting and least competitive crew imaginable.

It was a dual division season, and both the middleweight and light heavyweight finals ended in surprisingly quick fashion. It was the most passion any fighter had shown all season, and certainly more than the third battle between Edgar and Penn, which was more of a mercy killing of The Prodigy than anything else. Overall, an utterly depressing entry in the franchise.

The current season seems to have the same casting problem as TUF 16, so I can’t blame the show runners too much for that. Once they were saddled with the “camp wars” premise, it severely narrowed down their options no matter how much input they were allowed to give Dan Lambert and Glenn Robinson. That said, the genuine brotherhood aspect is at least interesting compared to the forced camaraderie of past seasons.

Another thing saving TUF 21 from historical ignominy is the new format, which I still stand by. It will be cool when a fighter has to perform a second time on the show. We’ve seen fighters come back before, but as replacements. If a guy can emerge as the ace of his team, it would make him a hot prospect heading into his UFC career. And isn’t that the best possible outcome for any TUF hopeful?

Team Colours

American Top Team
Blackzilians (actually black on the show)

That rant went longer than expected. Let’s join the American Top Team crew, fresh off their first win of the season. It’s a big one since it not only gets them on the scoreboard, but it means the next fight will be at the ATT gym. Hayder Hassan points out that he’s now 3-0 in his career against Blackzilian fighters.

Andrews Nakahara is down on himself. There isn’t much his teammates or coaches can do to console him at the moment. For the first time I notice that Andrews sounds like Grey Worm from Game of Thrones.

Sad AndrewsI am ashamed…because when the punch land and I fall to the ground…I am afraid. I fear I never again see Missandei from the island of Naath.

It becomes obvious early in the episode that the Blackzilians are going to go with Jason Jackson. He thinks the situation in the house has become too friendly and that has affected the team’s hunger. Rashad Evans gives the team a speech about always being ready to take that call from the UFC, which fits Jason to a tee. Glenn loves that Jason is actually enthusiastic about going into enemy territory.

Jason says his nickname is “The Ass Kicking Machine”. He’s from Jamaica, presumably “right near the beach” and he fights so that his son can have a better life. Obligatory link.

ATT’s two top choices for the week are Grilo and Nathan Coy. It feels like they’ve been teasing deploying Nate forever. Keep waiting. It’s the veteran Grilo this week. He’s from Porto Alegre, Brazil and he’s been with ATT for five years.

Grilo Makes WeightSabah: (laughing) “Once he got up on there and made weight he just f**king turned into the beast that he is.”

Michael Graves jokes about Grilo’s unorthodox approach to cardio and we get a demonstration from the man himself. There are some valid points made by Grilo about how your breathing will change during the fight depending on where the action goes. He practices doing short, rapid breaths and then deep ones and I can’t help but be reminded of Peter Griffin clutching his shin.

During a video review session, ATT break down Jason’s tendencies. Luckily, they have Hayder who defeated Jason last year. He has specific instructions for Grilo as far as how to counter Jason and potentially knock him out. Dan is already looking ahead to Grilo fighting again in the 100 point round. Then he sees a bunch of chicken eggs and starts counting them well before they’ve hatched.

For the first time this season, we are in the ATT gym for the fight. It’s good to see that Steve Montgomery is well and that the home team is making the most of the environment.

Drum CircleParty up!

American Top Team’s Grilo (16-7-1) v. Team Blackzilians’ Jason Jackson (4-2)

Tentative start for both men. Grilo’s jab is looking good early on, though he takes one back from Jason that knocks his mouthpiece out. Believe it or not, this might have been the turning point of the fight. Dana would later say that believes that shot scrambled Grilo’s brain and judging by the rest of the fight, it’s hard to argue that.

I give Grilo the first round (10-9) based on a couple of semi-successful takedowns and the pressure he was able to put on Jason. It wasn’t a dominant performance by any means. Most troubling was Grilo’s lack of response when his corner called out for him to throw his right hook more.

In the second round, it is Jason with all of the movement. He pecks away at Grilo, whose output has become non-existent.

“Put your hands up and fight!” Dan yells at him.

Both guys smile and laugh as the second round comes to a close. I know one person who isn’t smiling: Dana. This fight was a stinker.

It’s a clear cut 10-9 round for Jason. The scorecards haven’t been read yet and ATT are already acting as if Grilo lost. They’re right. One judge scores it a draw as I did, but the other two see the fight for Jason. Grilo just didn’t do enough of anything to win this fight.

Glenn feels the need to obnoxiously cram his face into the camera and say “That’s the way we f**king do it!”

Up Close & PersonalEnjoy, readers.

The ATT staff are confused and frustrated with Grilo’s flat performance. He’s 36 years old and this could be his last real shot at making it to the UFC. Grilo says he wants to fight again on the show. Dan looks unconvinced.

Well, that’s it for this…wait, what the hell? They suddenly tell us that the coaches now have the option to cut up to two guys from their team and bring in two new guys. Was this mentioned before? It sounds to me like the season hasn’t been as competitive as they would have liked and they threw this out there to even things up. I hate when shows do that.

Jason VictoriousThe score: Blackzilians lead 150-50 (5-1)

Next Week: Seriously, what?

The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 4 – Week 7 Recap

Ben Grimm: It’s not looking great for Team Anderson/Nog, is it? They could end up getting Melendez’d.

Alexander K Lee: Ben, you never go full Melendez.

Team Colours

Team Nogueira
Team Shogun

BG: The show begins this week with a bit of a recap for last episodes fight, and also gives us a glimpse of the completely bonkers challenge that happens later in the show. It’s too good to ignore, so I’m going to give you a small glimpse too.

Suspended Cable ChallengeThere you go.

Looks pretty crazy, huh? Trust me, it was awesome.

Anyway.

One thing this season has shown us a few times is the competing fighters chatting in the house after they’ve recovered. It’s pretty cool, and it kind serves as a great contrast to the faux-douchiness present in some other seasons of TUF. Nikolas Motta even compliments the double-leg that Glaico França essentially used to win the entire fight with. It’s humbling stuff.

AL: I think it made Nikolas feel better that Glaico was selling the effects of the fight too.

Double Ice BagsBarely felt it.

BG: We’re only about 5 minutes into the episode, and we’re already getting a run-down on who each of these guys are. This week, Korea, our lucky lad who has snared the heart of Jennifer Giacotto, is fighting Leandro Higo, who goes by the totally unique MMA nickname of Pitbull.

According to Sherdog, Leandro trains out with the Friere brothers, which means that there’s a minimum of three people in this one fight team with the nickname of Pitbull. The first thing highlighted is that there’s a huge experience differential. Korea has only four fights, whereas Leandro (not Pitbull, never Pitbull) is 13-2 in his pro career.

Turns out that Leandro has been training with Team Nog for the last three years (Sherdog strikes again!), and the Nogs are pretty high on his talents. Leandro was even offered a spot in the UFC, but turned it down to go on TUF. It might seem like an odd choice, but at least instead of being “random guy on Brazilian undercard”, he’ll at least be “random guy on Brazilian undercard that was on TV a few times”.

(Editorial note: It was at this point that Ben was unable to continue our correspondence due to the demands of real life, so it will just be Alex from here on out. Do not be alarmed.)

AL: I think that also speaks to the popularity of TUF: Brazil in their native country. It’s not the punchline that it has become over in North America.

The vibe in the house is all Team Shogun, and understandably so. El Tigre says they are thriving on the other team’s hatred and even Team Azul’s Índio Brabo is happy for Nego since they train together outside of the show. They have to find a way to turn this around and PITBULL sounds like just the man to do it. I mentioned last week how serious he looks and his story reflects that. He moved to Natal from Mossoro, which causes him to miss time with his wife and child.

Big Nog praises Pitbull and Adamas for their athleticism. He also believes that they’ve seen most of what Korea has to offer. Pitbull is the favourite going into the fight due to his experience and more well rounded game.

As for Korea, his father left him when he was nine and his mother had to raise him and his two siblings. That included his sister who passed away from a kidney disease. Korea has a daughter of his own. It sounds like there has always been a strong female influence in his life. You can see why Jennifer is into him.

Soccer PracticeGOOOOOOOOOOAL

Despite their dominance, not everything turns up aces for Team Vermelho. Pitbull stiffens up during training. You know something is wrong when he refuses headgear and just paces around the cage in a daze. He looks awful. The coaches give him something small to eat to restore his energy. He’s been going non-stop since the show started, which isn’t conducive to the TUF schedule.

Also ailing is Soldado, who has a hurt foot and a busted up shoulder. The diagnosis is negative as far as broken bones go. He’s got some aches and pains and strains, but he’s good to fight.

Soldado & DoctorOne of these guys is thrilled to be on television.

Unsurprisingly, Shogun wants to focus on Korea’s taekwondo. I still remember when I first started watching mixed martial arts, everyone telling me that taekwondo was useless but there are so many fighters who have a background in it even if it isn’t a major part of their arsenal.

We also get to see Korea’s highlight reel kick from the elimination round again from a few different angles. I’m not complaining. That was right up there with Vitor Belfort on Luke Rockhold and Uriah Hall on Adam Cella.

TKDKOA reminder.

And now, onto the Suspended Cable Challenge.

A lightweight will be suspended in a harness above a pool, and a bantamweight will use his jiu-jitsu grappling to hold on to his teammate for dear life. After five minutes, water guns are handed to the fighters at poolside so they can spray the opposing team. After 20 minutes, the lightweights can’t hold on to the bantamweights. After 30 minutes, the bantamweights can only hang on with their arms. The winners get go to the Stratosphere hotel for a rollercoaster ride.

Team Nogueira goes with Bulldog (the smallest guy in the house) and Açougueiro. Team Shogun picks Matheus Nicolau and Nego. Then all the ring girls take their tops off.

GratuitousJust making sure you’re still paying attention.

I’m disappointed that we don’t get to see much canoodling between Korea and Jenny. They’re Brazil’s/America’s/Canada’s/Australia’s sweethearts!

Fast forward to the end of the challenge, Bulldog drops and that’s another win for Team Shogun! There was some controversy with Matheus not releasing his legs right away at the 30 minute mark, but the result stands. Cue up the latest Team Shogun smash hit: “We’re winning everything!”

They say that Pitbull is having a hard weight cut compared to someone like Dedé who, um, has more obvious fat to get rid of. Thankfully, Pitbull does make it and he promptly starts crying his eyes out. TUF: Brazil! The warm fuzzies are short-lived as they soon show us what this week’s competitors think of each other.

Pitbull: I’m facing Korea and I do not like him. He thinks too highly of himself and he’s a snob. That’s the way he is.

Korea: Leandro and I have no friendship whatsoever. We hardly exchange words in the house.

Lip To LipI mean, were talking Vin Diesel/Rock close here.

Your ring girl for the week is Isabel Amado, a Columbian business manager and actress. She is an absolute stunner…however, this is TUF: Brazil, not TUF: Latin America.

Isabela AmadoDisqualified. Say “hi” to El Profe and Rolo for me.

Bantamweight Bout: Team Nogueira’s Leandro Higo (13-2) v. Team Shogun’s Korea (4-0)

The TKD is out early as Korea cracks Pitbull with a nice spin kick to the body followed by a straight right. Seconds later, he gets a body lock and transitions beautifully into a takedown. He follows with ground and pound. The first minute is all Korea.

The action does not slow down on the ground. It is non-stop with Pitbull on the attack, forcing Korea to escape from both a choke attempt and a mount position.

Back on the feet, Korea is able to stop Pitbull from slamming him, but Pitbull is glued to his back.

A badly timed knee by Pitbull catches some of Korea, but the Team Azul fighter slips and ends up on his back where Korea tags him with more G n P. Pitbull looks completely exhausted and Korea is able to pretty much use him as an apparatus before finishing with a choke. It seems that the weight cut just destroyed Pitbull’s stamina. Great action while it lasted though!

Korea Choke Team Shogun huddles up after yet another win and we get an emotional speech:

Korea: I’d like to thank everyone. You’re all special to me. Before I got here, people told me not to make friends here. But they were wrong. I’ll never forget any of you. You are part of my history. Thanks for everything. God bless you and your family.

It is getting so, so dusty in here.

Korea VictoriousNext Week: Team Shogun’s Netto BJJ v. Team Nogueira’s Índio Brabo. Also, the Nogueiras go three-fourths Melendez.

Cat

The Ultimate Fighter 21: American Top Team v. Blackzilians – Week 5 Recap

*First off, my apologies for the lateness of this recap. I can’t promise things will get better from here on out as I’m currently in school, but just know that no matter what I am going to get around to covering every episode this season eventually. They can’t get rid of me.

As for our TUF: Brazil recaps, The_Vortex appears to have actually fallen into a vortex. While that is darkly hilarious in its own right, until I’m able to extract him, that project is on hiatus. It will be back soon!

Team Colours

American Top Team
Blackzilians (actually black on the show)

Rumble Johnson appearance! There’s a nice tie in to the title fight he had this past Saturday. He visits the house to congratulate Carrington Banks and joke around with Kamaru Usman. Rumble and Carrington make fun of the size of Kamaru’s head like he’s Tyrese in the Fast & Furious movies.

Johnson Playing AroundAnthony “Snuggle” Johnson.

The highlights of last week’s fight show that Carrington landed a lot of solid strikes on Sabah Homasi, justifying the judges’ decision on what was a back and forth battle. That doesn’t stop Sabah from continuing to complain. He says the fight was both “close” and a “robbery”. That is one of my biggest pet peeves in mixed martial arts.

A close fight usually means a fight could have gone either way; a robbery is a fight where one competitor loses despite being the clear winner to the majority of the viewing audience. They are mutually exclusive!

I still hate how Dan Lambert acts like it isn’t a big deal that his team lost the first four fights. I don’t care if they’re exhibitions that don’t end up on their record, these are losses that these guys have to live with for the rest of their careers. It’s not about the stupid points!

After a brief ATT deliberation, they decide that it’s time to unleash Hayder Hassan. He’s never been to a decision, he only knows one speed, and he’s got ferocious knockout power. Hayder means “brave” in Arabic, and he says he’s descended from the “baddest warriors”. He stops short of describing his fighting skill as “radical”.

Hayder: The winner is going to be two people: myself and the fans who get to experience the show.

Either Hayder’s math is off by a few hundred thousand or I truly am the only person left watching this season.

The Blackzilians are deciding between Andrews Nakahara and Felipe Portela. They decide to go with Andrews because they worry that they’ve been holding him back. He was brought to the camp by none other than Vitor Belfort, who anointed him as a future champ.

Andrews hails from Mogi das Cruzes, São Paulo, Brazil. He describes himself as a simple guy who just happens to be a Kyokushin karate world champion. We get to see him training on the beach and, look, I’m comfortable saying this: dude is fit.

Nakahara MusclesThere is a minor dust up at the house when Hayder confronts Jason Jackson for spreading rumours that Hayder is a dirty fighter. These two fought before the show, with Hayder winning via TKO. Jason says that Hayder pulled his hair. It should also be noted that Jason sounds a lot like Obie Trice (real name, no gimmicks).

(By the way, one more thing I hate about this season: the shortened preview of what is to come after the next commercial break. Completely pointless.)

Jason tells Hayder not to come at him like he’s a bitch. I’ll say this for Jason, at least he knows he’s on a television show. Hayder looks lost for words. Maybe he didn’t get his copy of the script. This better be leading to a rematch down the road, otherwise this has been a waste of time.

The ATT guys gather around the campfire trying to figure out who the Blackzilians are picking. This would be a lot more interesting if the viewers didn’t already know. Can you say “filler material”?

Survival SkillsSteve Carl: “Alright, psycho. What the f**k are you trying to do?”

Michael Graves, everyone’s favourite slob, is sleeping in on training day. They tell us he’s been up all night drinking instead of, you know, showing us. It’s a good thing that television isn’t a visual medium.

ATT are highly critical of how Michael’s fight has affected his mood. Look, I’m not a doctor, but is there a chance that he has, you know, a concussion? Maybe ganging up on him and letting him stay home alone isn’t the best way to deal with this situation.

Predictably, the Blackzilians are all smiles on the way to training, even finding time for an impromptu massage session.

Buscape MassageHey! What do you think this is? TUF: Brazil?

Dana White pops up on screen to yell at us about the Michael situation and repeats pretty much everything we’ve already seen and heard. I’m losing my patience again. This is the last time I’ll mention it this season unless he says something particularly significant: I am so, so tired of Dana White popping up and shouting at random moments. Was he always doing this on other seasons and I just never noticed?

He does relay one good line from Rashad Evans about how they’re going to have to start charging ATT for coming to their gym so much.

Speaking of things I am through writing about, I have no idea who thought it was necessary for Dan and Glenn Robinson to stand behind their fighters for every faceoff. Please stop.

Neither Hayder or Andrews have anything interesting to say leading up to the fight. At one point, Hayder goes “Mentally bro, I can’t be broken, bro.” Impressive sentence structure there.

Andrews says his strategy is “just to win the fight.” So that’s what ATT has been doing wrong.

It falls on ATT assistant coach Din Thomas to provide some good sound bites. He tells Hayder to “explore everything” when striking and to “have fun doing destruction”. Now that I think about it, Din would have made for a far more interesting representative of the gym than Dan. And the Blackzilians could have used Tyrone Spong instead of Glenn. He told his guys to steal the other team’s souls earlier in the episode! Another missed opportunity.

On the day of the fifth fight, I’m nearly certain I spot TUF: Latin America vet Bentley Syler aka Dr. Bolivia in the background.

Bolivia CameoDon’t try to hide from us, Bentley.

American Top Team’s Hayder Hassan (6-1) v. Team Blackzilians’ Andrews Nakahara (4-2)

Hayder sticks to the game plan, closing distance right away. The kicks of Andrews aren’t enough to back him up and you can see Hayder loading up his right hand the whole time. He lands it on the side of Andrews’ face, then follows with a left hook right on the button. The Blackzilian crumbles. Several furious punches later, we get an official stoppage.

Hayder FinishesI might not love the guy’s personality, but he backed up every word he said. A star making debut for Hayder.

Glenn’s post-fight reaction goes a long way towards endearing him to me. He is disturbed not just by his team’s first loss, but by what it meant for Andrews. That is definitely different from how the show portrays Dan, who has been shrugging off losses even as they pile up for his team and his fighters. I appreciate Dan’s honesty, but you need to find room for sympathy as well. Damn, I think I might be rooting more for Glenn after this one.

Regardless, congratulations to Hayder on getting the first finish of the season and in impressive fashion to boot.

Hayder VictoriousThe score: Blackzilians lead 100-50

Next Week: It will be nice to see what the American Top Team gym looks like.

The Ultimate Fighter 21: American Top Team v. Blackzilians – Week 4 Recap

As you can tell by the extraordinary lateness of this posting, this week was a struggle. I’m enjoying a lovely Victoria Day weekend here in Canada and the last thing I wanted to do was spend 40-some minutes with the jokers on TUF 21. But duty calls. Or I have some sort of disorder. Either way, let’s take a look at week four.

Team Colours

American Top Team
Blackzilians (actually black on the show)

American Top Team is understandably reeling from Steve Carl’s loss. He was one of their veterans, a sure bet to steady the ship. Instead, he sunk like a stone. Dan Lambert asks him what happened and Carl says it was all mental. I’m inclined to agree. This guy submitted Josh Burkman!

Steve Montgomery aka Creepy Steve is convinced that he’s the one to turn this around, saying “It’s always the creepy motherf**kers that sneak up on you. I promise.” Yeeuch.

Conveniently enough, Creepy Steve is ATT’s choice to close out the first round of 25 point fights. Also in consideration were Sabah Homasi and Hayder Hassan, but Hayder is still dealing with a hand injury. Ideally, he would have been matched up with one of the Blackzilian strikers (a couple of whom he’s defeated in the past). We’ll have to wait at least another week to see the vocal Top Teamer make his nationally televised debut.

Creepy Steve (whose official nickname is “The Creepy Weasel”) describes himself as having “the mind of a hippie” and “the heart of a fighter”. He’s an old fashioned South Carolina gentleman. So good nickname choice.

ATT CutHe also has ATT shaved into the side of his hair. You make your own judgments.

Glenn Robinson visits the house to ask his crew who they think ATT is planning to pick. Jorge Santiago says Nathan Coy looks skinny and proposes a match with Carrington Banks. The experience difference concerns Glenn, as well as the fact that Nathan’s technical skill might be too much for Carrington. Jorge and the others stick with their gut and Glenn relents.

The Blackzilians bring Carrington, Andrews Nakahara, and Jason Jackson into the bedroom to deliver the news. I’m going to assume this was a longer, more involved deliberation before editing, but that way it is shown it’s almost like they’re all waiting to get a Bachelor rose.

Blackzilian TrioWell this wasn’t a complete waste of time.

Carrington is from Peoria, Illinois, raised in Georgia and wrestled in Iowa. He’s a lifelong wrestler as a matter of fact. His brief montage portrays him as a “chill dude”, which is better than being creepy in my books.

Speaking of Creepy Steve, we get our first taste of genuine in-house drama when panicked cries for help send the cast into high alert. Creepy Steve is having a seizure! Hayder sticks his fingers in Creepy Steve’s mouth to keep him from biting his tongue off. I’m nearly certain that’s not how you’re supposed to handle that.

SeizureFor f**k’s sake, guys.

The house is completely in shock, but the show doesn’t dwell on the scene. This was a good opportunity to delve deeper into the fighters’ relationships as well as show the sympathetic side of the Blackzilians as I’m sure they were as concerned as the ATT crew. Instead, we get a brief comment from Hayder about how helpless he felt, some shots of Creepy Steve being carted off, and that’s the end of it. I’m not advocating milking a serious health related situation, but this is television! You’ve got to give us more than that.

With their first choice out of commission, ATT now has to choose between Nate and Sabah. They like how Sabah potentially matches up with either Carrington or Jason and he’s been eager to fight since the start of the show. He gets the green light.

Sabah is a male entertainer.

Pause for snark.

He makes sure to emphasize that it’s for women, which seems unnecessary. A man has got to eat, brah. You do you. If that disclaimer weren’t cringe worthy enough, he goes on to make an incredibly awkward comparison between dancing in front of a roomful of ladies to fighting inside of a cage. Did I mention that this is the same guy who was combing his beard during a testimonial last week?

Sabah says if you want to see him in an exciting fight, match him with a striker. If you match him with a wrestler, he’s pretty much screwed. At the weigh-ins, Dan says he suspected that ATT would pick Carrington. If that’s the case, why would they go with Sabah? It’s a good thing Carrington isn’t a former junior college wrestling champion or anything…oh wait…

We see Creepy Steve return to the house and thankfully he’s alright. He mishandled the weight cut, drinking too much water without balancing his electrolytes and that deluded all the sodium in his body. Yikes! There’s an educational moment for all you kids out there. Fortunately, there is no brain damage; unfortunately, Creepy Steve has to leave the house as a precaution since taking any blows to the head in the near future is probably a bad idea under these circumstances.

In the build up to the fight, there is just no variation from episode to episode as far as these training segments go: Montage of various techniques and drills, basic breakdown of how the fight could go, testimonial from a respected UFC teammate, the occasional butt slap…wash, rinse, repeat.

It’s a sad state of affairs when the most interesting part of each episode is making observations about the crowd on fight day. For example…

Sideshow CarlI can’t get over how ridiculous Carl looks with his hair loose.

…and then there’s a cameo by a TUF: Brazil champ…

Cara De Sapato CameoWhat’s up, Shoe Face?

American Top Team’s Sabah Homasi (8-4) v. Team Blackzilians’ Carrington Banks (3-0)

It occurs to me now that they’re showing the referee’s instructions to create some kind of big event atmosphere. It’s not working.

Carrington scores first blood, connecting with a right as Sabah lunges in. He goes to his bread and butter as Sabah had predicted. The former Iowa Central wrestler presses Sabah against the fence and drags him down, but he’s never on top for more than a few seconds. Sabah has great balance, but Carrington keeps at it. There is definitely a size difference between these two, which explains why Carrington’s grappling isn’t as effective as it could be. He’s a future lightweight.

There are some good strikes landed by Sabah, but based on the judging on the show so far I think the first round is a 10-9 for Carrington. The second is more of the same, though Sabah finds a rhythm, at least in the early going. It is difficult to tell who has the advantage. For the most part, they are trading evenly on every exchange. Sabah gets bonus marks for his leg and body kicks though.

Both guys look tired and we see some sloppiness.

High Kick MissJuuuust a bit outside.

Is there an unwritten rule that you’re not supposed to laugh when a fighter whiffs on a high risk move like that? Not that you’d be able to hear it, but I rarely see the other fighter or even the crowd react much when someone spills like that.

Carrington matches Sabah’s awkward kick with one of his own that results in Sabah getting hold of a front face lock. It isn’t much, but it should be enough to send this to a third round, and I’m not just saying that because I know how much time is left in the episode.

Maybe Carrington has been spending too much time with Rashad Evans. He gets casual with his stance, dropping his hands and bouncing around like a pogo stick. When he finally goes back to his wrestling it leads to another takedown. No control again, but it could be the difference in what is a difficult fight to call. I’m leaning towards Carrington because there wasn’t enough to distinguish between the two in the stand-up.

The judges score another fight for the Blackzilians. Sabah and his corner are shocked and I’m not sure why.

Sabah StunnedWhaaaaaaa?!?

That was a solid fight, the best one of the season so far. All the credit in the world to Sabah and Carrington. These two went after it!

The real shock is that Dana White disagrees. He says neither guy went in for the kill and that Sabah didn’t show what he could do. I’m not entirely sure what Dana was looking for here. It wasn’t the most exciting fight ever, but as far as I could tell both guys “left it all in the cage”, as he is so fond of saying. I’ve been picky all season and even I think this was a good one.

Dan gives his honest assessment that he had no idea how the third round would be scored. I’m reminded how much I appreciate his candor. Unlike the previous ATT performances though, he has no reason to be disappointed in Sabah. It just didn’t go his way this time.

Dan: Sit here and bitch about it for the next five minutes but then we need to start thinking about the next one. ‘Cause they’re worth 50 points apiece starting on Tuesday.

See? I said some nice things about TUF 21. We can all get along.

Carrington VictoriousThe score: Blackzilians lead 100-0.

Next Week: Montage, breakdown, testimonial, butt slaps.

The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 4 – Week 6 Recap

Alexander K Lee: We’ve been spoiled by two weeks of frolicking and romance, so don’t get your hopes up for any hanky-panky on this episode! In fact, it’s right down to business as we are already learning about this week’s competitors to start the show.

Team Colours

Team Nogueira
Team Shogun

Nikolas Motta is from Governador Valdares in Minas Gerais. He moved to Rio by himself to pursue his mixed martial arts dreams. We finally learn why Anderson Silva called him “Quejinho”. It is a reference to a cheese that is produced in Minas Gerais. I can sleep now.

Unfortunately, Nego’s story is less charming. I can tell they struggled to find a way to showcase him. He’s been studying martial arts for 16 years. He’s tall. His family supports him. That’s all we get.

An uncharacteristically slow opening for the show, but then I remember that there is a challenge this week! That explains why they got all the boring stuff like the fighters’ lives and motivations out of the way.

You know, we joked about them recycling old Survivor props in a previous post. Now they’re actually recycling props from TUF 1!

Ben Grimm: This challenge is bananas.

B-A-N-A-N-A-S

Basically, four guys from each team are tied to something, that, as my Canadian counterpart pointed out, hasn’t been seen on TV since the early 2000’s. It’s a giant metal octagon, with a huge UFC logo in the middle. The objective of the game is to drag the other team around, and grab four of the eight flags that are on the edge of the area.

Octagon ChallengeSomewhere, Sam Hoger just woke up in a cold sweat.

The winner gets to pick the next fight, which is the production team’s way of acknowledging that Nikolas is basically screwed, and that they want to give the pick to Team Azul. The Nogueira’s are super fired up, and I think it’s Matheus Mattos that leads the team on a pretty cool fire-up chant.

AL: For anyone wondering why Team Vermelho should care about this prize since they already have control, a victory would allow them to retain the fight selection the next time they lose it.

BG: The teams picked are pretty interesting. Personally, I’d just take all four of the lightweights, as they’re by definition bigger and stronger than the bantamweights. Also, Dedé having jumped a few weight classes in the last couple days would have helped too. Unfortunately for Team Azul, they get steamrolled, once again. Team Vermelho grabs four flags to their one, despite the best efforts of Reginaldo Vieira who is constantly grounding the disc and doing his best to grind out the win. Nazareno Malegarie manages to drag all seven other men wherever the hell he chooses. Seriously, he has some crazy strength.

AL: I can still remember the first time I watched this challenge on the inaugural TUF and I couldn’t stop thinking: “Holy s**t someone is going to get seriously injured.” The second time around, my feelings were unchanged.

Hazardous GamePerfectly safe.

BG: Tensions are kinda rising, as Team Nog is getting tired of losing. However, as a reward for making it this far, both teams are given a day to chill, and drive around in dune buggies. The mere existence of dune buggies makes this episode more fun than the entire season of TUF 21, and on that note, I’m going to pass it on to our resident TUF 21 sufferer…. I mean recapper.

AL: More like reCRAPper, amirite?

El Tigre caps off his dominance of the challenge by announcing that Team Shogun is up “80-0”. The sad thing is he’s not exaggerating that much.

I’m glad you brought up TUF 21 (never thought I’d ever have a reason to say that) because one of the key differences between the two series’ is that they do random stuff like send the Brazil cast out on dune buggy trips for no reason other than it is something fun to put on television.

Isn’t that the point of reality programming? Fun! Not everything has to have some sort of deeper meaning or purpose. I just want to see these guys have a good time and boy, do they!

Mad AdamasAdamas, homicidal as always.

Tipped OverThat was predictable.

That evening, there is a minor scuffle between Açougueiro and Nego. Much like myself, Nego is a procrastinator and he puts off his weight cut until the last minute. That means pulling an all nighter in the tub with Jack Godzilla watching over him (stop fantasizing, ladies) to get him down to a reasonable weight for the next day’s cut.

Açougueiro gives Nego crap about disrupting everyone’s sleep, but Team Nogueira lets their friend know that he was out of line so he goes to apologize to Nego at the training center the next day. A short chat later and everyone is cool again. Man, I wish these guys were more like the d**kholes on TUF 21. Oh wait, no I don’t. Nobody does.

Açougueiro jokes that the mayor of Minas will give Nikolas lots of cheese if he wins. Once these guys get a hold of something, they really just don’t let it go.

Cheese CheerGuys…give it a rest.

BG: First up, let me comment that Nego is crazy tall for a LW, and Nikolas seems to be a touch on the small side. It’s a large height difference.

Second, this week’s ring girl is one to get excited about. We’ve all met her before, she’s our new favourite super-clingy ring-girlfriend – Jennifer Giacotto!

Don’t ask me how I know she’s clingy, she just looks like a friends’ girlfriend who is like super-clingy.

Anyway. If you didn’t know, Ms. Giacotto (or maybe the future Mrs. Korea?) is an aspiring actress.

AL: Aspiring actress, huh? I’m sure all the camera time she is getting with Korea is in no way related to that career choice.

BG: This is glorious. Everything from the thumbnail of the black eye, to the dude exasperatedly talking about how he gave up gluten for her. It’s magical.

Jennifer GiacottoNo Portuguese, but she gets a pass because of her relationship with Korea. It’s like a TUF green card.

Lightweight Bout: Team Shogun’s Nego (12-3) v. Team Nogueira’s Nikolas Motta (6-1)

The fight starts out pretty crazy. Nikolas’ plan is apparently to stand around and flail at Nego as best as possible. Nego, channelling the spirit of Gleison Tibau via his shoulder tattoo, uses the Tibau-est gameplan possible, and tries to grind his opponent against the cage, land some shots, and eventually ground him. I’m making this sound bad, but it’s actually a good fight.

Nikolas does get pinned up against the cage for a while, but once he escapes, he lands an amazing head kick, which floors Nego.

Head Kick No SellHe’s up almost instantly, but it looked great.

Nikolas is wild on the feet, and he lands some good shots that put Nego in trouble, but he’s got no real semblance of take down defence. Nego’s just too big, and able to pin him up on the cage, or dump him to the ground, and slowly control the fight. It’s a tough round to score, as Nego had control for a lot of the round, but I’d score it 10-9 Nikolas on damage and aggression.

Nikolas is exhausted heading into the second round, and it’s really the death knell for his fight. Being the bigger, slightly fresher man, Glaico is able to execute his gameplan without being in nearly as much danger as he was in the first round. He was able to wear out his opponent, and at around the halfway mark of the second round, he eventually takes Nikolas’ back, and sinks in the choke. It’s all over.

Nego ChokeNot the best game face I’ve seen.

Team Azul is down four fights and two challenges. That suuuuucks so much. Nikolas strikes well, and he’ll be ok if he can make it down to 145, or not get matched up with physically dominant fighters like that. Great fight from Nego too, he was able to come back from some heavy damage and work hard to secure a win.

AL: Everyone seems to really like Nikolas. Fighters and coaches from both sides offer words of encouragement. It’s moments like this that remind you that even though he’s a professional mixed martial artist on a television show being watched by millions, he’s still just a kid. Best of luck to him and his pinchable cheeks.

The next fight sees loverboy Korea facing off with Leandro Higo. I like Leandro because he’s the only guy on the show who is taking the show so seriously. He’d fit right in on TUF 21.

Nego VictoriousNext Week: Team Shogun’s Korea v. Team Nogueira’s Pitbull. You know the one.

Cat

The Ultimate Fighter 21: American Top Team v. Blackzilians – Week 3 Recap

The intro to this show is all wrong. Of all the things they needed to change, this wasn’t it. They recap last week and then do a preview of tonight’s show, which is just pointless. Then we get a shortened version of the traditional opening, without showing the fighters’ names. It is preposterous that they seem to be doing everything in their power this season to not showcase the actual fighters.

Also, the song sucks. THIS IS NOT THE ULTIMATE

Two fights down, the American Top Team crew acknowledge that the guys they’ve selected so far are talented, but young. Dan Lambert all but admits that Michael Graves and Uros Jurisic were sacrificial lambs since the initial fights aren’t worth as much. He goes on to do the math for us to show that a team can lose the first eight fights and as long as you win the final four (each worth 100 points) you can still win the competition.

Dan’s analysis comes off as incredibly callous because you would think these fights are about more than points. There’s also, I don’t know, his fighters’ careers to consider?

It gets worse when Dana White says ATT is way behind on points even though they literally just showed Dan explaining how easy it is to make up the deficit. Ugh.

Team Colours

American Top Team
Blackzilians (actually black on the show)

At the house, someone has taken Valdir “Baby Monster” Araujo’s wine. He goes on the hunt and…you know what, this is borderline kitchen drama. In summary, Michael has been a naughty boy and Steve Carl (from here on out referred to as “Carl”) thinks it can only lead to unnecessary drama. Michael shows no regret, joking that he didn’t confess because he doesn’t like confrontations. He might also have a drinking problem.

Wine ThiefThis is a likeable bunch, eh?

The ATT deliberations come down to Steve Montgomery (from here on out referred to as “Creepy Steve”), Grilo, and Carl. Creepy Steve is healthy and they believe that Grilo can beat anyone of the Blackzilians, but they decide that Carl is the safe choice. I’m glad they went with Carl this week to show that they’re taking this stage of the competition seriously.

Carl is from Belle Plaine, Iowa, a town so small that it took me almost an entire minute to properly google it. They mention his experience, but gloss over the fact that he submitted Josh Burkman to win the inaugural World Series of Fighting Welterweight Championship back in 2013. Were this a traditional season of TUF, Carl would easily be one of the first three fighters picked.

Carl TattooName tattooed on your back in fancy letters? Oh Steve…I was just starting to like you.

Before we move on to the Blackzilian side of things, I have to point out how much padding there is in this episode. There are some boring training segments that come off as extended commercials for the two gyms (oh wait, I’m the last person to realize that’s what this whole season is for, aren’t I?). They show the guys sitting around the house not doing or saying anything particularly interesting. They even show the referee explaining the rules of the fight to this week’s competitors like it’s a title match.

Worst of all are frequent clips of Dana White selling this week’s fight and constantly trying to get the viewer to buy into the feud between the two camps. Because nothing is more effective in the visual medium of television than someone telling you how interested you should be.

The Blackzilians are looking at Andrews Nakahara (great cardio) and Baby Monster. They dismiss Jason Jackson and Felipe Portela over concerns about them not recovering from their workouts fast enough. They decide on Baby Monster, and I know the show has made me sour because I can’t even enjoy that otherwise spectacular nickname.

It turns out that Valdir is called “Baby Monster” because he’s been too big and too aggressive since he was 12 years old. From what we see of his fighting style, it’s an appropriate moniker. He’s got that Wanderlei Silva technique of lumbering forward and swinging heavy hooks. However, he’s also renowned for his ground game, which could make this another long week for ATT.

Did I mention how dumb it is that we’re still having adults share a house even though most of the cast reside in Florida? Because it is dumb. Apparently, the house is divided into an ATT and Blackzilian side and the spa and steam room are on the Blackzilian side. I’m going to say that’s slightly unfair.

As a result of that inequity, Carl is three quarters of a pound over the limit. This is not weight cutting drama! It’s three quarters of a f**king pound. The commissioner directs them to the sauna, which cheeses off the Blackzilians who didn’t give the other team permission to use their facilities. Tyrone Spong says they’re in a war and in a war there are no rules. He and Michael Johnson go in to kick the ATT guys out.

1)      There are rules in war actually.
2)      It’s not war it’s a f**king TV show!

Is anyone on this show not a petty jerk?

Carl makes the weight. As stupid as that was, Dana does make a good point that if they don’t want to deal with these problems then they should get that home gym advantage. Of course, that point would have more validity if home gym advantage hadn’t been decided by a coin toss.

The nicest thing I can say about that segment is that we are spared another catfight between the owners.

A highlight of this episode is seeing Din Thomas going over Baby Monster footage to prepare Carl. If you’re unaware, Din actually started his own business dedicated specifically to scouting and breaking down fights. It’s a cool idea that I hope spawns career opportunities for retired fighters.

Din points out Baby Monster’s excellent takedown timing and everyone on the staff says he has a weak chin. The game plan is for Carl to get after him on the feet, but he says he “wouldn’t mind tapping out a blackbelt.”

If Baby Monster is worried about getting knocked out, he isn’t showing it.

Baby Monster: I fought Chris Weidman…I fought the champ for three rounds. Compared to this guy, Steve Carl can do nothing to me.

American Top Team’s Steve Carl (21-4) v. Team Blackzilians’ Baby Monster (14-5)

Oh look, Thiago Silva is here.

Thiago SilvaThere’s someone who I didn’t think I’d ever see on a UFC program again.

Carl lands a few punches and Baby Monster has to go for the takedown. Maybe they were right about that chin. The well prepared ATT fighter touches mat, but springs back up quickly. They wrestle against the cage, with Carl being in control for most of the round. The early punches definitely took some of the air out of Baby Monster. I’m actually surprised the referee doesn’t break up the grappling because neither guy is able to do much. I can almost hear Dana screaming.

Baby Monster finally reverses, but he whiffs on a judo throw.

Baby BotchRonda Rousey, eat your heart out.

Round 1: 10-9 Carl.

Between rounds, a subtitle typo makes it look like Tyrone wants Baby Monster to play dead in the middle of the fight.

Feint Not FaintUh, no?

Both fighters are tentative to start the second. They land some nice single strikes, but don’t commit to any sort of follow-up. Carl pushes in and traps Baby Monster against the cage again. Dana must have been contemplating shutting down filming at this point.

Baby Monster counters with a standing D’Arce choke. There is no submission, but it does allow him to switch positions and gain cage control. That’s where almost the entire fight has taken place.

Standing D'arceSurprisingly effective!

This is a difficult fight to score. Even though Carl has been in control longer, it’s Baby Monster who has threatened with submissions. I would send this one to a third round…and just as I write that, Baby Monster pulls guard to fully commit to a guillotine choke that makes Carl tap! It was a hell of a manoeuvre because if the round ended with Carl on top, that could have locked up a decision win for ATT.

Monster KillGlenn Robinson suggests the weight cut might have affected Carl’s performance. Dana is less convinced. He’s more annoyed by the fact that Carl didn’t listen to his corner and paid the price for wanting to grapple with Baby Monster, a black belt in both Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and judo.

Complete ShockCarl is a little upset. The good thing is that you can fight more than once now and I would bet on him picking up a win before this season is over.

This season has been such a wasted opportunity. The new format is promising. I like the scoring system and the fact that we have actual teammates working together instead of eight strangers, but everything else is either too familiar or completely banal. They’re not giving us any reason to care about anyone. The cast is so unlikeable.

Sabah Testimonial*sigh* I just want these people to go away.

Baby Monster VictoriousThe score: Blackzilians lead 75-0

Next Week: The last of the 25 point fights that Dan thinks are essentially worthless.

The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 4 – Week 5 Recap

Ben Grimm: First up, before I get started on the recap, I’d like to thank It’s Always Raining In Negadelphia for googling the colour red in Portuguese for me. It’s things like this that make the world go round. In the future, I will also accept solutions like this one: Let me google that for you.

Anyway.

This episode, Team Azul is trying to break out of their losing streak, and claim their first victory. Unfortunately, given the nature of TUF, they haven’t been able to pick a favourable match-up yet. Who knows? Maybe this is their chance.

Team Colours

Team Nogueira
Team Shogun

We begin this episode back at the house, as Nazareno Malegarie and Dedé chat about their fight. This must be total bizarro-land for fighters, having to live with the dude you spent the better part of ten minutes trying to remove from their consciousness.

Alexander K Lee: El Tigre celebrates in a fashion typical of his people, singing “Argentina will be the champion!”

BG: The recaps from the fighters highlight that Nazareno was able to impose his takedown and ground game really well. Dedé wasn’t completely helpless, as he apparently did big damage to Nazareno with an elbow on the ground, but he couldn’t remain on his feet long enough to capitalise. To his credit, Dedé doesn’t want to get back into the tournament, as that would mean someone else has been injured, and is now out. That’s an astonishingly selfless way to think of it all.

AL: It’s also astonishingly selfless of him to scarf down a tub of ice cream to let everyone know he doesn’t want back in the competition.

BG: The contrasting attitudes of both teams are highlighted, and it’s pretty interesting to see. Team Vermelho is definitely more laid back. Whether or not it’s because they’ve been winning is very hard to say. They’re goofing off, having fun, whereas Team Azul is hardcore into their training, even sparring inside of the house to stay sharp.

What do you reckon, Alex? Are some guys taking it too easy, or others playing it too tough?

AL: Team Shogun just look like the most fun, positive people to be around. It’s easy to be like that when you’re winning, but I have to give credit to Shogun Rua for putting together a team with a good mix of veterans and youngsters.

Shake It Off​Loosen up, fellas.

As we touched upon last time, it’s unclear exactly what Anderson Silva was planning to do outside of picking people he was familiar with (apparently Bulldog is also an associate of the Nogueiras). Unity is a key to team Shogun’s success.

MasseuseI’ll bet the free massages don’t hurt either.

Meanwhile, it definitely looks like they’re playing it too tough over at Team Nogueira. The footage of their training is incredibly unflattering with teammates arguing and literally falling all over themselves. There is also some crying, and not the usual fun TUF: Brazil kind. The sad kind.

In contrast to Team Shogun, Açougueiro says “We’ve got no close friends here.”

Watch Your StepThat about sums up the Team Azul experience so far.

As if to drive home the mood disparity between the two squads, the Team Shogun boys decide to compete against each other in the “first international billiards championship”. They go all out, including pre and post-fight rituals. The clips of the tournament are interspersed with shots of Team Nogueira fighters looking sullen and serious. They look like the saddest bastards ever. Team Shogun couldn’t be having a better time.

Billiards ResultJack Godzilla does not take kindly to losing.

Soldado wins, but they don’t let him enjoy it for too long.

The PrizeCongratulations Soldado, for your hard earned victory you get…a gang beating!

I think it’s best now if we fast forward to the next appearance of the ring girls, a house visit that threatens to shatter the record for most screenshots and gifs in a single post.

BG: I don’t think any amount of pictures and gifs will do justice to this situation. All of the ring girls rock up to the house, ostensibly to play poker with the guys, and basically hang out for the whole day.

AL: Açougueiro goes from “I don’t know how to play poker” to full-on Phil Laak.

UnacougueiroThat escalated quickly.

Seriously, if you were an American TUF participant, how jealous would you be of the TUF: Brazil setup?

BG: It’s glorious. Matheus Nicolau tries to pretend that playing poker is actually quite helpful in terms of fighting, something something about learning about bluffing and your opponent, but I’m not really paying attention to him right now.

AL: It’s an even more strained analogy than those old UFC/Assassin’s Creed tie-ins.

BG: Jenny and Korea continue to act like that one freaking couple you all know that can’t keep their hands off of each other. Every second he spends talking, he’s got this slightly guilty smile on his face. It’s great.

Korea and JennyKorea: “I’m locked in here with 16 guys, so it’s great to have a girl.”

Poor Bulldog gets questioned over his choice of seasoning on the meat, which is apparently only salt. Salt. The secret ingredient.

Eventually, dinner winds down, and the lay-dees decide to get in the hot tub. Because of course they do. This is tough for some of the married or committed guys, and poor Açougueiro even comments that his marriage will be completely over if he steps foot near the tub.

AL: Over on my TUF 21 recaps (remember those?), I joked that since the fighters don’t know who they will be matched up with until the weigh-ins, it was like TUF meets Blind Date. I was wrong. This is how you do TUF meets Blind Date.

BG: Of course, with the hot tub in play, shenanigans ensue. Dedé ends up making out with Diana, another one of the American ring girls. I guess this is one of the better ways of soothing the loss from his last fight. However, the language barrier is still definitely in play, and I’m noticing a bit of a trend here…

Dede and Diana 1

Dede and Diana 2THAT escalated quickly.

AL: It should be noted that it looks like Dedé has jumped a couple of weight classes in the last few days. Not that Diana seems to mind.

BG: The guys had a great time relaxing, the girls had fun, and now we’re back to the serious fight business. That is, it’s time to watch shirtless guys flex on a scale. It’s weigh-ins time! Fortunately, both guys make weight. Dileno Lopes gets the towel treatment, but there’s no implication it was a hard cut. There’s a tiny bit of heat in the staredown, and Bulldog spends the whole time wearing the type of chain you would use to lock up your bike. It’s hilariously stupid looking.

AL: We learn that Bulldog first met the Nogueiras by winning a contest based on who could sell the most bodybuilding supplement. Minotauro took a shine to him immediately because he was the only one of the finalists who was in decent shape. A few backflips later, he was officially part of the team.

Dileno speaks proudly of his hometown of Manaus, the breeding ground of several UFC fighters, most notably José Aldo. He wants to follow in the featherweight champ’s footsteps.

Dileno: It has been a huge sacrifice up until now. My family is back home. My daughter and my wife are back there. Las Vegas is so far away from home. I really miss them. I’m sacrificing myself and suffering and I’ll make someone pay for that.

Bulldog? Check. Dileno? Check. Ring girl? You’re up this week, Ben.

BG: This week we have the lovely Elenita Machado. She’s part of a rare breed this year, in that she’s actually Brazilian. Her idea is that ring girls are sexy, but not vulgar. No disagreements here.

AL: At last, the sweet, sweet sound of a woman speaking Portuguese. My ears thank you, Elenita. Consider yourself the frontrunner in this competition.

Elenita MachadoHot dog! We have a weiner.

BG: It’s now on to fight time, and both guys are well prepared. We see them running down some last minute preparation, and Bulldog gets advice on avoiding guillotine chokes. Could this be a case of foreshadowing?

AL: Bulldog also explains the origin of his nickname: he’s little and strong and vaguely resembles a bulldog. If only there were another small, fierce canine that he could be named after…

Bantamweight Bout: Team Nogueira’s Bulldog (8-2) v. Team Shogun’s Dileno Lopes (19-1)

Bulldog EntranceThis has to be useful in a fight, I’m just not sure how exactly.

BG: Dileno has a serious experience advantage over Bulldog, as well as a reach and height advantage too.

The fight starts out at breakneck speed, with both men storming across the cage to meet in the middle. They are constantly springing back and forward for the first thirty seconds or so, and I had to check and make sure that my video wasn’t running in fast forward. About 50 seconds in to the first round, Bulldog shoots in for a takedown, gets stuffed enough that he manages to lose his footing, and stands up into a full guillotine choke.

Dileno locks it up tight really, really quickly, and Bulldog has to tap out after just a little more than the first minute. Many props go out to the editors, landing in that guillotine foreshadowing. Nice, I liked it.

Dileno Guillotine Finish​Bulldog going for a takedown was his first mistake. Trying to slam his way out of hit was his second and his last.

Bulldog is obviously devastated about his loss, but he’s able to cope pretty well. The Nogueira brothers are piiiiiissed off, man.

Frustration Sets InNow you know what a pissed off Minotaur looks like.

The mood in their locker room basically resembles that of a graveyard, but the Nogueiras talk about their own TUF coaching history, and how they’ve always been able to turn it around. No speculation, just cold, hard facts.

Shogun picks Glaico “Nego” França, his number two pick, to take on Nikolas Motta, Team Azul’s number two lightweight pick as well. On paper, that’s an intriguing choice. We’ll have to see how it plays out next week. Any finals thoughts, Alex?

AL: Did Anderson pick any grapplers? Reginaldo Vieira, I guess? It feels like it’s the same story every week. Somehow, Team Shogun once again ends up with the bigger, more experienced fighter in Nego. I’m not betting against them losing the advantage anytime soon.

Dileno VictoriousNext Week: Team Shogun’s Nego v. Team Nogueira’s Nikolas Motta. Also, we investigate if Anderson Silva went to the Ted Stepien school of team building.

Cat

The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 4 – Week 4 Recap

Ben Grimm: First and foremost, I can promise that this episode doesn’t have the same emotional impact as last week’s did. In my mind, that’s a good thing, I can’t go through that kinda stuff too often. There’s still drama, but while last episode was like, an 8 on the drama scale, this is closer to a 5.5/10.

Alexander K Lee: You know, it has to be mentioned, for some reason they thought it would be a good idea to throw random noises into the intro. I’m talking these generic screams and shouts that you’ve probably heard in countless movies, television shows, and video games (no Wilhelm scream though). Who thought this was a good idea? It’s silly and amateurish.

Team Colours

Team Nogueira
Team Shogun

BG: Team Blue’s still reeling for a couple reasons. Obviously, Anderson Silva being forced to leave still has some effect, given that his pupil, Dedé, is fighting this episode. Also, they lost a close decision, and a really good chance to eliminate a solid fighter in Matheus Nicolau. Reginaldo Vieira, our first loser of the tournament is a bit bummed out. He tries to be the good guy, and has a chat with Matheus (who still has really nice eyes), but still mentions that he thought he won the first two rounds.

Pretty EyesSee? Really pretty eyes.

Dedé’s in a bad way, though. He was really, really rattled by Anderson’s exit from the house, and in my mind,

a.) there’s no way his head is still in the game to the same level as it was before, and
b.) there’s no way he doesn’t know the truth of the whole situation.

Dede FarewellThat moment where a hug gets uncomfortable for one of the participants.

He is pretty out if it, but just in time, the entire remaining coaching staff of Team Blue shows up for a bit of a pep talk. They also stick around to make sure he’s on weight. Right now, Dedé is 10 pounds over, and Nazareno Malegarie is only five pounds over. Dedé’s gonna have a harder cut, but it’s not impossible.

AL: The good thing about living in the TUF house though is that the fighters are able to focus on their duties free of distraction.

BG: Aaaand then, the girls show up…

House GuestsOoooooh s**t.

The visit is a major bummer for Team Nogueira because the girls bring them scarves for the winter trip…the only problem is that it’s Team Shogun going on the trip, not them. We find the red team upstairs and all is well, except for the fact that I hear more English speaking from one of the ring girls. What do I watch TUF: Brazil for?!? Reginaldo jokes that “Back in Brazil, their girlfriends are all breaking up with them.”

We take a quick second to check in on the blue team training. Adamas says that nothing has changed with Anderson gone, so this is time well spent. They do tease Dedé not cooperating fully with the Nogueiras as if he’s their petulant stepchild, but it doesn’t go anywhere and everyone remains buddy buddy.

Back to the main event, Dileno Lopes says he’s loving the climate change on Mount Charleston. Team Shogun and the girls looks like they are having a wicked time, learning to snowboard and sliding down in giant swim rings. One of the ring girls jokes that Shogun ran her over.

Korea puts the moves on one of the ring girls and they can’t even communicate with each other (he doesn’t speak English, she doesn’t speak Portuguese)! Her name is Jennifer Giacotto and I’m pretty sure that’s all he knows about her.

Tube RideBest…reward…eveeeeeeer!

Korea Explains LoveI think that’s how babies are made.

Bro SupportI wish Shogun were around to cheer me on every time I hooked up.

Aaaah, l’amour, it is sweet, no? What do you say, Ben? Did this put you in the mood?

BG: This was freaking adorable, and the rest of Team Shogun did their best to hang in the back and poke fun like awkward schoolboys. Also, someone in the production team must be weeping sweet tears of joy, now that their ‘put guys and girls on TUF’ gamble is -finally- paying off.

We cut back to some training and intro to our fighters. Nazareno is actually from Argentina, just like our favourite contestant from TUF – Latin America.

El Diablito KOWho didn’t love the Ninja?

Anyway, there seems to be some crazy serious Brazil/Argentina heat. Does it cover every aspect of life? I’m genuinely curious, as I’ve never been to either country. Nazareno describes himself as an all-rounder, standing if it’s standing, going to ground if it’s on the ground, whatever. Also, his nose is hella off-centred and broken. Just sayin’.

Weigh-ins go off without a hitch, as both guys easily make weight, and it seems like this is going to be a real style v. style fight. Dedé is very much a Muay Thai guy, whereas Nazareno has the clear grappling advantage.

El Tigre Dede FaceoffCome on Dedé, show off that beach body.

It’s almost fight time, and both guys are prepped and ready to go. However, before we can get to the fight, there’s one more person to introduce.

AL: This week’s octagon girl contestant is Cindy Laura, who is bringing it back with the Portu…oh…wait, is she speaking Spanish? She’s from Cuba! Do any of these women speak Portuguese? Come on!

Cindy LauraDisqualified.

Lightweight Bout: Team Nogueira’s Dedé (3-1) v. Team Shogun’s El Tigre (27-3)

Slight experience disparity here. Someone with 30 fights going up against someone with less than five sounds like…exactly how matchmaking works in Brazil, actually.

Shogun believes that if Dedé gets taken down once, El Tigre will have the fight in the bag. That is the story of the opening round as Dedé is unable to fend off the first shot of the fight. He’s pressed against the cage and eventually dragged down by a persistent Nazareno. Right away you can see how much more adept Nazareno is on the ground. He is aggressive and on the attack, unafraid of anything Dedé has to offer from his back.

Seriously, El Tigre’s vaunted ground game is no joke. He times everything perfectly. There’s almost no wasted energy when he pounds Dedé with punches and elbows. It is a clear cut 10-9 first round for El Tigre, and I could even go 10-8.

BG: I agree, Nazareno completely dominated that first round. Dedé’s corner really highlights the need to come out strong, and win the round. To his credit, Dedé looks good in the first minute or so, landing some punches, and stuffing some takedowns.

With three minutes to go, Dedé sprawls excellently on a takedown, but he’s unable to punish Nazareno enough. Dedé’s slightly winning the standup, but he’s not dealing a lot of damage, and Nazareno is able to connect with some swinging overhands. Unfortunately for Dedé, Nazareno is just too dogged. Eventually, he’s able to easily stifle Dedé against the cage, and dumps him to the ground. From there, Nazareno works for position, and constantly lands a steady stream of right hands to Dedé’s head that he’s just not fighting against. The referee calls the TKO at 4:28 of the second round, and it’s a good stoppage.

El Tigre has some wicked G n’ P.  He’s gonna do well, I reckon. Team Shogun is pretty stoked with the win, obviously. Shogun declares his entire team to be samurai, and, given that he is indeed a Shogun, this is a promotion that’s well within his power.

The mood is grave-like in the other room, as the coaches desperately try and keep morale high. They want their team screaming and cheering more, and surely getting more enthused isn’t going to be too hard for a group of Brazilians?

Team Red gets to pick for next week, as is custom for the winners, and they select their bantamweight Dileno to take on Bruno “Bulldog” Silva of Team Blue. Dileno was pick four, and Bulldog pick seven, so they’re still playing it safe according to the pick order.

AL: I thought that Shogun’s team had already used their killers, but I forgot about Dileno. These sides are looking lopsided. Maybe Anderson shouldn’t have used the top pick on his best bud? And it’s the Nogueira brothers who got stuck with him!

Does picking a friend ever work out? Just off the top of my head, I can name a couple of guys who were picked first because of their relationship with a coach and none of them worked out: Joe Scarola (TUF 6, via Matt Serra, lost in the first week and left the house a few weeks later) and Marc Stevens (TUF 12, via Josh Koscheck, lost in the first round and as a wild card).

On the flip side, I guess you could say James McSweeney (TUF 10, via Rashad Evans, made it to the semifinals) and Cezar Mutante (TUF: Brazil 1, via Vitor Belfort, won the middleweight division that season) did well enough.

I’d still lean towards picks based on personal relationships being a negative though, particularly in season where superior talents are passed over. For example, Serra could have ended up with Mac Danzig and George Sotiropoulos (Matt Hughes was infatuated with unproven muscle head Dan Barrera for some reason) while Koscheck missed on Michael Johnson, eventual winner Jonathan Brookins, and Alex Caceres.

Friends are worthless and that is why I don’t have any.

BG: One last question: How do you say ‘red’ in Portuguese? I know blue is azul, and I’d like to use the Portuguese words for colours here, mostly because ‘azul’ sounds like a cool word to say.

Anyway.

AL: You never stop trying to edutain the masses.

El Tigre VictoriousNext Week: Team Shogun’s Dileno Lopes v. Team Nogueira’s Bulldog. Also, we find out if Jennifer takes another trip to “Korea”. I’m not proud of that one.

Cat

The Ultimate Fighter 21: American Top Team v. Blackzilians – Week 2 Recap

I’ll go ahead and say what we’re all thinking.

The first two episodes of this season have been boring.

I can’t put my finger on exactly why. It could be a casting issue. It could be we’ve had bad luck with the first two fights. The focus on the gym owner feud has definitely been an enormous misstep so far since we have no reason to care much about either guy besides the fact that they really don’t like each other. Whoop-dee-doo.

If anything, all the arguing between Dan Lambert and Glenn Robinson makes them come off as a couple of brats, not respectable professionals. They need to give us more insight to this feud or establish the characters of the fighters soon, otherwise the intriguing new format they’ve drummed up will be for naught.

Team Colours

American Top Team
Blackzilians (actually black on the show)

We open on American Top Team sorting out what went wrong with Michael Graves’ fight. Michael thinks they underestimated the unity on the Blackzilians side, which might have given an extra push to Kamaru Usman. Steve Carl says the pressure of being undefeated had to have gotten to him, as it would with any fighter, himself included.

Hayder Hassan isn’t convinced by the unity argument. He echoes the sentiments of his coach that the ATT fighters develop together while the Blackzilians are more of a patched together group of talents. That doesn’t stop him from messing with the other team when he gets the chance.

A kitchen encounter with Kamaru sees Hayder looking to kill him with kindness. He goes on about the two of them being warriors and meeting in the cage someday, a stark contrast to the schoolboy callout after Kamaru’s fight with Michael. Kamaru isn’t sure how to take Hayder’s show of respect. He later tells his teammates that he’s conflicted about whether to like or hate Hayder.

He would probably be more decisive about it if he heard Hayder in the ATT van telling his boys that he was going to knock Kamaru’s “bitch-ass” out.

Blue SceneI’m digging the transition footage.

The ATT coaches predict that Jason Jackson or Carrington Banks could be next. They think Steve could be a strong representative for them this week since he’s got the most experience and he’s reliable. Hayder is ruled out due to a lingering hand injury. Putting those options aside, they decide to give Uros Jurisic the shot. He’s unproven, but they believe he’s peaking at the right time.

I’m surprised that they’re going with another unknown property. It’s becoming clear, at least to me, that they’re saving their big guns for the more heavily weighted fights. That means guys like Michael, Uros, and Sabah Homasi are being thrown to the wolves and whatever they get from them is gravy.

Uros is of Slovenian descent. Back home he is a student/postman who practices MMA without the support of his parents. After going undefeated in his home country, he moved to Florida to step up his game. Dan describes him as quiet and hardworking. They also joke that Uros is one of the better looking guys “in light of the ugliness of the house”.

The Blackzilians go with Buscapé. Carrington was considered for his wrestling, as well as Andrews Nakahara for his striking. Buscapé is undersized, but he’s extremely strong and adept at grappling. They expect his ground game to frustrate and overwhelm whoever he faces.

Glenn: They call Buscapé “The Flea” in the gym because once he’s on you, you can’t get him off.

It’s neat that the teams get to practice in a home gym, though I imagine the relatively small size of it might drive them crazy. Case in point, Kamaru and Jason have themselves a minor dust-up.

TensionNo subtitles necessary.

Kamaru acknowledges that he’s still feeling the effects of fatigue from preparation for his last fight. He apologizes to Jason and that’s that.

It’s weigh-in time and Dan is confident that they’ll win this week and never have to fight in the Blackzilians gym again.

Dan: Ready to see this place for the last time?
Hayder: Yeah, f**k this place.
Dan: F**k this place.

The emphasis during the faceoff is once again on Dan and Glenn. They unload on each other with insults, some of which aren’t bad. But seriously, ten more weeks of this? Dana White continues to be overly excited about the rivalry, which only makes it worse.

Dan And GlennBecause I know we all love dedicating time to a confrontation between two men that will never be resolved in any meaningful way.

American Top Team’s Uros Jurisic (4-0) v. Team Blackzilians’ Buscapé (18-6)

Prior to the fight, Buscapé is shown getting a lot of 1-on-1 time with Tyrone Spong, arguably the best light heavyweight striker in MMA. If he can handle that, I don’t think Uros is going to give him much trouble on the feet.

Alas, the Spong training proves unnecessary since Buscapé is able to get a takedown early in the fight. That spells trouble for Uros who is completely neutralized on his back.

Buscape On TopSee this screenshot? You just saw the first round of this fight.

Round 1: 10-9 Buscapé.

Uros’s corner tells him to keep it on the feet, which seems sensible. Of course, the first thing Uros does is shoot for a takedown.

Buscape On Top AgainUnwise.

Uros actually does manage to get back up, but the ease with which his takedown was reversed means we won’t be seeing that again. Buscapé is able to wade in and throw hooks without any fear of Uros changing strategy. And, of course, he can go all out on takedowns with maximum confidence.

I’m disappointed that Dan employs the Rampage Jackson coaching method of yelling Get up! over and over again. Then again, when they do give Uros advice, he has problems implementing it. The ATT corner is begging him to let go of Buscapé’s head, but he panics. His inability to disengage results in him being tripped or taken down repeatedly. Buscapé does enough to take a lopsided decision win.

Buscape VictoriousDana didn’t like the fight this week either and I’m inclined to agree with him. While I don’t think the referee should have stood them up (Buscapé was always active from the top, even if he failed to pass), I do understand his disappointment in Uros. He looked lost out there. What Dana should really be upset about is that Dan is clearly saving his best fighters for the later stages of the competition instead of putting his best foot forward.

The score: Blackzilians lead 50-0

Next Week: Maybe Dan picks someone to fight who has had more than four professional appearances?