Ben Grimm: We’re closing in on the end of our season, and this episode brings us a double Team Shogun showdown. So, on the bright side, at least Team Nog aren’t going to lose any fights this episode. On the downside, we’re going to have to sit through another episode of teammates talking about how much they hespect each other, but hey, it’s just a job, so they’ll get out there and do it anyway. Dare I say it, but after 25+ seasons, could TUF be a touch formulaic?
Alexander K Lee: Ah yes, the always tricky “two fight” episodes. I always think it’s a shame that every season of TUF ends with the least interesting programming. Yes, there was a time when any free televised fight was something to be excited about. But those days are long, long gone. Now, the final episodes are more like a whimper than anything else.
And as you already mentioned, the mutual admiration society that is TUF: Brazil is growing thin, even for my tastes.
BG: Anyway, at the Team Shogun training session, they announce that because they are so damn good at this, you guys, there’s too many of them in the semi-finals to coach individually. The coaches are stepping back from cornering, probably so we don’t get any Kajan Johnson-esque debacles. Nego and Netto BJJ are our first fight this evening. Netto BJJ plans to try and knockout his foe, and apparently, has great power in his hands, and less great grappling.
AL: WHY IS HE CALLED “NETTO BJJ”?!?
BG: Clearly, he goes to the Brad Pickett school of nicknames (Fun fact: “One Punch” Pickett has exactly one clean knockout win is his 34 fight career). Nego, on the other hand, is still huge, still very grapple-heavy, and could potentially be our Quadrary Tibau once the season is up.
Both guys manage to make weight easily, despite Nego being a huge lightweight making three hard cuts inside of six weeks (kidneys, we hardly knew ye). Shogun declines to pick a favourite, but Nog mentions he’ll be cheering for Glaico. And very soon, too soon, maybe, IT IS TIME…
Lightweight Bout: Team Shogun’s Nego (12-3) v. Team Shogun’s Netto BJJ (7-0)
AL: Fifteen seconds into the fight, Nego gets the takedown he was looking for. Post-fight, Shogun says that Nego surprised Netto with the takedown, a comment that makes zero sense since all they talked about before the fight was Nego’s wrestling. Nego shows perfect patient, picking his spots so he can land some big shots before improving his position during a scramble. At first, Netto is able to put up a good fight and stop Nego’s submissions, but eventually the bigger Nego overpowers him. A rear naked choke gets Nego the submission win in the first round. He’s going to the finals!
Netto is incredibly gracious after. He insists that Nego is a much harder worker and that Nego deserved to win. Okay, I’m back on the love train. We’ll miss ya, Netto, contradictory nickname and all.
Next up is what I imagine to be the final game of the season, the Coaches’ Challenge! Titled “Dig This”, it is a variation on the construction vehicle challenge from TUF 17 (Jon Jones v. Chael Sonnen).
It’s different from the TUF 17 version in that there is less to do with carrying the tires. If I recall correctly, Bones and Chael had the super difficult task of having to stack the tires up to finish their competition; here, it’s more of a straight up race. Alas, no amount of editing could help out Big Nog here as it turns out exactly as you’d expect if you’ve been keeping up with this season.
BG: Man, that challenge was embarrassing for Nog. They just cannot win anything. On every challenge, they’ve tried so hard, and got so far, but in the end, it doesn’t even matter.
AL: Team Nogueira is officially one of the five worst teams in TUF history.
BG: Anyway, Team Shogun gets the cash, and we head towards the last fight. Matheus “Pretty eyes” Nicolau (NOTE: This is not his actual nickname, but it is an accurate representation of him) is fighting against Dileno Lopes.
AL: Ben, I bet we’ll see fighters stop using the nickname “Pitbull” before “Pretty Eyes” ever catches on.
Bantamweight Bout: Team Shogun’s Dileno Lopes (19-1) v. Team Shogun’s Matheus Nicolau (10-1-1)
BG: Following my prediction last week, I still think Dileno will secure the win, as he’s got a solid experience edge. Of course, in this situation, neither coach picks a winner for this fight, both preferring to stay on the fence. Coach Nog predicts that it’ll be a great fight. Things aren’t going great for Nog. His team isn’t winning, he isn’t winning, and now, he totally, completely picks the wrong outcome for this fight.
To put it simply, Dileno v, Pretty Eyes was not a great fight.
You guys all know what happens when two ground-savvy fighters match up, right?
That’s right. Three rounds of sub-par kickboxing.
So, full disclosure on this. I watched the fight normally the first time around, but when it came to re-watching for the recap, I sped it up to around triple speed. I’m not wasting a full 15 minutes on this fight again. So, I might have missed some details, but the gist of the fight is solid.
The first round begins uneventfully. The circle and feint for what feels like ages, even when it’s sped up there’s still not much happening. The whole round, Dileno stalks forward, and lands a takedown on the bell, so that’s enough for a round for him.
The tables turn slightly in the second round, as Matheus is consistently able to establish himself as the more aggressive fighter there. Well, it’s the same low-volume kickboxing match, but at least for this round, he does a bit more. He’s actually able to drop Dileno with a head kick, but it never does more than momentarily take away his balance. Matheus takes round two, thanks to the knockdown.
So we’re out to a third round, and this one is started with a long, lingering hug between our two fighters.
This round actually has some bright spots. Dileno is able to open up multiple times, and score a couple of hits in a row. This is outstanding, as this has been a fight of single shots, so scoring a combination is relatively exciting in this context. Neither fighter shows anything in the way of urgency, and I about halfwaay through the round, I was hoping for some wall and stall, just to mix it up from this woeful low output kickboxing. Well, leg-kicking really, as neither fighter did much more than that. No one really engaged, there was virtually no grappling whatsoever, and I don’t know, I think Dileno won the last round?
AL: I don’t care how Shogun and Big Nog try to sugarcoat it, that fight sucked. This is one time where I’d actually welcome the input of Dana “Always Keepin’ It Real” White. And my guess was as good as yours as far as where that fight went. Dileno ends up taking it and I’m just glad that’s over. These two fight episodes can be a serious drag, eh?
Next Week: Reginaldo Vieira v. Korea and Açougueiro v. El Tigre! Also, the fighters get to ride the world’s biggest Ferris wheel. And to think we were saying this show wasn’t ending on an exciting note!