I’m an optimist. That’s how I choose to live my life. I’m disappointed in myself that this season of TUF has brought out the worst in me. I should be dwelling on the positives. Like how nice the show looks. How contestants now come off as human beings as opposed to cartoonish frat boys. How Mark Coleman seems to genuinely be enjoying himself even though he’s been in the fight business since the early 1900s.
I know I’m reaching. The fact of the matter is that only the most loyal TUF fans could picture any of these guys coming close to resembling a contender in the UFC. I am one of the most loyal TUF fans and I’m still not predicting great success!
There’s good to be found here. You just have to look a lot harder than usual.
Fat Pat! That’s the lighthearted nickname Patrick Walsh has been given by his teammates. Tim Williams even makes fun of the jolly way he walks, which is kind of f**ked up. Walsh (Team Edgar, 3rd overall) faces Anton Berzin (Team Penn, 1st overall). Even though they were both high picks, the buzz on the show is mostly for Berzin. He’s a sleeker looking fighter and his elite grappling is expected to carry him to an easy victory.
As expected, the bizarre result of the last fight has made things in the house akwaaaaaard…Eddie Gordon is perturbed. Dhiego Lima is disgusted. Matt Van Buren says not a single person could have watched that fight and thought that Roger Zapata won. Well, I can think of at least two judges…and Dana White actually.
Berzin tells the tale of his family’s hardships coming to America. When his mother tells him he should have been a doctor, Berzin says that now he sees doctors. The rough upbringing has left him bristling with self-confidence, maybe too much so. BJ Penn notes that he’s so sure of his skills that he doesn’t always pick up new things.
Penn: I still don’t have my finger on Anton yet. I know he’s our first pick but listen to your coach every once in a while. I should take that advice too. (laughs)
The fighters are treated to a viewing of UFC Fight Night: Belfort v. Henderson. One of the fights goes to a close decision so Van Buren jumps at the opportunity to call out Zapata. Zapata just laughs it off like he always does. To Ian Stephens’s credit, he does his best to defuse the situation by telling everyone to accept that Zapata won and that’s that. The tension escalates when Gordon and Chris Fields jump in. Ironically, they both tell each other to mind their own business.
The real heat is between Gordon and Daniel Spohn, though I use the word “heat” in the loosest sense of the word. It’s a mild simmer at worst. They both think they’re terribly clever, but in actuality they stumble over their insults and desperately try to come off as cooler than the other guy when they’re both clearly flustered. I wouldn’t be doing anybody any favours by transcribing the conversation. These guys are boring even when they’re s**t talking each other.
Van Buren says “This is definitely a ticking time bomb.” His trademark dull monotone delivery has never been more fitting.
In a curious choice, we don’t get to see the weigh-ins. I’m sure this has happened before and it’s an example of a little tweak they should make more often: If nothing interesting happens, don’t bother showing it. Then again, if they’d stuck to that policy, we wouldn’t have TUF 19 at all.
An early body lock allows Berzin to take Walsh down right away. He advances to back control just thirty seconds into the bout. Walsh’s wrestling background gets him back to his feet, though he can’t quite shake Berzin. The Russian briefly goes for a 10 finger guillotine before moving to the back again. Then Walsh hits a phenomenal judo throw.
Post-fight, Penn says that the throw might have taken something out of Berzin. He certainly doesn’t look like he’s used to being on the defensive. We also find out that Berzin had never fought past the first round before. This one goes well enough for him after he recovers. Walsh’s stand-up approach is mystifying. His hands are really low. He goes for a trip near the end, but Berzin just falls on him. Round 1 to Berzin.
Walsh takes the second round and the third. He does a great job defending himself against Berzin’s submissions while staying in top control. The entirety of the third round is just Walsh chipping away from half guard. Despite the hype, it’s Walsh who outlasts Penn’s top pick. Not bad for a fat boy.
Sorry, but that was a boring ass fight. Berzin faded and Walsh did what he had to do. That’s really all there is to say about it. There’s a twinkle in Walsh’s eye when Coleman approaches him after to compliment him on their similar styles. This is me dwelling on the positives.