I just got a great idea for the next edition of TUF: Nations. USA v. Brazil. Obvious, I know. What’s changed is that we now have the perfect person to act as a coach for the Brazilians who is also comfortable with American television.
The recently retired Chael P. Sonnen.
Now that he’s more popular than Neymar (obligatory World Cup reference) over in Brazil, what better person to bridge the gap than our favourite fighter/broadcaster/hype man/coach/cheat? In my dream scenario, he puts together a team with some of my favourites from the three TUF: Brazil seasons and other unsigned Brazilians for a second shot at UFC glory. They’d go head to head with eight Americans and the winners would get two guaranteed fights in the UFC. The losers are entered into a Bellator tournament.
Sound strange? I’ll do anything to shake up the format at this point. Or maybe I’m just fantasizing too much about the TUF 19 cast getting their asses whipped. Dana White joins me in the love fest this episode.
Matt Van Buren (Team Edgar, 5th overall) starts us off by airing a list of grievances he has with his opponent Chris Fields (Team Penn, 8th overall). Nobody is happy this season! He even goes as far as to crib Sonnen’s anti-Anderson Silva boasts: “It’s going to be a one-sided pounding and I’m the one swingin’ the hammer.” If you’re going to steal, steal from the best.
His rival Fields has been underutilized on the show despite having some interesting hooks. Fluky win to get into the house. Irish. Bad teeth. Okay, maybe not so interesting. He believes all fighters are selfish, a comment that could extend to athletes in general. BJ Penn says that he picked Fields due to his heart and mindset. He neglects to mention that Fields was the last fighter left.
A comment from Fields about how he’s been fighting “elite level guys” prompts me to take a quick glance at his record. No surprise he’s competing a weight up for the show. Some of his name opponents include Jack Mason (Won), Pavel Kusch (W), Jesse Taylor (L), and Norman Paraisy (Draw). Better than I expected, I’ll admit.
Van Buren’s past is unfortunately not littered with big name MMA competition. No, his upbringing was spent avoiding falling into the trap of his drug using friends.
He trains at Alliance MMA, which provides some frame of reference for us North Americans. Amongst the list of names that he regularly spars with is Chris Leben so that means he’s guaranteed to win.
Cathal Pendred is worried that Fields’s emotions will get in the way of his performance. It doesn’t help when they overhear Van Buren planning an elaborate victory celebration. He plans to climb over the cage after he finishes Fields. Fields tells Pendred that he’s going to come out as aggressive as possible. Ha! I’ll believe it when I see it. Fields says Ireland will “lose their s**t” if he and Pendred make the finals. Again, I’ll believe it when I see it.
They are not making it easy to love these guys. Van Buren thinks that his willingness to openly express his dislike for people makes him a “grown ass man”. There’s something to be said about utilizing discretion and carrying yourself with dignity, but what do I know? Fields doesn’t fare much better in the congeniality department, believing that “sob stories” are a dumb reason for a person to become a fighter. Yeah, how dare these guys use fighting as a way to triumph over tragedy and adversity?
The other day when I was at the cinema I caught the trailer for the new Transformers movie. My brain shut down completely as it was going on. It was just a blank screen and white noise. I’m that numb to the sights and sounds of that franchise. I feel the same way during the pre-fight hype on TUF. I couldn’t even tell you if these guys were speaking English.
Oh yeah, Fields really comes out swinging like a mad man…
Van Buren and Fields are content to trade shots in the clinch and I do mean “trade”. They make no effort to stop each other’s attacks, Fields going with uppercuts and Van Buren attacking with knees. Van Buren’s corner is shouting at him to pummel but he completely ignores them. When they separate, Fields is able to connect on some kicks. It’s impossible for him to capitalize on the range though since he has no counter striking whatsoever. Whenever Van Buren gets close, Fields just keeps backing up until he hits the fence. If Van Buren had any hands he’d be able to knock Fields out cold.
In between rounds, Van Buren says he feels flat. I doubt Fields is doing too well either since his corner proceeds to slap the s**t out of him.
The two fighters exchange lacklustre takedowns with neither managing to gain control for any significant period of time. They are determined not to listen to a word from their respective corners. Hell, even after the fight they don’t listen! Mark Coleman implores Fields to stay standing and look strong for the judges. Fields immediately responds by sitting on the stool and not getting up.
Van Buren scored a couple more takedowns than Fields and that’s enough to give him a majority decision win. I notice that he’s not climbing over any cages.
The one good thing I’ll say about this episode is that it put Dana White and the fans in complete agreement on something for once.
White: Nothing interesting or exciting happened. You guys had to sit through it and watch it. The last thing you want to do is hear me remind you of how f**king uneventful it was. I feel like this is the season of guys that just don’t give a s**t.
That about sums it up. The only point I’d argue is that we didn’t have to sit through it if they’d just reduced it to a highlight (or in this case, lowlight) package and fill up the rest of the program with more human interest stuff or stupid reality show challenges. Do something! White has even made a point not to shake hands with several of the winners this season. He just reads the result and stomps off.
The TUF mindset is that they think that they’re going to get around the same number of viewers every year so it doesn’t matter what they do; I’ll counter by saying that’s how shows get cancelled. If you assume the audience will always be around, you will find yourself sorely mistaken and out of a job some day.
White wants to cut through the crap for the semi-final picks. He goes as far as tell Frankie Edgar and Penn to not even bother to give their suggestions because he’ll make the fights. The match-ups are secondary to his search for an answer regarding the dull performances by these fighters. It is awful that we’re in the 19th season of this show and White still has to yell at people to motivate them.
It was Daniel Spohn who got this boring bandwagon rolling. He says his next fight will be exciting. The tone of his voice doesn’t change in the slightest the whole time. This cast is atrocious.
Cathal Pendred v. Eddie Gordon
Roger Zapata v. Dhiego Lima
You can tell that they love Lima and not just for his effervescent personality. He was the only guy to get a finish in the quarterfinals. If Zapata beats Lima, I might throw something.
Corey Anderson v. Pat Walsh
Daniel Spohn v. Matt Van Buren
White says he’s just going to erase everything that he’s seen and move on to enjoy some new fights. If only we could all do the same.