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