Ben Grimm: Everyone can breathe a sigh of relief. Last week, Team Nog got their first victory in the house. No team has ever been swept in the first round in TUF history (although Wanderlei Silva, Rampage Jackson and Gilbert Melendez came close in TUF: Brazil 1, TUF 10, and TUF 20 respectively), this win did come about due to the two sweetest words in the English language: DE-FAULT.
Anyway, a win is a win, and we’re heading into the last quarter final fight of the season, and I have really mixed feelings about this fight. I’m firmly rooting for the underdog (or is it under-“Nog”?) on principle, as I don’t want to see Nog’s TUF record finishing at the same level as Rampage’s did. However, their last fighter Fernando Bruno “Açougueiro” is fighting the man with far and away the best nickname in this season, and perhaps any season of TUF: JACK GODZILLA. I can’t really cheer against Jack motherf**king Godzilla, can I?
Alexander K Lee: It would be unconstitutional.
BG: Starting back at the house, it seems that Reginaldo Vieira and Adamas are pretty ok with the results of their fight. If anything, punching each other in the face for 10 minutes has made them closer friends than before. They’re actually planning on introducing each other to their families, which is a huge thing for dudebros.
Next up are Jack and Açougueiro having a pretty cool chat about letting it all hang out, and going out and putting on a show. Jack gets a confessional too, and I think this is really the first we’ve seen of him this season. It’s a hugely missed opportunity, as we all have so many questions about Jack. Is he man, myth, or legend?
AL: All of the above?
Look, let’s just say it now. Short of springing off of the cage like Vega and chopping Açougueiro’s head off, there’s no way he’s going to live up to the hype of his nickname. It’s impossible. I’m happy just to see him avoid Açougueiro’s takedowns (a key point according to Shogun) and advance to the next round.
Before we get to the last fight of the first round, we get what should be our last challenge. Remember the “Log Challenge” from TUF Classic? It’s back.
A quick refresher: the teams have to carry a log over to a station where they then must cut the log into four pieces. Those pieces are carried to the next stage where they are joined back together in a different order using special fasteners and screws. The recombined log is brought over to the finish line. This challenge is for lightweights only.
As if things couldn’t get any worse for young Nikolas Motta on this show, he struggles to work the saw. I get the feeling that he mentally tuned out during the final weeks of filming. It gets so bad that his teammates actually have to cut his section for him. Oh Quejinho, what will we do with you?
Team Nogueira is able to make up some ground, but there is miscommunication and like clockwork, Team Shogun pulls ahead. They get to the finish line with the blue team nowhere in sight.
El Tigre explains that the key to victory was cutting faster and putting the log back together faster. As opposed to, you know, doing everything slower.
BG: This losing streak is just getting ridiculous. They haven’t even won a single challenge? That’s almost unfair. Also, Nazareno amazes me every challenge week with his ability to just straight-up beast through everything.
AL: The prize (as if Team Shogun needed anymore rewards) is a full massage session for the boys back at the house. Dileno Lopes acts like he’s shy about removing his trousers, as if the cast isn’t regularly in some state of nakedness.
If Jack is able to beat Açougueiro, that will mean that Team Shogun has defeated Team Nogueira in every phase of the opening rounds in which the two teams went head to head. This is history in the making.
The episode has been somewhat boring up to this point, but it looks like we’re saved by the girls coming by to provide some English lessons! Yeeeeessssssssss
This also serves as an advertisement for the Wizard line of educational books, which actually sound kind of cool. The books come with a pen that properly pronounces the words for you when you run the pen over them. Jack jokes that he’s too embarrassed to practice with anyone around him. Sadly, the segment ends way too soon.
BG: That was the most oddly placed bit of product placement I’ve ever seen. It was even stranger than D-grade Latin American soapie stars rocking up to the TUF: Lat-Am house. Hey, at least we saw the girls again.
AL: Speaking of the girls, we get to meet our last (but not least) Octagon girl hopeful.
BG: This week, we have the lovely Nathalia Ferreira.
She’s, um, she’s Brazilian, and um, very pretty? I dunno, I don’t normally write these segments.
Can you just chuck some pictures here?
AL: I’ll just add that she speaks Portuguese, meaning she is right up there with Elenita Machado on my personal list. Nathalia and Elenita should be the two finalists according to my very specific criteria.
Anyway, it’s fight time.
Lightweight Bout: Team Shogun’s JACK GODZILLA (11-4) v. Team Nogueira’s Açougueiro (15-2)
Both fighters start out pretty tentative, but eventually, Açougueiro bull rushes Jack, and pins him against the cage. He spends the next minute or so alternating between grabbing the fence to keep Jack in place, and landing some nasty shots. Interestingly, the ref speaks Portuguese, and continues to warn Açougueiro about 100 times to not grab the cage. If you’ve gotta warn him so many times, take a f**king point, a**hole.
Jack stays pinned against the cage for about half the round, stalling out as much as he can, until the referee resets the action. Despite being separated, there’s not much more action. Both guys circle, and land a couple of kicks, but it’s not high-octane stuff. They eventually clinch up again, with Jack in control. Açougueiro then proceeds to land, like a hundred knees that are about one inch away from Jack’s groin. The man’s really playing with fire there.
AL: Jack returns fire and for a minute there it looked like they were engaging in a roshambo.
BG: With three seconds to go, Açougueiro manages to ground Jack, but obviously has no time to do anything.
I’ve got Round 1 as 10-9 Açougueiro, more control, damage and aggression.
The second round starts at a higher pace, but ends up with more of the same. Açougueiro is able to eventually ground Jack, and work a tiny bit of G’n’P as the second round draws to a close. Similarly, Jack tries to remain active on bottom, but never is actively threatening with a submission.
I’m making this sound like a terrible fight, it wasn’t, but it was terribly average. Neither man was able to hugely threaten the other in the second round, and it showed.
After two rounds, it seems unlikely to need a third, and the judges agree, unanimously awarding Açougueiro the win, 20-18. Score one, finally for Team Nog.
AL: It’s nice to see the Team Azul locker room get to celebrate for once (Shogun pointed out earlier that even Reginaldo used their locker room before his win). They drench Açougueiro in sports drink which is both touching and disgusting.
On the other side, Jack is devastated. This is what it’s like when a radioactive lizard cries.
Let’s lighten things up by going over to the Octagon Girl finalists. I’m not going to lie, if Jennifer and Diana (the two girls who made kissy face with Korea and Dedé respectively) are the final two, that would be messed up. Reginaldo says that he voted for a Brazilian girl. Keeping it real!
The finalists are Elenita Machado (told ya) and Cindy Laura (speaks Spanish, close enough). Congratulations, girls! Now would probably be a bad time to mention that the previous winners of this contest were never seen again.
Back to business, it’s time to announce the semi-finals and it’s laid out like this:
Dileno Lopes v. Matheus Nicolau
Reginaldo Vieira v. Bruno “Korea” Rodrigues
Joaquim “Netto BJJ” Silva v. Glaico “Nego” França
Fernando “Açougueiro” Bruno v. Nazareno “El Tigre” Malegarie
It’s nice to see that Team Nogueira at least got one fighter in each bracket. He could still win the whole thing with just two guys, kind of like how Matt Hughes (ugh) did it back on TUF 6. I got El Tigre winning the lightweight bracket and Korea shocking everyone in the bantamweight bracket. He’s going to take that trophy and Jennifer back to Brazil. What say you, oh Grimm one?
BG: I have to agree with you for the lightweights, El Tigre is going to run house. He’s a strong wrestler with solid power. That’s game, set, and match for TUF. For the bantamweights, I favour Dileno. I think he’s crafty enough to get the next two wins. I even think Reginaldo makes the finale, being the sole Team Nog representative.
And hey, it’s crunch time now, with two fights an episode for the last two episodes. It’s time to bear witness to the fitness of the modern warrior (RIP TUF song).