With the wildcard matchup this week between “Bubba” McDaniel and “King” Casey, let us take a look at the brief history of the second chance:
- TUF 11 (Liddell v. Ortiz): The debut of the wildcard means two less fighters in the house, which is a practical choice as a smaller cast should give us more time to learn and care about them: Unfortunately, this cast is horrible. They were also snake-bitten and a multitude of injuries leads to journeyman Kyacey Uscola and one-dimensional Kris McCray being “chosen” for the wildcard spot. I’ll give McCray credit for having to fight five times and making it all the way to the finals.
- TUF 12 (St-Pierre v. Koscheck): Koscheck picks his boy Marc Stevens, who lost by guillotine choke to Cody McKenzie in the 1st round. He’s confident that it was a fluke and that Stevens will blow through his next opponent. Stevens proceeds to lose to Aaron Wilkinson by guillotine choke.
- TUF 13 (Lesnar v. dos Santos): Chuck O’Neil and Javier Torres are the wildcard selections and I remember the circumstances as much as you do.
You can see why they ditched the concept until this season, where the circumstances lined up perfectly for a long awaited grudge match. Bubba and King came into the show with storied reputations and they deserve a shot at redemption.
Team Sonnen (actually black on the show, but blue for the purposes of this article)
Like many fighters looking to catch a break, Bubba has had to sacrifice time with his daughter to train with Greg Jackson in Albuquerque. His 8 year old daughter is back in Texas. The kind of money that comes with fighting in the UFC would not only provide financial security, but a chance for him to come home. I sometimes wonder if these pressures that fighters put on themselves can get in the way of performing at their best. I know there’s no greater motivation than money and love and family, but those can just as soon weigh you down as raise you up.
Jon Jones does a great job restoring Bubba’s confidence, telling him that he’s been one of his toughest sparring partners and that he trains with him to prepare for the best in the world. Bubba’s face is etched with a mixture of concern and determination. You can tell he’s still feeling the pressure.
Back at the house, Josh Samman calls out Jimmy Quinlan in a half-joking manner that turns into a serious suggestion. Luke Barnatt wants to prepare Quinlan for when the coaches ask him why he wants to fight Samman and Quinlan makes a dreadful “expert fisherman” joke. See, Samman’s name sounds just like…ah, forget it. Everyone knows that Samman is picking Quinlan because his wrestling-based attack doesn’t seem like it would cause too much wear and tear to his quarterfinal opponent. In other words, Samman is already looking ahead to the next round, which is just plain dumb.
A glimpse into a Team Sonnen training session sees Uriah Hall begging Quinlan to let him have Samman. Hall had pegged Samman as his nemesis from their earliest encounters. Quinlan says he wants to see Hall beat up Samman too.
Meanwhile, King is forced to wear a pretty scary looking mask to protect his cuts during practice. He refers to his first performance as a “fluke”, which is…questionable. If you assume you didn’t really do anything wrong when you fail, how are you going to improve?
This week’s episode was filmed during Thanksgiving, which is a joyous occasion for everyone in the house…except the two dudes who have to stay on weight. Chael Sonnen steps up with a speech (surprise, surprise) and he explains how he was disappointed to find out how much he ended up liking Jones. The love-fest between the two is repulsive. Thankfully, Bubba gives a blistering testimonial about how much Thanksgiving sucks when you can’t eat and you’re with a bunch of strangers. His spite more than makes up for any gratuitous friendship.
The next day, King needs to strip behind a towel to make weight (someone snuck in an extra slice of turkey methinks) and he warns them not to drop it or everyone will be scarred for life. Sonnen kindly offers to help him put his pants back on after, but King takes care of it himself.
King never got off in his fight with Collin Hart, but he gets to show off his BJJ expertise in the first round with Bubba. He takes advantage of Bubba’s aggressiveness and pulls guard right out of the gate. They move back to the feet, but King maintains the clinch and trips Bubba down. He soundly out-grapples Bubba, though neither man seems interested in throwing strikes from any position. Someone says that Bubba has given up and he has a worried look on his face, but he does manage to battle back. King trips him again and secures a 10-9 round.
The second round starts out well for Bubba, with King looking fatigued (which was a huge issue against Hart). Bubba’s corner implores him to break away from clinches, but he manages to end up on top and he starts scoring points. A fierce downward elbow knocks out King’s mouthpiece. Bubba just brutalizes King from inside his guard and he gets a dominant 10-9 round. It looks like we’re going to a third round, but King can barely get up on his own. He fails to answer the bell and Bubba is awarded a $5,000 finishing bonus (though he has to confirm it with Dana White). As King is put in an ambulance, he mentions that he might be experiencing kidney failure, something that happened to him during a match in 2010. Sounds like King needs to work on having healthier weight cuts.
The elimination round is over and it’s time to decide the quarterfinal match-ups! Here’s a brief rundown of who called out whom:
- Bubba: Jimmy Quinlan or Luke Barnatt
- Quinlan: Bubba
- Andrews: Barnatt
- Barnatt: Bubba or Andrews
- Gastelum: Hart
- Hart: Hall
- Hall: Samman
- Samman: Quinlan
And the announced matches:
- Collin Hart v. Kevin Gastelum
- Dylan Andrews v. Luke Barnatt
- UK versus New Zealand! The Smashes redux! Thank you Dana!
- Josh Samman v. Jimmy Quinlan
- Hall is NOT happy with this decision
- Bubba McDaniel v. Uriah Hall
- Bubba doesn’t seem too happy either
Hall is NOT happy with the decision. Bubba doesn’t look too excited either.
Next week: Two fight episode with Hart v. Gastelum and Andrews v. Barnatt. I’m picking Gastelum and Barnatt. Also, Ronda Rousey!