Reliving The Season That Cardio Forgot
NewChallenger: We are now officially entering Twilight Zone territory for some people as we head back to December of 2009 where many of the faces look the same and YET…the world was very different.
The Palms Casino Resort was the host of The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights Finale and on paper, this is a heck of a card! In addition to our charming TUF 10 housemates, we have an appearance by Frankie Edgar who was on the verge of stardom and Jon Jones in his first big test at light heavyweight against Matt Hamill.
All that and the old trappings of these Spike TV broadcasts that we are all so fond of. Well…me, anyway.
PunisherBass: As we’re shown interview clips of Kimbo Slice and Houston Alexander, which is in black and white and has been run through a very cheesy filter, it dawns on me that Kimbo has a real knack for dragging most of his opponents down to his level. Between his vastly superior experience and the fact that he wouldn’t have to cut any (or at least not nearly as much) weight for this fight, Houston should have taken this easily.
NC: Things that I miss from this era: the opening confessionals (Kimbo: “Houston…you got a problem”), the Zuffa gladiator, the aforementioned Face the Pain, and Logan Stanton.
PB: Allow me a moment to pour one out for Natasha Wicks. Her time spent cageside was brief but she’ll never be forgotten.
NC: Before we get to the main card, I’ll touch upon the two preliminary fights that aired on the television broadcast. Yes, this was the dark days when we would only get the highlights of the prelims and not be able to watch every plodding split decision between two regional fighters/TUF rejects/flyweights.
How did we survive?
Lightweight Bout: Mark Bocek (7-2) v. Joe Brammer (7-0-1)
I’m showing my Canadian bias here as I give a shout-out to the pride of Woodbridge, Ontario, Mark Bocek. Bocek retired a couple of years ago after a fine UFC career that saw him go 8-5 inside the Octagon. One of those wins was the curtain jerker of this card against Joe Brammer.
Brammer was an undefeated prospect that never became more than that after getting dominated by Bocek in this fight. He would actually only compete two more times before moving on from MMA. Bocek completely outclasses Brammer here, dictating pace and distance the whole time until he gets it to the mat. Once there, it only takes a couple of minutes to set up a fight ending rear naked choke.
Hope retirement is treating you well, Mark.
Heavyweight Bout: James McSweeney (3-4) v. Darrill Schoonover (10-0)
And now, more relevant to the subject at hand, we have Team Rashad favourite James McSweeney and Rampage’s best bud Darrill Schoonover. I remember rooting for Darrill in this one and if you’ve read any of our recaps over the last few weeks you’ll know why.
As much as we’ve dogged McSweeney, this isn’t a bad fight. I’m not saying it’s a good fight, but it’s not bad. That said, there’s still no reason for McSweeney to walk around like he’s King S**t of Kickboxingville. On more than one occasion he lets Schoonover hit him with potentially fight ending punches and Schoonover isn’t exactly Igor Vovchanchyn himself. McSweeney is at least able to stay a step ahead for the most part.
Credit where credit is due, McSweeney finishes with a nice combination starting with a flying knee. That win would improve his record to a sterling 4-4.
Now onto the main card!
Heavyweight Bout: Marcus Jones (4-1) v. Matt Mitrione (0-0)
PB: Marcus Jones has to be one of the most awkward fighters I’ve ever seen. You know how a baby looks when they first learn to walk? Well picture a 6’6” 265 lb. man doing the exact same thing. It’s like a cross between Frankenstein, The Mummy, and a zombie. Arms out forward and incredibly stiff legged, no fluidity at all.
His basic movement isn’t his only problem here either, it’s his total lack of footwork. Any time he’s going to throw a punch, he plants his feet before leaning far forward and then swinging, sometimes he’ll also lunge in with his whole body. All it does is leave him open and his chin exposed.
On top of his piss poor gas tank, glass jaw, and other obvious flaws in his striking, his supposedly “excellent” grappling looks like anything but when he’s taking on a guy closer to his size. At one point he has Meathead locked in a guillotine for around 30 seconds, which Matt never attempts to push out of, he just stays posted up and lets Marcus burn his arms out and sap what little energy he had left.
Not that Matt is anything to write home about here, but I think the plan was that he could take whatever Marcus threw at him and give it back just as hard, so all he had to do was just wait him out. Let him make mistake after mistake until he hit E, and then go for the kill. Just a few seconds into Round 2, Matt lands a right to Marcus’ jaw and he goes down like a wet bag of s**t.
NC: Post-fight, Mitrione breaks out his classic line about having “retard strength”. I know it’s terrible to laugh at that…but I am laughing.
Before we proceed, I should mention there are things I don’t miss from this era: Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff, and Dixie Carter from TNA Wrestling in the crowd, 1000 Ways to Die, and Manswers.
Lightweight Bout: Frankie Edgar (12-1) v. Matt Veach (11-0)
NC: Frankie is, like, my favourite fighter ever, you guys. And Veach has all the charisma of a lemming.
This was the fight that earned Frankie a title shot if you can believe it. Keep in mind he had already knocked off most of the other lightweight contenders: Tyson Griffin, Spencer Fisher, Hermes França, and Sean Sherk.
Veach was no push-over, actually slamming Edgar twice in the first round. He couldn’t do much on the ground with Frankie’s ability to get up and Frankie was taking him apart on the feet, but you could argue that Veach got the first round. He was a big guy with big muscles and as you’d expect he experienced gas tank problems in the second round.
Even back then, the announcers were talking about Edgar dropping to 145, which would have relegated him to the WEC. He stuck around anyway, which proved to be a wise choice considering his next opponent would be B.J. Penn. I still thought he was a couple of fights away, but he would win this fight by submission (his first finish in almost two years) and that was enough to make him the mandatory challenger to Penn’s throne.
The rest is history.
Catchweight Bout (215 lbs.) Kimbo Slice (3-1) v. Houston Alexander (9-4 [1 NC])
PB: And now it’s time for the “Special catchweight fight” between Kimbo and Alexander. I don’t remember a whole lot about the buildup to this, other than Kimbo almost killed himself while trying to make weight. And I should note that this fight was given higher placement than any other TUF fight save for Nelson/Schaub later on, because f**k those other guys who actually notched at least a single win.
Before I go any further, this will be only the second time I’ve ever watched this fight, when I saw it live I thought it was so terrible that the scores should have been 3-2 instead of 10-9 because so little was actually accomplished. I’m also writing this on a Saturday afternoon, so drinking a whiskey sour right now doesn’t make me look like an alcoholic.
Since the fight itself is deepfried dogs**t on a stick, I’d rather talk about a couple gems from Goldberg.
“So, you wanna be an Ultimate Fighter!? Both of these men do!” The f**k are you talking about? Is Goldie not aware that Houston wasn’t on the show or that when offered a “chance” to be a replacement, Kimbo turned it down?
“We saw on the show that Kimbo’s knee is a little worn out.” If you mean bone on bone due to a total lack of cartilidge and needing a complete replacement, yeah I guess that could be considered “a little worn out” if you compare it to say… needing it amputated. Here in 2015 I don’t think Kimbo ever did go through with that surgery either, far as I know his knee is just as bad if not worse today.
Do you want to guess how many minutes tick by before the crowd gets sick of Alexander just circling counter clockwise around Kimbo? It takes two full minutes until they start booing this bulls**t. There’s a very brief flutter of excitement from them after a short exchange of kicks and punches, and then guess what happens. Nope, there’s no knockout, he just starts circling again. Round and round and round he goes, maybe his plan was to make Kimbo dizzy like he just got off a merry-go-round?
Too bad this foolproof plan has backfired since all he’s done is make himself tired, he continues going in circles but at a much slower pace than before.
Some people still bitch about Carlos Condit “running” from Nick Diaz, but Alexander LITERALLY just spent five minutes playing Ring Around The Rosie with Kimbo, just with a dash of leg kicks thrown in. Only in the UFC can you find this kind of excitement and skill!
Ashes, ashes, nobody’s going down…
If this was a videogame, Kimbo would be an end level boss and his knee would be the glowing red “AIM HERE!” magical weak spot. It’s too bad Houston didn’t manage his ammo very well and since Kimbo isn’t making any drops, all he can do is continue to circle strafe.
With cat like reflexes, Houston actually changes direction at one point and starts circling clockwise for a bit, but he’s soon back to circling to his right. Going out of his comfort zone was just too risky I guess. If you look closely you can actually see a rut starting to form near the edge of the mat. No one is enjoying this fight in the least, Goldberg sounds more enthused to rattle off a 1000 Ways to Die promo than describe any of the non-action taking place in the cage.
NC: I’m pretty sure watching this fight is actually one of the thousand ways to die.
PB: Seven. We had seven minutes of continuous circling before anything significant actually happened, which was a Kimbo jab followed by a takedown. Don’t get too excited because 10 seconds later Houston is back to his feet and goes back to work playing Runaround Sue, it’s paying off because the rut is now a full on ditch, if he keeps this up for another few passes he’ll turn the octagon into a dome, the inverse of the YAMMA pit.
No, I will not talk about these two trying to grapple with each other. F**k. That. Noise.
NC: I’ll just leave this here then.
PB: Ah wonderful, they finally decide to try fighting for a change in the third round. Too bad it’s little more than sloppy wild haymakers being thrown by two guys too pooped to s**t. For any aspiring fighters who might be reading this in the future, learn from these two, masturbation is NOT a form of cardio training.
As if the fight itself wasn’t bad enough, the commentary makes it even worse since they do nothing but praise Kimbo and criticize Alexander. I’m sure they had marching orders to make Kimbo sound as good as possible, but they’re in full on shill mode here, stop being so god damn biased!
Why oh why am I wasting my life watching this fight again? I could be doing something more productive like waiting around at the mall while my girlfriend shops or playing Fallout 4.
The end finally comes with the now infamous GIF.
I’d like to think that somewhere, quite possibly in Quinton Jackson’s basement, Tiki was sitting on a couch watching this fight. One of those pink stuffed unicorns clutched in his arms, tears rolling down his face. He finally manages to eke out “Atta boy Kimbo… atta boy”. And then he falls into an eternal slumber due to an undetected gas leak.
Come on, you knew there was no way in hell I was going to let this be our final entry without taking some sort of pot shot at him, and if you didn’t you obviously haven’t been following along for the last couple months.
Light Heavyweight Bout: Matt Hamill (8-2) v. Jon Jones (9-0)
NC: To this day, I bet there are a lot of people who don’t know how Jon Jones got that one loss on his record. Anyone who saw it will never forget it, though I don’t mean that in a good way.
PB: This was the first time I actually saw Jones fight. I had seen that GIF of his spinning elbows and read on Cage Potato that was on the cover of FIGHT magazine, and that he had just made the move to Greg Jackson’s camp, so I was really excited to see him in action. I thought “This guy is going to be the king of 205 in two to three years”, little did I know he’d beat that estimate by a full year.
NC: Make no mistake about it, even back then Jones was being touted as a future champ. This is a short fight, but you can already see his great use of range and footwork, his speed, how he was blending his styles together. It helped that he was matched up with Hamill who he had a massive speed advantage over so he could throw pretty much whatever he wanted.
When Hamill finally got in close, Jones delivered a whip quick trip and then unleashed some of the most vicious ground and pound you’ll ever see. There were several points where Mazzagatti could have called this off, though I’ll play devil’s advocate and say Hamill always showed some signs of intelligent defence and if Jones wanted to end it definitively he could have gone for a submission from the mount. Instead, this happens:
Now I’m as against the “12-6 elbow” rule as anyone, but the rules are the rules and Jones should have known better. There is a lot of confusion as Steve Mazzagatti initially takes a point away but then calls the match because Hamill says he can’t continue. Goldberg and Rogan say it’s a TKO victory for Jones and that carries on even through the commercial break.
It isn’t until Bruce Buffer makes the official announcement that we find out Jones has been disqualified.
Buffer: “Ladies and gentlemen, referee Steve Mazzagatti has called a stop to this contest. Due to intentional elbows there’s been a disqualification of Jonny ‘Bones’ Jones. Therefore, the winner is Matt Hamill!”
PB: For those who might not be aware, Hamill was born deaf, but while he can’t hear anything he can read lips and knows sign language. So normally it’s not a problem for him to communicate, but when his face is full of blood and he can’t see jack s**t, it becomes a big big problem. So when Mazzagatti asked him if he was “okay”, he got no response because Hamill had no idea he was even being asked a question, so he took it as a “no I’m not”.
Steve Mazzagatti is an idiot. There’s also the fact that Jones dislocated Hamill’s shoulder with that slam of his, so it should have been ruled a TKO victory for him anyway.
NC: And that’s the 1 in Jones’ 21-1 record.
Heavyweight Bout: Roy Nelson (13-4) v. Brendan Schaub (4-0)
PB: I had totally forgotten that Nelson walked out to Weird Al’s Fat, and it makes me giggle like a little girl.
NC: My friends were like, “Is he coming out to Michael Jackson?” And it took me a second to figure it out and then I just laughed and told them it was Weird Al. Roy is the best.
PB: There’s not a whole lot to say about this fight, Schaub is the faster fighter but Nelson is the harder puncher, and when it hits the ground we see that Roy has a lot more depth than simply smothering people.
Eventually that sledgehammer right hand of his finds it mark, and it’s the start of his reputation as a knockout artist and the first cracking of Schaub’s suspect chin.
NC: Poor Brendan. He really does have a habit of getting knocked out in awkwardly memorable ways, eh?
And there we have it, our first all-heavyweight season winner, and really the first true heavyweight since it was Rashad Evans won the last time they implemented the big boys. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy, though you can tell Dana is almost choking on his smile the whole time. Roy takes the plaque from him and proceeds to press it against his face and his belly.
Did I already mention that Roy is the best?
Before I sign off, I’ll just say that if anyone out there is keen to the idea, I encourage you to give it a shot and do a retro recap series of your own! If you can watch and you can read and you can write, then there’s nothing stopping you from taking a crack at it.
Nobody here is trying to be Hemingway. Write for fun and who knows, you might even find out that people are interested in what you have to say.
PB: Well here we are, we’ve finally reached the end of TUF 10. We really hope you enjoyed following along over the last three months. While we hardly broke new ground with this series, for me personally it was a milestone since I had never had a co-writer or anything even resembling an editor before. And I think the results speak for themselves. So thank you all for reading and thanks for all of the kind words and praise you’ve given us, it made all this hard work worth it.
Since people ask us each week if we’re going to do another retro season after this, and the answer is “maybe”. Neither of us have any qualms about continuing this partnership, we’re both totally down for it. The problem is time and our schedules.
We started planning this out way back in July, well before the series started running on BE, so there was a good amount of time invested just in the lead up. And that’s something we can’t put together right now, the time. Hopefully there will be a follow up in the future, but it could be six months, 12 months, or possibly never. We just have to say how the stars align.
So I want to thank everyone once again for joining us on this pain train, but all good things must come to an end. And in honor of the Alexander/Slice fight…