The Ultimate Fighter: Season 13 Episode 2: “Suck it Up”

Previously on TUF, the 14 hopefuls arrived at the gym and were quickly put to the test by the coaches. Already, Myles Jury is out due to a knee injury, making the way for his replacement, Chuck O’Neill. And by the show’s end, Team Dos Santos takes the quick lead over Team Jackson when first pick Shamar Bailey ekes out a decision over last pick Nordin Asrih. Who will be the next to fall?

Tonight, Team Dos Santos is off to train with some seriously hardcore workouts that include big cardio and big lifting. The guys are happy with their initial win, but they do not want to rest on their laurels. They continue to work hard, but several teammates and coaches are worried about Keon’s mental state. He just doesn’t seem all there. He admits that his mind just isn’t in it — it’s with his family.

Brock expected Nordin to lose the fight, but still, he hates to lose (as if anyone likes it). He wants to use what little time he has to lead these “kids” (as he calls them) in the right direction. The way he sees them, they all lack wrestling skills and that is going to be their focus. However, as the so pithy Brock puts it, “You can’t make chicken salad out of chicken s**t.” Deep, Brock, real deep.

By the day’s end, Keon approaches Junior and has decided that he wants to give up and go back to his family. Junior tries to convince him to stay, but he still seems on the fence. Shamar makes a good point — he’s a grown man and has to make his own decisions. If he needs to be talked into staying, maybe he just doesn’t belong there. And then Dana shows up at practice looking for Keon — perhaps he will make the decision for him.

Keon has a little heart to heart with Dana, and it doesn’t take much for Dana to convince him to suck it up and do what he’s got to do. So it looks like he’s staying after all.

Now it’s time for Team Dos Santos to pick the next fight. The choose Javier Torres (one of Team Dos Santos’s best) to fight Chris Cope (Lesnar’s next to last pick). One advantage that Javier has over Chris is in the coaching — one of JDS’s coaches actually trained with Chris for a year and knows his weaknesses well. As long as he sticks to the plan, he should win.

With Keon’s decision to stay, he continues with practice, but it seems as though the pressure has gotten to him again. Apparently we spoke too soon earlier. He talks to Junior and wants to go home. Who is Junior to stop him? So he lets him go. Keon admits that he might not get a chance like this again, but he needs to be with his family now. Really? Has he not seen the show before? How do you not know what you’re getting into?

At Team Lesnar’s training, Chris admits that he’s a “part-time fighter” because he’s got an 8-hour-a-day job. But he’s not letting that hold him back. To give his team a morale boost, Brock gives them a speech about not letting the underdog mentality get to them. As he says, “any given Sunday.” Anyone can win, at any time. Even the greatest champions have had losing moments (a moment of humility for Brock? Touching.). It’s entirely up to Chris to make the decision once he steps in the cage.

FIGHT DAY

ROUND 1
Both dance a bit, but finally Torres strikes first with a series of short jabs. He gets Cope against the cage and tries to work his body, alternating between knees and jabs. Cope counters while Torres maintains control. After much of nothing, they return to the center and exchange several short shots. Torres gets Cope against the cage again and manages to sweep a leg for the take down. Cope rolls and briefly allows Torres to take his back. But Cope is able to get back up and they clinch again. A big swinging right separates them and leads to a few misplaced throws. Cope gets Torres backing up this time and controls him against the cage. He starts looking for the sweep while keeping control. The clinching continues, with control alternating, but neither advancing their position. The round ends with the guys on their feet and a last second leg kick from Cope.

ROUND 2
Cope attacks first and with a nice jab combo. The briefly clinch, but return to standing quickly. A nice leg kick from Torres sounds painful. Torres checks a body kick from Cope. And they are back against the cage with Torres in control. Torres seems to be “resting” a lot, while Cope throws some knees and elbows. Cope seems to have more control and Torres seems more gassed. Torres attempts a superman punch that fails. Cope keeps at Torres with several kicks, and has Torres backing up a lot. A big swing from Cope pushes Torres back to the cage where he can’t keep Torres pinned long. Back away, Torres lands a sweeping leg kick that gets Cope off balance, but he regains it quickly. Torres charges forward and clinches, but can’t do much and the round ends with Cope in control.

No surprise that the judges have called the fight a draw; there will be another (boring) round.

ROUND 3
The round starts with a several uncountered leg kicks from Cope. A failed superman punch leads to a leg kick for Torres that doesn’t connect. (And another superman punch…really?). Cope gets control on the cage and it starts to look like he’s getting him down, but they’re back up quickly. A glancing shot to Torres’s family jewels breaks them up for a second, but once they restart Cope is pumped to keep going. This round is truly a repeat of Round 2. Cope is doing all the work and Torres is backpedaling a lot. Torres is completely gassed. Cope lands a few leg kicks, backs Torres up against the cage and lands a nice uppercut. The round ends unimpressively.

Winner: Chris Cope via Decision

A completely unimpressive fight (especially given the hype behind Javier). Javier had virtually no game. And like Brock said, there was nothing pretty about Chris’s win. The only thing Chris had going for him was that he clearly had more stamina — Javier’s cardio gave out after the first round and that is why Chris was able to win.

Javier is disappointed that he lost control for the team, though Coach Lou seems to take it the hardest and doesn’t let Javier forget it. But Team Chicken Shit Lesnar is elated to finally have it. And their excitement is felt all over the gym.

Two weeks in and two very dreadful fights. Please tell me there is some talent hiding in that house somewhere. Or else this is going to be a long season.

Next week: Team Dos Santos welcomes a new fighter to replace Keon. Coach Lou takes training too far. Household drama spills over into the gym. Oh and there’s another fight too…

The Ultimate Fighter: Season 13 – Episode 1: “Something to Prove”

The 13th season of The Ultimate Fighter pits former UFC heavyweight champ Brock Lesnar versus top-ranked contender Junior Dos Santos, who is riding high on a 3-year win streak. Faced with 14 welterweights who have given up their lives to be here, who will the coaches pick to become the next Ultimate Fighter?

As the newest class of hopefuls stride into the gym, they are pumped and become even more so when it is announced that they will not have to fight their way into the house. Also back into the mix will be the wildcard spot. But…Dana has to give his usual lecture about not screwing up this once in a lifetime opportunity. Fight for life, or get out.

The coaches are brought in and given their introductions…totally pumps up Lesnar’s credentials (prior to MMA), but completely fails to talk about Dos Santos pre-UFC (how can you not mention his amazing kickboxing career where he went 18-0?). Gee, who’s your golden-boy, Dana?

Onto the fighters’ evaluations. They are put through a cardio/conditioning test, a bit of wrestling, rolling, sparring, etc. Lesnar even gives them a sort of Miss USA style interview, asking them why they want to be there. And while Dos Santos admits his limited English, he knows they can all speak the language of the fight, even if he can’t “interview” them.

After the evaluations are complete, the coaches meet with Dana to discuss the prospects. Both coaches seem hopeful. Dana flips a coin to see who gets first fighter or first fight. Brock wins the toss and opts to pick the first fighter. It’ll be interesting to see who he chooses.

The choices were made in advance, so Dana is left to toss the guys their jerseys (in the order in which they were chosen):


Team Lesnar

Len Bentley
Charlie Rader
Anthony Ferguson
Clay Harvison
Myles Jury – - replaced by Chuck O’Neill
Chris Cope
Nordin Asrih


Team Dos Santos

Shamar Bailey
Ryan McGillivray
Javier Torres
Ramsey Nijem
Zachary Davis
Mick Bowman
Keon Caldwell

They waste no time getting to training the next morning. Team Dos Santos’ first training session is used to figure out who is the best condition for the first fight. Team Lesnar’s training is much of the same, but as Dos Santos has the first fight pick, he’s concerned about the possibility of Myles being the first pick. It’s discovered, after an MRI, is that Myles’ ACL and his meniscus are torn. Doctor’s orders? He can’t fight. Both Brock and Myles take it surprisingly well and want to just let it heal. That is until Dana breaks the news that because he can’t fight, he can’t stay. But he vows to be back in the UFC. Taking his place will be Chuck O’Neill.

Team Dos Santos makes the first fight picks and opts to put Shamar Bailey (Dos Santos’ #1 pick) up against Nordin Asrih (Lesnar’s last pick). It’s definitely an interesting fight choice. Is JDS trying to pick off Lesnar’s boys from the bottom up? Creative strategy? Or just a bad idea?

Nordin’s strength is striking and his gameplan is to keep it standing for 10 minutes. Lesnar knows that he has his work cut out for him. Shamar is said to be violent, aggressive and a fast, strong wrestler. His goal is to control the fight and to finish it wherever he can.

FIGHT DAY

(My thoughts — Shamar already looks like he has the better skillset to win this fight, but I do not like his cockiness. Unfortunately I don’t think Nordin has a shot in hell)

ROUND 1:
Bailey attacks first and quickly gets and keeps Asrih down. He manages to get Asrih away from the cage, but even with side-control Asrih is able to look for a crank. So far Bailey is not able to do much with his side-control. Finally he lands a few punches. As he spins around, he allows Asrih to get up. But it’s not long before Bailey gets Asrih down on his back again. This time in half guard, he does a little more damage with some elbows and hammer-fists. A continues to work hard to look for the advantage. Bailey backs up and drops down a couple big fists. Bailey ends up back in half guard and continues to do a lot of nothing but shifting his weight. A few punches here and there, but Asrih is defending himself well. The round ends with Bailey struggling to get back into Asrih’s guard.

Ho hum round. Where was the great wrestling??

ROUND 2:
Asrih comes out with a big kick but misses and slips. Bailey pounces and keeps Asrih on his back. In half guard again, more of the same continues, with a few more punches. Asrih spins and gives up his back to Bailey, but it’s quickly reversed and Asrih looks to choke Bailey. The excitement is short-lived as Bailey turns it around to get side control on Asrih. He alternates a few knees and elbows and Asrih looks to work out of it — and this continues for a solid 2 minutes. Finally Bailey manages to get the full mount and it looks to mean nothing until Asrih turns and gives up his back. Bailey does nothing with it and allows Asrih to return to his back. In a final push, Bailey rains down some huge punches with 30 seconds left. The round ends in the same boring fashion.

Winner: Shamar Bailey via Decision

According to Lesnar, Asrih’s lack of wrestling is what lost him the fight. But Dana really put it best — Bailey literally laid on Asrih for 10 minutes. Yes, it’s a win, but it wasn’t exactly spectacular. It came down to wrestling, but I hope for Bailey’s sake that wasn’t all he had in him.

This season on TUF:
Drama, drama, drama. A lot of one-liners from Lesnar. Some injuries. And possibly some great fights. One of the most anticipated seasons yet (mostly because of Lesnar and Dos Santos, for sure), I am interested in seeing how much talent comes out of this season. I think they should’ve had to fight their way into the house, so being that they were just given a pass, they’d better be good.

The Ultimate Fighter: Season 12 Episode 11: “Victory’s All that Matters”

Previously on The Ultimate Fighter, Team GSP’s Jonathan Brookins and Kyle Watson dismantled their opponents, finishing all their fights by RNC. Michael Johnson defeated his nemesis Alex Caceres. Team Koscheck’s remaining guy Nam Phan KO’d Cody McKenzie in dominating fashion. Tonight, teammates Watson and Brookins go to war while Phan takes on Johnson hoping to put an end to Team GSP’s dominance. Which two LW’s will secure a fight in the finale?

GSP decides tactically to “f**k the team.” He cannot choose sides. They will avoid each other at training, but now it is time to be selfish. It’s each man for himself. Coach Danaher sagely talks of how this fight essentially should have been the final. Kyle talks about the process of coming up into MMA. While he was into MMA when it was younger, it was not a viable profession at the time (it wasn’t as popular as it is now). He worked a real full-time job and at one point was offered to move up within the company. At that same time, he was offered a spot as a trainer in Matt Hughes’ gym. With a tough decision to make, he left all he had and took Hughes up on his offer. He’s quite surprised to be matched up with Jonathan

On Team Koscheck’s side, training has slowed down. Since only Phan is left fighting, the rest of the team is more or less hanging out around the gym all week. They’ve got some of the best coaches in the world, and they can’t reap the benefits. They’re pissed that they’re not doing anything. What’s worse, GSP brought in so many world-class coaches…and they’re stuck listening to it while Kos does nothing for them. Back at the house, Marc lets it all out and does his impression of Koscheck. And just as he’s being mocked, he creeps up into the house to catch it all first hand. Chalking up to alcohol, Kos lets it go and rounds his boys up for shots.

Brookins finds that he’s happier hanging away from the chaos of the house, keeping to himself. He’d rather find his focus alone — no cell phone, no computer. He’s proud of himself that he’s taken full advantage of his time at the house: showing up for every training session, not disrespecting the process, etc. But at the same time, he also respects Kyle. They’ve been training with each other for six weeks, and he knows that will affect the tenor of the fight. His gameplan is to simply be the quicker, smarter fighter.

Supposedly, Nam has been getting on peoples’ nerves and acting shady. His teammates claim that he’s been sneaking over to the red team trying to get the scoop on Michael Johnson. They question his motives and accuse him of talking s**t about each of them behind their backs. Nam plays innocent and wonders if they just think he’s an easy target. Personally, I don’t remember Nam saying anything, but hey, that could be fancy editing.

Dana gives the advantage to Brookins standing, but to Watson on the ground. Both are extremely talented and most guys are calling this a toss-up.

FIGHT DAY

Round 1
Both tentative at first, but finally exchange a flurry of jabs. A lot of bobbing and weaving, but no one is really landing shots. They briefly exchange again, each landing a few glancing blows. Brookins charges and gets Watson half on his back against the cage. Watson works up to his feet, but Brookins still has him pinned against the cage, looking for better position. No progress though, and they return to the center. Uppercut from Watson misses. Watson fakes a combo and Brookins shoots. Watson is on his back, but Brookins can’t get in his guard or mount him. Brookins can’t seem to make progress, but Watson can’t fend him off either. Finally Brookins spins to try and take Watson’s back, but can’t complete the turn. He ends up in Watson’s guard and rains down several unanswered blows to the head as the round ends.

Round 2
A few weak exchanges lead to a takedown attempt from Brookins. They shuffle and Watson is on his back again with Brookins in his guard. Brookins tries to get in a few shots, but Watson does a good job and controlling Brookins. Brookins gets in the occasional jab and elbow. He tries pinning Watson down, but Watson tries to up-kick him off. Brookins loses his position, but looks for a better one on Watson’s back. Watson is half against the cage, but Brookins patiently waits for him to turn to fully mount his back. Watson turns into him instead, getting his back against the mat, elevating his hips to keep Brookins from mounting him. Brookins eventually works into Watson’s guard but it is short-lived. Watson tries to keep him back, but Brookins won’t let him up. The round ends as they scramble to their feet.

Round 3
The round starts the same way as the other 2, with short jabs and a lot of weaving. They clinch again with Brookins in control. Watson gets in a few good knees. They return to the center. Big left from Watson glances Brookins’ cheek. Brookins fakes a leg kick and shoots, taking Watson down into the corner. On his knees, Watson looks to get up. Brookins keeps his shoulders down, immobilizing Watson but only temporarily. On his feet, Watosn continues to defend the takedown. Watson lands a few head shots. Brookins finally gets Watson on his back and is in his guard. He lands an occasional shot, but so does Watson. Brookins gets Watson turned sideways and sneaks some good jabs in as the round ends.

Winner: Jonathan Brookins via Decision (Unanimous)

For a fight that was so hyped, it was awfully boring. Yes, Brookins scored several takedowns, but he couldn’t do anything with the control. Even GSP says that it looked more like he was fighting not to lose, than fighting to win. He controlled the fight entirely though, enough for the win. And I will give him one thing — the guy is probably the most respectful and humble to have ever been on the show.

Back at the house, Nam is the topic of discussion yet again. Rumor has it that he takes hour long showers at night, so of course, the guys’ imaginations run rampant as to what he’s doing in there. For whatever reason, they decide to try and catch him in the act. They crack open the door and of course Nam’s in the shower. Like little girls they run off squealing with laughter. So, they’re um, laughing at Nam for doing what they’re all probably doing. Yeah, guys, thanks for wasting 5-minutes of my life that I’ll never get back.

As for Nam’s fighting, GSP believes Mike to be the better MMA fighter. He’s the best athlete on Team GSP, explosive with good transitions. He’s motivated and according to GSP, more well-prepared.

Nam pleads to the guys to just let him focus on his fighting. As the only yellow team fighter left, he needs to have a stronger mind. Even Brookins points out how wrong it is for his own teammates to not only alienate him, but to distract him the way they’ve been. The next morning, Nam goes to train — solo. The coaches are MIA, his teammates are sleeping off a late night, so he’s all alone at the gym. But at least he can keep focused.

When the team is finally assembled for training, they continue to rib on Nam. But as Kos points out…he’s the one that’s winning! They can talk all the ish they want, but guess who’s not fighting anymore — them!

As to his fighting style, Nam compares himself to a Honda Civic — not the fastest, flashiest car on the lot, but efficient on gas and reliable. The longer the fight goes, the better shot he’s got. At least he didn’t call himself the Little Engine that Could.

FIGHT DAY

Going into this fight, Dana gives the edge to Nam — he’s more well-rounded and he’s got more experience than Mike. Mike thinks the abuse that Nam’s been getting from his own teammates will also be to his advantage, as it may have kept Nam distracted from training. But judging by the Nam’s fully focused appearance, he seems just fine.

Round 1
Both look aggressive and Phan is the first to connect with a body kick. But Johnson gets a quick takedown. Phan rolls off his back and the return to standing. A matter of seconds before Johnson gets him back down. A few short jabs and they’re back on their feet. Kick from Johnson gets caught and he falls backwards, but is back up quick. Johnson shoots again, but Phan fends him off. Some solid exchanges from both. A head kick from Phan is checked. Johnson shoots and drives Phan back and down against the cage. Phan tries to get up, but Johnson yanks his left to keep him down. Back to standing, and Johnson shoots yet again driving into a clinch. Phan keeps backing up and Johnson peppers him. Johnson shoots, but Phan defends. They clinch and exchange a few knees. A big knee from Johnson. A huge left lands to Phan’s face and he’s bleeding, but he takes it. They clinch with Johnson in control. Nice head kick from Phan gets checked. Both are swinging big and hard. Phan tries a kick, but gets caught. Johnson keeps throwing that left and Phan just eats it. The round ends on their feet.

Round 2
Fast start to the round with Phan on the offensive. Both are still swinging big. Johnson shoots but can’t get Phan down — he keeps swerving to avoid the shots. Pins him against the cage, but Phan is quick to move. Phan nails him and Johnson is rattled. But Johnson tags him with a left and gets Phan against the cage. Johnson is looking tired, just holding Phan up. They separate and exchange again, followed by a takedown attempt from Johnson that fails. Johnson ends up on his knees and Phan pounces on him landing several unanswered shots. They continue to exchange, but Phan is now landing twice as many shots as Johnson. Big uppercut from Phan lands. They seem to alternate between a resting clinch and short exchanges. Nice right jab from Johnson. Big exchange keeps Phan backpedaling, and the round ends in the clinch.

Round 3
Phan first with the body kick, but Johnson returns it and gets caught. Johnson shoots for a leg and gets the slam. Johnson is in Phan’s guard, but Phan lands several good elbows to Johnson’s head. Johnson looks to mount, but Phan manages to get back up. They exchange several jabs before Johnson holds Phan in the clinch. Back to the center of the cage, Phan lands a nice shot to the ribs. Johnson pushes up on Phan again where the both alternate between knees and elbows. Johnson slips in through the legs for the throw. But Phan is quick up again. Both are dragging now throwing weaker shots. Clinching, both land a couple knees, but posture for control. Big jab exchange. Both still keep swinging big. Johnson throws in a flying knee but Phan avoids it. Straight leg from Phan is checked. The round ends with both trying to throw bombs.

Wow. What a dog fight. Crazily enough I could’ve seen this being called a draw. Dana gave the first round to Johnson. But Nam turned the second round around. But by the third round, both were equal on their feet. Johnson got the takedown, but Phan defended it. It all came down to that third round.

Winner: Michael Johnson via Decision (Split)

Hate to say it, but the cliché is right. Don’t let it go to the judges. Both guys should be proud of their performances.

Again, I am a fan of Koscheck’s…but why is he making this all about him? PHAN lost the fight, why is Koscheck singing the blues because his “team” lost? Boo-freakin-hoo, Kos.

So, there it is. On Saturday we’ll see Jonathan Brookins take on Michael Johnson in the finale — LIVE on Spike!