The Ultimate Fighter: Season 12 Episode 10: “Personal”

Previously on The Ultimate Fighter, Michael Johnson got fed up with teammate Alex Caceres’ antics. In the first quarterfinal fight, Jonathan Brookins quickly took out Sako Chivitchian while underdog Nam Phan gave Team Kos a needed win when he shut out Cody McKenzie. Coming up tonight are the two remaining quarterfinal fights. Veteran Kyle Watson steps into the ring with wildcard winner Aaron Wilkinson and Michael Johnson and Alex Caceres finally get to settle their score.

At the house, Sako plays a prank, putting a rubber band on the kitchen sink sprayer. He immediately blamed Alex (who had done it previously), but alas, it wasn’t him this time.

Kyle Watson will be taking on Aaron Wilkinson in his quarterfinal fight. Aaron’s strength is his striking, but Team GSP is not particularly worried about the power behind his punches. Kyle’s game plan is not necessarily to take Aaron down, but to tie him up and keep him from striking.

Kos wants Aaron to keep the fight standing. Knowing this is his second (and probably last) chance, Aaron is motivated and feeling the pressure of representing the UK.

FIGHT DAY

Round 1
Watson starts the fight with a leg kick. He keeps faking the shoot and follows up with another leg kick. Wilkinson has yet to respond. Finally Watson shoots and gets the takedown. He has an awkward side control. He gets into half mount and begins peppering Wilkinson with body and head shots. Wilkinson is also landing a good number of shots to Watson’s head. While Watson is looking for a better position, Wilkinson is looking to get out. They manage to stand but it doesn’t last and Watson gets Wilkinson mounted. Wilkinson keeps turning and eventually turns enough to give Watson his back. Wilkinson holds onto one of Watson’s arm and his barely managing to fend off the choke. Watson gets the right arm in and under, getting the choke locked with the left arm. But Wilkinson is not giving in very easily. It’s a good solid minute and Wilkinson is desperately looking to free himself. But the choke is too far sunk and Wilkinson taps.

Winner: Kyle Watson via Submission (Rear Naked Choke)

Pretty much no surprises there.

In talking about Bruce Leroy, GSP is promising an exciting fight. Dana can’t even call this one.

GSP brings in Freddie Roach (boxing guru) to train the guys. As Pacqiao’s trainer, this guy’s got some serious boxing cred. The guys are in AWE. Roach seems to like Caceres, predicting that he will do well.

This is definitely an emotional fight — meaning that it is fueled by their hatred for each other. But Alex thinks that this hatred will be Michael’s downfall. He claims that all the pressure is on Michael, as he doesn’t want to lose to someone who he feels doesn’t belong there. Michael plans on keeping it standing, at least to start. And then he’ll just wear him down.

Before the weigh-ins, Kos starts ribbing Michael, predicting a win for Alex (also calling him the “black Georges”). Kos thinks that GSP’s theory is that Michael is their strongest, so he can sacrifice Alex to him to move him on. However, GSP comments that he really doesn’t know how the fight will go — either could potentially win. Either way, this is going to be a helluva fight. Great way to end the quarterfinals.

FIGHT DAY

Round 1
Johnson doesn’t even touch gloves. Caceres lands a solid leg kick followed by a straight leg. Johnson responds by going after Caceres and gets him down with an authoritative slam. Caceres is on his side and Johnson is trying at least get into his guard. Johnson backs off a bit and Caceres springs up. Caceres tries a head kick but it is checked. Johnson lands a big jab that sends Caceres’s mouthpiece flying. When they resume Johnson backs Caceres against the cage and slams him down hard again. Johnson gets right into Caceres’s guard. Caceres tries to get up, but Johnson pushes him right back down. Johnson backs off, but Caceres keeps his feet up to fend him off. Back to standing and Caceres gets in a good combo. Johnson responds with a straight jab followed by a painful leg kick. Caceres charges, peppering him with jabs. Johnson turns it around, and gets Caceres with his back at the fence. They clinch briefly before they return to the middle. With a minute to go, Johnson gets Caceres on his back again. Before he can do any damage Caceres kicks him back off. On their feet, Johnson goes offensive with a few jabs before they clinch. A big head kick attempt from Caceres is checked. Clinching again, Caceres has the control as the round ends.

(All Johnson there…but can he keep up that pace??)

Round 2
Both are looking antsy. A good jab exchange. Caceres misses a superman punch. Johnson shoots and gets Caceres down. In side control, he alternates between elbows and jabs. He looks to spin into north-south but maintains side control. He scrambles and ends up in Caceres’s guard, pushing him into the corner. With him pinned back, he lands several unanswered big shots. AC leans forward and it looks like Johnson goes for a choke, but they get back up. Johnson lands a good combo, but Caceres counters. Caceres ducks a shot from Johnson and Johnson shoots immediately. As they scramble down, Caceres reverses and is on top for a change. It is short-lived. They are back up in the clinch. Johnson gets Caceres around the waist and slams him again. In full guard, Johnson tries to keep one fist on his throat while punching with the other. He gets a few nice hammerfists through. Caceres tries to scramble up, and eventually does. Caceres attempts a head kick that Johnson catches, using his leg to drive him back. Still holding on the leg, Johnson sweeps and slams Caceres. In side control again, he doesn’t do much and the round ends.

Winner: Michael Johnson via Unanimous Decision

No matter how many times Michael threw punch, Alex was able to keep moving enough to dodge it. No matter how many times Michael took him down, Alex was able to pop back up. Definitely a huge battle.

Ok. I have been a BIG defender of Kos this ENTIRE season. But for Kos to say that he didn’t know what fight GSP was watching because it sucked?? What fight was HE watching?!?! Sour grapes, Koscheck, sour grapes.

And so the feud between Michael and Alex comes to an end.

Dana and the coaches get together to discuss the semi-final fight matchups. Amazingly, they agree right away. Whoa…has hell frozen over?

So the semi-final fights will be:

1. Jonathan Brookins vs. Kyle Watson
2. Michael Johnson vs. Nam Phan

Next week: Two hour semi-final extravaganza! Four men will enter the cage, but only two will go on to the live finale!

The Ultimate Fighter: Season 12 Episode 2: “Well-Played”


Previously on TUF, 28 of the toughest lightweights entered the cage, but only 14 emerged to take their spots in the house. Tonight, coaches GSP and Kos choose their teams in the hopes of producing The Ultimate Fighter.

The chosen ones roll up to their new digs, and as usual are just floored by what they see. Like kids on Christmas, they run around, taking it all and choosing rooms. It isn’t long before they end up either in the pool or in the kitchen…not to mention they start sizing each up skill-wise (in particular, Jeff, the smoker/drinker). But their down time is short lived.

Before long, they are on their way back to the gym for team selection. Several weigh in on who they prefer as a coach, while the coaches rank the guys and plan their strategy for making choices. GSP plans on trying to fake Koscheck out, by making Marc Stevens’ name highly visible on his list. He hopes this will cause Kos to pick Stevens first, thereby letting GSP snag Michael Johnson. And initially, it looks like the plan is going to work. Kos wins the coin flip and chooses first fighter pick and….

He plays right into GSP’s game and picks Marc Stevens. GSP is smiling like a fox in a henhouse as he picks Michael Johnson.

And the teams are (in order in which they were picked):

Team GSP
Michael Johnson, Jonathan Brookins, Spencer Paige, Alex Caceres, Kyle Watson, Cody McKenzie, Dane Sayers

Team Koscheck
Marc Stevens, Sevak Magakian, Sako Chivitchian, Andy Main, Nam Phan, Aaron Wilkinson, Jeff Lentz

Once the teams are decided, they get right to training. GSP says that he wants to be less like a coach and more like a training partner. He wants to bring in many different coaches, such as Greg Jackson (the maestro, the strategist) and John Danaher (the encyclopedia, the smartest man GSP knows). According to GSP he chose his fighters based on their ability to be helped. To him, it’s not about him and not about him winning; it’s about the guys and how it’s their time to shine.

At Team Kos’ training, Kos thinks he has a bit of an advantage, because he himself has been through TUF before. He believes in ‘mindless training’ — listen to him and you will achieve your goals. As for his coaching staff, he believes them to be world class- Bob Cook is his head guy, capable of doing it all, in addition to Teddy Lucio (his personal boxing coach) and Daniel Cormier. He also realizes that he has been labeled (the heel of the UFC) and wants to use that as motivation. His goal: to beat GSP and to win this competition.

Next up is the first fight announcement, which is GSP’s pick. He opts to pit Alex Caceres (Bruce-Leroy) against Jeff Lentz. Apparently, Alex wanted this fight and GSP wants to keep him happy. Dana, however, was surprised at GSP’s approach at letting his guys choose their opponents. Kos has zero fear.

Back at the house, Alex is already prepping for his fight. He talks about how he got into MMA when his dad showed him “Enter the Dragon.” However, it wasn’t until he was 14 that he started wrestling and really training. Later at the gym, GSP admires Alex’s tenacity and motivation. Coach Danaher says that it’s all about control, matchup and strategy.

On the flipside, proud Jersey-boy Jeff Lentz (yay Jersey! I actually just realized that I saw Lentz fight in Jersey this past November — he’s a scrappy MF’er! Not only does the guy fight for Kurt Pellegrino, but he looks like him too!), talks about his strengths over Alex — his ground game and his ability to break Alex down to the point where he wants to go home. Kos expresses his concern over his “fighter’s diet” of coffee and cigarettes. He’s hoping Jeff can still take it seriously.

Lentz at Ring of Combat in Atlantic City, NJ - Nov 2009

FIGHT DAY

Both guys are completely pumped and ready to win. Seems to me that Lentz has the motivation and will, but I can’t help but wonder if Caceres has the better skill set.

ROUND 1
Immediately, Caceres seems more aggressive with a head kick followed by a checked knee. Lentz backs off of a big roundhouse, unfazed. Lentz charges and has control of Caceres against the cage. Neither advances much in this position, but Lentz is at least trying to better his control and works some knees. Lentz then goes for the throw, but Caceres is able to keep himself up. A solid minute of slow dirty boxing. They are warned to work, and Caceres gets his arms around Lentz’s neck, looking for the guillotine. He goes so far as to leap up to secure the choke, but can’t sink it. Back to the clinch, the wrestle and Caceres looks for it again as he takes it to the floor, but can’t finish it. At first Lentz is in Caceres’s guard, but they are back up quickly. Caceres tries again to take Lentz down, but it doesn’t last. Lentz is back in control with Caceres’s back against the fence. Herb Dean restarts them in the center, and finally we get a decent exchange. Caceres’s body kick, for Lentz’s leg kick. Now they really begin to slug it out, and the round ends with a nice slam from Lentz. Round 1 was ALL Lentz.

ROUND 2
Definitely a more tentative start, but Caceres strikes first with a checked head kick. Lentz follows up with a body kick and is more the aggressor this time. Caceres is backing up and Lentz gets him back into the clinch. He tries to get Caceres down, but it is Caceres who gets him down with back control. But Lentz is quick to roll out of it and into Caceres’s guard. Lentz then turns on the ground and pound. Lentz starts to punish his face and ribs, but Caceres waits for the opportunity to wrap his legs around Lentz for the triangle. At first he hooks the wrong leg, but he corrects it. Lentz tries to slam Caceres to get his legs loose, but to no avail. Caceres is patient and works on pulling his legs tighter…until Lentz taps.

Winner: Alex Caceres via Submission (Triangle)

One thing’s for sure, no one is going to doubt Lentz’s cardio! He got caught and was disappointed, but he’s not giving up. With the first round going the way it went, he very well may be back for the wildcard.

And although I initially disliked Alex, he is starting to grow on me ?

Next week: Alex goes too far with his post-fight boasting. Kos accuses his team of losing focus. Iron Mike Tyson makes a visit to the gym. Who will the next fight be?