Previously on TUF, Yager quit, Tito got fired and Team Ortiz became Team Franklin. In tonightâ€™s finale, the semifinalists fight to make it to the big show.
First things first, Rich Franklin is given the grand tour of the new gym (as it has been years since he coached). We even get to witness Franklin officially signing to fight Chuck. The guys are then brought in to meet with all their new coaches: Forrest Griffin, Gray Maynard and Tyson Griffin. Dana wasnâ€™t kidding when he said he was overcompensating!
In the first day of training with Franklin, they all jump right in. They break McCrayâ€™s style down, giving lots of pointers. The guys are pleasantly surprised at their hands-on approach.
Then Team Liddell comes rolling in to find Franklinâ€™s giant mug hanging up in the gym. After the double take, they get right to work. Itâ€™ll be awkward for Tavares and McGee to fight each other, as they are not only teammates but they have become close friends. Trying to train them both has created an awkward dynamic for the coaches. Chuck points out that itâ€™ll be hard for him to watch â€“ who does he root for? Who does he coach?
Later at the house, many of the guys decide to get back at the rowdiest (McCray, Yager, Tavares, Noke and Ring) of the group, because of their late (late) night antics. They arm themselves with air horns and silly string, and invade their rooms to wake them in the wee hours. They all take it wellâ€¦except for Tavares. He first trashes the chess board, but then starts plotting his revenge.
All around the predictions are that this is going to be a tough fight. No one makes any concrete predictions except Dana â€“ he picks McGee.
McGee opens with a leg kick, but Tavares counters with jabs. McGee connects with a combo. Both seem tentative and cautious. McGee almost seems to be throwing kicks/punches in slow motion. Tries a body kick, then a head kick, but they are checked. Finally, McGee goes offensive with a big right hook, but Tavares ducks and they clinch. Against the cage, they work for position and McGee is able to slam Tavares. McGee has Tavares half mounted and is looking for the full mount. Tavares defends and McGee ends up in his guard. Tavares continuously tries to posture and is able to push McGee off. They return to the center and begin slugging. Both land several shots. After a few exchanges they clinch again, with McGee in control against the fence. He lands several kidney shots. They return to the center and once again, McGee is the aggressor. He lands several unanswered jabs and leg kicks. Tavares is able to check a few shot and even lands a couple of his own. He looks to shoot but changes his mind as they return to the clinch. McGee pins Tavares, landing body shots and looking to take Tavares down as the round ends.
I give that round to McGeeâ€¦all McGee.
This time Tavares strikes first with a straight jab to the face. McGee fights back though. So far the pace is a bit faster. They are less tentative and more calculating. Tavares lands another jab. Nice attempt at a headkick from McGee, but it is checked. McGee works the leg kick and follows up with a combo. Tavares comes in on him and McGee pops him with a right hook that wobbles him. McGee then shoots on Tavares and pushes him against the fence. Neither does much, but Tavares gets himself off the cage. Back at center, Tavares gives a nice jab/uppercut combo. Now they are finally throwing some nice exchanges. Both are landing solid punches and both are taking them. McGee shoots, but Tavares sprawls and is able to defend. Taking advantage Tavares gets a good knee on McGee. McGee loves that leg kick and connects with several. Tavares tries one also, but McGee catches it and uses it to drive Tavares back. Tavares is practically doing a split as McGee tries to take him down. But the round ends before he can.
Wowâ€¦much closer round, but McGee did more damage. I didnâ€™t expect it to go this far.
Immediately both start swinging and kicking. A stray kick lands in McGeeâ€™s groin. After a brief break theyâ€™re back to duking it out. They slow down and get back to being careful. McGee connects with several leg kicks. He goes in on Tavares and Tavares lands a few shots to McGeeâ€™s head. Neither looks gassed. Tavares lands a heavy leg to McGeeâ€™s thigh. Nice jab to McGeeâ€™s face snaps his head back. Tavares is definitely more aggressive now. McGee shoots, and puts Tavares against the fence but it doesnâ€™t last. Back to standing they continue to exchange. A shot from McGee gets Tavares backpedaling and he nearly falls, but regains his footing. They clinch against the cage. Struggling for control, Tavares jumps up with a knee that connects to McGee face but it doesnâ€™t seem to rattle him enough. In the continued clinch, this time it is Tavares who takes a shot to the pills, but all is ok. They restart and exchange. McGee lands a combo leg kick/jab that seems to rock Tavares. Nice overhands from both. McGee throws an inside kick that ends in the groin again. As soon as they restart, McGee rocks Tavares with a big right. McGee pounces as Tavares wobbles and gets Tavares down. Immediately he jumps on his back, and wraps his arms around his neck. He sinks the hooks in for the RNC and Tavares drops to the ground. The ref sees that Tavares is not responding. He checks him and he is sound asleep.
What. A. Slugfest. By far the best fight of the season. Props for both guys from everyone. Dana even says that was a finale-type fight. I definitely see a future for Tavares. But that was huge for McGee.
As a surprise for the guys, Dana brings in a handful of Marines to train with them. The soldiers are going to roll with them and learn what they go through and how they prepare for deployment. Part of the lesson is trust and teamwork, combat conditioning, de-arming someone etc. They even get to have a little fun taking out their aggression with some big foam sticks! There is a camaraderie forming, I can feel it!
The Marines are then invited back to the house for a bit of a BBQ. Over hot dogs and hamburgers, they compare their experiences: boot camp, the sacrifices and what they go through. Itâ€™s impressive how they all seem to appreciate each other now. I like seeing that these rough and tumble guys have heart outside of the ring too.
But, back to the fighting. Franklin reviewed McCrayâ€™s first fight with Bryant to break down where he could improve. This will be McCrayâ€™s 5th fight on the show (uh, wow!) and Franklin vows that he will not make the same mistakes. His major criticism of the first fight was the McCray was working too hard and inefficiently. That will not happen again.
At the house, Yager and Tavares talk prank to get back at the rest for the silly string and air horns. Their plan: hide their shoes, whip dry beans and rice and bags of flour at sunbathers. This enrages Hammortree who empties a nasty bag of trash all over Yagerâ€™s room (though the flour had been Tavares). Yager tries to retaliate and gets in Hammortreeâ€™s face. The two bark and bark at each other. As several try to break them up, Yager fakes on Uscola who then flips. Yager tries to insult Uscola, but everyone is quick to remind him that heâ€™s the one that quit in his fight. The solution of course is to take it outside. Uscola gets his shoes and makes his way to the patio but Yager hides up in his room. â€œAnother fight he didnâ€™t show up for.â€ Now the rest of the guys realize their shoes have gone missing. This time Yager is quick to comply with the requests but not without heated words from McKinney.
Team Liddell trains Bryant for his rematch with McCray. Bryant expects McCray to be a bit more cautious this time. I agree that this will not be the same fight. Dana is assuming that history will repeat itself and picks Bryant to win again.
McCray starts out aggressive, but maybe too aggressive. Bryant is able to check his shots and scrambles away from McCrayâ€™s takedown attempt. McCray is finally able to pin Bryant sideways against the cage and then tries to slam him to the ground. Bryant works back up, but McCray is not letting go. While clinching, McCray lands a nice knee and is then able to slam Bryant. Bryant keeps trying to push McCray off and stand, but McCray has a good grip. They both stand and continue to dirty box. They soon separate and get back to stand up. McCray leads with a nice right/left combo, but Bryant connects with a jab. McCray charges at Bryant and lands several shots and Bryant counters with a leg kick. They exchange and briefly clinch, but both back off. Nice uppercut from McCray leads to the clinch, but Bryant fends him off. McCray lands a big knee, but Bryant is unscathed. Now Bryant controls the clinch, but it doesnâ€™t last. BIG left from Bryant leads to a painful exchange that leaves McCray a little damaged as the round ends.
Even though he was very sloppy, McCray controlled and won that round. Iâ€™m not impressed.
Franklin tells him that he wasnâ€™t overworking, but I disagreeâ€¦
McCray fakes a kick and lands an overhand instead. He gets Bryantâ€™s back against the fence but canâ€™t hold him there. McCray then peppers Bryant with unchecked jabs. Back in the clinch, Bryant now looks for the takedown, but he seems tired. As a matter of fact, neither seems to be working much except for a few weak knees and elbows. After being restarted, Bryant strikes first with a jab. They have a heated exchange, both landing some decent shots. They end up against the cage again, but nothing significant happens. Instead, they go back to stand-up and throw countless weak shots at each other. McCray lands some nice kidney shots, but (yawn) Bryant goes for the clinch again (to presumably catch his breath). They both try desperately to connect, but nothing really works. The same pattern emerges â€“ clinch, body shots and knees, back to the center, slug, repeat. Itâ€™s a relief when the round ends.
Finally I agree with Franklin; Bryant likely won that round out of sheer control. And if McCray lets that happen again, he will lose.
ROUND 3 (no commercial?? Wtf!)
More of the same. They slug a bitâ€¦.weak jabs, right hooks, wild uppercuts, and a few leg kicks for good measure. Clinchâ€¦ a few knees and elbows, McCray trying to get the underhooks in, but cannot take Bryant down. Return to the center. They both connect with jabs and McCray charges Bryant trying to take him down. He is nearly successful, but Bryant is able to defend. The exchanges continue, but both are clearly exhausted (my son has hit me with more solid jabs!). This clinch/strike cycle is getting to the point where they could just loop the video and no one would know. With a minute left, McCray lands what would be a good left hook, but Bryantâ€™s solid chin is able to take it. McCray is able to latch onto Bryantâ€™s back, standing, looking for the slam but loses it. Bryant then lands a left hook that rattles McCray. They clinch til the bell.
That was sadly the weakest round of the 3, and I could see calling it a draw. Both were pretty evenly weak, but McCray did have more takedown attempts.
Winner: Kris McCray via Decision (Unanimous)
I donâ€™t know where the Bryant of old went, but he definitely didnâ€™t show up tonight. McCray definitely improved, and was able to execute a better game plan. Bryant just got overwhelmed.
So, live from the Palms it will be McGee and McCray. And considering that both of these guys actually lost their previous fights, it just goes to show you what second chances can do. This has the potential to be a sick fight.
Previously on TUF, in the 3rd Quarterfinal fight, Baczynski is DQâ€™d for an illegal knee to Tavaresâ€™ head. This causes a melee amongst both sides, some calling it a bad decision. A neck injury causes Tito to pull out of his fight with Chuck. Will Dana fire him? Tonight we are treated to the last quarterfinal fight between Yager and Bryant.
When Dana breaks the news to Chuck about Titoâ€™s decision to pull out of his fight, he has some choice words. Dana assures Chuck that he will fight, he just doesnâ€™t know who yet. Sure enough, when Chuck goes on a rant to his team, Titoâ€™s right next door hearing it all. He whines that Chuck could never understand. Seriously, if Tito was hurt, why did he agree to do the show at all?
Back at the house, Yager discusses whatâ€™s ahead of him and how he needs to shore up his energies. He discusses his miscellaneous strategies, promising it will be his hand raised in the end. Bryant, though he is the underdog, is not willing to give Yager a free pass.
Yager strikes first with some short jabs. Yager then goes in for a superman punch and Bryant nails him straight and hard in the face, throwing Yager off balance. Bryant charges him and they clinch against the cage. Bryant controls the clinch as the two exchange knees and jabs. Back to the center they continue to dance and fake. Yager lands a big kick to Bryantâ€™s side, followed shortly thereafter with another. Bryant cannot seem to check or defend these kicks. Yager goes in for an uppercut but misses. He then attempts a leg kick that ends up in Bryantâ€™s groin. After regrouping, Yager keeps up with the leg/body kicks (and I wish I could personally kick the a$$ of whoeverâ€™s yelling HIYO!). Yager tries a kick, but Bryant not only blocks but jabs. Yager goes for a big head kick but Bryant catches it and charges Yager back. They struggle awkwardly against the fence, but end up back in the center. The leg kicks continue from Yager, but Bryant surprises him and catches him with a big right hand. Yager is rocked and falls on his back. He tries to upkick, but Bryant dodges them and gets into Yagerâ€™s guard as the round ends.
Yager definitely underestimated Bryant.
Yager picks up where he left off with the leg kicks. He lands two and follows up with a left hook that misses. Bryant tries to counter with an inside leg kick that ends up being a groin shot. Yager regroups and takes charge with a big head kick that misses. Yager chases Bryant around the cage with kicks and jabs, but canâ€™t land any. Bryant then goes offensive with a series of jabs. Yager is caught off balance. Bryant takes advantage and takes him down. Bryant has side control and attempts to GNP. Yager tries to get up and as they are wrestling, Yager gains some control, pinning Bryant against the cage and landing several face shots. They end up back on their feet and exchange some weak jabs and kicks. Both are landing shots, but there is not a lot of power. Both seem pretty gassed. A few times it seems as though one or the other gets rocked a bit, but it’s just their exhaustion. They clinch against the cage briefly, but Bryant backs up allowing Yager to attempt a straight leg. Yager loses his balance and falls backward. Bryant jumps on him and has side control. After a few punches, he begins to look for an arm. He alternates between head shots and attempts to pull the arm straight. This is how the round ends.
It seems as though at this point Yager has quitâ€¦.just as the judges call for a third round (is it just me or have there been a lot of 3rd rounds this season?).
Before the round begins, Tito yells at Yager that he better not quit. But Yager complains that he canâ€™t see. You hear the ref in the background counting down to the start of the round. But Yager is not getting up. The fight is called.
Winner: Josh Bryant via Ref Stoppage
(Pardon me while I do a little happy dance )
All expectations were demolished. Dana was impressed by Bryant, big time. Every time Yager got tapped, he was rocked. And you saw him losing a little bit of heart each time. He had never fought more than 15 seconds before tonight, and Bryant was able to just wear him down little by little.
Dana finally admits to Chuck that even though he questioned all his picks he was right after all.
Tito is now fired up, calling Yager many choice words (doesnâ€™t Tito know that saying about the pot and the kettle?? Lol), declaring him a â€œquitterâ€ and that thereâ€™s nothing wrong with him. A tearful Yager is disappointed as he is taken away to be checked out.
Grandmaster Dana then pulls Tito out for a talk. He has arranged for Tito to meet with a doctor for a second opinion about his surgery. Itâ€™s still up to Tito to make the decision, as its his own body. But he does warn him that if he leaves tomorrow, heâ€™s done. Tito is told that they arranged another fight for Chuck, and they will have that person take over coaching duties. All Tito could do is sit there blank-faced. He complains that he had everything taken away from him, but when it comes down to it, the decisions were his. Dana reiterates what I said earlier; if Tito even thought that he wasnâ€™t 100%, he should not have signed on for the show.
The guys are actually sitting in the van watching as Tito runs out of the gym, gets into his truck and hauls ass outta there. Apparently, Dana had expected Tito to break the news to them, but that clearly didnâ€™t happen. Dana called them back in and had to do the dirty work. The guys are just dumb-founded as to why Tito couldnâ€™t wait the 6 days until the show was over. But at least Dana reassures them that they will have a new coach in the morning. They do seem to give Tito the benefit of the dobut, hoping that maybe Tito will be back the next day to give an explanation. I wouldnâ€™t hold my breath, guys.
Later that night, Yager returns to the house from the hospital. The kid barely gets in the door and McCray tells him the Tito news. As for Yager, the doctors say he is fine, save for some muscle damage. At least nothing is serious. The subject quickly turns to Yagerâ€™s decision to quit. Heâ€™s surprisingly not worried about the opinions of others and welcomes the criticism.
Then, in walks Tito! He quickly assembles the guys and lays the blame all on Dana, claiming that Dana will not let him fight because he is injured. He is going through with surgery anyway. He claims that he didnâ€™t care about the fight with Chuck anyway, but he is disappointed that he is letting his team down, particularly Kris. They top the rah-rah speech off with a team shot. So shweetâ€¦.
The following morning, they are gathered for the semifinal fight announcements.
Brad Tavares vs. Court McGee
Kris McCray vs. Josh Bryant
Dana likes Tavares, but recognizes that McGee gets better with every fight. As Bryant has already beaten McCray, he is the favorite here as well.
It does not end here though! When the guys return to the gym, they meet their new coach â€“ Rich Franklin. They are all smiles, and it seems as if Tito has already been forgotten.
Next week: Dana surprises them with a former UFC champ as an assistant coach. Yagerâ€™s antics continue, but will he go too far? And in a two-hour special, we get not one, but two semifinal fights. Next week we will find out who will be in the finale.