The guys arrive at the house like kids on Christmas morning. Still ecstatic from their wins, they run around the house and vent their anxieties. The excitement (and their physical pain from their fights) is felt throughout the house.
They return to the gym the next day to meet Chuck, Tito and their respective assistant coaches. Dana addresses them first and goes over the coin toss for first pick: winner — Tito. Tito can choose the first fighter OR the first fight. After that, the team that wins keeps fights choice. Tito opts for the first pick, so Chuck will get to choose the first fight.
(Anyone else take issue with the fact that Tito’s team is “Team Punishment”?? Guess Dana likes him enough to give him free advertising!)
After the picks have been made, Tito claims that he was looking for fighters that had strength in addition to a skill: stand-up, Muay Thai or Jiu Jitsu. However, they refer to Chuck’s picks as Team Willy Wonka — one tall guy and a bunch of short guys.
Dana is baffled by Chuck’s pick strategy. Maybe there’s something Dana doesn’t know? But Chuck seems to be happy with his picks. Dana worries that Chuck doesn’t have the team to give him the ability to maintain control. He can put his number one pick up first, but then what?
Finally the teams get down to training. Chuck’s approach is to take what the guys already know and simply make it better. To do this, he brings in kickboxing and boxing pros. Tito just wants to train his guys hard. And in their first session, he pushes them to the limit. This includes getting on Clayton McKinney’s back to see how much his shoulder can take. The doctor thinks he may have a torn rotator cuff, which will be MRI’d the following day. However, Clayton is not the only one beat up. Camozzi isn’t looking too hot himself. Which one of them will be fed to Noke?
At the fight announcement, there is definitely tension in the room as they wait for Dana. Chuck decides that Kyle Noke will take on Clayton McKinney. Tito smiles from ear to ear…but he still knows that McKinney is in trouble. “Take down defense, take down defense, take down defense.” McKinney is none too thrilled with being the first fight.
Back at the house, the “only brown guys in the house,” McCray, Yager and Tavares, are making plans to create some late night trouble. They run around the house with foghorns, waking the dead at 3am. This did not make anyone else in the house happy. Uscola, in particular, took it worst but the three wiseasses thought nothing of it. Yager even proceeds to make fun of those who bitched about it.
At the gym, McKinney and Tito meet with the doctor to discuss the MRI. Thankfully, there were no tears or permanent injuries. He does have a fluid-filled bruise, but Tito just wants him to suck it up and take it like a man. McKinney’s still hurtin’, but he’s pushing through it and trying not to think about it. Post-training, Tito gives them a cute pep-talk, channeling Rashad and other TUF champs as motivation.
Later at Team Liddell training, the coaches work with Noke, the Australian. It means a lot to Noke to represent his country. Chuck and coach Hackleman agree that his striking is top notch and they haven’t found any true weaknesses yet. When the guys all get together, Chuck puts to rest some rumors about him and his ‘alleged alcoholism’ that was rumored by Tito. All the rumor has done is given Chuck that much more motivation to win.
As it’s Tito’s birthday, he treats them to cupcakes and a piÃ±ata — a Chuck piÃ±ata! But this piÃ±ata was stuffed with money! It’s a huge hit. There’s a lot of laughs until they get in the back room where a few guys are trying to “cheer” McKinney up, but he’s not having it. McKinney’s not here to make friends and he simply doesn’t want to hear them talk. Can’t say I blame him.
The weigh-ins finally come and Dana weighs in on both picks. Dana liked Noke, but wouldn’t have picked him first. McKinney’s shoulder is also a cause for concern. He picks Noke to win, but wonders what kind of fight it would be if McKinney’s shoulder was healthy.
(The guys ask Chuck when he’ll be fighting Tito, which would be right after the show’s finale , “If that bitch actually fights me.” Wow, holy foreshadowing! Lol)
Kyle Noke vs. Clayton McKinney
They feel each other out, but Noke strikes first with a leg kick. McKinney counters with a leg kick. McKinney fakes a punch and goes for a kick that misses. Another missed kick from McKinney. McKinney keeps trying to fake and antagonize but it doesn’t incite Noke. McKinney lands a couple nice leg kicks. Noke is being patient and lands a leg kick. Noke attempts a head kick but McKinney dodges it. Noke attempts a long punch, but McKinney ducks and turns around to grab Noke for a takedown. McKinney starts out in Noke’s guard, but they grapple for position. With McKinney in Noke’s guard, Noke gets one leg around McKinney’s neck. He works to get the other leg up and locked for the triangle. McKinney taps.
Winner: Kyle Noke via Triangle
McKinney makes a mad dash out of the octagon. Tito pleads with him to come back. He sincerely wants to work with him to make him better. He does a quick tutorial with him on how not to get caught in it again. The guys rally around him to keep him from giving up. Wow. I have to say I’m impressed with this new Coach Tito. I’m also sort of disappointed to see McKinney lose. While I like Noke, and think he’s got a decent shot on the show, I just liked McKinney’s spirit. Kid’s got heart, that’s for sure.
Chuck is happy to retain control. This is really the only way they could possibly win. I sure hope he makes some good choices.
Next week: A shocking announcement from Dana. Tension on Team Ortiz. Another middleweight fight. Drama, drama, drama!