Previously on The Ultimate Fighter, Aaron Wilkinson and Marc Stevens faced off in the wildcard fight. While Stevens dominated the first round, he fell prey to yet another guillotine. Coming up tonight, the first two of the quarterfinal fights, in which Sako “Psycho” Chivitchian will take on the dark horse, Jonathan Brookins and Cody McKenzie will go toe to toe with Nam Phan.
At the house, Sako is feeling the pressure to beat Jonathan to avenge his friend Sevak’s loss.
GSP gathers his guys to talk about the changes that are going to be made to their training. The will be down to one training session a day that will be less hardcore. No more sparring, no more cardio. Instead they will be more tactical. He wants to make them hungry, like animals. Brookins also realizes that Sako is going to want to bring it in their fight because of what happened with Sevak. So he, too, is feeling the pressure. GSP is happy with the way Brookins is looking. His skillset is solid, and he is ready to put together a gameplan.
Kos talks to Sako about their gameplan: simply, avoid giving up his back. With Nam, he goes over how keep that from happening. Sako is happy with chances, knowing that he has the experience behind him. He and Kos acknowledge that it will be tough, but it is absolutely winnable. If he gets taken down, he has to get in the mindset to get up without leaving his back vulnerable. He truly does not see any reason why he should be beaten, as long as he keeps it standing.
While watching Stevens and a few others acting goofily inside, the ever-insightful Brookins talks to Nam about the effects the house can have on people. He has seen how the power, etc. has gone to peoples’ heads. This awareness is his reminder to fight it, to struggle not to be that guy. He just wants to ride his bike to the library and be able to pay his rent on time.
Both very tentative, but Sako begins with a series of jabs. Within seconds, Brookins shoots for the takedown, but Sako avoids it. Sako spins and pushes Brookins against the cage. As the clinch, Brookins spins around and slams Sako. Sako immediately tries to get up, and in a blink Brookins is on his back. Sako tries to shake him, but is unable. They fall back to the mat and Brookins’ back is against the cage with his legs wrapped wholly around Sako. He patiently waits for Sako to try to get out. Sako leaves his neck exposed and Brookins gets the hooks in. Sako quickly taps.
It’s like Deja freakin’ Vu. Dana is simply blown away at how quickly Brookins subbed Sako. Obviously Sako is shaken by the loss, bemoaning the fact that he didn’t stick to the gameplan. Shoulda, coulda, woulda. Brookins is on to the semi-finals. Next up tonight is Cody and Nam.
On the way to training, Team GSP jokes about Cody’s impressive win record — basically all of his wins were by guillotine, except for one (a TKO). GSP’s gameplan for Cody is to neutralize Nam’s striking. Cody knows that his weakness is the fact that he doesn’t have the experience. His trouble is always with the more experienced fighters who have seen it all and who are able to diffuse it. He just hopes that Nam hasn’t seen his tricks.
Kos is really relying on Nam to win. It’s no secret that Kos can’t stand Cody, so he wants nothing more than to see Nam knock him out (or win by a decision). And more than anything, he does not want to see Nam lose by guillotine! (And if Nam does get caught, Kos will hit him over the head with a chair!). Kos posits that Nam is the true fighter on the team; he eats it, sleeps it, breathes it. If anyone has a chance, it’s Nam.
According to Dana, this is going to be an interesting fight. We haven’t really seen much from Cody, except for his guillotine, which obviously works for him. On the other hand, he considers Nam is a well-rounded fighter. We’ll just have to see if Nam can stay out of Cody’s guillotine.
Immediately Cody is the aggressor, coming at Nam with a leg kick that drives him back. Nam tries to counter, but Cody has him pinned against the cage. Cody alternates between elbows and knees as he looks for the takedown. He nearly gets Nam down, but they are quickly back up to standing. It is only a matter of time before he does get him down. In Nam’s guard, he is trying to pound him, but Nam does a good job and continually moving and defending. Nam rolls and maneuvers to get back on his feet. They have a brief exchange before Cody has him pinned again. Once again, Cody is down on his knees attempting a one-leg takedown, but he can’t get him. While clinching they exchange several uppercuts. Cody still looks for the takedown, but Nam’s sprawl prevents it. They return to the center of the cage. Cody tries a head kick that gets check. Nam swings big and lands a couple unanswered straight arms that leave Cody a bit unsteady. Cody shoots, but really just crumbles at Nam’s feet. Nam pounces and lands several hammer fists until Cody rolls over. Cody is looking gassed as he gets back. He attempts a weak spinning backfist. The round ends as Nam is charging at Cody. What a comeback from Nam!
Big head kick from Nam gets checked. Nam is all offense, pushing Cody back with jabs and kicks. Now a headkick from Nam, but he misses. Cody is looking gassed and is getting out-struck. Finally Cody shoots and gets Nam against the cage. But they are quickly back to the center. Big body shots from Nam. Nam is landing twice as many shots as Cody is even attempting. Cody tries a knee, but Nam counters with a head kick. Huge shot to Cody’s liver. Nam gets a clean shot that rocks Cody backwards, and he lands several unanswered shots. Nam continues the onslaught, and finally catches Cody with another left hook to the liver. The brutal shot crumbles Cody, Nam jumps on him and the ref stops it.
Winner: Nam Phan via TKO (Strikes)
Pretty much everyone agrees that Cody was dominating Nam the first few minutes (although GSP thought Cody won the whole round), but as soon as Nam was able to get back up, it was really the beginning of the end for Cody. Going into the second round, Cody was entirely exhausted and Nam took total advantage. By the end of the round, it was Cody who?
Awesome, awesome win for Nam. It couldn’t have happened for a nicer, more deserving guy. Cody is handed his first loss and is pride seems to be mortally wounded. He admits that life goes on, but yeah, it sucks.
Next week: Two more quarterfinal fights. Wild-card winner Aaron Wilkinson takes on Kyle Watson. Tensions flare between Michael Johnson and Alex Caceres, who will finally settle the score. Plus, Dana sets the semifinal matchups.