We’re reminded right away that last week’s decision was pretty dumb. Nick Ring looked tentative, and Court McGee should’ve earned a third round. The early hints are that McGee might be back as the wild card or as a replacement for the injured Rich Attonito.
Ring endures some teasing from Tito Ortiz about being tentative, but it seems there’s a reason for it. Ring checks in with a doctor and says his ligaments are “loose” and need to be tightened. Not sure if that’s possible. In any case, the season’s turning into a battle of attrition.
The last two fighters to go are Seth Baczynski, who lost a close prelim to McGee but was picked to come back when Chris Camozzi was hurt, and Joe “Chris “Jesus” Ferguson” Henle. (They call Henle “Caveman,” which means we could have a Caveman vs. Crabman matchup if he were ever paired up with Yager). White thinks Baczynski is an overwhelming favorite, mostly because Henle was getting knocked around in his prelim until he snagged an armbar.
We meet Henle, who seems to have literally stumbled into MMA. He turned pro in July. Rich Attonito says Joe is one of the nicest guys he’s met, but he doesn’t seem confident in his ability.
Henle is a substitute teacher and coach. He has an MBA in financial planning. He played guitar in Soundgarden. (OK, that’s not true — he just looks like Kim Thayil.)
Back to Tito’s team, and Ring’s knee gives out in sparring. He tells the audience he was told after his last surgery he’d never fight again. But he had been keeping it from quiet from the other fighters, not wanting to give them an advantage. And Tito seems stunned. He examines the knee and says it reminds of him of his own ACL injuries. Fortunately, Tito remembers that he’s not a doctor, nor did he stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night, and he stops his diagnosis there.
We don’t learn much about Baczynski except that he has done everything Tito has asked. Both guys just seem way too nice. Can we call it a draw and put them both in the next round? Everyone else is hurt, anyway.
Fight time! And another reason to celebrate — 30 minutes into the episode, and we still haven’t heard from Crabman. Josh Rosenthal is the ref.
The first round isn’t polished, but it’s exciting, as the momentum swings back and forth. Henle gets a takedown but has to fend off several submission attempts. Henle gets a decent choke attempt of his own and gets the back. Seth reverses and drops a couple of elbows. Likely a 10-9 for Seth, though he fought more than half the round from his back.
During the ad break, Miller Lite cleverly plays on the gender insecurity of the target audience.
Second round: Seth drags down Henle but ends up under him. As we saw in the first, that’s not a bad place for Seth, and he starts working arm submissions. But Henle gets to Seth’s back and has to switch to defense.
After a couple more minutes of grappling, they finally stand, and we see one of the worst misses in UFC history — Seth charges toward Henle with a flying knee, Henle dodges, and Seth gets the cage. But he gets Henle’s back and has the choke nearly in as the horn sounds.
Judges say it’s a draw, which seems fair. Off to overtime (or, as Dana insists on inaccurately calling it, “sudden victory”).
Third round starts with a respectful touch of gloves. They fall to the mat, mostly through Seth’s doing, and someone is yelling “Don’t move!” The action is disappointing from there. Seth gets just enough of an advantage to do some ground and pound, not enough to stop the fight but clearly enough to win the decision.
On to the wild card …
Kris McCray is Tito’s obvious choice. Clayton McKinney is out. James Hammortree is dinged up. Kyacey Uscola blew it by complaining that Tito was overworking them — he was probably right, given the timeframe we’re dealing with here, but saying it out loud wasn’t a good idea.
On Team Liddell, McGee has to be the pick. Blanchard showed little in his loss to Yager. Henle fought gamely but isn’t quite there.
That’s the analysis. The actual selection is … Kyacey Uscola? Really?
Second is Kris McCray. Two from the same team? For all of Chuck’s domination, we’re suddenly guaranteed a 4-4 split in the quarterfinals.
But wait. Rich Attonito is hurt and needs to be replaced. Dana White says he usually can’t do anything about the judges … until now. No surprise — it’s Court McGee.
Henle and Hammortree vent their sadness over being omitted from the wild card, but it’s not much.
Next week, we learn that one fighter’s “stunning announcement” could bring someone else back. Dana visits the house to deliver the news. Gee, think it’s the guy whose knee was examined throughout the episode? But that’ll happen quickly, because we’re also getting the first quarterfinal.
The first-round results:
- Kyle Noke (Liddell) def. Clayton McKinney (Ortiz), submission
- Brad Tavares (Liddell) def. James Hammortree (Ortiz), close decision
- Rich Attonito (Liddell) def. Kyacey Uscola (Ortiz), DQ
- Jamie “Crabman” Yager (Ortiz) def. Charles Blanchard (Liddell), TKO
- Josh Bryant (Liddell) def. Kris McCray (Ortiz), solid decision
- Nick Ring (Ortiz) def. Court McGee (Liddell), bogus decision
- Seth Baczynski (Ortiz) def. Joe Henle (Liddell), solid three-round decision
- Wild-card fight: Kyacey Uscola (Ortiz) vs. Kris McCray (Ortiz)
Advanced to quarterfinals: Court McGee (Liddell), replacing Rich Attonito (Liddell)