Already at the eighth episode? And we still don’t know why Tito isn’t fighting Chuck. We still don’t know if any two fighters will be healthy enough to fight in the finale. We still don’t know if anyone eventually tapes Crabman’s mouth shut.
We do know the wild-card matchup. One wrinkle: Kyacey Uscola gets special dispensation to take a phone call from his wife, who has just delivered their baby boy. It’s a touching scene. Kris McCray, his opponent, sincerely congratulates him. No trash-talking going into this one. McCray, humbled by his earlier loss, says he’s probably the underdog. No, Kris, you’re not.
Steve Mazzagatti is our ref, and we’re underway before the first ad break! That has to be a record.
Uscola seems looser and more confident early, letting his hands go a bit. McCray answers with kicks. Then an Uscola leg kick catches McCray badly, and his corner urges him to pounce on his grimacing opponent. But McCray recovers quickly and lands some shots against the cage.
It’s one of the quietest fights in the show’s history. Tito, as promised, is keeping his mouth shut, not willing to pick sides between teammates. Other fighters are also staying out of it. You hear one or two guys from each corner.
McCray catches Uscola in the groin with a knee, and Mazzagatti breaks them up, giving Uscola time to recover and, more importantly, escape from being pinned against the cage. But McCray presses the action again and easily takes the first round.
Second round — McCray gets a good grasp of Uscola and tosses him down, landing in side control. He gets an arm free and works on the submission. Tap tap tap. Crabman runs in, yelling, “Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!” McCray, though, quickly hugs Uscola, who walks off disappointed.
We quickly shift to the absurdity of the coaches sitting with Dana White to pick the quarterfinal matchups. Dana asks Chuck to name the four best fighters, and he mumbles that he doesn’t know. Tito knows: Kyle Noke (Liddell), Brad Tavares (Liddell), Nick Ring (Ortiz), Jamie “Crabman” Yager (Ortiz). He’s right, and Dana agrees. Actually an easy call — three of the other four quarterfinalists lost, either in the prelims (Seth Baczynski, called back to replace Chris Camozzi) or the first round (McCray, McGee).
Chuck says Court McGee deserved a third round against Ring. Tito suggests they go ahead and match them up. Chuck doesn’t like that, and Dana hesitates. Tito complains, and Dana agrees. Then Chuck complains. The rest of the conversation is too childish to recap. Dana says it’s a no-win situation, and he’s right. The conversation makes the Rashad-Rampage conference call sound like a Ph.D. defense.
Dana takes it on, and we do indeed get the Ring-McGee rematch. Then it’s Kyle Noke vs. Kris McCray, a very good one. Brad Tavares takes on Seth Baczynski. That leaves Crabman vs. Josh Bryant. No intrateam matchups.
Forrest Griffin stops by the house! Before he can say anything clever, we find ourselves in an infomercial for the video game UFC Undisputed 2010. I have indeed tried the game, and it reminds me that video games are far too complicated for me now. The dudes in the house, being younger, have no trouble with it. I’d get it for Wii, but I’d fear that I’d dive into my new TV attempting a takedown.
Nick Ring is at the doctor’s office getting more bad news on his knee. He’ll need to have another surgery at some point. And if doesn’t have it now, he could mess up his knee a good bit more. He talks about the tough decision he has to make, but Dana’s presence at the front door of the house — shown often in the promos for this episode — hint very strongly that he has made the decision to drop out. So will we finally see Kimbo Slice back in the tournament? What? Wrong season? Sorry …
Dana asks Nick to talk, and they go to the hot-tub area. Dana said he talked to the doctor, and as usual, he heard only part of the diagnosis. He thinks Ring is OK to fight if he wants. Ring knows better.
Dana delivers the news to the rest of the guys. Henle, the man from business school, looks around and counts the healthy fighters. There aren’t many. But James Hammortree runs out after Dana and says he wants in, and he’s healthy. He’s in. Henle’s mad. He says he would’ve chased Dana out the door if he thought it would’ve made a difference. But Henle also thought Hammortree was hurt. Henle tells Dana he bleeping wants in if any other bleeping guy gets hurt, which Dana is glad to hear. Of course, there is literally no one left — Henle made reference to Charles Blanchard being hurt. The only other option is Uscola, who has lost twice.
McGee and Hammortree walk to the cage for their second chances, possibly making this the first time four defeated fighters have fought in one TUF episode. As we go to another ad break, we know this isn’t going to the judges — it’s 10:51.
Herb Dean is our ref, and we’re off. McGee shoots, Hammortree sprawls. They trade a bit, and McGee catches a Hammortree kick. He gets a clinch on Hammortree and eventually pulls him down, but Hammortree gets up without absorbing too much punishment. Hammortree looks a little better standing, but McGee gets him down again. And again, it’s brief. McGee misses another takedown attempt, then tries a spinning back kick. Hammortree walks through and pulls McGee down. We’ve only got 19 seconds left. Must be a wild ending.
Then, checking the guide, we find this episode actually runs to 11:06. That didn’t mess up anyone’s DVR, did it?
First round should go to McGee for all the takedowns and a few strikes, but this could go either way. Round 2 starts with a brief exchange and a Hammortree shot. A very ill-advised, ill-executed shot. McGee grabs the guillotine, standing. Hammortree taps and falls as McGee releases it. The man with the Scott Ian beard moves on. Hammortree calls it a rookie mistake. White calls McGee the dark horse.
Next episode: We finally get some inkling about Tito’s troubles, plus two quarterfinal bouts and a controversial decision that starts something like a bench-clearing baseball brawl. Seems a little scarier when you have Chuck Liddell involved instead of Pedro Martinez.
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: Kris McCray (Ortiz) def. Kyacey Uscola (Ortiz), submission
Court McGee replaces Rich Attonito, injury. James Hammortree replaces Nick Ring, injury
- Court McGee (Liddell) def. James Hammortree (Ortiz), submission
- Kyle Noke (Liddell) vs. Kris McCray (Ortiz)
- Brad Tavares (Liddell) vs. Seth Baczynski (Ortiz)
- Josh Bryant (Liddell) vs. Jamie “Crabman” Yager (Ortiz)