Alex “Bruce Leeroy” Caceres is giddy after beating Jeff Lentz. He veers between complimenting Lentz on a good fight and pointing out all the ways he was vastly superior. Among the dubious claims: Lentz’s kicks just grazed his afro.
Spencer Paige, to the camera: “I gotta give props to Jeff for not stabbing Bruce in the eye.”
Then someone tells Caceres: “Are you still talking? I stopped listening 10 minutes ago.” (I thought it was Paige again, but MMA Junkie says this was Kyle Watson, and since he’s blogging for them, I’ll defer.)
GSP brings in former wrestling world champion Gia Sissaouri to work with his guys. It’s humbling for fighters to get taken down over and over, but it seems productive and fun.
Koscheck’s team has considerably less fun, straining to keep up with the pace of the workout and getting a lecture about their attitudes.
The fight announcement comes early. GSP picks Michael Johnson, the coveted top pick, against Aaron Wilkinson, the Englishman who has a better ground game than most Wolfslair products but clearly isn’t one of the highly touted guys. Koscheck says Wilkinson is a “sleeper.” That’s not high praise.
In the first ad break, we get a plug for Spike’s “Brocktoberfest.” No word on whether Lesnar will be digitally inserted into Star Wars films.
After a fairly dull segment in which we learn that Johnson really wants to get into the UFC, Koscheck pulls his first prank on GSP, as he and another coach park their cars right up against his, supposedly making it impossible for him to get in. This is supposed to get under GSP’s skin. GSP, though, manages to squeeze into the car and laugh about it.
Koscheck’s session with Wilkinson, though, seems productive. Wilkinson is supposed to keep his feet moving and circle away from the fence if pressed there. Wilkinson says he’d feel comfortable taking Johnson down against the cage, a message made clearer by the producers’ decision to subtitle Wilkinson’s words. Apparently, we only understand American, not English.
We see both fighters make weight. Then comes a change-up — GSP asks Dana White to bring Mike Tyson to talk to his team. White obliges. GSP and Tyson then try to out-polite each other, passing compliments back and forth like neighbors talking about their gardens.
Wilkinson’s from Manchester, England, so Koscheck counters by bringing Ryan Giggs to chat with his fighter. (No, he didn’t — trust me when I say White would have no idea who Ryan Giggs is.)
The fight starts at 10:35 ET. Three-rounder?
The ref is Steve Mazzagatti, White’s least favorite ref but someone who hasn’t had an incident in a while.
First round: Johnson looks slightly better in the first half of the round and seems to be gaining control with a takedown and a few good punches midway through. But Wilkinson is well-drilled, and he takes down Johnson against the cage as promised. He keeps Johnson there the rest of the way and lands a few elbows to the side of his head.
Has to be 10-9 Wilkinson. As we saw last week, the Team GSP fighter is laboring against the Team Kos underdog.
Johnson starts well in the second, with a punch opening a cut over Wilkinson’s left eye. He follows up with a strong takedown and does some more damage on the ground. But Wilkinson once again gets a takedown against the cage, and it’s deja vu. This time, though, Johnson reverses it. He gets a few good blows in that position before they stand for some tired kickboxing. Johnson stuffs a takedown against the fence and reverses position.
Any reasonable judge would have this 19-19 at this point. And indeed, we’re going to the misnamed “sudden victory” round.
We have less than five minutes to go in the broadcast, so we should indeed have a “sudden victory.” And it’s Johnson who unloads early and often. A couple of wild punches stagger Wilkinson, and Johnson takes him down. He pounds him with a few good shots, then works around for the rear naked choke. Tap tap tap.
Tyson tells us he thought Wilkinson was the better boxer. GSP admits Johnson isn’t comfortable on his back. Makes you wonder how Johnson won.
So Johnson wins, but he’ll need to dial it up a notch to be a contender. Koscheck reminds Wilkinson of the wild-card system that could give him a second chance, and he seems deserving. He seems like the typical fighter who blossoms in TUF‘s challenging environment.
Next week: Tyson hangs around to talk with Team GSP. Maybe they should move him into the house. And Caceres provokes Magakian.
– Marc Stevens, who briefly wrestled for Kos when he was a college coach.
– Sevak Magakian, who overwhelmed JJ Ambrose for a decision in the prelim.
– Sako Chivitchian, whose judo national championships are greatly exaggerated but may still be a solid MMA fighter.
– Andy Main, who has a thin resume and barely got a few seconds of screen time in the prelims.
– Nam Phan, going surprisingly low for someone with a lot of experience and an impressive prelim win.
– LOST: Aaron Wilkinson, the Englishman with a surprising ground game for a Wolfslair product.
– LOST: Jeff Lentz, who demolished Dan Head in the prelim despite GSP dismissing his chances. Looked good in first round against Caceres before giving up submission.
– WON: Michael Johnson, highly sought after by both teams.
– Jonathan Brookins, who has a win in Bellator.
– Spencer Paige, who won the best of the prelim fights against Steve Magdaleno.
– WON: Alex “Bruce Leroy” Caceres, comb always in his hair. Comeback win by submission against Lentz.
– Kyle Watson, also going surprisingly low for his experience.
– Cody McKenzie, another guy who might’ve been expected to go earlier given his uncanny ability to beat everyone by guillotine.
– Dane Sayers, who broods over being the last pick.