Tonight, we’ll learn the rest of the opening-round matchups. We have two fights, which will leave just two guys remaining to face off next week.
But before we get to that, we have to watch Team Koscheck acting like a bunch of NFL wide receivers dancing after that fourth-quarter TD pass with their team down 31-7.
First, Koscheck tries to tell Michael Johnson he shouldn’t have won his fight. Johnson says the MMA equivalent of “scoreboard.”
The much-ballyhooed “Team Koscheck goes too far” shenanigans don’t start until Koscheck shows up at the house and wanders out to the balcony to continue feuding with Johnson. For some reason — and maybe USA TODAY will be able to ask about this — mature veteran Nam Phan is out on the balcony by Koscheck’s side.
Johnson calls Marc Stevens a “mini-Koscheck.” Stevens: “Hey, I’d be happy to be the mini-No. 2 fighter in the world.” Koscheck smiles at this, apparently forgetting for the moment that his goal is to be No. 1, and he’ll soon be fighting Georges St. Pierre to determine that.
Koscheck, who is a good guy in other circumstances, usually uses trash talk as part of the mental game or to sell a fight. Hard to see what advantage he’s gaining by getting his team into such shenanigans.
In fairness to Team Trashcheck, GSP’s crew also has a short memory, claiming they didn’t rub it in when they won. Maybe they were sleeping while Alex “Bruce Leeroy” Caceres was in full bloom.
Kos sends top draft pick Marc Stevens against guillotine specialist Cody McKenzie, who gives Kos a friendly tap on the chin as they finish the staredown. Sako Chivitchian thinks that’s disrespectful. Not sure what Sako thinks of Team Koscheck’s antics at the house.
McKenzie sticks around again for another playful exchange with Koscheck, who genuinely seems to enjoy losing trash-talk battles.
For the first time this season, the two opponents really don’t like each other. Stevens calls McKenzie an uneducated punk. McKenzie says Stevens has been cocky and should be knocked off his perch.
After a surprisingly well-dressed Dana White does the intro, Steve Mazzagatti gets us started and … Stevens shoots for the takedown! Against a guy who wins all his fights by guillotine! Guess what happens in about 15 seconds? Stevens, Koscheck’s top gun, goes limp quickly, and McKenzie is already releasing the choke as Mazzagatti steps in.
GSP then gives a nice speech on behavior, urging his team not to retaliate against a shocked Team Koscheck.
Next fight: “Jonathan Brookins is my secret weapon,” GSP says. Bellator might argue that he’s not a secret.
GSP must choose between the two Armenian fighters, both looking fierce in fights and the house, on the Team Koscheck roster. He opts for Sevak Magakian.
So now we also know next week’s fight, by process of elimination: Final pick Dane Sayers vs. former judo star Sako Chivitchian.
Meet Jonathan! He’s a thoughtful young man who enjoys meditation and learning about himself through competition. And he accidentally bonks heads with GSP, who gets a cut on his eyebrow. Koscheck is happy to see that.
Moving on — Koscheck asks Sevak if he has any knives on him. Then he says Sevak has a great personality. Jeffrey Lentz: “He’s twisted. I love him.”
Sevak, who has trained with Sako for eight years, says fighting is in Armenians’ blood. We’ll need to get Alecko Eskandarian to weigh in on this.
Time for our second fight of the broadcast, and we know it’ll be brief — it’s 10:54 p.m. ET. Josh Rosenthal is our ref.
Unlike McKenzie and Stevens, they touch gloves. Sevak is more aggressive early, and Brookins turns it against him, acting like he’s going to shoot for a takedown. In quick succession, he attacks Sevak, flips on top of him and drapes himself on the standing Sevak’s back. From there, it’s a matter of time before Brookins sinks in the rear naked choke. Sevak falls, and it’s over.
Sevak holds out hope for a wild-card slot, but based on what we’ve seen so far, Aaron Wilkinson has to be first in line. Spencer Paige is the only GSP fighter to lose so far, and he’d be a worthy pick, but his injuries might keep him out.
Next week is the coaches’ challenge, and White chooses the national sport of Canada — baseball? Wouldn’t that be like asking Dan Henderson to play cricket against Michael Bisping?
– LOST: Marc Stevens, who briefly wrestled for Kos when he was a college coach. His fight against McKenzie also was brief.
– LOST: Sevak Magakian, who overwhelmed JJ Ambrose for a decision in the prelim. Won 7 of last 8.
– Sako Chivitchian, whose judo national championships are greatly exaggerated but may still be a solid MMA fighter. He went 10 years between MMA bouts while pursuing judo.
– LOST: Andy Main, who has a thin resume and barely got a few seconds of screen time in the prelims.
– WON: 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.
– WON: Jonathan Brookins, who has a win in Bellator and a loss to Jose Aldo. Bellator and the UFC have gone to court over his rights. Also has win over Yves Jabouin.
– LOST: Spencer Paige, who won the best of the prelim fights against Steve Magdaleno. The only guys to beat him (Anthony Morrison, Josh Grispi) are now in WEC. Injured in loss to Phan, so wild-card chances are dim.
– WON: Alex “Bruce Leroy” Caceres, comb always in his hair. Comeback win by submission against Lentz.
– WON: Kyle Watson, also going surprisingly low for his experience. Has losses to Spencer Fisher and Bart Palaszewski.
– WON: Cody McKenzie, another guy who might’ve been expected to go earlier given his uncanny ability to beat everyone (nine straight before prelims) by guillotine.
– Dane Sayers, who broods over being the last pick after pulling out a submission win from jaws of defeat in prelims.