The Ultimate Fighter: Season 13, Episode 5: Agent Cope

Len Bentley walks out of Brock Lesnar’s firm but relaxed tirade. He’s coaxed back in. Brock continues to chew out his team with the same tone and body language of someone discussing interior design, sitting back in a comfortable chair and speaking in monotone.

Brock wants someone to “wow” him. Chris did that. Charlie Rader, whose loss has prompted this lecture, apparently did not. Neither did Nordin Asrih, who left such a slight impression in his Episode 1 fight that it’s easy to forget he’s on the show.

Back in the house — Len says he’s not going to stay in the room and let someone he doesn’t care about go name-calling. He hates negative energy.

The fight announcement comes early. Junior dos Santos points out in confessional that his team has already beaten Brock’s top two picks, Len and Charlie. Junior sends¬†Mick Bowman to face Clay Harvison. Chuck O’Neil calls Clay a tough bastard. Len thinks it could be another highlight fight.

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MLSSoccer.com “Ramos Project” looks promising

Quick impressions on an impressive beta version of MLSSoccer.com: – Outstanding: Bottom navigation featuring the latest two offerings of regular features such as Talking Tactics, Armchair Analyst, The Throw-In, etc. Finding regular features on the site has been difficult until now. – Opta stats! Opta stats! And more Opta stats! Very nice. Now if those could be integrated with player profiles, we’d really be onto something. –¬†Player profiles have game logs that include tell you whether a player started, subbed or was left on the bench. Nice detail, though it’d be nice to know whether a player was omitted from … Continue reading MLSSoccer.com “Ramos Project” looks promising

2012 judo: No chops allowed

Sorry, Austin Powers fans, there is no such thing as a “judo chop.” Judo is a grappling sport, with throws, takedowns and submissions from chokes or armbars.

So it’s still a viable component of mixed martial arts, and a few athletes have made the leap from Olympic competition to the cage. Karo Parisyan is the long-standing prototype, but we’ve seen some more accomplished judo athletes such as Rick Hawn and Ronda Rousey make the jump more recently.

Whether the MMA boom sparks more spillover interest into judo, as it has in wrestling, is yet to be seen. Maybe it would help if Japan, the traditional home of judo and still its major power, didn’t have an MMA scene in decline.

As in boxing, we have two bronze medalists per event here, though it’s not quite a simple knockout tournament. If you lose to someone who advances far in the bracket, you’re eligible for a repechage bracket. Fight your way through that, and you can fight for one of two bronze medals. The new format in World Championships and 2012: Losing quarterfinalists square off to start the repechage, with winners facing losing semifinalists for bronze. Still doesn’t quite erase the luck of the draw, but it gives athletes a second chance of sorts.

Unlike a lot of sports, judo is truly global. When we say “Asia” is strong, we don’t just mean “China, Japan and the Koreas.” Mongolia and various countries ending in “-stan” are also strong. Europe also has a diverse group of world-class judokas. North Africa has a few contenders, and the Americas manage to break through every once in a while.

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2012 gymnastics: China takes show on the road

Some sports (track and field, most forms of skiing) are big in the Olympics and have well-established international competitions through the year. Some sports wallow in obscurity, even at the Games.

Then there’s gymnastics, one of the biggest sports in the Games but one shrouded in mystery the rest of the time. U.S. gymnasts stay busy with domestic events, some of which attract a couple of overseas athletes, but the sport doesn’t have the weekly showdowns of top names that some sports maintain each year. The international federation keeps world rankings, but Chinese and American gymnasts in particular are underrepresented.

Gymnastics does have an annual World Championship, so we have a few results to check. But don’t ask which countries have the best 15-year-olds training in secret, ready to be breakout stars in London.

China is always strong in gymnastics, but repeating their medal haul from Beijing would be quite an accomplishment.

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The Ultimate Fighter: Season 13, Episode 4: Underestimate this

Team Lesnar’s remaining fighters are “The Four Horsemen”: Tony Ferguson, Chuck O’Neil, Clay Harvison and Charlie Rader.

But Clay struggles in practice and says his head isn’t in it. Brock says Charlie also is lollygagging. Great Bull Durham shoutout.

To the house, where we’ve seen few shenanigans. Chuck is the jokester, clowning around with his buddy Charlie. Chuck also makes Charlie eat his vegetables. “What would I do without you?” Charlie asked. “You’d be at 183,” Chuck says.

Fight announcement comes early. Junior dos Santos picks Ramsey Nijem, whom he calls his No. 1 wrestler, to fight Charlie. Chuck says Charlie was a high school champion wrestler with hard hands. It’s a daring pick, definitely — Charlie has beaten a couple of quality opponents in Bellator and was Lesnar’s second pick.

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2012 fencing: My name is Inigo Montoya …

Another sport I covered in Beijing, and I can tell you first-hand that the action is a little faster than what you see in The Princess Bride, as marvelous as those sword-fighting scenes were. (Yes, fencers tend to be big fans of Mandy Patinkin’s work in that film.)

We don’t get another World Championship until October, but fencing persists in having even-year championships as well, so we have results from November. Fencing also has a vast array of World Cups and other events that count toward a world ranking, though such rankings often depend on staying active in little events rather than sitting home training for the big ones.

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2012 equestrian: Horse is a horse, of course

Equestrian events tend to be the distant cousin at the Olympics. We’re talking “Hong Kong to Beijing” distant. That’s slightly better than 1956, when the equestrian events were held in Stockholm (yes, Sweden) while the other events were in Melbourne (yes, Australia). Quarantine restrictions and other logistical hurdles often get in the way. Not so in London. Greenwich Park is pretty close to the center of the action. Equestrian fans might know how to comprehend a venue whose distance in miles from the Games’ epicenter is in single digits, not quadruple. One major distinction between equestrian and other Olympic events: … Continue reading 2012 equestrian: Horse is a horse, of course