The Ultimate Fighter: Season 13, Episode 2: Bigger upset than VCU

In our last episode, the blogosphere panicked because Brock Lesnar was boring. Even worse, Myles Jury was hurt and replaced by Chuck “Cold Stew” O’Neil. Wait, wait — that’s “Cold STEEL.” And Junior Dos Santos put his top pick, Shamar Bailey, against Lesnar’s last pick, Nordin Asrih, with predictable results.

We see the credits for the first time, and they have a new style. I like it. A little less chaotic.

Dos Santos makes his guys run in what appear to be WWI gas masks. He’s thinking Javier Torres (third pick) or Ramsey Nijem (fourth) might go next.

Keon Caldwell, the last draft pick, is “mentally struggling,” we’re told. The coaches push him. Dos Santos tries to encourage him. Keon says he needs to throw up, which the English-impaired Dos Santos doesn’t understand until Keon makes a universal motion for “You don’t want to be standing in front of me right now.”

Lesnar says all the guys here lack wrestling, and that’s what they’re working on. He says you can’t make chicken salad out of chicken (bleep), and you can’t polish turds.

Keon’s daughter is 6. He misses her and says he wants to go home. Seems like it’s been a few seasons since someone wanted to go home. Dana White walks in and says he’s looking for Keon. Uh oh. Ad break.

Dana asks if he really wants to be here. He says yes. If you think that’s not the end of this subplot, you’re right.

Fight announcement: Javier Torres (Junior’s third pick) against Chris Cope (Brock’s second-to-last pick). Dos Santos’ team thinks Cope was shaking during staredown. Junior’s assistant, Lew Polley, has trained with Cope at Team Quest and has a litany of weaknesses to pass along.

Torres’ backstory: 11 years ago, in a Mexican market, he found a UFC DVD and told his mom he wanted to be there. His mom slapped him upside the head. That might be the last fight he has lost.

Another hard training for Keon, and he calls Junior aside. This time, Junior doesn’t try to talk him out of leaving, saying family is most important. “Not good choice, Keon,” Junior says in confessional. Odds that he’ll fight in a Zuffa promotion again: 1,000-1. (The only reason it’s lower than 100,000-1: Gabe Ruediger got the call after being summarily dismissed from Season 5 for failing to make weight.)

Dana says the only bright side is that it happened early enough to get a “real” guy in there. The big question looking ahead: Does this mean Dana will reinstate the “fight your way into the house” format next season? (Personally, I hope not — they lost a couple of good potential cast members that way.)

Team Lesnar training: Brock says Cope doesn’t wow him. He gives an “Any Given Sunday” speech. Literally. He also points to his own losses to say anyone can lose. And anyone can win.

Back in the house, which we’ve barely seen, Chris is training in the bathroom. The rest of the team sounds underconfident.

In the van to the fight, Chris reads a letter from his girlfriend saying this is his destiny. This was predetermined. It’s all mapped out. She knows this isn’t pro wrestling, right?

Also his girlfriend’s daughter gave him a stuffed animal.

Round 1: Herb Dean’s the ref. They touch gloves. Javier stands southpaw and slaps himself in the face. He then charges Chris and gets a clinch against the cage. Chris throws some knees but can’t get out of the clinch. Javier does … nothing. Chris finally gets double underhooks and gets out. 3:15 to go. Wild exchange. Javier presses forward again, but Chris circles to get the clinch against the cage. But that’s brief, and Javier trips him. Chris gets to his feet but is back in the clinch. They break, and Javier lands a punch as they break. Chris answers with a leg kick. They do the clinch dance at the cage again. They break with 12 seconds left, just as Javier lands a big knee. Chris is cut under his left eye. Probably 10-9 Torres, but not as one-sided as everyone thought it would be.

Round 2: Chris throws, Javier clinches, Chris reverses. Clinch dance again. Chris lands knees. Javier knows this isn’t Greco-Roman wrestling, right? You don’t win by holding a clinch for three minutes. They break with 2:50 left. Javier tries Superman punch. Chris throws head kick. As Chris gains slight edge on the feet, we clinch dance again. They just had the country music awards in Vegas — maybe a fiddler can stop by so they can have a square dance. Advice comes in from somewhere: “You have a minute and a half to actually do something!” Good exchange follows, and Javier lands a stiff leg kick. Chris lands against the cage, and it’s back to the clinch. Chris lands a couple of short rights in the clinch. Round ends, and I’d give it 10-9 Cope.

Judges have indeed declared it a draw. We get a third round.

Exchange of kicks and … a clinch! Chris then trips Javier but can’t keep him down. Chris is landing knees, possibly to the groin. Javier convinces Herb Dean that one knee went low, and Javier gets time to recover. Chris repeatedly yells “Whoo!” from his corner. He clearly thinks Javier is exhausted, and he’s not alone. They restart. Chris is more aggressive in the standup. Chris controls a clinch. This is shocking.  Javier tries another Superman punch, as if trying to turn the fight in one moment. Doesn’t happen, and Chris again controls the clinch, landing short blows. In the final 10 seconds, Javier tries one last Superman punch with little effect. Should be 10-9 Cope.

Dos Santos talks up Javier’s good points. Lesnar says they orchestrated the waltz for two rounds. The judges get it right — Chris Cope wins a shocker. Lesnar reprises his “chicken salad/chicken (bleep)” and “Any Given Sunday” lines.

Lesnar hails Cope’s perseverance and heart. Dos Santos tells Torres he’ll come back strong. The rest of the team hears celebration next door and gets mad.

Next week — we meet another alternate, Chris ticks off his teammates and Coach Lew drives a training session so hard that someone gets a massive cut and Dos Santos has to tell him off.

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Beau Dure

The guy who wrote a bunch of soccer books and now runs a Gen X-themed podcast while substitute teaching and continuing to write freelance stuff.

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