Who decided that a bantam was lighter than a feather? Never really understood that.
Next matchup: Stephen Bass (Bisping featherweight) vs. Dennis Bermudez (Miller). We learn this from Louis Gaudinot, who tells his coach Bisping, who heard it from (sigh) John Dodson. My man. The mole.
Stephen doesn’t want to do a third round in training. Bisping pushes him through it. This is what we in the media call “foreshadowing.”
Bisping doesn’t show for the fight announcement. Not the first time he has spaced out on a TUF commitment (see USA-UK season). Mayhem gets a fight dummy to stand in for him and does a pretty good voice impression. Bisping’s absence is never explained.
The fight announcement is … Bass vs. Bermudez. Shocker.
We know from Episode 1 that Bermudez cut short his wrestling career to do right by the woman he got pregnant, only to find a couple of years later than he didn’t get her pregnant. More relevant to this conversation — he has beaten UFC veteran Shannon Gugerty.
Bass has a black eye from training, which Bisping thinks makes him look mean. Bass insists no one is going to lay and pray on him.
10:08 p.m., and we’re already walking to the cage. Well, they said they were showcasing fights this season. Bass is from the fighting town of Savannah, Ga. Fighting? I’m sorry — I meant “beautiful historic district and hellacious St. Patrick’s Day party” town. This isn’t Athens. Bass is 10-0, at least, but he hasn’t fought anyone.
Stock speech from Dana, top-class referee Josh Rosenthal takes charge of the proceedings, and we’re off. It’s a bit of kickboxing with a feeling-out process at first. Then Dennis gets him against the cage. They each have one arm locked around the other, using the free hand to punch. But Dennis takes him down to Bisping’s consternation. More to Bisping’s consternation — Stephen sets up guard rather than trying to get right back up. Dennis unleashes a couple of minutes of ground-and-pound while Bisping yells expletives and “Stand up!” With 1:10 left, Stephen gives up his back. He makes a slight effort to stand at last, but Dennis gets the hooks in. Before long, Dennis has Stephen flattened out, and Rosenthal is yelling a “Fight back!” warning. Stephen manages to flop back onto his back and do just enough to convince Rosenthal to let him survive the round.
Quick shot of since-departed Octagon Girl Brittney Palmer before the ad break.
Between rounds, Bisping reminds Bass to get the bleep up. Round 2 starts with Dennis snapping Stephen’s head with a punch, then dropping him with a knee. He follows up with a massive flurry, though, not much lands. Somehow Stephen gets a leglock attempt out of it, but he can’t do much with it. Bisping again yells at him to get up. He does, and Dennis drops him. Stephen turtles up, and Miller starts telling Rosenthal to stop the fight. He has a point. Bermudez decides if Rosenthal won’t stop it, he’ll have to force a submission, so he fishes for an arm. Proper armlock technique eludes him, so he flattens Bass out again. FINALLY, at the 2:02 mark, Rosenthal steps in.
Puzzlingly late stoppage for a veteran ref. Bass was never, ever in that fight. Bermudez brags that he only got hit once or twice. Bass looks like Jackson Pollack took the reds and purples and went haywire on his face. Bisping’s mad.
Immediately to another fight announcement! Miller sends Dustin Pague out against … well, we’ll guess from the green wig that he’s fighting Louis Gaudinot. (Which, of course, Bisping already knew because of Dodson.)
Pague is from Sterling, Va., near Dulles airport, and he fought near me last spring on a UWC card that also featured castmates Dodson and Diego Brandao, but I didn’t make it to that one. He had lost three straight at that point, including two to TUF alumni Jeff Lentz and Din Thomas. Gaudinot is 5-1, with all his fights in Jersey promotion Ring of Combat. (Didn’t have to go far to the TUF tryouts in Newark.)
In the ad break, Spike again creeps me out with another Paranormal Activity 3 ad. I resist the urge to run upstairs and hug my kids.
Back from the break, Team Miller realizes Bisping knows the matchups. Camera turns to a quiet Dodson. But Miller doesn’t care.
Pague says he got the nickname “The Disciple” because he’s religious and is fighting to glorify God. He and Miller could have some really interesting conversation about religion.
Bass wanted a word with Bisping, who thinks he’s going to apologize for not following the game plan. From Bisping’s delivery, it’s pretty clear the conversation went a different route. Bisping brings him in with the rest of the team and tells them Bass said it’s HIS fault. Bass denies saying that, though he insists the coach could’ve gone easier on him in training before the fight. The rest of Bisping’s team, surely realizing they don’t want to endure this sort of argument, tells Bisping they’re with him.
Bisping hypes up Gaudinot, his No. 1 pick.
Back in the house, Pague is praying in a quiet room. Louis is napping in a bedroom that seems to have no curtains. That can’t be good.
“God willing, nobody gets hurt in there,” Pague says. Gaudinot says he came here for two reasons — to chew bubblegum and to win. If he can do both at the same time …
Pague is WAY bigger, with a huge reach advantage. Rosenthal is again the ref.
Round 1: Dustin jabs, but Louis is able to get in and throw uppercuts. Bodes ill for my fellow Northern Virginian. But he throws some big knees that Louis only partially blocks, then flings down the green-haired one. Louis, though, gets up and again is able to get close. Then a highlight: Louis does a spinning back kick, and the much taller Dustin somehow ducks under. Almost ballet. On a less artistic note, Dustin’s bleeding from the nose. Dustin starts throwing kicks up the middle, but Louis is still bold enough to try a spinning back fist that lands, though not cleanly. Dustin pushes Louis against the cage in front of Bisping and punishes him with knees and elbows. When they get back to the center. Louis responds with a knee and shoots for a takedown. Dustin reverses him into the cage and again goes with the knees. Dustin backs away, and Louis swings at nothing. Dustin tags him again a couple of times to finish a clear 10-9 round in his favor.
Round 2: Dustin gets Louis down again, and Louis just has That Look. The look of someone who knows this isn’t going to end well. He gets up and battles for position against the cage, but Dustin rattles him with an elbow. It’s 10:55, and we have 3:30 left in the round, so I’m guessing we’ll have a stoppage here. Dustin piles on with more knees, dropping Louis again. When Louis gives up his back, blood drips from his face onto the canvas. Dustin works for the rear naked choke and gets it on the second attempt.
Mayhem 4, Bisping 0. Mayhem just took out Bisping’s top guy. Still think Mayhem drafted badly, Michael?
Lots of good sportsmanship after the fight. Everyone seems to respect Louis, and Bisping has no harsh words at all.
Camera cuts to a quiet Dodson in Miller’s dressing room. Curious.
Scenes from next week: Mayhem discovers the mole and decides to keep his fight plans away from him. One fighter tosses stuff angrily. Then it seems to get really interesting at the fight announcement and in the cage, with Herb Dean trying to keep order while Bisping, Miller and some fighters do a “controversial boxing finish” impression.