Roland Delorme’s foot looks nasty, and he’s despondent. He’s supposed to be getting ready for a fight against TJ Dillashaw.
Chute Boxe pioneer Rafael Cordeiro comes in to join Mayhem’s training. John Dodson in particular seems entranced as he watches Cordeiro teach.
Bisping brings in a special guest of his own — Tito Ortiz. Akira is thrilled. Ortiz gives a speech that seems geared toward elementary school students, but then he gives a ground-and-pound lesson. Marcus Brimage is stunned that Tito has such a big head. He means that literally.
Akira and Diego Brandao, both Bisping featherweights, decide to teach “draft-dodger” TJ Dillashaw a lesson in training. Diego gets TJ in some nasty submissions, including a kneebar. Akira gets a little rough in sparring, which TJ avenges with a nice slam. Marcus wasn’t initially involved, but he gets ticked when TJ starts roughing him up.
“I didn’t know there was a deeper reason,” Bisping says of the rough stuff. Akira tells him later the plan was to knock TJ out, which Bisping does not appreciate. The coach gives TJ a night off.
Delorme gets cleared to fight. And some good news — having an infection helped him keep his weight down, so he won’t have to cut as much before facing TJ.
Prank time! Somehow, Mayhem gets a road crew to put jersey walls around the Escalade of Bisping assistant Tiki Ghosn. Mayhem spray-paints a couple of red Ms to get the point across. He also paints 12-3-2011 — the date he’ll face Bisping.
The weigh-in is sponsored by the Harold and Kumar 3D film.
We learn more about Roland. He sold a restaurant outside Winnipeg. Not mentioned: He impressed at his audition by cussing out the producers.
TJ was a college wrestler at Cal State Fullerton. We aren’t told anything particularly interesting about him. That might not be an editing oversight.
Steve Mazzagatti is our ref, and off we go. TJ takes him down right away, but Roland surprisingly gets back up right away. TJ goes again, and Roland goes for a guillotine. That’s a miscalculation that allows TJ go get on top. TJ quickly passes to side control, and the chances of an upset are dimming. But Roland escapes again. TJ throws a hard uppercut. But he prefers takedowns, and he drags Roland down against the cage, taking his back in the process. TJ starts to go for the rear naked choke, but Roland fends that off and flips to his back, keeping TJ in half-guard. TJ does some ground-and-pound, though not with much authority. They scramble again, and TJ goes for a difficult choke from a strange angle. Roland gets up once again and lands a decent combo, then fends off another takedown attempt. TJ trips him into a scramble and again winds up on top at the end of a round he won rather easily, even if he pounded the mat more often than his opponent.
Round 2 starts with a TJ knockdown off a powerful right hand. Roland tries to recover, and TJ again goes for a fancy choke before settling on the devastating technique known as “laying on someone.” But he progresses to the side and rakes a few elbows on Roland’s face, which is finally starting to show some wear. TJ finally gets a more conventional rear naked choke. Roland was never in it, and the side of his face is swollen pretty badly.
For once, we have no shenanigans in the cage after a Bisping victory. We go straight to semifinal picks, where they bring in the fighters. Bedford wants Dodson to pay him back for his treachery. The editors don’t spend much time on the featherweights.
The coaches actually agree on the picks, continuing the most subdued showing from Bisping all season. Maybe his most subdued showing in three seasons as a coach and fighter.
The picks are:
TJ Dillashaw vs. Dustin Pague
John Dodson vs. Johnny Bedford – Dodson says Bedford is too lanky to deal with him. Bedford has been ripping Dodson at USA TODAY all season.
Akira Corassani vs. Dennis Bermudez – Akira says Dennis is a wrestler who’s scared of his standup. Yeah, Dennis is going to walk through him. And Akira seems a little less popular in the house these days.
Diego Brandao vs. Bryan Caraway – the phenom vs. the veteran.
Next week, we see Akira get his comeuppance. Maybe. This isn’t scripted, you know.