So the ratings are down again. That’s surprising. Isn’t a Twilight movie the perfect lead-in to a men’s-only show about people fighting without vampire teeth and sparkles? Going from Team Jacob vs. Team Edward to Team Nelson vs. Team Carwin doesn’t do it for FX viewers? These kids today … can’t understand them.
While we’re complaining about strange decisions on or about The Ultimate Fighter, let’s peek over at TUF: Smashes, the thoroughly entertaining UK-vs-Australia matchup you really should be watching online. I’ve never understood the logic behind making semifinal matchups. Usually, Dana White brings in the fighters and coaches, then fakes everyone out by going in a different direction. That’s what he did here.
Australia earned three of the four welterweight spots, so two Aussies will need to face off. Two of them immediately said, “Oh, I just want to beat up British scum, sir!” Benny Alloway did it differently. Asked who would be the easiest win, he said Xavier Lucas. That makes sense, since the X-Man was the one who got the free pass to the semifinals after teammate Manny Rodriguez was hurt in his win, replacement Aussie James Vainikolo couldn’t shed a whole bunch of weight in a few hours without spending the rest of the season in hospital, and the Dana White/George Sotiropoulos brain trust stuck it to the UK’s Valentino Petrescu once again.
So Alloway was probably correct, but not politically correct. And word leaks back to the house, and he’s in trouble.
(But first, Dana incorrectly tells the X-Man that both Aussies picked him! That’s not really what Robert Whittaker said.)
Then we get the logical semifinal matchups — Alloway vs. new enemy Xavier Lucas, plus Robert Whittaker against remaining Brit Brad Scott. What? Oh, no — we actually have Alloway vs. Scott, while Lucas and Whittaker have to face each other.
The lightweight bracket had a head-scratcher as well. All four UK fighters advanced, but Mike Wilkinson was injured. Rather than give Colin Fletcher a bye to the final or give Team UK a replacement, Dana White brings back Richie Vaculik, one of two healthy Aussies. Dana says he’s doing that because Team UK broke the rules by obtaining and using a phone. But Colin Fletcher is one of the UK fighters who stayed away from the phone. (Norman Parke and Brendan Loughnane, the other semifinalists, were guilty as charged.)
If Vaculik gets lucky against Fletcher and gets to the final, it’ll be a travesty. Fletcher is clearly the class of the lightweight fighters, and he didn’t break any rules. (It’s still OK to go streaking around the tennis court, right?)
Smashes rant over … back to the USA, where we’re at that point of each TUF season when we realize the bout between the coaches isn’t going to happen …
First, Mike Ricci justifies his decision to fight Canadian buddy Michael Hill, saying this is a competition, and the people in the house are just numbers to him. Danny Downes has already pointed to the problem that undermines Ricci’s case: He’s wearing sunglasses inside. What is this, a poker tournament?
But we go over to the intra-Carwin matchup first, where Bristol Marunde, being a veteran and someone with functioning eyes, realizes that Neil Magny has a longer reach than he does. They’re not just teammates — they’re bunkmates.
Hey, we didn’t see the weigh-in? How do we know they made it?
Round 1: Marunde fares pretty well, ducking under Magny’s punches and throwing uppercuts. Magny keeps backing up and finally falls prey to a takedown. But Magny gets up, and somewhere along the way, Marunde got a cut in his eyebrow that seems to be bothering him.
Round 2: Magny gets slightly the better of the standup, but Marunde catches a kick and kicks Magny’s other leg out from under him. Then he lands in Magny’s guard. After 30 seconds or so, he stands, but Neil isn’t able to kick him away and get up. Marunde tries to leap down in side control but can’t get it, and Magny stands. Then Magny gets a takedown of his own, getting into Marunde’s half-guard. And Magny is better able to land some punches and the occasional elbow. Marunde flips over and escapes, then comes out firing with 30 seconds left.
No sudden-victory round. It’s unanimous for Neil.
Seems a little harsh to me. I thought Bristol might have won the first. Dana White says he gave that round to Magny but could see the case for Marunde. But if you’re a fan of 10-10 rounds or the half-point scoring system, then Magny wins 20-19 or 19.5-19. Under the 10-point system, it’s questionable but not unjust.
Marunde is happy with his performance. And he should be. Probably the best fight of the season.
Immediately to the second quarterfinal, and this time, we see the weigh-in. Igor asks for a towel screen so he can make 171. Carwin is very confident in Igor.
The staredown is interesting. Igor, a bit taller, gets his nose in Colton’s face and nods his head. Colton shakes his head, as if they’re saying “Yes” and “No.” They bump noses, someone says not to (bleeping) touch me, someone says I’m gonna touch you tomorrow, and Igor shoves. Colton gets right back. Igor shoves again. They’re broken up.
Somewhere in there, Colton said something that was bleeped. And maybe that bleep means something bleeping different in Brazil.
“Roy’s sitting on the bench ordering popcorn and peanuts and egging it on. What a dick.” Wow! Something quotable from Carwin! That should really set the tone for his fight with Nels … oh … right.
Outside the case, Igor should be scared to fight me, Colton says. He’s in the military. And there’s some special military stuff that you can’t use in the cage. Like groin shots.
The tale of the tape tells us Igor has a five-inch reach advantage and much more experience.
They do not touch gloves.
Round 1: Igor, who apparently did not see the “Keys to Victory” saying he needs to keep the fight standing, goes for the takedown. But Colton takes him down. Colton spends the next four minutes deftly switching between dominant positions, occasionally pausing to punch Igor a few times.
Round 2: Colton gets him down again, and unless Igor pulls off a submission somehow, this going to be Colton’s fight. Igor does not. This is not a hard fight to judge.
Next week: Look, will you just watch? The fights are getting better. The drama in the house is interesting. Maybe the editors will even let us see the Diaz brothers when they show up to coach with Nelson.