The Ultimate Fighter 16: The final recap

The final episode of TUF Smashes, the UK-vs.-Australia season, also concluded a few days ago. The last episode featured good-natured toasts between two teams who have come to respect each other, then a stellar submission by Colin Fletcher. Maybe Fletcher’s fight against the far smaller Richie Vaculik looked like a giraffe fighting a gnat, but give actor/surfer Vaculik some credit for taking the fight to him.

We also saw Valentino Petrescu showcasing his juggling skills from his circus days. And a lot of laughter. If you saw any of these guys on a fight card, you’d be likely to root for them.

Back to the USA. Yes, we have to.

Team Nelson seems unhappy. Joey Rivera says he feels “jaded” by Roy’s practices.

The word “jaded” can mean “worn out or worried, as by overwork or overuse,” but the team has griped all season over a lack of practice time, so that can’t be it. Another meaning: “dulled or satiated by overindulgence.” Is that some sort of crack about Roy’s belly?

Rivera also complains that there was no synergy. OK, now we’re in a Dilbert cartoon. Maybe Roy should’ve proactively enabled his team to feel empowered to streamline operations into a client-based operation. Bingo!

Of course, we don’t get much of a discussion of Nelson’s assistant coaches, one of whom is fighting for the UFC lightweight championship Saturday night. Well, maybe a passing reference to the Skrap Pack.

Then we go straight to the fights. Colton Smith fights in the second-tightest shorts ever seen in the Octagon without losing a bet (tightest: Mike Easton) and wears down Jon Manley in the 12th fight out of 13 this season to go the distance. And just as the Knockout of the Season bonus is about to go unclaimed, Mike Ricci knocks Neil Magny cold with an elbow. Magny awakes and starts grappling with referee Steve Mazzagatti, thinking he’s still in a fight.

Ricci says he choked up a bit afterward because he hurt a friend of his. Somewhere in Canada, Michael Hill is throwing a shoe at a TV screen, remembering the days when HE was Ricci’s BFF.

So the final features the ultrasmug Ricci, who threw fellow Canadian Hill under the bus, against Smith, who won his prelim after he faked the traditional touch of gloves at the beginning. In fairness, Smith seemed to be a good guy in the house, but the “liberal tree-huggers” among my neighbors would like a word with him.

The top talent of the season is clearly Danny Downes. No, he wasn’t on the show, but the fighter is a terrific episode recapper.

Someone might surprise us. Smith and Ricci could mature. Magny is one to watch, even if Dana White has followed through on his threat to keep all these guys off the finale. Manley and Sam Alvey have a bit of potential.

But this fall’s TUF experience raises a big question: If the UFC is running a good solid version of The Ultimate Fighter somewhere else on the planet, why do an inferior version at “home”?

The Ultimate Fighter 16, Episode 11: Blame Canada!

Time for the showdown of friends and teammates — Jon Manley and Joey Rivera. They praise each other and hug. And Team Carwin thinks Team Nelson hasn’t bonded …

Colton Smith is cornering Manley. Cameron Diffley is cornering Rivera. Dana White is giddy. Denny’s is the sponsor. Herb Dean is the ref. They’re both 7-1. We haven’t heard anything from Julian Lane yet. This is exciting stuff.

After some standing exchanges, Manley rushes into Rivera and pushes him to the cage. Smith and Diffley keep up steady streams of positive reinforcement, like coaches who just walked out of a Positive Coaching Alliance workshop. (Hey, it’s a good program. Based on John Wooden’s ideals, so you can’t say it’s not old-school.)

Rivera reverses and gets a grip on a guillotine, but Manley reverses and finally gets the takedown. But somehow, he ends up in awful positions. The momentum swings back and forth like a table tennis referee’s eyes following the ball. (Sorry — I’ve seen that “bad high school analogies” meme maybe 10 times this week on Facebook.) Rivera gets Manley’s back and goes for the choke. Manley slips out and gets back on top. Rivera gets a triangle attempt. Manley escapes. Rivera goes for an armbar. Manley gets side control. That’s where Round 1 ends, and that probably means Manley took it 10-9.

In Round 2, Rivera spends the first 3:30 showing off his outstanding takedown defense. Manley finally gets the takedown and gets in side control. Somehow Rivera gets a triangle attempt. But Manley slips out.

Dana White recap: Rivera looked like he was on Xanax.

Jarman had it 19-19, but the other two judges correctly scored it 20-18 for Manley. Not a great fight — the friendship certainly played a factor. Manley, who has THE ONLY FINISH SO FAR THIS SEASON, is disappointed in his performance despite the win.

Then we go to the former best buds from Canada, Mike Ricci and Michael Hill, who start arguing in the house over something having to do with sauce being sabotaged. This leads to one of the dumbest trash-talk exchanges in TUF history.

Ricci: “You’ll get your chance.”

Hill: “You’ll get YOUR chance.”

Then we have an ad for the U.S. Marines, with Mike Ricci. Who’s Canadian. This is the most embarrassing moment for Canada since Bryan Adams released “Summer of ’69.”

Hill actually reminds us of a mulleted Bruce McCullough character from Kids in the Hall.

The fight starts with some modest fireworks, and Hill lands one or two decent shots. But when Ricci gets Hill to the ground, Hill’s defense sags. Ricci looks like he’s posturing up to try the Michael Scott “spit in Dwight’s mouth” technique, which is indeed illegal under the Unified Rules of MMA.

But instead, Ricci does a bit of damage. The horn sounds before he can do any significant work toward a submission.

In Round 2, Ricci gets it to the ground quickly and takes Hill’s back. Hill stands, but Ricci drapes himself on Hill’s back as they do the Pilobolus. They fall to the mat with Ricci punching away, and coach Roy Nelson is reduced to profanities. Hill manages to stand again, but Ricci gets a good solid grip on a rear naked choke and … loses it. Hill actually stands and lands a couple of consolation strikes before the horn sounds.

Judges couldn’t get it wrong if they tried. 20-18 x3 for Ricci.

Shane Carwin speaks for the first time in the episode. Don’t remember what he said. Dana White isn’t impressed with Hill’s ground game.

In the three remaining minutes, we get the semifinal pairings:

Jon Manley (Nelson) vs. Colton Smith (Nelson). Another buddy vs. buddy.
Mike Ricci (Carwin) vs. Neil Magny (Carwin)

On the next episode … the semifinals. And they say one thing is for sure — there will be a knockout. That means there’s another thing for sure — a semifinalist is getting the Knockout of the Season bonus, unless they give it for one of the prelims.

But before we leave, let’s forget about Ricci and Hill, remembering some of the many good things about Canada:

  • Sarah McLachlan
  • Rush
  • Whistler
  • Kids in the Hall
  • Toronto
  • Dwayne De Rosario
  • Christine Sinclair
  • Kara Lang
  • Health care
  • European candies not available in the USA
  • The CBC
  • Curling

The Ultimate Fighter 16, Episode 10: Team Jacob vs. Team Carwin

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.

The Ultimate Fighter 16, Episode 8: Lots of bark, a little bite

We recap last week’s fight, and Dana is still mad about the decision. But he’s also mad about the fights. If the judges suck, he says in roughly so many words, don’t let the fight go to a decision. And these fights have been d-u-l-l.

Last week’s winner, Michael Hill, and his coach, Roy Nelson, aren’t impressed with Dana’s bonus money of $5,000 for a finish. Hill says he didn’t come here to win $5,000 and break his hand.

Dana stops by the house to reinforce his message: “I’m here to tell you what you need to do to get in the UFC. You need to start fighting.” He warns that these guys won’t make the finale.

I’m giving this argument to Dana. The number of people who’ve gotten a few good UFC fights (including the finale) after an exciting run (winning or not) on The Ultimate Fighter is higher than the number of people who’ve snoozed their way through the show and won. Stephan Bonnar parlayed an exciting fight into a long UFC career and commentary gigs.

Mike Ricci, one of four guys who hasn’t fought yet, tells everyone not to let Dana ruin their focus. But Hill gets upset with himself and decides to hit the bottle. Several bottles, to be precise.

Hill starts telling Neil Magny he’s going to beat him in the next round. Magny finds that funny because Hill can’t beat him on the ground. Or standing. Or, presumably, suspended from wires. Or in zero gravity.

Dom Waters steps in to calm Hill down. But then Julian Lane, Hill’s drinking buddy, gets mad at Dom.

Just as Dom starts to remove his microphone, the sure sign of an impending fight in the house, we abruptly cut to commercial. And it’s the one in which the guy with a Mohawk — a bit more pronounced than Julian’s — struts around as he enters the cage before getting KO’d by the no-nonsense, NOS-drinking guy who vaguely resembles Georges St. Pierre.

Somebody — looks like Jon Manley? — gets in the middle trying to calm things down. “Won’t somebody help me?” he pleads. Colton Smith takes him up on it. Dom finally storms away, not saying a word but throwing and kicking things.

Colton tells Julian: “I’m not letting you do it.” Julian bangs the back of his head against the door and screams like he’s in an afterschool special about PCP.

Julian continues into an epic meltdown. Somewhere, Junie Browning is watching this and thinking, “Whoa, this dude makes me look like Nate Quarry.”

We check in with Julian the next morning. “I kind of feel like a jackass.” Dom is forgiving, figuring Julian will leave him alone the rest of the season.

But look at it this way: Dana White said he wanted to see more aggressive fights. Well, Lane is out of the tournament. So maybe he was trying to impress Dana with an aggressive fight against his own team’s top pick? Would that help?

But first, it’s the coaches’ challenge. Clearly, Dana picked this one specifically to embarrass the pudgy Roy Nelson. It’s track and field. And there may be nothing uglier in TUF history than Roy Nelson attempting to do the long jump.

Carwin isn’t bad at all. His shot put effort goes 46-3. He hits 120 feet with the javelin, which would rank third among Nevada high school athletes.

Nelson basically quit in the backstretch of the 400. Some Carwin fighters think it’s a big deal. So does Nelson fighter Nic Herron-Webb, the early agitator of the season who has been pretty quiet in recent weeks.

And … oh wait, we have a fight! James Chaney wears all black before a fight. Including a leather jacket. Even if it’s 120 degrees. Must be fun to do the day after a weight cut.

The fight stirs up an awesome irony. To Dana’s surprise and obvious delight, Chaney and Jon Manley come out swinging from the start. And it’s Carwin’s corner yelling that they don’t want that. Nelson, Mr. “Win First, Be Exciting Later,” is quieter.

Chaney pulls guard and gets a strong triangle attempt. Manley needs a minute and change to get out. But when he does, he lands in a great position and immediately gets a guillotine. He holds on for the brilliant finish, taking the bonus money for the finish and putting himself in position for Submission of the Season by default. So far, it might even be the Fight of the Season.

Except for one thing: Chaney sunk his teeth into his escape attempt. Literally. He bit Manley in an effort to get him to let go of the guillotine. I’d guess Dana won’t reward that. And the Colton Smith-Eddy Ellis bout wasn’t bad at all.

Next week, Shane Carwin hates the quarterfinal matchups so much that he almost shows emotion. Almost.

The Ultimate Fighter, Episode 7: The worst fight in TUF history?

We’ve seen a bunch of decisions so far this season, two of them questionable. And we’re promised more controversy tonight. It’ll be hard to top tonight’s Bellator card on that front. Yeesh.

Roy Nelson’s team has control again. And again, he does it randomly, this time using the “Pick a number between 1 and 20” philosophy. The winner is Nelson’s top pick, Dom waters. But Waters wants Nelson to pick his opponent. Nelson doesn’t wanna. So Waters passes, and Michael Hill gets it.

And that’s how Michael Hill won the “Please Let Someone Beat The Crap Out of Matt Secor” sweepstakes.

Shane Carwin admits he has wanted to see this fight as well. Hill annoys Secor by walking around with his shirt off. (Note to Secor: Don’t go to the beach.) Secor annoys Hill by talking crap. So Carwin thinks this fight will “at least see one of them shut up.”

And … hey! We get to see one of Nelson’s assistants! It’s TUF 1 winner and former TUF coach Forrest Griffin. Has he always had that much hair on his chest? Forget Hill — maybe Griffin’s the one who should put a shirt on.

“You guys are like (bleep) robots.” Griffin says. Laughter. “Not good.” Oh.

Now we meet Secor, who was in the 82nd Airbone. Fort Bragg in the house! His brother was killed in Iraq. Then a little bit of training/trash-talk advice, and then we hear Secor telling the story of how his father died. It gets a little graphic. I’m not going into detail.

Then we get two straight ads for horror TV shows or films, which reminds me that I want to make a “found footage” film with a happy ending.

On fight day, Michael Hill makes eggs. He likes fighting. Secor is like the pet dog of the house, barking all the time.

Secor says for the second time this episode that he likes Michael Hill and thinks he’s a good kid, but … something about blonde hair and tattoos. Has Secor ever seen a UFC show?

“If you can only knock somebody out, that a $1.75 will buy you a cup of coffee.” Then he says something about having two hearts, which is either a symbolic shoutout to his relatives or a strange Dr. Who reference.

This episode is moving quickly, and we all know what that means — three-round fight! Right!

And Hill should be the overwhelming favorite, but we’ve been promised a shocker.

Ref Josh Rosenthal is sporting facial hair now, and we’re off.

Nothing’s happening …. nothing’s happening … finally, after two minutes, Secor tries a kick. Hill grabs the leg and dumps him. Secor grabs Hill’s head and tries to work his leg up for a triangle. Hill slowly works his head free and lands short punches while Secor lands even shorter punches. Hill makes a big effort to get out of guard but can’t do it. Secor gets a few warnings about hitting the back of the head with his two-inch punches. Rosenthal stands them up late in the round. 10-9 Hill in a snoozer.

Round 2. They touch gloves. Secor looks remarkably uncomfortable on his feet. He shoots for the takedown, but Hill ends up on top in side control. Then more of a north/south position. Secor finally gets a bodylock and takes Hill to the cage, then down. Secor advances as Nelson yells, “Danger, Mike! Danger!” And it certainly is — Secor gets a good grip on a rear naked choke. He lose it but gets both hooks in. Hill is bleeding from the nose and breathing heavily. But he’s defending well, keeping Secor’s arms off his neck. Secor settles for some rudimentary pounding. As the round ends, Secor yells something like, “Was I supposed to be up? Get the (bleep) out of here!” What?

For once, we don’t get a 10-8 round. It’s the ill-named sudden-victory round again.

Round 3, gloves touch, and we’re not doing much for the first minute. But Hill tries a spinning back fist, Secor grabs him, and Hill lands in Secor’s guard. This time, Hill, has a clearer path to lands punches and elbows to Secor’s face. Then he works his way out, and Secor tosses an acrobatic upkick to get up.

Then comes the sloppiest takedown defense in TUF history, and Secor easily deposits Hill on his back. Hill rolls but gives up his back. Secor gets the body triangle, lying on his back with Hill on top of him. But Secor gets nowhere near the rear naked choke, and Hill gets control of his arm. Hill can’t quite escape, and they end up in the same position, Hill lying with his back on top of Secor. Hill flings some big punches over his shoulder to pop Secor a few times before the fight ends.

So do you give the third round to the guy who got a takedown and did a tiny amount of ground-and-pound, or do you give it to the guy who got a takedown and a good position but did nothing with it?

And what’s the shocking ending? A draw with neither guy advancing?

Dana White has a pained expression as he walks in with the decision. They do a fight recap first, and White says the first round was one of the (bleep) in show history. In the third round highlights: “This isn’t (bleep) summer camp!”

Michael Hill wins the split decision. Dana’s pissed. He says the Nevada commission should be embarrassed. Nah. Just the fighters.

But Hill and Secor seems to respect each other now. That’s nice.

In the next episode, White visits the house to tell the fighters how underwhelming they’ve been in the fights this season: “If you want to fight in the finale, (bleep) turn it up a notch.” And it looks like Dom, who has been remarkably quiet, smashes something. And Julian, strangely silent in this episode, needs everything short of a Taser to restrain him.

The Ultimate Fighter 16, Episode 6: Again, the dubious 10-8 round

General impressions here:

– This is not a bad season at all.

– Still not buying Higher Ground as the theme song.

– They’re going out of their way to make Roy Nelson look bad. Have we even met his assistant coaches?

There’s allegedly a guy named Jon on this show. Anyone remember him? Just saw him in the opening credits.

Show starts with Dana White coming in to tell Nic Herron-Webb that he won the second round and got (bleep) out of a third round.

Roy Nelson, though, goes off on things Nic could’ve done better. He enlists jiu-jitsu wizard Cameron Diffley to explain one of the finer points. Diffley keeps silent and looks for a hole in the floor in which he can crawl.

Oh, THERE’S Jon Manley. The Team Nelson fighter asks people on the other team how they’re treated when they lose. Seems Carwin is all caring and nice, while Nelson is indifferent. Or maybe Matt Secor’s just lying to mess with them. Team Carwin has only lost one fight so far. That’s not a statistically significant sample.

Are the editors making you look bad, Roy? Well, I can’t seem to embed his Tweets, so read them here and here.

Kitchen problem. Team Carwin apparently took Team Nelson’s chicken and started marinating it, Julian Lane says. So Lane and someone else eat a bit of the food and toss the rest. Team Carwin returns and starts looking all over for it.

Lane raises a good point: “Why are you looking for chicken in a drawer, man?”

And THEN we hear Team Carwin did this to Team Nelson earlier. Michael Hill’s food was gone. So Matt Secor accuses Hill of taking the chicken. Hill flips out.

Remarkably, after an exchange of bleeps, Secor loudly announces that Hill did not take the chicken, and he apologizes. Hill thanks him.

But in confessional, Hill offers a classic call-out to Secor: “I’m going to put you to sleep, and you can dream about me taking your chicken from the fridge.”

At the fight announcement, Hill offers more conventional trash-talk: “I’m going to knock you out, then I’m going to fart in your face.”

But alas, Carwin chooses Team Nelson’s Colton Smith to go against Carwin’s old guy, Eddy Ellis. By draft placement, this would be a bad matchup for Carwin. Then again, Dana really liked Eddy’s prelim fight. Then again again, as we saw with Sam Alvey, prelim fights mean squat.

Eddy gives a bit of his backstory. He took a lot of tough fights early in his career to get experience. Then he left the party scene and met his wife. Seems like something’s missing.

Carwin brings Eliot Marshall once again to encourage Eddy to ground-and-pound rather than lay-and-pray. Or something like that. Marshall tells everyone that fighting is about what? Damage. What? Damage. Remember? Damage. The word that was specifically left out of many explanations of judging criteria when the UFC was trying to get the sport regulated in more states. What? Damage.

Another Carwin assistant, Trevor Wittman, reminds Eddy that Colton was the dirtbag who faked touching gloves and then went straight for the takedown in his prelim fight.

We meet Colton, who was raised by a single mom in Iowa and did a lot of wrestling. He was kind of a troubled kid, so she put him in every sport. He joined the Army and enjoyed learning combatives. He’s now a combatives teacher.

We get a peek at Nelson’s training, and we see that an unnamed assistant coach — oh, wait, he’s “James” — is telling Colton to use a lot of front kicks. He doesn’t want to. He and sparring partner Julian Lane agree.

We’ve yet to see any assistant coaches or guests on Nelson’s side, something he addresses on his site.

The Diaz brothers were on this show, and no one thought to include them? Was the crew unable to come up with enough subtitles?

The remainder of the pre-fight stuff is roughly 20% Eddy’s experience, 80% Colton’s military background.

Colton gets the early takedown, stands, tags Eddy with a left hook, takes him down again, gets up, tags him again. In what phase was Eddy supposed to be better?

Oops – spoke too soon. With 2 minutes and change left, Eddy lands a solid right that wobbles Colton. Eddy gets on top and takes Colton’s back, then works for the armbar. Colton fights out of it and gets up with some blood trickling. Eddy lands another good combo, then lands in side control. Colton gets up and pushes Eddy into the cage.

Nelson tells Colton it was a close round, so he needs to win the second.

Round 2: Colton takes Eddy down, gets side control and turns Eddy’s face into a bloody mess. He slowly moves into a mounted crucifix like his coach used to beat Kimbo Slice, but after four minutes, referee Herb Dean has seen enough. Colton is surprised: “Oh, come on, ref!” Dean calmly explains that he needs to be trying to finish the fight. Colton shoots again, rocks him and then presses Eddy to the cage as the round ends.

We’re all expecting another round. But it’s 10:53. Dubious decision time? Or did Colton get a 10-8 in the second, like some sort of makeup call for Nic Herron-Webb?

Majority decision for Colton. Yep. Another 10-8 round. Just like last week. In this case, though, at least the guy with the momentum got the decision. And Colton comes over to tell Eddy he deserved a third round.

Colton talks again about men and women overseas while blood runs down his face. And neck. And chest.

This is entertaining stuff. And fight fans aren’t watching?

The Ultimate Fighter 16, Episode 5: Lowering the bar on the 10-8 round

The recap of previous episodes reminds us that Nic Herron-Webb was kind of a jerk in the house. Really, you don’t mess with your housemates’ sleep. Mike Ricci in particular took offense.

Back in the house, Matt Secor decides to rub Julian Lane’s nose in his loss. Lane rolls with it for a bit but finally snaps, smashing a bottle and trying to get Secor to hit him. Lane’s teammates come in and calm him. Igor Araujo tells Secor to dial it down, which Secor doesn’t want to hear. Classic bully pretending he hasn’t done anything wrong.

Nelson’s team is still a little concerned about practicing only once a day. Colton Smith has an easy solution — you want a cardio workout? Run while you’re at the house!

Team Carwin has the fight pick. With the next pick … Shane Carwin … selects … zzzzzzzzzzz

What? I’m up! I’m awake! OK, it’s Nic Herron-Webb (remember the foreshadowing?) against Carwin’s Igor Araujo, who leans pretty far into Nic’s face. Igor says something about eating brains.

Bristol Marunde, sporting some nasty facial cuts from his bout with Lane, wants Igor to damage Nic’s mouth so he can’t talk.

Meet Igor Araujo — he’s Brazilian but is now at the Jackson camp in New Mexico. He’s a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, which should neutralize Nic’s strength there. And Igor’s father was a journalist! OK, we’re rooting for him now.

TUF vet Eliot Marshall comes in to work with Igor. To our surprise, Eliot knows a bit of Portuguese. Igor’s pretty happy to hear his home language.

Carwin tells us Igor is truly fighting for bread and milk. This is a good thing, apparently. And yet Carwin does pretty well fighting as a side job from his engineering career. During the next segment, Igor mentions bread and milk again.

About that next segment — Herron-Webb somehow gets Ricci’s bed on top of a gazebo in the backyard. Ricci tells Herron-Webb to go get it, but he has no leverage. He flips Herron-Webb’s hat off, at least, before going to retrieve his bed himself.

Meet Nic Herron-Webb — he’s 22 but has already created “nap-jitsu” and has a 3-year-old kid.

Igor does a tearful confession. He cries before going to sleep, thinking about his family. His son Renzo is turning 2. He says his tears make him stronger.

We get more and more pre-fight talk. Igor again talks about milk. Unlike Bristol, Igor doesn’t care about punishing Nic. Just wants to make him sleep and dream of Alaska and his bears.

Fight time: Steve Mazzagatti reffing. Igor quickly gets a takedown, then slips out of Nic’s active guard and advances to half-guard. Then to mount, though Nic nullifies it by clutching Igor’s torso. Nelson tells him, “You’ve gotta let go if you wanna win.” So Nic lets go and immediately gives up his back, taking punches to the side of the head. That’s not better. But Igor isn’t doing much, and Mazzagatti probably should’ve stood them up.

Round 2: It’s Nic on top. Igor tries to work up for a submission, but Nic maintains control and lands some sharp elbows. Then nothing. Still nothing. Still nothing. For the love of Pete, Steve Mazzagatti, will you please stand them up?! Oops .. Igor reverses. Nelson tells Nic not to fight off his back, which is too bad because he’s not bad at it. His punches force a scramble, and then Nic gets a good grip on a leglock. He can’t get it, but he reclaims top position. Nic tries some ground-and-pound as the round ends, and everyone expects a third round.

Which we don’t get, because two misguided judges think the first round was worthy of a 10-8. Um, no. Dana White visits Team Nelson to say that judging was as bad as it gets.

So it’s Igor by majority decision, and Carwin’s team is up 3-1. But Nelson still has his top two fighters.

Next week, we seem to have a bit more conflict among Team Nelson, and Carwin considers a tertiary career as a voice-over artist for self-hypnosis tapes.

The Ultimate Fighter, Season 16, Episode 4: Fix the scales!

Previously on The Ultimate Fighter: Bleeep … Bleeeeppp! …. Bleeeeeeepppp! And Joey Rivera shocked No. 1 pick Alvey.

Several seasons ago, Forrest Griffin flipped a coin to set up the matchups. Now, Roy Nelson has his team drawing straws. Final draft pick Julian Lane gets the short straw, and he’s so pumped that his Mohawk is shaking. He’s leaning toward picking Mike Secor because Secor has been a jerk in the house. But maybe Mike Ricci (can he take a punch?) or Bristol Marunde (reasons unclear).

Dana White takes the guys for a special premiere of Here Comes The Boom. Dana pitches the film as a funny film, not a tough-guy film. (Can’t it be both? I’ve got this screenplay …)

We get to see a few snippets, especially the slow-motion of Kevin James knocking former TUF coach Jason “Mayhem” Miller.

Everyone had fun, but it appears Roy Nelson had an issue with it.

Nelson’s worried that Lane isn’t fully prepared to go three rounds, thinking he gets sloppy when he’s gassed. Nelson tries to keep Lane motivated through some conditioning work: “If my fat butt can do this, I know you can.”

Fight selection time, and Nelson gives the fake-out, hinting that it’s going to be Mike (Secor? Ricci?) but taking Marunde instead. Marunde gives a long staredown, then tells Lane, “Big mistake.” Lane’s response: “Yeah, for you.” Wait … what? Marunde didn’t do anything, mistake or not. It’s like the old Brian Regan bit where the gate attendant says “Have a nice flight,” and Regan reflexively responds, “You too … if you go somewhere … sometime …”

Marunde talks about how awesome everything is with Team Carwin. Then he weighs himself and stares in disbelief … 186 pounds. Let’s get those 15 pounds off.

The weight cut starts in a hot tub. Then Marunde gets in a hoodie and a sleeping bag in the backyard. In Vegas. That’ll do it. We get a montage later that shows considerable amounts of sweat rolling out.

Over to Nelson’s team, and Roy is having a lot of trouble getting Lane to realize he can’t just let Marunde push him to the fence.

Then back to the weight-cut montage, including a nice torrent of sweat.

Weigh-in time, and Marunde makes it. Or does he? A couple of people on Nelson’s team think the beam on the scale was up. As in, “Dude, he’s heavier than that.”

Both Marunde and Lane say they’re fighting for a financial future for their young kids. Anyone else get really uncomfortable when fighters say that? You know, unemployment’s down. You can get steadier jobs. With health insurance, pending Congressional action in 2013.

Marunde seems like the better-grounded guy. He’s down to earth. And yet he comes across like an ’80s movie villain. He does know his ’80s films:

Tale of the tape: Marunde’s taller, older, more experienced … how exactly is Lane going to win this? He starts out swinging wildly and then being taken … you guessed it … up against the cage.

After 90 seconds of nothing, Marunde opens enough distance to land some knees. They break, and we get a view of Lane’s absurdly tight shorts. Why isn’t he wearing TUF standard issue? Can’t we put a black bar over that? And why is he taking so many knees?

Lane does succeed once or twice is turning it into a wild brawl, and that’s where he could succeed. Marunde’s face is somehow turned into a bloody mess. And yet the round ends with Marunde on top of Lane, pounding his ribs.

Between rounds, we see two gashes on Marunde’s face — one on the bridge of the nose, one on his cheek. Lane opens with a solid head kick. Then he slips throwing a wild right hand from about 20 feet away. Marunder responds with a sharp leg kick and combo. To say Marunde is the more fundamentally sound fighter is like saying Neil Peart has better drum technique than Phil Rudd.

A couple of minutes in, Lane again throws long-range bombs. One or two somehow land. Marunde again presses Lane to the cage, but Lane circles. Marunde regains control. Nelson keeps calling for Lane to throw an inside leg kick.

Round 2 ends, and there’s clearly not enough time in the episode for a third. I’d guess Marunde won, but the blood could sway the judges, and each round was close. But it goes to Marunde.

THEN Nelson brings up the weight issue. “Do you want me to make sure the commissioner does HIS job?”

White is stunned. And he tells Nelson he should’ve brought it up at the weigh-in. Which is what Nelson was asking! 

Yet White exclaimed, “You can’t fix stupid.” No, but can you fix the scales?

Lane is in tears, dealing with the reckoning of letting down his family. Dude, CareerBuilder.

Next week: Lane seems mad again.

Worth noting: Nelson’s bottom two draft picks have fought. So have Carwin’s top two. So Carwin leads 2-1, but don’t bet on him holding that lead.

The Ultimate Fighter, Season 16, Episode 3: The unexpected

The title is “We Have Control,” which brings this to mind (1:45 mark):

The ratings really should be higher for this season. Things we see in this episode that we’ve never seen before:

  • A mattress floating (on floaties) in the pool.
  • A witty response to why someone walked at 3 months.
  • An inset video of a coach giving a full-fledged jiu-jitsu lesson in the middle of a fight.
  • Some disturbing personal details about pre-fight routines.

Here’s how it goes.

Cameron Diffley apologizes for giving up control with his loss to Neil Magny. Everyone on Team Nelson realizes he could be next.

At the house, we get this exchange between Mike Secor, who is posing as if he’s nude and has a plant blocking his privates, and Colton Smith. “Is it true that you walked at 3 months old?” “Yeah, that’s true.” “I heard he walked at 3 months old because he was so ugly no one wanted to hold him any more.”

That’s one of the most creative dissings in TUF history, and Smith concedes that it’s pretty good. Then Smith lists all the ways he could beat Secor.

Then Secor drops his likability rating right away with a “not here to be butt buddies” comment.

But Nic Herron-Webb immediately races into “guy we’re all going to hate” race. He says he can’t sleep, so he shoots pool. And whistles. And when people don’t immediately respond, he bangs a pool ball on the table. That brings out Mike Ricci, wearing the tightest tighty-whiteys in show history, and Eddy Ellis.

Ricci thinks Herron-Webb is acting out because he has already realized he’s outclassed. Everything points to a Ricci matchup with Herron-Webb.

But Shane Carwin instead chooses ….. zzzzzzzzzzz … what? Oh! I’m awake. No offense to Carwin, who runs an entertaining Twitter feed, but his voice has all the enthusiasm of Ben Stein’s without the ironic inflection.

So Carwin picks Joey Rivera, a late pick on Nelson’s team, to face his top guy, Sam Alvey.

Should be an easy win for Carwin’s team to maintain the “control” we’ve heard so much about. Right? Dana White thinks so.

Rivera relishes the challenge.

But first, back to the house issues. Michael Hill takes on Herron-Webb in a dressing-room discussion over his antics in the house, saying something along the lines of, “Hey, we live in the house, too. When we piss off the other team with a bunch of noise, you piss us off, too.” Julian Lane calls everyone together to do a cheer for Joey.

Meet Joey “Boom Boom” Rivera! He got into fighting by beating up her mom’s lousy boyfriends. That’s a new twist on things.

Nelson wants Joey to put Alvey on his back. In training we see Rivera putting Nelson on his back, which is either impressive or dangerous. That’s a lot of weight hitting the canvas.

Meet Sam Alvey! Grew up in Wisconsin and a hunter, fisher and “band nerd” who met his fiancee at a Renaissance fair. Seems safe to call him a Renaissance man.

His fiancee also won America’s Next Top Model. That would be McKey Sullivan.

First, a pre-fight prank. Smith, Lane and Herron-Webb take Alvey’s mattress. They thought about throwing it in the pool, but they decide to be nice and put some floaties under it so it won’t get soaked.

Alvey keeps up his constant smile. Igor Araujo is more shocked than Alvey:

Araujo: “You know they put your bed in the pool!”

Alvey: “Well, it’s floating on the pool.” He adds a hand gesture to demonstrate.

Araujo doesn’t respect such things and thinks karma will get them back. Alvey just thinks it gives him license to do more in revenge.

Smith is happy Alvey took it well. Alvey decided to sleep on the sofa, apparently not well.

After weigh-ins, we get a quick glimpse of the pool, which no longer has a mattress in it. Then Rivera gives us way too much information about his pre-fight sex habit. His wife obviously isn’t in the house, so he’s going to need to make some changes for this fight.

Alvey has a ton of respect for Rivera’s strength and punching power. The tale of tape shows us Alvey is six years younger but has many more fights.

Arianny is the Octagon Girl, Herb Dean is the ref, and we’re off. And Joey lands two sharp head kicks in the first 10 seconds. Takes Alvey down at 25 seconds. Takes Alvey’s back at 40 seconds as Alvey stands. They stall, but Rivera takes him down again. Alvey stands but is pressed against the cage, and Rivera is trying a standing arm-triangle. Don’t see that every day. They stall again, but Rivera uses a trip takedown to get a grip on a guillotine. They scramble, but Rivera keeps the guillotine and pulls guard with it. With a minute left, Rivera finally releases the choke. Then he sets up a triangle. Alvey gets out and up but doesn’t back away far enough for Rivera to slam.  When the 10-second alert sounds, Alvey suddenly flings everything forward to land some big ground-and-pound punches, but it’s far too late to win the round.

Round 2: Rivera’s gasping for air in the corner as Nelson asks him to keep it up for five more minutes. Again, Rivera opens with kicks — one head, one body. Alvey tries to get close and eats an uppercut. Alvey presses Rivera to the cage, and Rivera goes for the guillotine again. But Rivera is unable or unwilling to reposition his hands despite several requests from his corner, and Dean eventually breaks up the stalemate. When they stand, Rivera again lands a couple of kicks. Alvey presses to the cage, and we get the most interesting inset video ever on this show — Roy Nelson calling over one of his assistants to demonstrate proper guillotine technique.

It doesn’t work, and they break, but Rivera again gets the better of a brief exchange. Then he takes Alvey down once again. They stand with a minute left, and nothing’s happening. Alvey gets a takedown with 10 seconds left. Again, too late.

Alvey raises his hands as the horn sounds, but the judges aren’t buying. Well, one of them does — it’s a majority decision for Rivera.

Recap: White says this didn’t go the way he thought it would. That’s an understatement. But White, who didn’t like Rivera’s prelim fight, is impressed with Rivera’s head kicks.

Alvey thought he won. Not when he sees the replay. He pledges to his team that he’ll be there for the next five weeks.

Carwin says he visited wounded troops, where their motto is never to leave anybody behind. And he says that’s the approach they’ll take with Alvey.

Nelson asks his team why Joey won? The answer: He listened. Well, except for the one piece of advice Nelson kept giving on repositioning his hands.

On the next episode: Nelson lets his team draw straws to see who’ll fight next. Then he questions the weigh-in results. This should be fun.