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 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.

The Ultimate Fighter 16: 16 random facts about the show

The Ultimate Fighter Friday: Team Carwin vs. Team Nelson Yes We’re Still on Fridays on FX But No We’re Not Live Any More debuts on … well, Friday.

Sixteen things you might not know about the cast of the show’s 16th domestic season (not counting TUF Brazil or the new international seasons in various stages of planning/production — UK vs. Australia, India):

1. Two fighters have big red or pink Mohawks. (Julian Lane, Ricky Legere Jr.)

2. Fighters include one from North Dakota (Leo Kuntz) and one from South Dakota (David Michaud). Michaud is representing his reservation, as this remarkable video shows.

3. Colton Smith is an Army Ranger with a political chip on his shoulder. “The only thing that Colton has a hard time not choking out is the plethora of liberal tree-huggers he tends to run into in the greater DC area,” says his bio at sponsor Ranger Up. I don’t know — most of the liberal tree-huggers I know in the D.C. area could probably take this guy. They work out a lot.

4. Jason South is 34. He addresses his age in his TUF bio: “Well most people are giving me shit because of my age but I think it’s going to play a big role in keeping my head in the right place.”

5. Kevin Nowaczyk’s nickname is “Give Me Your Lunch Money.” Most nicknames aren’t commands. And yet he’s so humble that he answers the TUF bio question “Why you think you will be the next Ultimate Fighter champion” with “I don’t know if I will be …” (Matthew Secor’s answer starts “I don’t think I will be” but continues “I know I will be.”)

6. Best answer to the “Why you’ll win” bio question goes to Sam Alvey: “Because the force is with me.” (He elaborates.) He also was a “big time band participant” in high school.

7. Most of Lev Magen’s fight experience is in Israel.

8. Cameron Diffley was Forrest Griffin’s assistant coach, specializing in jiu-jitsu, when the former UFC light heavyweight champion was a TUF coach.

9. Igor Araujo helps develop the jiu-jitsu of the current UFC light heavyweight champ, Jon Jones.

10. Bristol Marunde is an IFL and Strikeforce veteran who chased down a rape suspect and stopped him with a head kick.

11. Alaskan Nic Herron-Webb is nicknamed “Naptime.” His MMA specialty is “Nap-jitsu.”

12. Dom Waters’ nickname is “Sho Nuff,” not to be confused with Rodney “Sho Nuff The Master” Wallace.

13. Frank “The Crank” Camacho made his pro debut at age 16 and says he has been training to win The Ultimate Fighter since age 14. Most of his fights were on Pacific islands, but he has moved to Maryland to work with Lloyd Irvin.

14. James Chaney, one of only three cast members with a Wikipedia entry (the others are Marunde and Diffley), has fought in Russia and lists his MMA specialty as “sambo.”

15. Several cast members have fought in Zuffa’s sibling promotion Strikeforce, including Bristol Marunde, Saad Awad, Ricky Legere Jr., and Cortez Coleman. Legere and Coleman have Strikeforce wins.

16. This season had no open auditions.

Last season didn’t have a lot of drama in the house. You’d think 13 weeks in the house would make people crazier than usual, but it seems to have a sedating effect. Producers seemed to think bringing Ronda Rousey into the house would spark … something. No. What are they going to do — hit on her on camera, knowing they’ll be released into the real world in another six weeks or so?

Also, by going live each week, producers and editors only had a short time to see what had happened in the house. Storylines couldn’t really be built.

This season? Looks dramatic.

Hard-core fans might not be happy. But will the ratings be better? As Shaun Al-Shatti said at MMA Fighting — you’re either pumped or vowing not to watch a single second.