‘The Ultimate Fighter’: Season 11, Episode 3: Not that there’s anything wrong with that

Two weeks ago, we wondered if Rich Franklin would be replacing Tito Ortiz sometime during this season, and we were all assured otherwise. Chuck Liddell vs. Tito Ortiz, and Chuck is excited!

Last week, we got confirmation from the UFC: Chuck Liddell will be facing … Rich Franklin??!!

We’ll have to watch to find out how.

So let’s run through the teams …

Team Liddell:
Kyle Noke – former Crocodile Hunter bodyguard, won first fight
Rich Attonito – good wrestler, quiet so far
Charles Blanchard – wasn’t he a college football player in the 40s?
Josh Bryant – won close decision to get in
Brad Tavares – helped out Crabman and McCray with the air-horn prank last time
Court McGee – Scott Ian goatee
Joe Henle – looks like Chris “Jesus” Ferguson

Team Ort, er, Punishment, er, Franklin?:
Nick Ring – impressive resume
Kyacey Uscola – Mr. 18-15, didn’t like Crabman’s antics
Kris McCray – wins fights quickly
Jamie Yager – Crabman! On a mission to annoy everyone
James Hammortree – won prelim with ground-and-pound
Clayton McKinney – trains with Tom Lawlor and Seth Petruzelli, and he has the green hair to prove. Lost already to Noke and seemed humiliated when Tito tried to make it a learning experience.
Chris Camozzi – dental problems since prelim fight

On to the show, where we get the theme music this time. Anyone already missing the gag of showing Roy Nelson’s belly fat on the word “fitness”?

Continue reading ‘The Ultimate Fighter’: Season 11, Episode 3: Not that there’s anything wrong with that

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‘The Ultimate Fighter’: Season 11, Episode 2: Get off my back!

We met our 14 fighters last time as they won their way into the house. Now we’ll see what they’re really like.

Clayton McKinney, who stands out with the brightly dyed hair typical of the Tom Lawlor-Seth Petruzelli Jungle MMA camp, leads the charge into the house. Did Lawlor tell him which room to pick?

Injury update: Chris Camozzi has an infection from breaking a tooth in his bout. McKinney has a shoulder problem.

Off to team selection we go, and both coaches look prepared. Dana White decides first pick with a coin flip, which seems too conventional. Shouldn’t they arm-wrestle or compare film resumes or something? Tito Ortiz wins and has the option of picking first fighter or first matchup. He goes with first fighter, and it’s Nick Ring, who indeed looked impressive and has good credentials.

Chuck Liddell picks Kyle Noke, the guy who has a couple of decent names on his fight record. Tito goes for experience with Kyacey Uscola, who’s 18-15. Chuck follows with Rich Attonito, which is a surprise because Kris McCray is still out there and because he won his prelim with less striking and more wrestling, impressing Ortiz.

Tito, smartly, picks Kris McCray, the undefeated pro who wins fights in the blink of an eye. Chuck takes Charles Blanchard.

Continue reading ‘The Ultimate Fighter’: Season 11, Episode 2: Get off my back!

Thursday: No fooling around here

Today’s headlines:

Soccer: The U.S. women’s team beat Mexico 1-0. At least, we think that’s what happened. The snow made it a little hard to see. Can’t wait for U.S. Soccer to post the highlights. In the meantime, the Salt Lake Tribune story includes a photo gallery worth checking out. (U.S. Soccer match report)

MMA: Kenny Florian took a comfortable third-round submission win to spoil Takanori Gomi’s long-awaited — probably too long, unfortunate — UFC debut in the main event at UFC Fight Night. Roy Nelson won the battle of big and tall against Stefan Struve, ducking under a punch from “The Skyscraper” and answering with a knockout shot. Florian and Nelson took the night’s submission and knockout bonuses, while Ross Pearson and Dennis Siver took the fight of the night honors. Jorge Rivera had the best overall performance of the night with a convincing win over Nate Quarry that didn’t last long into the second round.  (MMA Fighting Stances)

Soccer: Not to judge a city’s politics from afar, but it looks like a one-week delay in a vote on the Houston Dynamo’s stadium deal has spawned a bit of petty sniping. (Houston Chronicle)

Alpine skiing: You didn’t expect Bode Miller to make his mind about next season anytime soon, did you? (AP)

Soccer: U.S. player Marcus Tracy expects to miss the rest of the club season in Denmark with a knee injury. (AP)

Today’s reads:

Volleyball: Need to catch up with any of the 157 U.S. women’s players going to overseas club teams? They’re rounded up on one staggering roundup. (USA Volleyball – PDF)

MMA: The toughest part of getting into the house on The Ultimate Fighter might be dealing with solitary confinement in a hotel before the first bout, according to this compelling blog entry from contestant Court McGee. (Sherdog)

Soccer: Inside Minnesota Soccer compiled a comprehensive preview of the USSF Division II (shotgun marriage between USL and NASL) season, with one writer per team. Familiar names include Steve Ralston, Christian Gomez, Louis Crayton and Steve Cronin. Future MLS clubs Vancouver and Portland have kept a lot of players from year to year. Miami, which has Gomez and Abe Thompson, is trying to rival the MetroStars/Red Bulls for roster turnover. (Inside Minnesota Soccer)

‘The Ultimate Fighter’: Season 11, Episode 1: 14-fight whirlwind

Recapping The Ultimate Fighter, frankly, is too fun not to do. So that’s what we’ll do over the course of the next three months, each Wednesday night after the 10 p.m. ET showing on Spike.

At least, most nights, it’ll be at 10 p.m. — the premiere was delayed a few minutes by a long break in the UFC Fight Night card followed by a power outage.

Coming into the season, the rumor mill has claimed that something goes awry and coach Tito Ortiz has to drop out, replaced by ever-loyal UFC soldier Rich Franklin on the show and in the coach’s fight that comes afterwards. If so, rival coach Chuck Liddell is throwing everyone off the trail. He spent most of a conference call this week talking about how much he was looking forward to beating up Tito, saying Tito not only talked about his personal life but made stuff up.

UFC and Spike officials guard these secrets like Roy Nelson guards his spot in a buffet line, so we won’t get any sort of confirmation one way or the other. When I asked Dana White about it recently, he told me I’d just have to watch and see. OK, then.

In any case, we can count on a lot of Liddell-Ortiz back-and-forth during the season, which probably isn’t a good thing. That got a little tedious last season with Rampage Jackson and Rashad Evans, and they’re both a lot funnier than Liddell and Ortiz.

But we won’t hear much of it this week because we have to get through 14 fights. They brought 28 middleweights to the training center, but only 14 will make it into the house and the collective consciousness of UFC fans over the next three months. And here they go …

Continue reading ‘The Ultimate Fighter’: Season 11, Episode 1: 14-fight whirlwind

Happy Wednesday

HEADLINES

– New FIFA rankings! Spain, Brazil, Netherlands unchanged in top three. Portugal leaps past Italy and Germany for fourth. Egypt surges to 14th.

But the big news is in CONCACAF: USA 16th, Mexico 17th.

Mixed bag for the USA’s World Cup opponents: England swapped places with France to take seventh. Slovenia slipped to 29th. Algeria is up five places to 27th. (FIFA)

– Big upset in Key Biscayne’s Sony Ericsson Open, one of tennis’ near-majors: Tomas Berdych ousted Roger Federer. Tennis writer Bonnie D. Ford says via Twitter that the match was long but far too sloppy to be an “epic.” (AP)

– Would North Korea really host a couple of World Cup games if South Korea lands the 2022 Cup? As rigid as North Korea has been, who knows what the geopolitical landscape will look like by then? (Reuters)

– LPGA players are just warming up this season, and yet they’re being thrown into a major already. (USA TODAY)

– Welcome to Philadelphia, David Myrie! We’re happy to have picked you up in the MLS expansion draft, and we’re planning to build a core of good young players moving forward. Take your spot in the starting lineup for the opener. … OK, never mind, you’re cut. (Philadelphia Union)

PROVOCATIVE READS

A few years ago, Mike Penner became Christine Daniels. Now, friends of the LA Times sportswriter are mourning two people with only one physical death. (LA Times)

– Football, religion, Sabbath … OK, I didn’t get through all of this one. (Christianity Today)

– Random preview of the day: U.S. Chess Championship in May features new format. As long as Jen Shahade is doing commentary, it should be worth checking out. (USCF)

TODAY’S TV (times ET)

– 1 p.m./9 p.m.: Tennis, Sony Ericsson quarterfinals, check Fox Sports Net affiliates

– 2:30 p.m.: Soccer, Champions League, Arsenal-Barcelona, FSC (Inter Milan-CSKA Moscow follows on delay)

– 8 p.m.: MMA, UFC Fight Night, Spike. The main event is one of the most anticipated ever on a free-TV UFC card, with longtime UFC contender Kenny Florian taking on Takanori Gomi, a Japanese fighter who has dealt with a few personal demons since the dissolution of Japan’s once-dominant Pride promotion and has finally found his way to the USA. Also a good heavyweight matchup of big (Roy Nelson) and tall (Stefan Struve) fighters trying to climb the ladder. (Bloody Elbow)

– 9 p.m.: Soccer, USA-Mexico women, ESPN2

– 10 p.m.: MMA, The Ultimate Fighter season premiere, Spike.  Recap will follow tonight right here at SportsMyriad, where I’ll hopefully have a logo and some design tweaks in place this evening.

Tuesday’s headlines: Moscow mourns, Man U in Munich

– The Champions League continues today at 2:30 p.m. ET with Bayern Munich-Manchester United (FSN) and Lyon-Bordeaux (FSC), but Wednesday’s action will have a somber tone as CSKA Moscow takes the field two days after a subway bombing that killed 39 people. The club has asked to wear black armbands (Reuters). (TV listings – Soccer America)

– CSKA Moscow’s basketball team, where Americans Trajan Langdon and J.R. Holden have carved out long careers, is in action today in the Euroleague quarterfinals against Spain’s Caja Laboral. CSKA leads the best-of-5 series 2-0. (Euroleague)

– Back to soccer’s European elite — Chelsea’s Didier Drogba has a two-match European ban. (BBC)

– Break up the U.S. men’s rugby sevens, which beat Thailand 62-0 and will play in another Cup quarterfinal. Will the USA turn into a rugby power now that the sport’s in the Olympics? (USOC)

– Tony Benshoof is the Terminator of luge. He’s having back surgery and says he might return for another season. (AP)

– Dana White talks often about the Internet being the future of broadcasting, and maybe he’s not kidding: The Ultimate Fighter will have tons of archival footage and extras online. (FanHouse)

– South Africa’s Carter Semenya, whose gender is still in question, has not been cleared to run. (AP)

– The collection of strange Diego Maradona headlines continues: He was treated at a hospital after being bitten by one of his dogs. Are the media too obsessed with him, or is his life that strange? (Reuters)