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.
The rest of Tito’s picks: Jamie “Crabman” Yager (so named on this blog because of his resemblance to the My Name is Earl character), James Hammortree, Clayton McKinney, Chris Camozzi
The rest of Chuck’s picks: Josh Bryant, Brad Tavares, Court McGee and final pick Joe Henle.
Looking back through the fighters’ records and their preliminary fights, neither coach made dumb picks. Tito, of course, thinks Chuck’s picks are stupid. More surprising: Dana White also has questions.
Dana goes over to ask Chuck about it. Chuck, who is moving around as if nervous or constipated, says he looked up these guys online to check out their records. Dana tends not to care about a guy’s results in Bellator or other circuits. If he did, he might be questioning Tito about using the third overall pick on a guy with 15 losses.
Chuck introduces assistant coach John Hackleman, who advises the guys to act more like Chuck than like Tito to get farther in fighting and in life. Another assistant is 1976 Olympic gold medalist boxer Howard Davis Jr. Anyone working the ground game? Apparently so, but one of those guys is Jake Shields, champion of UFC rival promoter Strikeforce. He probably won’t get much screen time.
Tito has Saul Saliz, a big guy who works all phases of the game. Cleber Luciano is a jiu-jitsu guy.
The big issue is McKinney’s shoulder, which he has been told may include a torn rotator cuff. Ortiz thinks McKinney is just being a wimp and decides to get on his back. Literally. Funny how these coaches see themselves as doctors.
McKinney and Camozzi think they’ll be picked first because Chuck will prey on the injured guys. So Chuck picks Kyle Noke, his top pick, to take on … McKinney. He fooled Camozzi, who thought he would be picked and also doesn’t think McKinney is ready to go mentally. The scene ends with McKinney saying, “Sweet, first fight, right on,” to no one in particular and with no conviction at all.
Back to the house, McCray, “Crabman” Yager and Tavares are planning some late night pranks that raise one important question — who gave them airhorns? McKinney wasn’t sleeping, anyway — he was sitting at the chess table writing something. Hammortree, a Florida firefighter in the real world, said he thought he was getting a call at his fire station and hopped up looking for his clothes.
There’s always one guy who reacts badly to pranks, and it’s Uscola this time. He comes into the pranksters’ room looking for the culprit.
McKinney doesn’t like it either. And when a guy with green hair is telling you you’re childish, it’s time to listen. Crabman, who fancies himself a comedian, is still laughing as they go to the training center.
McKinney gets his MRI. No tears, but he has a collection of fluid. Sounds kind of serious when the doctor describes it, but the only word Ortiz heard was “bruise.”
More “man up” nonsense fills the rest of the segment. After the break, we finally get to see Chuck’s team and meet Kyle Noke, the Australian who used to work with “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin, who gave him some funding to get his career started. Noke has some good results and trains with ubercoach Greg Jackson. No wonder Tito’s trying make McKinney believe in an alternate reality. McKinney would be a heavy underdog even with bionic shoulders.
And here we go to the Liddell-Ortiz feud. Liddell says what he said in a conference call leading up to the premiere — that he was planning to use his eventual fight against Tito as a tune-up, but that he’s now really ticked off at him and wants to beat him up badly. Chuck says Tito called him an alcoholic and claimed Dana White and company had to have an intervention. Not true, Chuck says, and if it was, it’d still be a (bleep) thing to say.
Back over to Team Punishment (Tito’s clothing line-plugging name for his team), where Tito celebrates his birthday with a pinata that looks like Liddell. The fighters have a great old time taking shots at it and then picking up the $1 bills that fall out, though Crabman seems annoyed that Tito didn’t stuff it with $20s.
Then we’re back to McKinney trying to get his team to shut up. First rule of trying to get guys to shut up on The Ultimate Fighter: Don’t tell them to shut up.
Both guys make weight, and McKinney takes the Lawlor/Petruzelli irreverent approach to the face-off, wearing shades and striking an old-school karate pose. We’re going to miss him when Noke beats him.
On to the fight, with the standard pre-fight final words. Noke says he doesn’t trash-talk, and he doesn’t. McKinney does an Aussie-accent impression.
The biggest surprise: No Arianny! It’s the only other current Octagon girl, Chandella, who describes her likes and dislikes in the current UFC magazine. The distinguished Herb Dean is our ref.
One leg kick each way, and that’s all we see in the first 30 as someone keeps yelling “bing, bing, bing.” We’re guessing it’s Crabman thinking that’s funny.
Noke gets a couple of kicks to McKinney’s midsection, then goes for the head. Lots of feints. Suddenly Nok goes toward him. McKinney grabs and takes him down. Noke is in an uncomfortable place for a bit but gets the guard. He briefly reverses, then rolls to his back and gets the leg-triangle. Tap tap tap.
McKinney wants to run out and vent his frustration, but Tito calls him back for a remedial class on escaping a leg-triangle. McKinney finds that a little humiliating. “Humility’s the (bleep) that makes us men,” Tito says. Interesting message, but is Tito the right messenger?
Next week: A “shocking announcement.” And it appears no one likes Crabman.