So far, we’ve met some likable guys and seen two forgettable fights. And a lot of shots of Brock Lesnar talking about making chicken salad out of chicken (bleep).
Brock’s team doesn’t find that particularly inspiring. Chuck O’Neil confessional: “Did he call me chicken (bleep)? What the hell?” Lesnar decides to clarify it. “Before you were on the show, you were just one of 2 million. But now, you’re chicken salad. That’s what I’m trying to say.” The team stares blankly, as if Lesnar were ranting on the Canadian health care system.
Team Dos Santos waits for a replacement for the departed Keon, and Zach Davis says he’s worried that someone new might disrupt the team’s solid chemistry. The new guy is Justin Edwards, who breaks the ice by talking about getting confused for Randy Couture all the time. “I look good for 43, don’t I?”
Sherdog check: Edwards is 5-0, with a win over TUF alum Josh Rafferty and another win in Bellator. The Bellator fight clocked 4:12, longer than his other four fights combined. And that’s two guys in this cast who beat Rafferty — the other is Lesnar’s No. 2 pick, Charlie Rader.
As promised, we have conflict on Team Dos Santos within the coaching staff. Lew Polley says everyone is too nice and should start training like men, not kids. Sure enough, we get a big cut on Shamar Bailey’s face. Junior says he doesn’t like screaming and saying bad things. He says people should be nice. Ryan McGillivray: “I’m Canadian, we’re always nice.”
Fight announcement: Lesnar has been worried that top pick Len Bentley is drifting away in training, and he wants to keep him focused by getting him in the cage now. That’s understandable. Less understandable: He sends Bentley against Junior’s No. 2 pick, McGillivray. That’s the toughest matchup available.
Junior says Len has the wrestling advantage, but Ryan has the striking advantage.
Hey! There’s a house on this show! That’s where we learn that Team Lesnar is worried that Chris Cope is spending so much time with the other team and giving away their secret handshake.
The Len backstory: He loves karate. (Can anyone think of another UFC welterweight with a karate background who picked up wrestling?) He says people don’t learn to be fighters. You either are or you aren’t.
Len tells Brock that Chris spends a lot of time with the other team, and Chris has been watching him in practice. Brock: “Chris Cope?” Brock says he’ll talk to Chris but doesn’t want him caught up in the bull(bleep). In Cope’s blog, he attributes Len’s concern to being a little paranoid, perhaps from his military days.
Back to Dos Santos and Lew, who has developed his own plan for rotating fighters in training. “I am the coach here,” Junior tells Lew. “You don’t want nothing. WE want.”
Ryan backstory: He has a little girl, and he asks the coaches to keep her picture in the corner. That’s about it. He would love to take out Lesnar’s No. 1 pick. First, he needs to drop nearly 10 pounds. The coaches come over to the house to help out, prepping a bathtub for a treatment called “the Polley plunge.” They joke with Junior that he’ll have to do this when he goes to 205.
Keith Kizer actually gets a speaking part, welcoming people to weigh-ins. Brock says he wants to see chicken salad. Ryan apparently managed to lay off the chicken salad, as he makes 170. The fight is on his girl’s second birthday, so he preps a pie to celebrate after the fight.
Brock has to miss the fight due to an unexplained personal issue. Len says he understands. He talks to Len over a phone.
Fight time. And after two very bad ones, we get a very good one.
Round 1: They start trading right away, and Len lands a good left. Then a really good left that puts Ryan down. Len pounces and works his way to an awkward mount. Team yells to Ryan not to give up the back. Instead he hugs Len’s leg, looking for a sweep while Len tries to land elbows. Ryan works his way to guard, and Len stands. Three minutes left. Ryan lands a looping left hook. Len makes a face. Good 1-2 from Ryan draws no reaction from Len. Good left puts Len down. That’s one knockdown each way in the first 3:15 of the fight. Len establishes guard, then lifts legs, looking for submissions. He gets a good grip on an armbar and comes close to landing it, but Ryan is able to move his body to relieve the pressure. They grapple for position, and Ryan gets a good choke attempt as time runs out.
Great first round, and Junior and Dana agree that it’s tough to score.
Chandella tells us it’s round 2. Lew tells Ryan that Len’s tired. Len seems a little quicker in the exchanges, but Ryan tags him with a couple of lefts. Len goes with kicks — leg, then body. Len swings at air, then tries a spinning back fist. Ryan stuns Len with a right, and Len backpedals to the cage. Ryan presses, and Len tries to get the guillotine. Can’t get it, but Len is just dangerous enough with submission attempts to keep Ryan at bay, and he ends up reversing to land some knees against the cage. They break with 1:20 left, and Len misses a few badly. Good uppercut from Ryan. Len again tries spinning backfist, but his motion looks tired. Still, he gets in a sharp right. Len again tries spinner. Ryan presses forward at the end of the roud and has the tired Len on the cage.
The coaches show Ryan his daughter’s picture to inspire him in case we have a third round, but given that we’re late in the episode, it’s clear that we won’t. Indeed, we have a decision. Ref Josh Rosenthal tells them both it’s a great fight.
Judges say: Majority decision (20-18, 20-18, 19-19) for Ryan.
Len says he at least wanted a third round, but he gives the “left it in the hands of the judges” speech.
Dana seeks out Len: “That’s how you fight. You got nothing to be bummed out about. Get the family around and watch it.” And Len’s clearly the leader for a wild-card berth at this point.
Ryan celebrates with his team and starts to cry, thinking about his daughter. Happy birthday indeed.