Coincidentally, after the Jon Jones news, I found this fun recap from Jones’ stint on TUF.
Back to this year: Hey, we have a new theme song! It’s … short. It tells us nothing.
The Blackzilians won the first fight. sending top prospect Kamaru Usman against the underconfident Michael Graves. Back in the house, seven hours after the fight (guess they’re fighting in the early afternoon), Graves is beating himself up worse than Usman did. His American Top Team-mates try to build him back up but sound frustrated with the process.
Hayder Hassan, the one last seen yelling at Usman about being “next,” moves on from trying to pick up Graves to trying to psych out Usman by telling him how much he respects him. Usman seems either bemused or amused. Maybe both. But Usman chats about it with his teammates in the van, so maybe it’s working? No, probably not.
Speaking of people who are psyched out, the American Top Team brain trust is trying to figure out who to pick next. Hassan really wants to fight, but, oops, he actually has a hand injury. They call in Uros Jurisic of Slovenia, a student/postman, to tell him he’s getting the nod. His English is a little stilted, and the conversation with the ATT guys sounds like Slim Pickens telling Mongo he’s going to go into town to shake things up in Blazing Saddles. Mongo only pawn in game of life.
Speaking of pawns, Dana White shows up to remind us that the matchups are literally like a chess match. You might end up with a striker-grappler matchup. That sounds more like bridge to me. I bid two Muay Thais.
And it sounds like they’re just picking the best, healthiest fighters, anyway. That makes sense — whoever fights now has a good chance of fighting twice, and the winners earn more points as the season goes on. In that sense, it’s more like backgammon.
The Blackzilians pick Luiz “Buscape” Firmino, a strong grappler they call “the flea” because he’s impossible to escape. He has been around a while, fighting in PRIDE and other Japanese promotions before beating UFC vets Tyson Griffin and Jacob Volkmann in the World Series of Fighting.
Meanwhile, back in the house, some people are training in the small gym in the house. And someone gets mad, yelling “Do the drill right!” before storming through a door. The door looks more solid than the ones frequently destroyed in the old TUF training complex in Vegas, and it survives in tact. It seems the dispute is between Usman and Jason Jackson, but they bury it quickly. That’s either foreshadowing or a dull day at the house.
The weigh-ins will be fun this year because the fighters will learn what we already know — who’s fighting whom. Neither Uros nor Buscape seems especially perturbed by the matchup, a change from last week’s edition with Graves going into a shell when he saw Usman.
ATT boss Dan Lambert decides to bring the heat, ridiculing Blackzilian owner Glenn Robinson for standing there behind his fighter looking tough. “A makeup artist would kick your ass,” Lambert said. Dana White, broadcasting from his undisclosed location, seems happy. The fighters all have a look that screams “whatever.”
White has also told us Uros wants to keep the fight standing. These days, does that ever work?
Uros, incidentally, is 22. He’s 4-0 but hasn’t fought anyone. Maybe Lambert should quit worrying about Robinson being a tough guy and figure out how to get some matchups he can win. The good news — Uros has three wins by submission.
Uros and the coaches meet to do some game-planning, which is something TUF should do more often. Hardcores will love it, but it’s also accessible for casual fans. It ends with a nice new slogan: “Unleash the Uros!” If he changed his name to “Fury,” we’d have the Washington Capitals’ third-period rallying cry.
Fight day. Robinson tells Buscape this is nothing. This is the warmup fight. This is the guy you beat up on your way to a big fight. The Blackzilians chant like it’s a soccer game, which irritates Lambert. What doesn’t irritate Lambert?
Unnamed ref with heavy accent gives the “two five-minute rounds” speech. Robinson reminds Buscape to keep his hands up. Then he comes out throwing a kick straight up the pike. Then he gets stunned from a left hook, but it gives him the perfect position for a takedown less than 20 seconds into the fight. Uros has his head locked up for a possible guillotine, but no. Buscape works his way to guard and lands several punches from one inch away while Uros tries again to lock in a guillotine. Or an armbar. Or whatever. He’s surprisingly effective at nullifying Buscape’s offense by threatening so many submissions. You’d think a guy with Buscape’s experience would keep his head and arm out of danger.
Yeah, it’s a grinding fight. With 1:40 left in the round, Lambert is left yelling the rallying cry of the defeated coach: “GET UP!”
Round 2: Uros tentatively steps out, then tries a kick. Then a spinning kick. Then a takedown. They clinch at the cage, and then Buscape takes down Uros in side control. Maybe I should just hit fast-forward. Nothing else is going to … hey, Uros escaped! And he looks mad! He throws some punches. Including a wild right that may have left the gym entirely and scraped the castle at the Magic Kingdom in Orlando before returning to the gym and hitting nothing. Buscape takes him down again. Lambert yells “Get up!” again. Buscape isn’t doing anything. Uros looks like he’s checking his watch. I’ll be happy to never see either of these men fight ever again.
Buscape wins the unanimous decision.
Third ad for the Women’s World Cup!
“Uros is definitely not experienced enough to be in with a guy like Buscape,” Robinson says, almost sympathetically.
“Well, that fight sucked,” Dana White says. Again. He complains about Uros not doing anything his corner said, and he complains about the ref letting Buscape lay and pray for two rounds.
Next week, we see that an ATT fighter turns up ¾ of a pound overweight, and the Blackzilians make a stink about letting him use their sauna.
By this point, the only thing we can say about these teams is this: A plague on both your houses. (Oh, right … they’re all staying in the same one. Good. That’ll save time.)