Wednesday night brings us the inaugural episode of “The Ultimate Fighter” season 21, which pits Dan Lambert’s American Top Team, against Glenn Robinson’s Blackzilians. The introductory scene of the show gives us the brief (but tenuous) background of the two owners. Lambert educates us to the beginnings of ATT and the origins of the feud between Robinson and himself. It’s really not that interesting, we’ll concentrate on the fighters and the fights.
One huge change to the format (aside from the team aspect), is that a points system will dictate the winner of the “regular season” of the show. The 12 fights leading up to the finale will be broken down into 3 groups of 4 fights. The first 4 fights will net the winning team 25 points each. The second 4 fights will net 50 points each. The last 4 fights will be worth 100 points each. This system adds an entirely new layer of strategy to the hit reality show. Each fighter may compete up to 3 times during the 12 fight season. Not every fighter is, therefore, guaranteed a fight. The team with the most points after the 12 fights, will win $200,000. The winner of the finale, will win his team $300,000. The fights themselves will also take place at the winning team’s gym. A coin toss will determine the first fight’s location. Another major change in format is that each team will not know the opposing team’s fighter selection until the day of the weigh-ins.
EPISODE RECAP *SPOILERS AHEAD*
After our initial introduction to the Team’s owners, we are taken inside each camp’s office to watch their fighter selection process. After we are given a quick background and skill assessment of each team’s picks, we are given the first “iconic” scene that accompanies nearly all reality shows. As the fighters from the two camps arrive (via boats, BALLER) at their home for the next few months, they are all visibly thrilled to be living in a house that looks like it should belong to Vinny Chase in the upcoming Entourage movie. Both teams will live in the house together, but train at their respective gyms, so we likely won’t have any of the gym crossover time confrontations. We get a look inside the house of Robinson, as the Blackzilians gather at his house to watch teammate Anthony Johnson dispatch Alexander Gustaffson. It’s cool to see Rumble’s teammates watch his big victory as a group. Back in the gyms, each team is contemplating who to select as their first fighter. ATT selects Michael Graves (4-0) as their lead off combatant. Coaches gush about Graves’s well rounded abilities, and Graves himself describes himself as a wrestler who likes to strike. Before heading to the Blackzilians selection, we are treated to the TUF obligatory “THIS IS OUR FOOD” scene, where we overhear some ATT fighters complaining because the Blackzilians have started to write their names on different food items around the kitchen. After our brief stop in the TUF kitchen, we are taken to the Blackzilian’s “war room” where they are debating who their first fighter should be. They bring in Kamaru Usman and ask if he will be ready to fight first. He accepts their offer and we now have our first fight of the season. ATT’s Michael Graves (4-0) takes on the Blackzilians’ Kamaru Usman (5-1). Usman, born in Nigeria, is a wrestler who spent time training at the US Olympic Training Facility in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Dana labels the fight as a “traditional striker vs. grappler match up. At the weigh ins, both fighters easily made weight and face off. No real fireworks here. As the fighter’s make their way into the octagon, we take note that the crowd is much different from that of past TUF seasons. Since both camps are in South Florida rather than nestled away in Las Vegas, we see a very raucous crowd full of fighters who train at these gyms. The atmosphere is electric, and much louder than a regular TUF bout.
Now, I will be live tweeting my pick for the upcoming fights, since they will apparently not be revealed on the previous week’s episode. This week I picked Usman via UD.
Michael Graves (ATT) vs. Kamaru Usman (Blackzilians)
The first round starts and both fighters trade “range finder” punches. Graves throws a kick that is caught by Usman, who takes Graves to the ground. Graves fights his way to the cage, where Usman maintains control until Graves is finally able to gain head control and escape, tossing Usman to one knee in the process. Once back in the center of the cage Usman lands a good two punch combo, a looping left hook followed by a straight right. Both connect, but neither seem to faze Graves. Graves responds with two well-placed front kicks, one to Usman’s knee and one to Usman’s face. The latter provokes a jolt from the crowd, but doesn’t seem to affect the wrestler. Usman lands another takedown, but Graves fights to his feet along the octagon. wall. Eventually Graves is able to break free of the clinch along the cage without taking much damage. Back in the center of the octagon, Usman lands another looping left hook, Graves is having trouble blocking that. The first round comes to an end.
MMA Latest scores the round 10-9 Usman.
Round two begins with Graves taking the center of the octagon first, but being met with a left hook for his trouble. Usman feints the hook and shoots in on a deeeeeeeep double leg. Graves sprawls beautifully, but is pushed against the cage. Graves escapes the clinch and takes the center. Graves seems frustrated that the stand up isn’t as one-sided as his coach had predicted, he’s throwing sloppy high kicks that are not effective. Usman shoots again, and again Graves defends but is pressed against the cage. After clinching for a few seconds, Graves is free and to the center again. Usman lands a straight left and a big take down. Graves rolls well with the momentum and takes Usman’s back while he tries to secure the takedown. Graves searching for a choke, or a neck crank. Usman doing well to defend, he stands with Graves on his back, controlling one of his opponents hands. Graves starts to lose position and Usman slams him to the ground, landing in side control. The last 30 second of round two is Usman landing knees to the body and soft punches to Graves’ head.
MMA Latest scores the round 10-9 Usman.
It seems that both camps believe the fight will go to a third “sudden victory” round. However, the cards are collected and we learn that Kamaru Usman is declared the winner via Majority Decision. 20-18 20-18 19-19. With the win, the Blackzilians maintain home gym advantage and the next fight will take place at their gym. The episode ends without telling us who the next matchup will be, so I have no room to speculate on the next matchup. But, if I had to bet, I think the Blackzilians will either put out, Luiz “Buscape” or Jason Jackson. Urgent to get a win, I think ATT will put forth either Nathan Coy, or Steve Carl.
OFFICIAL DECISON – Kamaru Usman wins via Majority Decision (20-18 20-18 19-19)
MMA Latest scored the fight 20-18 Kamaru Usman.
Current prediction record 1-0
Exclusive: Derek Brunson: “Anderson was definitely a little lubed up”
Derek Brunson fought Anderson Silva back in February of this year, at UFC 208. Brunson would go on to lose the fight by controversial unanimous decision. However, the controversies didn’t stop at the questionable decision, Brunson also claims Silva was greasing during the fight. The Wilmington, North Carolina native, posted about it on Twitter a few days ago:
Just make sure you don’t put cooking oil all over your body like Anderson did so it’ll be easy to grab ahold of you @lyotomachidafw 👌
— Derek Brunson (@DerekBrunson) October 17, 2017
Speaking with MMA Latest, Brunson explained why he believes Silva was greasing during the fight. “Anderson was definitely a little lubed up. Every time I grabbed him he was just slipping out of everything, and his takedown defense was really good that night. I was definitely curious to know why he was very slippery, which I definitely think he had some kind of substance on his body. He knows I’m a wrestler obviously, he’s an old, savvy veteran, so he was definitely trying to play all the rules and be very strategic, and make it harder for a wrestler to grab him.”
Brunson is set to face Lyoto Machida come October 28, when asked about whether he was worried about Machida greasing, considering Gegard Mousasi accused him of doing so in their fight, Brunson admitted he wasn’t too worried.
“Well I’m not too worried, but like I said, I put it out there because I know they’re friends and I know, obviously, that’s kind of what the guys do when they know they’re fighting a wrestler. They want to lube their body up really good to make it hard to grab hold, Anderson did a great job defending my takedowns. It’s because he was all greased up so he was able to stop a lot of them. When I grab guys in the clinch, it’s very tough for them to get away and I’m pretty good with my Greco takedown. He was pretty much pulling through my clinch when I had a tight grip on him and if you have some kind of substance on your body it’s easy to pull them.”
Neither Silva nor his management have commented on the greasing allegations. Anderson Silva makes his return against Kelvin Gastelum later this year, in China. While Brunson makes his return to the Octagon on October 28th, in Brazil, where he looks to add Lyoto Machida’s name to his impressive list of victories.
Ovince Saint Preux Steps in to Face Corey Anderson at UFC 217
UFC 217 just got even more interesting. Earlier this week, Patrick Cummins pulled out of his light heavyweight matchup with Corey Anderson due to a Staph infection. Corey “Overtime” Anderson was not happy with his opponents decision, even calling out his opponent on Instagram asking how Cummins could, “call it quits so far from fight night”.
The UFC left Anderson on the card, and he found an opponent through the magic of Twitter. Ovince Saint Preux tweeted out directly to Anderson stating:
— Ovince Saint Preux (@003_OSP) October 19, 2017
It didn’t take long for Anderson to respond agreeing to the fight, tagging Mick Maynard and Dana White in his response.
Only a few short hours later, the fight announcement came from the official UFC twitter account.
Fight News update!!
— UFC (@ufc) October 19, 2017
This top 10 Light Heavyweight matchup should add to an already amazing card coming in November at Madison Square Garden. Saint Preux is coming off of back to back wins both due to the very rare von flue choke, he finds himself ranked #7th in the latest edition of the 205-pound rankings. Corey “Overtime” Anderson is 4-2 in his last 6 fights, but is coming off a brutal first round knockout loss to Jimi Manuwa in March.
With such a exciting fight added to this card, what do you see happening November 4th? Will Corey Anderson bounce back and look to jump into the top 5 of the rankings, or will Ovince Saint Preux go for a third straight von flue choke? Let us know.
*Watch* Bellator 185 Weigh in: Live Stream, Results
Watch the live weigh-ins for Bellator 185 here.
Gegard Mousasi takes on Alexander Slemenko live this Friday night October 20th at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville CT. This is the first appearance for Mousasi in the Bellator cage as he looks to secure a title shot with a win over the very tough former Bellator champion Slemenko. Joining these men of the main card will be a pair of welterweights as Neiman Gracie from the famous Gracie BJJ family takes on Zak Bucia in the co-main event.
Full Weigh-in Results: (Updated in real time)
Gegard Mousasi (185) vs. Alexander Shlemenko (186)
Neiman Gracie (170.5) vs. Zak Bucia (170)
Heather Hardy (126) vs. Kristina Williams (126)
Ryan Quinn (155.5) vs. Marcus Surin (155)
Ana Julaton (125.5) vs. Lisa Blaine (122)
Jordan Young (200) vs. Alec Hooben (194)
Costello van Steenis (185) vs. Steve Skrzat (186)
Vinicius de Jesus (170) vs. Joaquin Buckley (171)
John Beneduce (154.5) vs. Dean Hancock (155)
Timothy Wheeler (144) vs. Pete Rogers (144)
Don Shainis (150) vs. Matthew Denning (149)
Frank Sforza (149) vs. Vovka Clay (150)
Kevin Carrier (156) vs. Jose Antonio Perez (153)
John Lopez (126) vs. Billy Giovanella (125)
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