by Jeff Cain – MMAWeekly.com
Episode two of “The Ultimate Fighter 11: Team Liddell vs. Team Ortiz” began by highlighting the fourteen combatants who fought their way into the house.
It was then time to unveil the accommodations. The fighters scurried through the door and raced around staking claim to a bed and roommates.
The house is typical of previous seasons of the reality show with UFC trademark furniture and UFC logo laced billiards table, but this season the walls are adorned with fight photos. The backdrop of the bar is a collage of contestants from the first 10 seasons who have made successful runs in the UFC.
A clique between Jamie Yager, Kris McCray, and Brad Tavares develops, fueled by their minority backgrounds, leading to the season’s first practical joke.
The second night under the roof of “The Ultimate Fighter” house, the three sounded air horns at three o’clock in the morning waking their sleeping housemates. Kyacey Uscola voiced his displeasure about the first night shenanigans and the following morning a rift between Clayton McKinney, who was awake writing in his journal during the noisy gag, and Yager emerges.
As the fighters were getting acclimated to their new living quarters, two of them revealed injuries sustained in their elimination bouts in episode one.
Chris Camozzi disclosed, “I got one of my teeth broken in the back of my mouth and now it’s infected. I’m battling a mouth injury, but I’m not going to let any injury get in my way.”
McKinney banged up his shoulder and said, “The doctor thinks I blew my shoulder out, tore my rotator.”
McKinney later underwent an MRI that diagnosed his shoulder had no major damage and his discomfort was caused by a bruised bone.
A coin toss decided which coach, Liddell or Ortiz, would get to choose between picking the first fighter of matchmaking the first bout. UFC president Dana White tossed a red and blue-sided coin in the air and Ortiz was left with the choice. He opted to pick the first fighter, which allowed Liddell to select the match-up.
Ortiz selected undefeated Canadian Nick Ring as his first pick, while Liddell’s first choice was experienced Australian Kyle Noke.
“My first pick was actually Nick Ring. I watched him in the Octagon yesterday. He was very poised, and he looked like he knew what he was doing and that was my first pick,” explained Ortiz.
“We looked at his fight record and the way he fought and his composure and he had a good shot at winning, so that’s why we picked him,” said Liddell about Noke.
The two coaches went back and forth until only Joe Henle was left standing for Liddell to hand a blue jersey and welcome to his team.
Team Ortiz is comprised of Nick Ring, Kyacey Uscola, Kris McCray, Jamie Yager, James Hammortree, Clayton McKinney, and Chris Camozzi, picked in that order.
Team Liddell is made up of Kyle Noke, Rich Attonito, Charles Blanchard, Josh Bryant, Brad Tavares, Court McGee, and Joe Henle, also picked in that order.
Ortiz was happy with his roster, saying, “I’m very happy with the picks I have.”
Ortiz and White immediately called Liddell’s choice of fighters into question.
“A few of Liddell’s picks were very questionable, just because the guys just don’t look like 185-pounders. A lot of the guys were smaller. They were like five-nine, five-eight,” said Ortiz.
“I’m blown away by the team picks,” said the UFC president. “Chuck’s a strategy guy, but not today.”
“I honestly don’t know how he could have made some of these picks,” added White. “Chuck’s pretty good with strategy and he wants to win this thing, so maybe I’m wrong, but I think Tito got the right team today. He’s got a very strong team.”
Liddell defended his selections.
“Dana came to talk to me. He was surprised at some of my picks and I told him I got what I wanted,” said Liddell. “Me and him disagree on fighters all the time. I think I got tough guys. They’re good guys. If you guys think I picked the wrong guys, we’ll see.”
The distain the coaches share for each other was displayed by Ortiz’ actions and Liddell’s words.
Ortiz celebrated turning 35 during the filming of episode two. He brought cupcakes for his team and celebrated by bashing a piñata in the image of Liddell filled with money, while his team members collected the fallen cash.
Liddell made it clear that Ortiz crossed a line with him during interviews leading up to the launch of the show’s eleventh season.
“They know I don’t like him and they knew he was going to talk enough (expletive). He’s already… we’ve been here what, a week? I was looking at it as a tune-up fight, now he’s motivated me to train for the (expletive) thing, so now he‘s in trouble,” Liddell commented.
“Tito said in an interview that Dana had to have an intervention with me in September and saying I was an alcoholic and he was using it to I think explain why I’ve lost some fights. You want to make (expletive) up and try to make me look bad in the press, trying to do what ever you want? (Expletive) you,” added the former light heavyweight titleholder.
“And I know myself. I put myself in the wrong position, he might get dropped here.”
When it came to the fight announcement, McKinney wasn’t shocked that he was chosen to take on Liddell’s first pick, Kyle Noke. The feeling in the Ortiz camp was that McKinney or Camozzi would be picked first due to their injuries suffered getting into the house, and it was McKinney who got the call.
CLAYTON MCKINNEY VS. KYLE NOKE
McKinney showed success with leg kicks early in the bout, backing Noke up, but both were cautious in the opening two minutes. McKinney secured top position in a scramble after a clinch halfway through the round. Noke was active from the bottom working for submissions. He was able to lock on a triangle choke that forced McKinney to tap out at the 2:44 mark of the first round.
McKinney was visibly disgusted with the loss, but Ortiz pleaded to the emotional fighter to give him “a minute of his time,” where the coach drilled him on a triangle choke escape.
“Humility is a (expletive) but makes us men,” stated Ortiz.