by Jeff Cain – MMAWeekly.com
Episode 4 of “The Ultimate Fighter: Team Liddell vs. Team Ortiz” featured two fights, a controversial situation in the Octagon, more Team Ortiz drama, and a shift in power.
Team Ortiz’s Jamie Yager continued to isolate himself from his teammates by cheering his roommate Brad Tavares of Team Liddell in Tavares’ Episode 3 bout against Team Ortiz’ James Hammortree.
Team Ortiz’ first pick Nick Ring confronted Yager following the fight about his support for the enemy.
“Yager starts cheering for Brad and we’re like, no. Either you’re with us or you’re against us,” said Ring. “Cheer for your teammate and not your friend. Okay? I mean we’re in this together.”
“You had Hammortree, who is on my team, representing Team Ortiz, but Tavares is my boy, so I was cheering for both the fighters,” said Yager. “I just definitely wanted to see a good fight and wanted to see both fighters leave it out there on the line. I didn’t want to see anyone holding back, and that’s what we saw.”
Questioned by his teammates about what team he’s on, Yager answered, “I’m on Team Yager.”
Upon returning to the house, Yager established a clique that he dubbed “The Minority Report,” consisting of fighters he meshed with before teams were chosen.
“Before even teams were picked, (Kyle) Noke, Tavares, myself and (Kris) McCray, we all just kind of clicked off the bat, so we made a pact. We set up The Minority Report,” revealed Yager.
“I don’t know what The Minority Report is. I think it’s just a name Yager came up with. I think they think I’m a minority as well because I’m from Australia amongst all these Americans, but I like hanging out with those guys. They made a little group and that’s what they call it,” explained Noke.
“A team is a team, but at the same time I’m going to represent who I want to represent,” commented Yager. “If I had it my way we’d all be on the same team.”
The first fight announcement came and coach Liddell chose Rich Attonito to take on Team Ortiz’ Kyacey Uscola.
Ortiz liked the match up saying, “We’re going to get control, without a doubt.”
Breaking down the fight from his perspective Uscola said, “My advantages over Rich is I hit a lot harder. I’ve had a lot more fights. I’ve got a better wrestling pedigree, and I’m hungry.”
But before the fight, the infighting on Team Ortiz reared its ugly head with Uscola accusing Yager of stealing an article of clothing. The scene was reminiscent of the debut season’s theft accusations levied against Sam Hoger.
“Yager is a thief. My sweatshirt came up missing. I left it downstairs. I went straight upstairs and went into his closet and sure as (expletive), it was right there with my name on it,” said Uscola.
Yager denied the allegations and was livid that Uscola went through his belongings.
“Kyacey Uscola went through my (expletive),” stated the angered Yager. The censorship beep person in the Spike TV editing room got a workout with Yager’s next sentence that can’t be put in print.
Kris McCray admitted he put the sweatshirt in the closet, but that didn’t change the animosity between Yager and Uscola. Uscola refused to apologize for accusing Yager of theft and the bickering continued between the two.
Uscola maintained Yager was a thief referencing an incident that didn’t make the air where some Punishment Athletic gear came up missing from the locker room. It turned out that Yager was told by Team Ortiz coach Rob McCullough that he could take the items.
“Kyacey thought Yager stole his sweater. The only reason they thought that was I had a couple of Punishment t-shirts hanging around, a couple of them came up missing,” stated Ortiz. “Yager said one of the coaches said it was cool for him to take one. It ended up being that he did ask, but all of a sudden he was labeled as a thief. He ain’t no thief.”
KYACEY USCOLA VS. RICH ATTONITO
Uscola and Team Ortiz thought Attonito would try to get the fight to the ground, but couldn’t have been more wrong. The two landed clean right hands in the opening moments, but Attonito took over the striking and dropped Uscola with a combination ending with overhand right.
Uscola went into survival mode while Attonito furiously worked for a stoppage. After nearly a minute of Uscola covering up and moving trying to avoid the barrage of punches and hammer fists, he was able to get back to his feet.
As Uscola worked to isolate an arm while pressed against the cage, Attonito picked him up and slammed him viciously leaving the UFC president reacting with a “holy (expletive)” outburst.
Following a scramble that had Attonito briefly on Uscola’s back, Kyacey secured a Kimura that forced the American Top Team trained Attonito to roll, giving Uscola top position in side mount where he began to work elbows to the head and body.
Attonito flipped to his knees, looking to get up, while Uscola stood and delivered two illegal knees to the downed Attonito.
A doctor entered the Octagon to determine if Attonito could continue, asking the hurt fighter, “Do you know where you are?”
“Fighting in a cage,” answered Attonito and the doctor immediately made the call that the fight was over and Uscola was disqualified.
Uscola erupted in emotion screaming for Attonito to get up. “Let’s see the replay before you disqualify me. This is my life,” insisted Uscola.
“I know one hit him in the collar bone and one hit him in the chest. They might have grazed off and slid into his face a little bit, so be it, but they didn’t initially hit him in the face. I know that,” added Uscola.
Ortiz disputed the knees landed to the head of Attonito. “Kyacey threw a knee, hit him in the chest. Threw another knee. I don’t think it hit him in the face.”
“After that second one hit me everything got real fuzzy. I wasn’t sure if they called the fight and I lost or what, but at that point it took a few minutes to get my faculties about me,” recollected Attonito.
“Rich was completely dominating that fight,” said Dana White. “The way that I saw this one, in my personal opinion, it was absolutely a one-sided fight until he got hit with those illegal knees. So I think the ref made the absolute right decision. He made the right call.”
Uscola refused to accept what happened, saying, “He was just looking for a way out. Rich is a good guy and I respect him as a person, but not now as a fighter. No way.”
Ortiz stormed out of the gym breaking down a fragile door in the process, knocking it off its hinges. “I haven’t been that mad in a long time,” said the coach.
Attonito sustained a hand injury during the bout and upon returning to the fighter house, he exclaimed, “I’m done. I don’t know what’s going on, but my hand is probably going to need surgery.
“I didn’t expect to break my hand. The only thing I know right now is no more fighting for me while I’m on this show.”
Team Liddell maintained matchmaker control with three straight wins and decided to put Charlie Blanchard up against Team Ortiz bad boy Jamie Yager.
Liddell thought it was a good match-up for Blanchard while Ortiz was ecstatic with the fight announcement.
“If he slips on a banana peel when he’s walking in the cage, that’s the only way he’s going to lose. That’s how much belief I have in Yager. I think he’ll do well. It’s time to take control,” stated Ortiz. “If we lose this fight I’m literally going to shoot myself.”
CHARLIE BLANCHARD VS. JAMIE YAGER
Stylistically the match-up was simple, Blanchard wanted to get the fight to the ground while Yager wanted it to be a kickboxing bout.
Yager defended the first takedown attempt and the writing was on the wall. Yager quickly landed a superman punch that sent Blanchard crashing to the canvas where he turtled up and Yager finished with a series of right hands.
Team Ortiz took control with the win from the source of turmoil within its tribe.
“Yager sucked the desire right out of that kid,” said White. “He put it to him, hit him with some big shots, and he basically just laid down and turtled up an got punched into submission.”
“To win and finally get control, it puts a smile on my face,” commented Ortiz.
“There was a little bit of bad energy on our team. We had three losses in a row, and I definitely wanted to be the one to change the pace of what was going on for us, so I’m glad to definitely bring some good energy to our team now,” said Yager following the fight.
His performance even won over rival Kyacey Uscola, sort of.
“I think this win, we gained a little bit of respect for Yager,” said the 28-year-old fighter. “But I still hope I can smash his face one day.”