by Ken Pishna (photos courtesy of theultimatefighter.tv)
Rashad Evans and Mike Whitehead (Photos courtesy of TheUltimateFighter.tv)
On last week’s show, Luke Cummo defeated Anthony Torres in a dominant display. Matt Hughes remarked how he, “I didn’t take Luke. Luke was the guy I got stuck with… he’s been… Luke’s amazing.”
Wasting no time, it was back to the workouts. As Luke said, “If Matt were a normal human being, he probably would reward us with a little break.” Alas, Matt is anything but a normal human being. He had his team busting their asses as he sang the praises of Mike Whitehead, whom he said was like an assistant coach for the team.
Again emphasizing the contrast in coaching styles, Matt was shown busting open a cut over Brad Imes’ eye that required 14 stitches. On the other end of the spectrum, Rich was lecturing his fighters to make sure that they wear head gear and other protective equipment as they can’t afford to lose a fighter to injury this late in the game.
Back at the house, Luke celebrated his win over Anthony by going on a junk food binge, inhaling all the pizza and ice cream he can cram into his stomach. Considering the time constraints of the show, this can’t be a smart strategy, but Luke sees it as rewarding himself for all of the sacrifices he makes when preparing for a fight.
Next… the last Heavyweight Challenge; the 4-Way Tug of War. Brad and Mike, much bigger in size than Rashad and Keith, literally run away with the challenge. With all four fighters opposite each other and harnessed to an octagon shaped anchor, Brad drives like the former offensive lineman that he is and Mike pushes the octagon as the two forced their competitors to their “hot spot” to win the challenge.
Winning the right to select this week’s heavyweight elimination fight, Team Hughes, with the cut and stitches over Brad’s eye, select Mike to square off with the much smaller Rashad, who will be fighting for the second time on the show. Not to put any pressure on his fighter, Matt tells Mike, “I’ve got to have a guaranteed win.”
At weigh-ins, Rashad comes in at 222 pounds giving up quite a chunk of mass to the much heavier, at 251 pounds, Mike. Planning to use Mike’s size during the fight, Matt instructs him to, “Make it a rough fight and make everybody realize why I picked you first.”
With all of the expectations in this episode building up in Mike’s favor, he really struggled once they got into the fight. During the first round, he seemed to fall into a one-track mode of trying, at all costs, to take Rashad down. For his part, Rashad didn’t do a lot of damage, but being a wrestler himself, he did stuff most of Mike’s takedown attempts and managed to get off a few shots here and there. Rashad clearly scored enough to win the round.
The second round only saw things get worse for Mike. He almost looked to be searching for an answer that just wouldn’t come to him, kind of like me in my high school geometry class. Not even coming close to getting Rashad down, Mike served as a target for more scoring by Rashad, who started to land shots at an even higher rate with some clean punch combinations.
In-between rounds two and three, Matt let into Mike with a vengeance. With the frustration clearly showing on Matt’s face, he chastised Mike. “You might be the toughest guy in the practice room, but you’re not showing me anything right now!” Then he flung the water bottle at the cage and stormed out of the ring.
The third round continued to spiral downward for Mike. He seemed to lose all confidence by now and had nothing for Rashad. For his part, Rashad seemed to gain all of the confidence that Mike was now lacking. He continued to throw combinations with ever-increasing frequency, racking up the points. As the clock wound down, with Rashad pressuring Mike up against the fence, Matt called out, “Go ahead and lean up against the fence and let the time run out; if that’s what you want to do. Mike, don’t worry, you’ve only got 30 seconds left.”
Following the fight, Dana announced the obvious unanimous decision (30-27 on all three scorecards) in Rashad’s favor. Mike was sent home.
Matt talked about how frustrating it is when you’re cornering a fighter. Despite seeing exactly how the fight is breaking down and giving all the advice in the world, the cornerman can’t be in the cage doing anything about it.
Coming Up on Week 10:
Mike’s humiliating defeat weighs heavily on Team Hughes, a previously eliminated fighter returns, and the first semi-final elimination match featuring the welterweights.