by Jeff Cain – MMAWeekly.com
UFC president Dana White and coaches Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz gathered the fighters at the UFC Training Center in the opening scene of episode two of “The Ultimate Fighter.”
“Dana got us together on the mat and we’re all standing there. We’re not sure what is going to happen,” said Team Liddell member Brad Tavares. “I got a weird feeling in my gut that it was something bad.”
White asks Team Ortiz member Chris Camozzi to step forward.
“So you have exactly what we’re looking for. You’re talented. You’ve got big balls. You’ve got a lot of heart, but unfortunately you have a broken jaw, so you can no longer continue in this competition,” White said to the Coloradoan while the other contestants reacted in shock.
Camozzi defeated Victor O’Donnell by unanimous decision to earn his spot into the fighter house.
“After the fights to get in the house, Chris Camozzi was complaining of a tooth ache. The doctor took a CAT scan of his head and found out that he had just a fracture in his jaw, but if he got hit hard enough on that side of his face, it could break his jaw,” explained the UFC president.
“We had to make the decision to send him home. As unfortunate as it is, I’m not going to put a kid in a situation where he could possibly break his jaw in half,” added White.
“It’s horrible to be leaving right now,” said the disappointed Camozzi. “I was ready to go, you know. I wasn’t ready to give up on my dream, injury or not. I would have loved to have stayed. It took me years to get here and it took seconds to lose it.
“Tito is right. Dreams do come true and if you put something into it, you’ll get something out of it,” continued Camozzi. “I’m going to keep living by that and I hope I’ll be back real soon.”
Coach Ortiz was left with the decision of who to bring back from the available fighters who were defeated in episode one, not making it into the house.
“Dana gave me four highlighted guys who lost their fight, but are ready to come back,” said Ortiz.
Before leaving the training center, White reminded the combatants, “That’s how easy it is to leave. You know how hard it was to get here. It’s even harder to stay here.”
Ortiz chose to bring back Seth Baczynski, who was defeated by Court McGee in the elimination round in week one by unanimous decision, but it took a third, “sudden victory,” round to determine the winner.
“So Seth had his fight with McGee and he showed all kinds of heart,” Ortiz said about his choice of Baczynski. “I already had my eye on him automatically, so welcome aboard.
“Welcome back. I hope you’re ready to work son,” Ortiz told the returning fighter with a handshake and hug. “You showed a lot of heart. That’s why you’re back here.”
“It’s crazy to be here, finally. It hasn’t even really all set in yet,” said Baczynski about his second chance. “I’m just still wandering around like a chicken with its head cut off. I don’t really know the system, so I’m just kind of getting adapted and used to everything.”
With Kyle Noke’s win over Clayton McKinney last week, Liddell retained matchmaking control and he picked Brad Tavares to take on Team Ortiz’ James Hammortree.
“This fight is a really big step for us,” commented Ortiz about the match up. “We have to win this fight. I don’t want to put any extra stress on James, but this fight is mandatory. We need to win.”
Both fighters weighed in at 185.5 pounds.
Infighting erupted amidst Team Ortiz during a sparring session between Nick Ring and Jamie Yager and the coaches had to intervene. Both complained about the other’s sparring habits and Ring didn’t take kindly to Yager calling him names.
“I thought he was acting like a (expletive) so I called him a (expletive),” said Yager.
“You don’t need to be calling your teammates names or anything like that. That’s just not right. It‘s totally unacceptable,” said Ortiz’s first pick.
In episode two, Yager was the center of hostilities with teammates Kyacey Uscola and Clayton McKinney as well.
BRAD TAVARES (Team Liddell) VS. JAMES HAMMORTREE (Team Ortiz)
The opening round was closely contested with Tavares trying to keep his distance and strike from the outside and Hammortree working for takedowns, but it was Tavares getting a trip takedown from an early clinch, taking Hammortree’s back and looking to secure a rear naked choke.
Hammortree defended and obtained top position, but Tavares used the cage to work his way back to his feet. Hammortree wrestled him to the canvas only have Tavares take his back again. Hammortree eventually got to back to standing where the two scrambled for position with Hammortree ending up on top in Tavares’ half guard and advancing to side control in the final minute.
Ortiz told his fighter that he won the segment while Team Liddell’s corner told Tavares he needed to win the next round.
The pace slowed in the second stanza, but the game plans were the same. Hammortree immediately closed the distance and pushed Tavares to the fence looking for a takedown, but Tavares landed inside Hammortree’s guard before advancing to side control and landing a knee as Hammortree got back to his feet.
Tavares attempted another trip takedown that resulted in Hammortree taking his back where he peppered his opponent with punches to the head and body.
Tavares worked to lock on a Kimura, but Hammortree took the round with top control and ground and pound.
The judges were split after two rounds, so the fight went to a third round and final five minutes.
The final round went to Tavares, who landed jabs early, but was taken down and mounted before reversing Hammortree. He defended another takedown for the duration of the round, landing hammer fists to the side of Hammortree’s head.
“I thought that Hammortree won the third round,” said Ortiz following the bout.
Liddell and Ortiz debated who won the fight as the scorecards were being tallied. All three judges scored the fight for Tavares. Despite the criticisms for his team picks, Liddell opens the season 2-0 against Team Ortiz.
“I don’t like defeat, and for me to get the win, it was a win for myself, it was a win for my team, and it’s a win for everybody that stand behind me,” said Tavares after the fight.
“It’s frustrating, very frustrating to see Tavares’ hand raised,” said Ortiz about the decision. “I guess I was looking at something totally different than they were looking at. What about a takedown? What about side mount and a mount? I don’t know what they were paying attention to. I didn’t understand at all.”
Hammortree was left hoping to receive one of the wildcard selections.
“I think everybody knows I put everything I had into that fight, and I definitely hope I can come back for that wildcard position and get another shot at my dream,” said the Floridian.