By Ken Pishna, MMAWeekly.com
Tonight it should be an interesting night on the Ultimate Fighter on Spike TV. Tonight the fighters are supposed to form alliances to advance in the competition. Coach Matt Hughes plays mind games with Jorge Gurgel and a second welterweight is sent home in brutal fashion.
Last week, Once again, the show started with a recap of last week where Josh Burkman sent Melvin Guillard home. Josh won a grueling three-round decision in the first welterweight battle of the season, dispatching of the green team’s best athlete. Dan Christianson also joined the show as the heavyweight replacement for Kerry Schall, who left due to a knee injury.
Before we kick off this week’s show, I have to say that the white trash in me is showing. I hate to admit it, but I’m already missing the drama that took place in the house during season one. Last season, we were treated to drunken tirades, a little spritzing, thievery and more. So far this season, the highest drama in the house seems to be arguing over which is the proper version of the bible to use for the house bible study meetings.
Week three opened up with a review of last week’s fight and Josh Burkman going off to the doc. He apparently injured his arm blocking a Melvin Guillard kick in that fight.
We’re then served to a pity party by the green team (Franklin’s). Morale is pretty low since losing both the challenge and the fight on week two. And if that weren’t enough, the blue team (Hughes’) was complaining that the green team was leaving the house a mess. Oh, the drama.
On to this season’s Diego. Obviously, something must be brewing involving Luke Cummo. They are spending a fair amount of time building him up as this season’s resident oddball, much as Diego was on season one. Voiced over images of Luke working out on traditional sand bags, meditating and performing yoga, Jorge Gurgel mentioned that the fighters had gone to calling him, “the Jedi, Luke Skywalker,” because of his weird meditative habits and general odd nature.
Josh came back to the house and explained to everyone that his arm was broken. The general consensus between the competitors was that they hoped that, much like Nate Quarry on season one, that Josh might be able to stay on.
On Day 11 the fighters were woke up and told to head out to the training center for a team meeting. Everyone knew it would have to do with Josh’s situation, they just didn’t know which way it would play out. Dana wasted know time telling the fighters that Josh’s arm would take 6 to 8 weeks to heal and he would not be able to stay in the house even though Dana had fighters from both teams begging him to let Josh stay.
Keeping a positive spin on the situation, Josh said, “I’ll go home, let my arm heal and get ready to beat up whoever wins this competition.”
At this point, we’re introduced to Rob MacDonald’s shoulder injury. Somewhere along the line, he suffered a torn labrum and was letting everyone on the show know about it. This theme kept up for the remainder of the show and it was getting on everyone’s nerves, especially those of his coach, Matt Hughes who pointed out that a fighter almost never goes into a bout 100% injury free.
Next up, we’re treated to this week’s Right Guard Xtreme Challenge, entitled “Keep Your Head Up.” Another concoction of Randy Couture’s, the heavyweights were thrown into a pool with an octagon-shaped flag with their team’s moniker emblazoned upon it. The fighters had to hold up the flag while treading water. The first team to drop their flag into the water loses; the other team selects the heavyweights for this week’s elimination bout.
Once again, Hughes’ blue team won the challenge when Rashad Evans faltered and dropped the green flag. He was ready to redeem himself by stepping in the ring, but the blue team had other ideas as Dana announced that they had chosen Rob MacDonald (shoulder injury and all) to step into the Octagon against Brad Imes, who was also suffering from an injury to his knee, although he wasn’t as vocal about it as Rob was about his shoulder.
With the injury to Josh, Day 12 dawned with the entrance of a new welterweight to the blue team. Jason Von Flue, trained by UFC Light Heavyweight Champ Chuck Liddell, answered the call on a moment’s notice and entered the house. He must be one of those guys that is quick to leave an impression as Jorge immediately pronounced, “He’s going to have a very shot stay here.”
Following introductions, the Hughes team now went through their first day of training with Jason. He went through the same workout as everyone else, but Hughes felt that since Jason hadn’t been there for the initial two days of “hell training” that everyone else had to go through prior to evaluation, Hughes would keep Jason around to put him to the test and see what he was made of.
Hughes put him on the treadmill and the entire workout circuit. Jason was getting to be a bit of a Drama King, so Hughes kept pushing him. His first impression of Jason, “He just doesn’t have the heart.”
Franklin then put his team through an uneventful workout, focusing on preparing Brad for his fight with Rob.
The next day, we’re at another Hughes training session. Rob had a private meeting with Matt to ask for his help to push him through this fight and help him work through his injury and get a win. Rob then went through his final preparations for the fight, including a sparring session with former UFC champion and Matt Hughes teammate Tim Sylvia.
(It’s interesting to note that a golden opportunity was passed up here, as Sylvia’s name wasn’t even mentioned on the show. This could have been a golden chance for the UFC to at least put his name out in front of the millions watching the show.)
As heavyweights, neither fighter had a problem making weight. Brad weighed in at 262 pounds, Rob at 229.
Day 13 was fight day. After a bit of talk leading up to the fight, Brad and Rob stepped into the Octagon with referee Herb Dean to decide who goes and who stays.
This one was short, but action packed. Rob scored early with a nice right hand followed up with a takedown. After some brief skirmishes on the ground that Rob seemed to get the better of, the two were back on their feet with Brad scoring a double-leg takedown. On the way down, Rob landed a solid guillotine choke, but Brad stayed calm and popped out. Rob continued to look for the guillotine and appeared to have it in deep again, but Brad worked his head out once more and this time, started to apply his own pressure with some solid forearms from Rob’s guard. After a brief time back on his feet, Brad dropped down to pass to Rob’s side. Rob quickly reversed, but got caught in a triangle choke. Working from his back, Brad locked on the choke causing Rob to tap out with 53 seconds left in the first round.
For those that were curious, yes, Brad did get a $5,000 bonus for landing the submission on Rob; just like the fighters in season one received bonuses for finishing their fights outside of a decision.
In the post-fight breakdown, Dana gave Rob credit for coming and trying to win the fight, but stated that he felt that, “[Rob] questioned whether he wanted to continue or not… He was kind of on the fence, I think.”
With Dr. Margaret Goodman of the Nevada State Athletic Commission checking Rob over after the fight, Hughes explained that Rob did suffer a complete detachment of his labrum and that it rolled down over his bicep.
According to Hughes, Rob got what he wanted. “He wanted to fight once. He wanted to go have surgery and then he wanted to go home. If Rob left, that was fine with me.” Hearing Rob’s exit interview, it sounds like it was fine by him too.