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Reflections on The Ultimate Fighter week 11 (or is it 12? do weeks without episodes count?)

   So here we are at the end of Season 8 of The Ultimate Fighter, and we have back-to-back episodes to say goodbye.

   We begin with Ryan Bader vs Eliot Marshall.

   The fight went all three rounds and is pretty simple to summarize: Bader took Eliot down and put him against the cage. Bader controlled Eliot until the ref stood the fight back up and then took him down again at will. This was the pattern for three rounds.

   Bader won via unanimous decision and moved to the finals.

   Mir spent most of the fight calling for the ref to stand them up and calling it a good wrestling match. He then commends Bader after the fight for winning with a limited set of abilities. I’m sorry, but he was able to utilize his superior skill and control the entire fight. If Eliot was indeed the better fighter he could have done a number of things: Sprawl and out strike Bader, work back to his feet from the ground, sweep Bader, or perhaps submit him from his back. Instead he laid on the ground with Bader in his guard.

   Unlike his coach, Eliot made no excuses in defeat and gave Bader plenty of credit.

   Next up was George Roop vs Phillipe Nover. If you decided to go to the fridge you would have missed this lightweight bout. Nover came out swinging, connected, and took Roop down. Roop managed a nice sweep, but Nover quickly applied a solid Kimura and forced Roop to tap.

   Phillipe Nover, as many expected, is now fighting in the finals.

   The second episode begins with Krzysztof Soszynski vs Vinny Magalhaes.

   Pre-fight Bas Jr says you can change a black belt to a white belt with a punch in the face. Unfortunately he wasn’t able to land this magical punch.

   At the start of the fight it seemed like we were in for a war of styles. Vinny pulled guard every chance he got and Krzysztof sprawled or was able to stand up. However after receiving 9 inside leg kicks in a row Vinny was able to again pull guard and submit Krzysztof with an arm bar.

   Vinny will now face Bader in the season finale.

   And this is where the episode goes crazy. Junie is shown training and saying that he doesn’t want to fight. He feels he has gotten worse since he arrived and that he doesn’t want to fight and lose on TV.

   So back at the house, he loses his temper following a discussion about the fights with Shane and throws a coffee mug at him, and then a couple punches. Shane calls him crazy.

   As a result, Dana White treats us to another appearance. He asks if Junie is retarded, bi-polar or just afraid to lose. Junie claims he isn’t like this at home, and that the reality show is messing with his head. Dana says he is afraid to lose without an excuse, and that he is trying to take the easy way out. He doesn’t want to let Junie leave, but he doesn’t want the other guys think he is playing favourites, so he gives them the choice. He explains the situation (We finally get the “don’t vote him off, beat him off “ line) and Efrain expresses his desire to fight Junie. The others agree and Junie gets to stay again.

   People are going to question this move, and I questioned giving Junie a second and third chance. But I think there was sound logic behind this decision that goes beyond ratings (which many will be quick to blame). Junie talked trash all season, and Dana is forcing him to back it up in the cage.

   The Fight with Efrain is by no means spectacular. Junie begins by sitting in the cage while Efrain enters, and then by stretching when the round begins. They trade on their feet, with neither doing much damage for a round and a half.

   Mir decided to give up on Junie in Round 2 and sat down to simply watch the fight. Junie was obviously gassed and when Efrain finally took him down there wasn’t much effort to escape or defend the choke.

   Efrain submitted Junie in the second round and will now face Nover in the finals.

   After the fight Junie goes outside while Team Nog celebrates and shaves Mir’s head. Apparently Mir had agreed to it in a bet that Nog’s fighters wouldn’t make the finals.

   Outside Junie made excuses of why he would have been better if he trained at home, and said that Efrain wasn’t better than he though, but that he simply overestimated his own abilities.

   In the end, Dana White seemed pretty stoked that Junie was beaten and sent home properly.

   So thus concludes my weekly reflections on the Ultimate Fighter. Tune in next week for some views on the finales, and some other various thoughts.

(Slightly delayed) Reflections on The Ultimate Fighter week 10

   Sorry for the delay, I’ve been sick this week and the quality of this article may reflect that.

   So this week the focus is on John’s love of hugs and Roop’s injured hand.  

   The highlight is that we get a fantastic hug montage and a bit more depthin to John’s personality. John seems like a genuinely nice guy, even Junie likes John.

   John explains that he holds his hugs extra long because no one gives a good hug anymore. Instead of simply going through the motions, he makes every hug count.

   John being such a nice guy causes a very small prank to be a rather big deal. The guys on Team Mir steal the marshmallows from John’s lucky charms (Which is pretty funny) and he gets genuinely upset. He explains that he didn’t involve himself in any previous pranks, and that he has been nothing but nice to Team Mir.

   John is someone I hope the UFC or at least the WEC pick up. His attitude is good for the sport.

   The fight itself is a bit weak. Roop keeps john at a distance with kicks and controls the fight despite only having one hand. The most notable moment was the pre fight hug, perhaps the first ever in the octagon.

   Not surprisingly Roop won the fight via decision. Dana got upset, stating that he hates it when fights are stolen from fighters. Dana felt a third round was needed, but I personally don’t think John did enough to warrant one.

   Post fight Team Mir talks trash about Team Nog’s family atmosphere and Roop looks a little embarrassed to be in the same dressing room with them.

   Back at the house a couple guys toss eggs and things off the balcony onto the guys in the hot tub. In retaliation Junie throws a temper tantrum equal to a younger brother who knows he can’t do anything to get his older brothers to stop picking on him.

   The semi final fights are announced as:

Eliot vs Bader

Vinny vs Krystoff

Junie vs Efrain

Roop vs Nover

   However if the commercials for the upcoming episode and Junie’s comments on Dana’s video blog are any indication, we won’t be seeing Junie vs Efrain. 

Reflections on The Ultimate Fighter Week 9 (and a thought on UFC 91)

   Well, I must say, this week’s episode had me worried but became rather entertaining.

   Following his loss Kaplan gets mighty sloshed and begins claiming he can’t be knocked out. He calls out just about everyone in the house with this claim. Eventually after begging drinking buddy Tom Lawlor to punch him, Kaplan is knocked out cold. He claims he wasn’t, but his legs went stiff, his eyes glazed over, and he was unaware of his surroundings. The cat was out cold.

   The best part of the whole situation (Other than seeing Kaplan get knocked out) was Junie being stoked, because it made him seem a bit more normal.

   This week’s pranks managed to avoid bodily fluids thankfully. Bader decides that since Kryz is fighting this week, he needs to be the focus. The red team moves a ton of things into Kryz’s room, after moving his bead into the closet.

   Bas Jr sees this and enjoys it thoroughly, claiming he didn’t think they had it in them. Of course, he makes this prank look like child’s play by moving every plate, cup utensil, etc onto the basketball court in the middle of the night. It is quite obvious who is better with pranks.

   In the coaches’ challenge, we learn that Big Nog is the worst soccer player in Brazil. But this doesn’t stop him from beating Mir and winning money for himself and his team. Mir’s insane logic following the event explains that since scored 6 goals on a guy from Brazil, he was 200x (his measurement) the athlete that Nog is. Maybe I just don’t get the advanced math Frank used to decide this, but I’ve never seen Big Nog look like Mir did against Dan Christison. Or if you need a pre-accident example, I don’t think he would be gassed in the second round against Wes Sims.

   The fight itself wasn’t extremely competitive; Bas Jr was able to out strike Kyle standing, then pull guard and transition to an arm bar.

   Nog is a big fan of Kyle though, and has offered to teach him the ground game when the show is over, since he came in with only 6 months of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training.

   It was nice to see an appearance from Kryz’s Team Quest coach “Dangerous” Dan “Hendo” “Hollywood” Henderson in this episode.

   Speaking of nicknames, really Nover? The Filipino Assassin? Do you know how many assassins there already are? Houston Alexander is “The Assassin”, Mikey Burnett is “The Eastside Assassin”, Sam Hogar is the “Alaskan Assassin”, Sokoudjou is “The African Assassin”, David Terrell is “The Soul Assassin”, Melvin Guillard is “The Young Assassin” and of course Josh Barnett is “The Babyface Assassin”. And those are just off of the top of my head. So please Phillipe, find a new nickname.

   Huge fights this Saturday at UFC 91. After he dismantled Tim Sylvia I said I would never doubt Randy again and I will stand by that. I’ll admit in advance that I am biased and if I made a favourite fighter list, Randy would be at the top, but I still think he has the edge in this fight. The man is insane at creating strategies to exploit the weaknesses of his opponents. I think his experience and ever improving hands will play a big factor in this fight.

   I’m a fan of Lesnar as well. He is a huge man and a challenge that has me a bit worried for Randy. I think he is the future of the division and will be a champion at some point, just not this Saturday.

  Next week we see John the Hug Machine fight. If he wins with a rear naked choke (or a hug from behind I’ll call it) it will be the greatest thing ever.

Reflections on The Ultimate Fighter week 8

   This week we get a great episode of The Ultimate Frat Boy. I don’t know why, perhaps because the producers don’t find Nog or Mir that interesting, but we don’t get to see much training this season.

   The show focuses quite a bit this week on the prank war within the house, however this time it goes to a strange new level. People have been eating Tom Lawlor’s fruit tray daily while he is at practice. Tom (and a couple other guys) piss in the fruit tray and explain that it isn’t their fault if the other team eats it. Of course Bader, Phillipe, Kyle ad a few others eat it.

   When Team Mir explains what happened they take the news very differently. Phillipe starts to gag, Bader doesn’t react much, and Kyle is pretty stoked about it being a great prank.

   In retaliation, Phillipe is upset that people keep eating his sushi. So, in what must be the most awkward sequence in The Ultimate Fighter history, the guys on team Nog add some special sauce to Phillipe’s sushi.

   Dave Kaplan, Phillipe’s opponent for the week eats it, and then freaks out a bit. He claims that his fecal matter will be on them within 3 days.


   This week we saw maybe about 7 minutes worth of actual training, and when they showed team Mir train it was Junie throwing a temper tantrum about no one wanting to train. Mir sitting with his team on the mats explains he simply waits out these moments with Junie. Great coaching Frank.

   We see a bit more of Nog than Mir in this episode because he takes the time to go to the house to see his guys. John is stoked about this so he and Nog hug it out.

   Junie gives Phillipe tips on how to beat Dave Kaplan. His reasoning is that he doesn’t like Kaplan because he talks too much. Really Junie? Really? Alright.

   The fight itself lasts maybe two minutes. Phillipe lands a couple big shots standing, moves to the ground and sinks in a rear naked choke for the win.

   Following the fight Kaplan and Mir make a lot of excuses as to why Dave lost the fight. They don’t mention the one where Phillipe is pretty damn impressive.

   Other than the fight and Dave Kaplan’s Rain Man like ability to name the capitols of countries, this week felt like a bit of a waste of time. 

Reflections on the Ultimate Fighter Week 6 and no more EliteXC

   So this week was by far my favourite episode of the season thus far. There was very little in the way of house nonsense and shenanigans (some, but much less then previously).

   Following their win from last week Frank Mir comes to celebrate at the house. While there he asks Delgado where he got his black belt. The preview made it seem like Mir was harassing him, and Mir received heat on message boards like Sherdog for it. In reality the question was posed quite casually and in a friendly way. The answer given by Delgado is a bit complicated, and lead to many questioning his black belt’s legitimacy. He said he would post a link of his ceremony and he did (Find part one here)

   This persists into the fight announcement where Junie hands Delgado a black belt and spits on it. Which is an ignorant thing to do, let alone with Frank Mir and Big Nog present. Mir chalks it up to being charismatic, but echoes Nog and Anderson Silva, stating it is disrespectful.

   The episode is indeed all about the fight between Junie and Delgado. Junie doesn’t make weight at first, but manages to cut the additional two pounds in an hour. (Although he seemed on the verge of giving up a couple times.) Mir is right when expressing his anger and frustration with Junie. His mental state and strength are his biggest weakness.

   Junie talks some pre-fight trash stating that Delgado won’t make it out of the first round. Saying he wants to make a deal with Dana that says Delgado wins if he survives round one.

   Well guess what, the fight goes three rounds. It is not a great technical fight, and neither fighter looked incredible. What did stand out is Delgado’s heart and drive, Junie’s punches to the body and Junie’s lack of cardio.

   Junie landed a lot of shots, but Delgado didn’t seem particularly injured. They may have seemed better than they were relative to Delgado’s standup though, which was rough and ineffective. Both men taunted each other in the early rounds, but by the third Delgado was the only one smiling as Junie continued to out point him. For all the trash he talked about Delgado’s credentials Junie would not go to the ground, even while Delgado laid on his back and called Junie to come after him.

   Junie won via split decision, and in a moment of class apologized to Nog about the belt incident, chalking it up to pre-fight hype. Junie also expressed his disappointment with himself for letting Delgado out of the first. Mark it down, Junie managed to not be a complete fool for about 10 minutes, let’s hope it continues.

   Frank Mir stated they picked this fight so Junie could simply destroy their weak link and send a message. Well Delgado didn’t look hurt during the fight, which required a third round, what happens when Junie fights one of Nog’s best?

   In other news, EliteXC folded this week, where their fighters will end up is currently unknown. Hopefully we see Robbie Lawlor back in the Octagon, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kimbo at a Dream event in the near future. If only the UFC would bring Gina in for the fight with Cyborg as a one-time deal to test the reaction to women in the UFC. But I’m sure we can all agree that it is good to have Jared “Why do I call myself $kala?” Shaw out of MMA for the time being.

Reflections on The Ultimate Fighter week 5

   Let’s get the end of last week’s episode out of the way quickly. Junie Browning (not Brown, my bad last week) jumps the cage, and nothing happens as a result. Dana says if the head of the NSAC had been there Junie would have been tossed and his license revoked. Seriously Dana? If it was bad enough that he would have lost his fight license, it should be bad enough (on top of last week’s insanity) to be tossed from the show. But he is not, and Frank Mir simply says he needs to redeem himself, as apologies mean nothing.

   Back at the house Junie complains that being on the show was a terrible decision and if he loses his fight the rest will be forced to deal with drunk Junie every night. In fact he feels if he loses to anyone in the house he should quit MMA and get a factory job. So there is some hope for all fans of MMA as a legitimate sport.

   In a funny moment, Efrain takes us back to ’98 and says that Junie thinks he is “all that and a bag of chips”. Awesome.

   So this episode is basically a prank-off. Team Mir freezes Efrain’s clothes and puts itching powder in beds. So Team Nog puts fish oil all over Team Mir’s beds. So Vinny urinates on Efrain’s pillow. Vinny isn’t as clever or subtle in his pranks as the other guys. Of course Bas Rutten Jr. started it all and everyone speculates an escalation.

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Reflections on the Ultimate Fighter, Week 4. OR The self-destruction of Junie Browning

What can you say about the Ultimate Fighter this week other than it really didn’t help how the public will perceive the sport of Mixed Martial Arts.

Junie Browning…what a maniac. Dana White had commented that this season would make Chris Leben look like a angel, and he was right. Junie starts by talking trash (drunk) and throwing peanuts at Kyle. Kyle light heartedly tosses some back. Junie responds by throwing a glass that breaks on Kyle’s arm. Right there, toss the cat; he has now endangered another fighter’s career.

Junie assumes he will be tossed from the house, so he goes on a rampage. He talks trash to everyone, especially the light heavyweights. Junie’s partner who is much less interesting, Shane also gets drunk and talks trash. Especially to Efrain, but we will come back to that later.

So Junie and Shane go down and start breaking things and throwing stuff into the pool. Being the children they are, they fing it hilarious. Meanwhile the rest of the house isn’t amused. Eventually Junie picks up a bottle and starts threatening people (2nd time he should be tossed). That is when Krzysztof steps in and tries to calm Junie. This escalates into Junie calling the bigger guys bullies and jumping in the pool.

Now as we learned last week, Krzysztof enjoys a good practical joke, so he puts the clothes Junie had been wearing into the pool. This of course escalates into Junie freaking out and while doing so, Ryan Bader puts his clothes back in the pool. Guess what happens next? That’s right, it escalates and Junie tries to push Badder in the pool. This results in a small tussle where Junie needs to be restrained and throws a front kick (violence, probably a 3rd reason to be tossed). He then pushes Krzysztof again, seems to cry a little bit, then goes back in the house.

SO. The next morning Dana White comes and asks Junie what is wrong with him. Although it’s a bit more colourful since it’s Dana White giving a speech, but I’m trying to keep this column clean. Dana explains there is booze in the house because they are grown men who should be responsible enough to have a drink if they want one. For some reason, maybe ratings, Dana White lets Junie and Shane stay but says that since Shane challenged Efrain in the house like a tough guy, he will fight first. Dana claims to not know why he gave them a second chance, but tells them to not make him look like a fool. Best part was when Dana called Shane “Sparky”.

I understand giving someone a second chance, but maybe don’t do it on television, where the guys are representing a sport with a fragile public image.

The fight is chosen as Shane vs Efrain and immediately Junie is talking trash in the house that Efrain will only win via lay and prey based on his wrestling background.

We finally see the gym about half way through the show, and we see about five minutes of coaching from Mir and Nog.  We only get 15 seconds of Stankey, which is lame.

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Reflection on The Ultimate Fighter, Week 3

   Week three of The Ultimate Fighter begins with the information that two of the contestants, Brian and Karn, have fractured their noses and have been suspended for 180 days by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. As a result Kyle Kingsbury and Roli Delgado (one of the lankiest lightweights ever) got to come back.

   Teams were picked with Roli’s identity being unknown and going to whomever had the last pick of the lightweights. Mir won the coin-toss and chose to pick first, giving Nogueira control over the first fight.

   Mir feels that as individuals none of his fighters can be beat. Nog on the other hand took the Couture route and chose a group of guys he thinks will bond as a team. Which we see happen in this episode, with Nog going over to his team’s house for a meal, and being really excited about their ability to cook.

   John Polakowski (the cat who loves to hug people) is simply stoked about everything and gives Dana White a hug. I am so glad this guy is on the show. John comes from The Pitt, and reminds me a lot of Pitt alumni Jason Von Flue. He isn’t as obviously strange, but he seems to have suppressed his crazy and simply lets it out in hug form.

   Both Nog and Mir bring in competent assistant coaches (no Shamrock fiasco this season) including Mir’s assistant coach, former Abu Dhabi champion Robert Drysdale. The standout however is Nog’s assistant boxing coach Al “Stankie” Stankiewicz. Stankie is 67 and awesome, it’s like Burgess Meredith is on the show. If he calls someone “a wrecking machine” this will officially be my favourite season. How do you not love a guy named Stankie?

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Reflection on The Ultimate Fighter, Week 2 (There is no Week 1)

   Hello On Deck Circle folk this is the first of what I am planning to be a weekly column. The intended focus will be the episode of The Ultimate Fighter from the night prior, but could degenerate into my personal thoughts on MMA events that have occurred that week. Hopefully I find a nice balance between the two.

   Since I didn’t write an article about the first episode I will start by saying that my favorite moments were the NSAC guy saying, “I’m not Doc, but no” in response to Guida asking to be allowed to continue cutting weight. The man new the opportunity ahead of him, he should have come in better prepared. The other was Junie ridding us all of the fighter who thought it was badass to liken himself to Hitler…dawg. Junie reminds me of a cocky Mayhem Miller, and seems to have the skills to back up his talk.

   As for this week, I wanted to start with a pun and call them a bunch of choke artists, but it seemed lame. But I must say, there were a lot of chokes, and it seems like this season may do a great job of educating people on how entertaining a ground war is.

   I also love that this season will give Nogueira exposure to the American audience. We’ve already learned one new thing about him; the man likes a good hug. Much more than Frank Mir, who was really uncomfortable with John Polakowski’s chosen display of affection. I wonder if he will choose him and institute his 3-second hug rule.

   Anyone else thing that it was funny when they paired up the two lankiest lightweights in the world in the fight between Roli Delgado and George Roop? Dana wasn’t joking when he called it the battle of the beanpoles. George won by decision and the audience learned that Frank likes guys who are coachable.

   Ryan Bader has some fantastic wrestling credentials as a two time all American and winner of 3 pac-10 championships. Won with a triangle and according to Nog has the “eye of the tiger” and according to Apollo Creed, that is essential for a fighter. I think Bader has a chance at taking the competition.

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