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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.

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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