The real fights can finally begin this week on "The Ultimate Fighter." We will get to see what kind of coaches Michael Bisping and Dan Henderson turn out to be, and if Team UK is the bunch of hooligans that Dana White expects them to be.
Now that the final teams are picked, we can start the actual fights. They will be picked by Team USA. Who will survive and become the ... Ultimate Fighter? (By the way, I'd like to have that guy read my grocery list. With chicken breasts, salad and pasta on the table, who will survive to become ... Maggie's dinner?)
Bisping is happy with the way his team is training. His coaches are Mario Sukata, who is a ground game specialist, and Dave Jackson, who helps out Bisping with Muay Thai. The fighters are happy with training, too, so the Team UK camp is just shiny and happy ... for now. Bisping continues to talk smack and upset some of the Team USA fighters, but Dan Henderson explains that it's just best to shut a guy up with your fist. Hear, hear.
More of a focus on coaching this season? One can hope
Henderson's coaches are Gustavo Pugliese, who helps with boxing, Ricardo Feliciano for jiu-jitsu, Cyrille Diabate for Muay Thai, and Heath Sims, a 2000 Olympic Greco-Roman wrestler. With Team Quest behind him, Hendo's staff is stacked. In choosing the first fight, Hendo is concerned about having his guys not only fight, but make weight, so quickly after their win-or-go-home fights. With that in mind, Hendo asks for volunteers for the first fight, and he chooses ...
Mark Miller of Team USA and Nick Ospiczak of Team UK will face off. Both are happy with the match-up. Nick thinks he has an advantage because of his reach, Mark is quite comfortable with his stand-up game. Bisping ends the always-exciting (or, never really exciting) fight choosing segment with the platitude, "We make our own luck." Yawn.
In a segment I hope they continue to show, Bisping and his staff break down the tape of Miller's prelim fight. Listening to a fighter pick apart a fight can be an interesting peek inside a match preparation. This is much better than just watching the shenanigans back at the house.
Shenanigans, though no bodily fluids are involved
Nonetheless, there are shenanigans back at the house, so they must be shown. Damarques Johnson, the Team USA fighter who is most bothered by Bisping's smack talk, gets a hold of a Team UK shirt. They write USA on the shirt, and post a ransom note. That's hilarious, oh, seriously, ha ha ha ... no. Not really.
One of the things that Nick is trying to do is convince Team USA that he has a southpaw stance, when in reality, he can fight with either hand in the lead. With a lot of fighters, that may work, but Miller is so fluid and laid back with his fighting style that this deception may not matter. Miller says that his nickname, "The Meat Missile," started as a joke he told his grandmother, but now it seems to have stuck. Coach Cyrille tells Miller that Nick isn't much of a kicker. Hopefully, that doesn't come back to bite him in the ass.
For the next round of pranks, Team USA writes on Ross' wrestling shoes, or wrestling boots, as both teams call them. I've been around wrestling for nearly 20 years, and have never heard them called boots, but I guess they're wrestling boots. Ross gets angry at first and yells, "Who wrote on me boots?!?," but Bisping gives them a pep talk, and pushes his team to not engage in the stupidity. He then helps Nick come up with a gameplan for the fight with Miller, based partly on Miller's fights that were on YouTube.
Mark Miller vs. Nick Ospiczak:Just as he had planned, Nick takes down Mark early. Nick cedes control to Mark, who has side control for a short time. They get back to their feet, and Mark is in control with some good punches and knees. He knocks Nick down, and they stay on the ground for a moment before getting back up again. Mark appears to have hurt Nick, but he keeps fighting and takes Mark down again. Nick works a guillotine, and Mark appears to think about tapping, but he slips his head out and gains control. They return to their feet, and Nick ends the round with a takedown. I would give this round to Miller.
To start the second round, Nick again takes Mark down, but this time Mark is the one caught in the guillotine. He lets it go, but then regains the chokehold with Nick throwing body punches all the while. After some boring ground work, the two are stood up. Nick throws a high kick to Mark's head, and he's down. Nick is your winner, Team UK 1, Team USA 0.
After the fight, Bisping says that he was angry with his own team for all coaching like a pack of wild dogs. This did seem like a bit more raucous crowd than usual for the TUF fights. Bisping runs his mouth about winning, but later says that it was a tactical move.
In the dressing room, Miller admits that he had his hands down, so he got knocked out. In another move that shows what it's truly like to be a fighter, we see Miller vomiting after the knockout. It may not have been one of the more palatable sights of the show, but it's true to life. And after all, this is reality television, right?