This week on the Ultimate Fighter we have two fights. One is the first of the second round of the tournament, while the other is between two guys who have just lost, and are frustrated being in the house.
Fights picks are a little different this time around. Rather than teams winning and getting momentum, all the matchups were determined at once in the beginning. Dana, Jens and BJ had a meeting and decided on the best fights. That much you saw. What you didn’t see was when each fighter that won their first fight had a very brief sit down with Dana and the coaches on who they wanted to fight. Going into the second round, I wanted to fight Brandon or Manny. I thought both fights were good pairings for me. Brandon is a striker without a lot on the ground, while Manny is good on the ground, but I thought I could get the takedown and put him on the fence. I wanted to avoid Corey, because he is so tall and can make anyone look bad. I would rather not fight Diaz because he is a real bad style matchup for me… being real tall, a southpaw with great boxing and he is very good on the ground once I get it there. I think we all saw Nate as the top guy on Team Pulver, so I don’t think anyone really wanted to fight him, but I don’t think anyone was scared of him either.
The first fight they announced was me and Cole. I was happy with this fight, because I thought I could control the pace of the fight, because Cole’s biggest weakness is his wrestling. I worked with Cole a little bit on evaluation day doing some grappling, and he felt as I had thought he would. He had long legs, but wasn’t very strong. He had good hip movement, so submissions and sweeps were constantly coming, but I felt comfortable that I could stay out of sweeps and submissions while beating him up on the ground and making it a fight and not a grappling match. Team Pulver knew that one of them would have to face their own and BJ had said that everyone on both sides were saying they wanted to fight Cole. I was happy to have the fight because a fight between Cole and I had been talked about since long before either of us even thought of getting on the show. A lot of people would get to see a fight that had been talked about in depth.
I thought Gray fighting Brandon was a great thing for us. Brandon was the biggest guy in the house, but Gray would be able to take him down and keep him there. Brandon has better standup but it doesn’t matter when you have a 3x Div I All-American trying to get you down. I thought Brandon was a good matchup for any of our guys, because we were all good on the ground and would all hopefully be able to get the fight down and keep it there.
I was happy to see Nate and Corey fighting, because it meant we wouldn’t have to deal with either of them this round. One would knock the other out, and it was a win-win situation for us. Nate said he knew that none of us wanted to fight him or Corey, and he was right. In a tournament like this, you would rather have an easier fight so you can go into the next round rested and healthy. Matching up two of their best guys was great for us.
Matt and Manny was almost set in stone before the coaches sat down with Dana. Manny was very clear that he didn’t like Wiman, and he told them that was the only fight he wanted. They just rubbed one another the wrong way and it was apparent in the house. Matt is kind the type to tell you how you should do things, while Manny is the type to tell you to do everything how you want and forget about everyone else. I like both guys, but I can see how they could annoy each other a little bit. I thought this was another good fight for Team Penn because Matt has a lot of height an reach on Manny, and he has no problem standing. So he could keep Manny away with punches, and then stop the takedowns. He would have to stay clear of the clinch stuff so Manny didn’t throw him on his head, but it gave us a clear gameplan which is always good.
We are at a point now where there are 8 still focused on fighting, while the other 7 are just trying to deal with life in the house and having a good time. A lot of the guys were drinking and as it usually does happen, guys get a little confrontational and bad things happen. In this case, it was a brawl between Marlon and Noah. I am never one to give someone a hard time about losing a fight, because we all lose and its going to happen sooner or later. There is no point in kicking someone when they are down and its usually uncalled for. However, I usually don’t talk myself up and make all of these ridiculous claims either, to have the time come to perform and lose in one sided fashion in under a minute. Marlon made a lot of claims about how hard hitting he was, and how he will knock people out, and talking about this and that… and then he got dropped with the first punch of the fight while hanging his chin out, and was choked unconscious in no time. When you make big claims and fall drastically short, you are going to hear about it on the back end. Thats basically what happened at the house sitting around the fire.
Less than two days after being crushed by Matt, Marlon was already trying to build himself up and talk about how he and Weems (who had their fights stopped by the referee) were better than Noah and Allen (who tapped out). Marlon for some reason things its better to lose by TKO or being choked unconscious, than to tap out because you know you are caught. I have always had an internal debate on whats better: tapping out to a choke when you know you are caught, or going to sleep in the middle of the cage, and being woken up in front of everyone. Getting choked unconscious can be embarassing, but I think its worth holding out and trying to get out with your last bit of effort because it could be the difference between getting out and possibly winning or losing outright. However, Marlon is now trying to make his loss out to be better than Noah’s, who would have been a serious world of hurt and rehab had he not tapped, and had serious damage done to his shoulder. It was a transparent ploy, and the guys weren’t hearing it. Marlon says he will never tap in a fight. His career in MMA will be short lived because sooner or later he will be caught in something that will do serious damage and he will be badly hurt, or he will be shown to be a liar like the rest of his stories and tap out. Either way, he looks like an idiot for not knowing when he has lost.
As talking went on… Noah brought up how Marlon lasted 50 seconds and Marlon didn’t like it, and flipped the chair Noah was sitting in. Both guys started taking off clothes and microphones and were ready to throw down. I think everyone was so bored that this was just something new and exciting to do in the house, so no one really cared what happened. Allen was a huge instigator in the whole thing and was really pushing for them to fight, saying things like "Are you ready?" and "Lets get it on" really isnt the best idea… when you are directly drawing comparisons between the UFC and mindless brawling. The UFC has tried to separate itself from these stereotypes for years and as the show starts getting mainstream attention, Marlon, Noah and Monstah steer the show right into that direction.
The actual fight has been called the "most technical streetfight ever" by one Cole Miller. We had takedowns, ground and pound, submissions, slams, punching and kicking combinations…. but it was still a stupid street fight. Noah got a decent sized cut on the back of his head, but he was lucky thats all that happened. After they fought both guys were cool to one another, and even went he the point of signing Noah’s shirt which was covered in his fresh blood.
I knew Noah and Marlon were going home… because they had to set a precedent. The only rules we really had were don’t leave the house, and don’t fight in the house. If people had left the house they would have gotten the boot… and the UFC can’t have people fighting in the house. Setting a precedent, both guys were rightfully sent home. Going one step further, Dana sent Allen home too, which I didn’t expect but I had to agree with after the fact. Allen had as much if not more to do with it than the guys that fought, because if he wasn’t so actively egging it on, both guys would have most likely gone their own ways and left each other alone.
I was very excited for my fight with Cole. As I said, I had worked out with Cole in evaluations, and was actually friends with him before the show. We had talked prior and he told me about how he doesn’t come up with a unique strategy for any fight. He goes out there and tries to kill them with standup, as they try to take him down he tries to guillotine, and then if he ends up on his back he has a great guard and an even better triangle. I don’t think he has the best standup, but I wanted to take him down because I didn’t want to deal with his long arms and legs, but wanted to be careful of the guillotine as I went in for the takedown. Once on the ground, I would be okay… but the guillotine was my biggest threat on the way in. I worked a lot with Tony on posture and keeping my head safe, and working out of guillotines.
Everything we had done in fight preperation paid off. We worked on covering up as closed the distance, we worked on takedowns keeping my head safe, and we worked on a lot of ground and pound from the open guard. The fight started and Cole threw a kick right off the beginning. This was one of our "indicators" to shoot, because his base would be weaker with only one foot on the ground. Unfortunately for me, I shot in at a weird angle and gave Cole my back as the fight started. Immediately I am thinking "wow that was dumb". He has my back and is trying to work the choke, but I never felt in danger. I wasn’t being hit, and it wasn’t the first time someone had my back. I made progress when I got my back to the mat and Cole took mount. You never want to be mounted, unless it means getting someone off your back. I went for his leg the first time, and thought I had the lock, but he managed to work out and remained on top from the scramble. I went for his leg again and this time used it to get on top. Once on top, I was constantly dodging triangle chokes and armlocks, while landing good punches and elbows. I felt in control throughout the rest of the round, but had trouble passing his guard. Cole moves his hips VERY well and gave me some trouble, but I was happy to sit in his guard and land shots. At one point Cole and I were actually talking… he said something like "This is so much fun" and I threw a couple quick punches and said "I could do this all day long".
In the second round, Cole tries to kick again, and as its an "indicator" we take him down. I spend a few minutes on top trying to pass. I eventually start to pass his guard and he turns up for a single leg. I stop him from getting up to base, and I am thinking about a story BJ was telling us. He was telling us about when fought Caol Uno, he was in half guard and got hit with a really good elbow to the side of the head and it made him snap into it and realise he was really in a fight. For some reason, that was all I was thinking about, and I saw an opening and threw an elbow at Cole. When I threw this elbow, it hit Cole right in the back of the head and took the life out of him. He let out a whimper, and I knew he was hurt. I wasn’t trying to hit him in the back of the head, but it happened. I would never try to break the rules… you can actually hear me get warned about hitting Cole in the back of the head with a punch and I adjust and throw another punch and ask "is that okay?" and he ref tells me its okay. It sucks that it happened, but it did, and I was penalized a point. Cole was given time to recover, but it gave me time to rest too. I knew his head would be bothering him and he wouldn’t be feeling well, so when we restarted I went after him with everything. The five minute break was actually a help to me too, because I got a 2nd wind and was able to go after him harder. I ran across the ring chasing him down throwing punches and took him down again. Once down this time, Cole was weak and was hardly fighting back. He was hanging on and trying to tough it out, but there was very little he could do. I looked up at the ref once or twice to end it, but he let it go a little longer before calling an end to the fight.
It really sucks winning a fight when its not clean, but not as much as it sucks to lose when its not clean. I have been on the losing end of a few fights when the fight wasn’t clean, and all you think about is "Well if that didn’t happen, could I have won?" It will haunt you for a long time, and I am sorry it happened to Cole. Things happen sometimes that are out of your control, and this was one of those cases. I talk with Cole all the time and he is cool with it, but I’m sure it bothers him a little bit. Thats how it goes sometimes though.
Thanks for reading.