By Denny “The Mad One” Hodge
The 32 has been trimmed to 16, and those 16 earned their way into the TUF House. The episode starts with some background on some of the fighters, then it’s on to the injury update with one LW and one LHW, and their fractured noses. Both Brian McLaughlin and Karn Grigoryan know that there is a possibility that for now, their UFC dreams may be over. Dana lets both fighters know that the NSAC has decided that they cannot compete, and that they have been placed on 180-day suspensions. As a result both must go home, and they respond with some serious silence and stalling prompting Dana to tell them, “You got to walk out that door, there.”
With that business complete, the replacement fighters are to be named and Light-Heavyweight Kyle Kingsbury is the first to be named. The replacement for the LW’s will be a “mystery” fighter, and the coaches agree that he will be the last pick following the team selections.
Coach Frank Mir wins the coin toss, and is granted either the first pick or the first decision to pick the fight match up for this week. Mir chooses to have the first pick in the selection process, and secures Krzysztof as the number one draft pick.
Next up is Coach “Big Nog”, and Ryan Bader is his first selection. It’s evident that Coach Nogueira thinks highly of the former national wrestling champ, and says of Bader, that he “might be the champ.”
Here are how the final teams look after all of the picks:
Junie Allen Browning
“Mystery Fighter X”
Mir is quick to announce his dominating picks and remarks that he doesn’t see how he could possibly lose a single first-round fight.
We next get a good introduction and a brief background on all of the coaches under Team Mir, to include BJJ world champion and grappling guru, Robert Drysdale, in addition to Ken Hahn.
On to the house, and Junie is already acting a fool saying it would be embarrassing to lose to anyone in a red jersey, and getting hammered in the process. He mentions that this is part of his strategy, and some of the fighters see right through his charades. The similarities to Chris Leben are already apparent.
Junie basically calls out everyone and Krzysztof tries to calm him down, with Junie ending up sobbing on the concrete by the pool. He is carried into the house, with Junie telling everyone he really likes everyone in the house. We are off to a fast start with the craziness!!
The anticipation as to the identity of the “Mystery Fighter” is soon over as it is revealed that Roli Delgado will be welcomed back into the house. He remarks that his warm welcome back into the house proves that he deserves to be in the house and back into the competition.
At team Nog work outs, we are introduced to his coaches including grappling coach Daniel Valverde, and the philosophical Al “Stankie” Stankiewicz at the tender age of 67. He proves to be energetic and full of pep as he urges on the fighters throughout the episode as Coach Nogueira’s stand up coach.
Nogueira stresses over and over again the importance of team first, and implements an almost family feeling with his team.
Team Nogueira has the first pick for fight number one and immediately announces Nog favorite Ryan Bader to face Tom Lawlor. Nogueira comments about wrestling vs. wrestling as his main factor for picking the fight, and believes that Bader has the advantage over Tom, regardless of where the fight ends up. Lawlor is confident, feeling he is being overlooked and believes he can knockoff the highly touted Bader.
Back at the house the antics begin, with Krzysztof busting out the shrink wrap and tediously wrapping Ryan Bader’s clothes (and underwear) to the underside of his bed, and continues with underwear (clean and dirty) into a huge plastic wrap ball.
It’s not joke time for team Nogueira as they are seen training hard, and Big Nog quickly labels Bader as his team’s “Golden Boy”. The team returns home with Bader and Shane Primm missing clothes. Further investigation leads to the discovery of Bader’s shrink wrapped bed, and the ball of underwear attached to the surf board. Krzysztof is obviously thrilled with his handiwork, and declares that he is ready for retaliation.
Team Nogueira’s coaching staff show up at the house for dinner, and the grill is fired up, with the team enjoying a family moment eating and laughing together, as Team Mir arrives and sees the festivities. Of course, Junie has words for the happy moment remarking about the respectful use of “coach” amongst members of Team Nogueira. He says they are only temporary coaches and that, “My coaches are back home.”
It’s fight time with Tom looking confidant, and Bader looking intimidating. It’s not long before Vader halfway shoots in looking for the takedown but Tom stuffs it, and shoves Bader off, creating distance.
Tom is starting to throw a little bit, and Bader get in close and secures a double and takes the fight to the ground ending up in half-guard. Ryan is trying to work in some GNP and elbows, and Tom is doing a decent job of tying Bader up and not taking a huge shot. Eventually, Tom makes some space and works his way back to his feet in the resulting scramble.
The fighters clinch, and both corners are screaming for knees. They separate and Tom loads up his punch, with Bader changing levels and scoring another takedown. Back to half-guard with Shane Primm screaming “work to pass!” from the corner. Tom pushes off of Ryan’s hips lazily creating space, and with Bader standing on the outside, he throws a huge right handed bomb, that connects knocking Tom completely out in the last minute of round 1.
Mir consoles Lawlor and tells him he made a mistake and that all fighters get caught. He tells him that if it has never happened to you, then you’ve never fought anyone that’s any good.
Next week will be the first LightWeight battle, and the action in the house seems to hit a fevered pitch causing intervention from UFC President Dana White. It’s obvious that the reason for his visit is related to Junie. Will he stay or will he go?