By Denny “The Mad One” Hodge

After the obligatory past week’s fight re-cap, multiple fighters voice their opinion that they really respect Roli after his performance vs. Junie Browning. This is a far cry from the way most felt about him prior to the bout, with most feeling he was the weakest on the group at 155.

Coach Mir is in the locker room following the fight between Rolando and Junie and he lets Junie know just what he thinks about his poor cardio and lackluster performance. He tells Junie that the hype has been tarnished saying, “You showed some chinks in your armor, so you know what, the next guy’s not going to be afraid.”

Multiple blogs on the net have mentioned that Junie doesn’t always train with his team, often choosing to do his own thing, and that showed in the fight. Is he still the favorite to win the show? Regardless of where he finishes, he has definitely been humbled a bit by Roli Delgado.

The cameras take us to the training center for Team Mir, with Frank leading the training with some punch/kick combos in the Octagon with his fighters. During the session, Kryzstof rolls with Eliot Marshall and ends up hurting his thumb. It could be a break, but Sos lets everyone know that if he can punch with it, he’ll be fighting. The focus then shifts to Vinny’s world class ground game. As a 3-time world champion in BJJ, he definitely has an advantage on the ground over the other Light Heavyweights in the house.

We now shift to Team Nogueira’s workout. This session is light-hearted with some good old fashioned leap frog, and goofing off. Big Nog talks briefly about his Light Heavyweights and their strong points. Without control of the fight pick, all he can do is prepare his guys for who they may match up against, whether it be Vinny and his world class ground game, or Sos with his strong stand up game.

On the opposing team coach Mir is discussing the importance of cardio and conditioning. It’s clear that Mir is dead serious about conditioning, busting out the snorkels a la Wanderlei Silva style. The work out is brutal, with the guys transitioning from their workouts straight to the tubs of ice. Three minutes in ice is pure pain!!

We get a great look at some ground training with Vinny and his coaches. Vinny demonstrates a “flying armbar”, and Mir interrogates Vinny for some info on Nog’s BJJ. Mir tells Vinny, “If I can keep up with you, Nougueria’s going to be nothing”. Vinny responds that he felt like he was better than Big Nog when they rolled. Vinny talks about the interim HW champion’s BJJ as “He’s like, so basic”. Big words from the Brazilian Light Heavyweight.

Off to the house with a baking battle. To celebrate Big Nog’s birthday, both Jules and Phillipe bake cakes, which are later presented to Nogueira. Big Nog shows up for a dinner of steaming pasta and sauce, and to celebrate his birthday. Watching Big Nog blow out candles is pretty hilarious, and he really seems like a great down to earth person.

Team Mir once again responds to the loving aura given off by Team Nogueira with Shane Nelson and Vinny bagging on the oddity of the closeness between the red team members.

Jules discusses the possibility with Coach Nogueira about fighting Vinny and they talk strategy if he is picked to fight the BJJ champion. Big Nog mentions that he admires the fact that Jules talks about wanting to fight nearly everyday.

It’s match up time, and it’s announced that Vinny will indeed be facing Jules. Big Nog points out that Jules has to keep the fight standing, and Mir is confidant that his BJJ black belt will destroy Jules in the fight, especially if it hit’s the ground.

Vinny lets us know he likes to “train, train, train… and have some fun with the girls”.  Mir wants to focus on his weaknesses and works some combos with him. Mir says he sees “Jules coming in throwing haymakers, and when the dust clears he’s going to end up in a triangle or an armbar, so…“.

We get some quick drama when Shane Primm lets Big Nog know that Vinny has been talking smack about Nogueira’s ground skills. Nog quickly confronts Vinny in Portuguese to get to the bottom of what has been said.  Coach Nogueira tells Vinny, “You blew it with me man”.

Vinny responds by telling him that the guys are just talking trash. Big Nog is not convinced and says, “You want to play around? We’re enemies now, enemies.” The conversation is continued in the locker room, and Nogueira is clearly agitated by the trash talk. Vinny tells him to check the cameras to see what was really said. I sure wish I could understand what was truly being said!!

Nog helps Jules prepare for his fight with Vinny, showing him how to stick and move. “Stankie” gives us some words of wisdom saying, “Wouldn’t it be nice if you were so good on top you didn’t have to go down, get dirty and smell all those parts, Bap! Bap! Bap!…”. Classic Stankie. Jules is confident that the fight will remain on the feet and not end up on the ground and that he “will bust his teeth out of his mouth”.

The next morning, Junie is pumping up Vinny telling him “this will be the toughest fight of your life man”. Vinny looks really relaxed and smiles, telling his team that he may go for the flying armbar. His team is very confident that once the fight hits the ground, it will be over very quickly.

Sos is back with his bag of tricks, ordering fake headstones and body bags for his latest prank to be aimed at Jules. The other team members help Sos with the setup and it’s a nice one, complete with body bag, headstone, and even candles.

Team Nogueira arrives at the house and finds the funeral setup for Jules and they are all pretty impressed. Shane Primm comments, “That’s like one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen”.

Jules discusses how tough this fight will be and that his prelim fight was short and quick, not allowing him to showcase his true skills. Jules shares his background saying, “I’m from a small school with no big names.”

It’s fight day and Vinny lets us know that Jules’ only chance of winning is by knocking him out. Jules admits that he is always nervous before a fight but continues to talk about crushing and breaking Vinny’s will.

Vinny tells Mir that he had a nightmare that he got subbed by Jules. Mir says he’ll quit coaching if he gets submitted. Vinny talks about leaving the house if he was to lose, and Mir agrees saying he’d leave also if that was to happen.

It’s fight time and Jules eyes look like saucers! He is visibly nervous while Vinny looks relaxed. Round 1 commences with a tap of the gloves and Jules feinting and slapping at Vinny. His hands are low until engaged, prompting him to bring his hands up. More circling with Vinny shooting out a half-hearted jab. Nice body kick by Vinny gets Jules attention as Vinny connects again. Jules invites Vinny in with a wave of the hand, but he is not engaging offensively at all.

Jules’s corner is yelling for him to open up and throw but he is not responding. Vinny gets a brief Thai clinch, and pulls guard almost securing the flying arm bar he promised. He quickly transitions to mount sets up a gogoplata with his foot in front, then transitions to the arm bar finishing the fight very quickly and efficiently.

Mir recaps saying “Vinny wants to be a kick boxer, and Jules is petrified”. Mir comments on the gogoplata set up, and is impressed with the victory. Good win for Vinny as he took almost no damage from Jules.

Jules admits he’s discouraged, but mentions that “I’d rather lose in the Octagon here, then at some local show”.

It’s time for next week’s preview and food is involved somehow as we get a look at the LW matchup possibilities.  There is  mention of  “the ultimate betrayal” as Junie is shown giving away team secrets to the opposing fighters.

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