A couple of days ago, UFC announced its coaches for Season 8 of “The Ultimate Fighter”— Heavyweights, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Frank Mir. They also decided that they’ll go back to the original format of having two tournaments for two different weight classes.
But, hold on a second! While Season 8 might have fans panting for what will be, the Season 7 tournament continues steamrolling towards the quarterfinals.
For the second week in a row TUF presented fans with a two-for-one— two fights in one episode. With only three preliminary fights to go, Dana White and his crew decided to speed things up a bit.
“I’m in control, I’m in control”. Episode 7 begins with Rampage Jackson giddily singing these words while doing his best impression of Jimi Hendrix on the air guitar. For the first time on the show Rampage controls which fighters will fight. Savoring the moment, Rampage does his best to milk the moment.
With only three team members left to choose from, Rampage decides it’s time to unleash his most physically powerful fighter, a fighter who Rampage shares a lot of similarities with. He chooses wrestler Gerald Harris.
“I can use a Mini-Me, a smaller version of me”
Interestingly, instead of choosing the lowest ranked fighter left on Team Forrest as Harris’ opponent (Nick Klein), Rampage chooses Forrest’s # 2 ranked fighter, kickboxer Amir Sadollah to face off against Harris. Rampage thinks the style match-up will strongly favor his team.
“Classic rastler versus kickboxer”. Rampage adds a mad-scientist laugh to emphasize his glee over the match-up.
“Mooo ha ha ha ha”
Sadollah doesn’t seem too happy with the prospects of facing Harris, especially because of Harris’ reputation. As Harris likes to say,
“I slam the *hit out of people”
For anyone who saw highlights of Harris’ first fight, they know that this is no overstatement.
Forrest Griffin sees his young fighter’s confidence wavering,
“Amir is not stoked that Gerald is a guy who picks guys up and throws them on their heads”.
But, he tries his best to boost Sadollah’s spirits. Unfortunately, Forrest sometimes gets a little confused. In one of the funnier exchanges of the episode Forrest makes a bet with Sadollah,
Forrest, “If you lose the fight I’ll shave my head”
Sadollah, “But I’m not supposed to want to lose the fight”
Forrest looks dumbfounded before he realizes his mistake and recovers,
“So, if you win the fight, I’ll shave my head for the rest of the show.”
Sadollah cracks a weak smile and still seems unsure of his chances.
With two fights on tab for the night, there’s no time to waste and the only downside is that the extracurriculars at the TUF house that the audience normally gets to enjoy hit the editing room chopping block.
For the first fight of the night we get Team Rampage’s #5 vs Team Forrest # 2.
Gerald Harris (7-2) vs Amir Sadollah (0-0)
Harris takes Sadollah down almost immediately. For the first two minutes of the round Harris holds top position on Sadollah while up against the cage. He uses his positioning to score some points with some tactical ground and pound.
Sadollah tries to work his legs up Harris’ body at his coach’s prodding. He is trying to use his legs to get an arm lock on Harris.
Sadollah finally slides up the cage and to his feet… Harris lays all his weight into Sadollah who is pushed up against the cage… And then it happens!
Harris, as if he is fighting in the WWE, picks Sadollah up like a rag doll and positions him up in the air before doing his best Rampage impression and body slamming him to the mat… the camera cuts to the stunned faces of Team Forrest’s fighters while we hear Team Rampage whooping it up.
Harris works his elbows and some short rights and lefts in an effective ground and pound.
Sadollah once again slides up the cage and to his feet. Harris lays into him trying to get the leverage to pick him up again. Sadollah tries a wide spread, but to no avail. Harris easily lifts Sadollah and again body slams him to the mat.
This time Harris gets a little passive and seems content laying on top of Sadollah instead of working an aggressive ground and pound.
Sadollah finally kicks Harris away at about the 1 minute mark. He’s able for the first time to get top position on Harris who goes into a protective turtle position… The round ends with Sadollah standing and Harris trying to prepare for another slam.
*Round easily goes to Harris who landed two devastating body slams.
Sadollah comes out more aggressive and lands to sharp left kicks to Harris’ leg and side… Sadollah tries a third kick, but Harris steps into it and lands a solid one-two combination on his way to taking Sadollah down.
Sadollah works hard to get back to his feet as quickly as possible. Up against the cage, Harris allows Sadollah up while he focuses on gaining the leverage to perform another slam.
Harris is so intent on getting a slam, that he starts showing cracks in his defense. Sadollah throws hammer fists at Harris’ body and legs while trying to get away from the cage.
Harris tries for a slam… Sadollah gets away… Harris continues trying to leverage for a slam, but this time in the center of the cage… Sadollah effectively uses an extra wide spread and staves off Harris’ attempts.
Harris gives up on his slam and takes Sadollah down… He drags Sadollah up against the cage… Saddolah slides up the fence and uses his wide spread to keep his balance and prevent Harris’ repeated slam attempts.
Back to a standing fight, Harris plows forward and lands two uppercuts to Sadollah’s chin… Sadollah engages Harris in a Muay Thai clinch and as Harris prepares to throw another uppercut he leaves himself open.
Sadollah lands a perfectly timed right knee to Harris’ jaw. Harris goes down hard and retreats into the turtle… Sadollah jumps on him… He starts landing rights and lefts… Harris is still dazed and offers no resistance. Referee Herb Dean warns Harris he has to do something… Harris stays neatly tucked in the turtle while Sadollah throws uncontested punches. Dean calls it.
**Sadollah by TKO in the 2nd round
I Guess Forrest will be sporting a new hair style next week!
After the fight is called, Harris immediately recovers his senses and explodes in frustration,
“I let everyone down”
Harris stomps back to the locker room and begins to tear up. He gets extra emotional when he thinks of how he let his 7 year old son down. Rampage consoles him, telling him he’ll be okay and to just learn from this fight.
Dana White, Sadollah and all the fighters seem very impressed with Harris even though he got KO’d. In a statement that bodes well for Harris’ UFC future, Dana is glowing when talking about how impressed he is with Harris’ power,
“That first slam he picked Amir up like he was a kid”.
Sadollah admits that Harris hurt him pretty good, but winks with pride about his well timed knee.
In one of the few shots at the house, Pat Schultz talks about wanting to be picked next. He question Coach Forrest’s guts if he is not picked.
FINAL PRELIMINARY FIGHT PICKS
With Team Forrest back in control and up 5-1, Forrest picks the next fight,
Team Forrest # 5 Cale Yarbrough vs Team Rampage replacement fighter Pat Schultz (who replaced # 3 fighter Paul Bradley earlier in the show).
That leaves Team Rampage # 1 fighter CB Dollaway to face Team Forrest # 7 fighter Nick Klein in the final preliminary bout next week.
As Spike shows Cale Yarbrough training, we get a little insight into what type of fighter he is from Coach Forrest,
“Cale has never heard of the concept of ground fighting. He just wants to stand and trade blows”.
Coach Rampage reflects on Yarbrough’s last fight and is not impressed,
“Cale Yarbrough, psst I’m not impressed… My momma could beat him”.
For his part, Yarbrough doesn’t think Schultz even deserves to still be on the show,
“He already lost, he doesn’t deserve to be here. I want to prove that.”
Schultz doesn’t share this idea and laughs at the notion that he shouldn’t be taken seriously,
“I’ve heard that I’m a sleeper, a dark horse, and I kind of laugh. I feel they fed Cale to the sharks. And I want to prove that… I practice Muay Thai, I have 10 pro fights”.
Rampage stokes the dark horse talk when he tells the camera,
“He gets some jiu-jitsu, some wrestling practice… He’s under the radar right now.”
Patrick Schultz (7-1-1) vs Cale Yarbrough (0-0)
Yarbrough opens with a high kick which Schultz blocks… Schultz responds by pushing an off balanced Yarbrough to the mat.
Schultz lets Yarbrough up… Yarbrough throws a few solid left kicks… Schultz counters with a series of thumping right crosses. The next two minutes becomes a classic stand-up battle, Yarbrough’s left kicks versus Schultz’s right hand.
At about the 3 minute mark, Schultz lands a solid right flush to Yarbrough’s left cheek and Yarbrough goes down… Schultz lets him up, clearly wanting the fight to stay on its feet.
Yarbrough regroups… He starts landing his kicks with more consistency… Schultz begins to tire… He starts jabbing to Yarbrough’s body.
Yarbrough takes a gassed Schultz down with about 2 minutes to go.
Yarbrough shows a surprisingly strong ground and pound. He hurts Schultz with elbows and hammer fists… Eventually he lets Schultz up… They trade jabs.
Yarbrough takes Schultz down again with about half a minute to go… More ground and Pound weakens Schultz further. Yarbrough is smothering Schultz and trying to end it with furious hammer fists.
The bell rings. Schultz survives, but is worse for the wear.
*Close round, but edge goes to Yarbrough even though he was knocked down.
Spike TV flashes to the other fighters who are pumped by the exciting action of the 1st round. One cast member sums it up,
“Holy Home Run Derby!”
Both fighters feel each other’s energy level out for about half a minute, with Yarbrough landing the more effective blows… Yarbrough rushes Schultz and easily takes him down.
The rest of the round is dominated by Yarbrough, who uses a devastating ground and pound attack… Elbows galore, hammer fists uncontested, lefts and rights… Schultz should get a lot of credit for even surviving the round.
**Yarbrough dominates the round, maybe even a 10-8 round.
Rampage thinks his fighter won the first round, so he is already getting ready for a 3rd round. But, the judges have decided otherwise. Dana White calls for the decision.
Rampage is steamed. Knowing his fighter lost the 2nd round, he protests that his guy won the 1st round with two knockdowns, and there should be another round. Even though his fighter looks like he won, Forrest consents to a 3rd round, but corrects Rampage that there was only one knockdown (which is true, the other resulting from a push to his off balanced fighter).
Schultz amps the tension when he looks right at Forrest after Forrest’s correction and says threateningly,
“I can’t wait for your fight with Rampage”.
***The Decision is announced— Yarbrough wins by Majority Decision.
Rampage pitches a fit. He storms off, but turns as he’s leaving and echoing Schultz’s statement fires a barb at Forrest,
“I’ll bet our fight doesn’t go to a decision”.
The normally mellow Forrest looks stunned at the poor sportsmanship of Schultz and Rampage. He looks like he’s just about ready to retaliate.
The camera cuts to Dana who delivers the line of the night while reflecting on what just happened,
“Rampage had had enough of losing, and was totally frustrated. I can’t believe my guys are Ken and Tito-ing each other.”
The previews for next week’s episode are flashed before us. We see Forrest tearing at his shirt and yelling at the top of his lungs. The narrator preps us for the coming drama,
“Forrest’s temper finally boils over. A Friendly coaching rivalry turns into a war.” (which sounds tongue and cheek as we see Forrest and Rampage shooting something like silly string at each other).
“CB Dollaway— Rampage’s # 1 fighter fights vs Nick Klein and the quarterfinals are announced. Eight men move on, but only one will call himself the next ULTIMATE FIGHTER”.