First there were 32, but only 16 made it onto the main show. Now there are 8, as the quarterfinals get underway. 6 Team Forrest fighters and 2 Team Rampage fighters square off over the next two weeks in the pursuit of becoming the next “The Ultimate Fighter”.
The show opens with Dana White asking Coach Forrest to decide which two of his fighters he wants to corner. Since all four participants this week are Team Forrest members, Coach Rampage will have to help the other side.
Forrest looks like a man who is torn between children. Dana pushes him to make a choice between his fighters, Dante Rivera, Jesse Taylor, Matt Brown, and Amir Sadollah. Forrest chooses to leave it up to fate and let the coin decide.
The result is Forrest will coach his # 2 and # 3 fighters, kickboxer Amir Sadollah and wrestler Jesse Taylor. Rampage gets to corner Forrest’s #4 “Madman” Matt Brown, and
His # 6 Jiu-Jitsu specialist Dante Rivera.
Jesse Taylor vs Dante Rivera will be the first fight
Matt Brown vs Amir Sadollah will follow.
There’s nothing like some freshly cooked veggies and lean sirloin for a fighter in training, unless of course your name is Jesse Taylor. The camera cuts to and fro— pans of broccoli, bok choy, fresh steak, yummy! I thought I was watching an episode of “Top Chef” for a second, until I saw Jesse Taylor.
Taylor tells the camera how much he likes fresh vegetables, but sometimes he just can’t help himself. The camera cuts to Jesse munching on microwave cheeseburgers, his favorite, unless you have some thick Ranch dressing to go with it, that’s even better.
Teammates Luke Zachrich and Tim Credeur marvel at Jesse’s ability to stay in shape while eating the best fast food had to offer. Credeur thinks Jesse is made from another species,
“He must have some extra chromosomes than other fighters.”
TEAM RAMPAGE TRAINING SESSION
Dante Rivera hits the gloves of Rampage’s personal coach Juanito Ibarra. Ibarra talks about treating all the fighters he trains the same no matter what team they were on. Thank god Dante had Ibarra caring about his training, because the best advice Coach Rampage can give him is a SNORE, like in sleeping. At least Dante’s grunting doesn’t wake the Light Heavyweight champ up, that’d be bad!
While we watch Dante train, Spike cuts back and forth to him talking about his upcoming battle. Dante sincerely likes his teammate Taylor, but thinks that his experience will be too much for the cheeseburger-loving wrestler. Whether it’s a subconscious sign of his nerves or not, Dante also displays a twitching tick above both eyes, that at least this reporter never noticed before.
TEAM FORREST TRAINING SESSION
Coach Forrest shows a lot more interest in his fighter than Rampage showed in his, maybe a reason his team has won 6 of 8 fights so far. But, then again Forrest doesn’t seem to know what to do with the talented wrestler,
“Jess is going to do what he wants to do. I can’t control him.”
Jesse for his part seems relaxed, calm, and while he respects his friend Dante, has no qualms about beating him up. At the weigh-in, Taylor is about 2 lbs over the 185 limit. Uh, oh, he better hit the steam room, or jog a few miles right? Well, not exactly. For a fighter with Taylor’s chromosomes, a few games of ping-pong will do. If he fights as hard as he plays ping-pong, he should have no trouble beating Dante. In fact, his odd training method actually works, as he sweats off a good 3 lbs.
QUARTERFINAL FIGHT 1
Jesse Taylor (7-2) vs Dante Rivera (11-2) *Records include their preliminary victories.
This will be a very easy round to describe. Jesse takes Dante down IMM-ediately. For the rest of the round Jesse ground and pounds Dante with driving forearms, heavy right hands, and sharp elbows. He uses his gloves to cover Dante’s mouth and disrupt his breathing whenever he’s not throwing something.
Occasionally Dante tries to get up or grab a limb for a submission attempt, but his attempts are fruitless. Jesse is so overpowering, it looks like the two fighters are from different weight classes.
*Easy round for Taylor
Jesse takes him down almost immediately again. It’s a replay of the first round, with the exception of Taylor throwing fewer shots. Dante is so ineffective from his guard, that Rampage starts yelling at him to get up and fight from his feet, even though Jiu-Jitsu is his game. The only problem is Dante can’t get up.
Thankfully, the ref is getting tired of the lack of action,
“Gotta advance position… Work!”
He eventually does what Dante can’t, gets the fight back to standing. Taylor’s having none of it. He takes Dante down again like a rag doll. And that is where the rest of the round remains. Taylor mostly smothers Dante, with an occasional shot here and there.
**Taylor wins round 2 and the fight in a dominating, but unspectacular manner.
BACK AT THE TUF HOUSE
Matt Brown and Amir Sadollah are roommates, with the utmost respect for each other. They’re so friendly with each other, that it’s hard to imagine that in a few minutes we’re going to see them bashing each other’s brains out. It’s always amazed me how good at compartmentalizing fighters can be!
Actually, Amir seems a lot more at ease with fighting his friend than Brown,
“In a way I don’t mind fighting my friends, is that bad, I don’t know”
Matt Riddle thinks we’re going to see a “bloodbath” between the two best strikers left in the tournament.
TEAM FORREST TRAINING SESSION
Amir works the mat, then the bag (snapping off some very impressive kicks). He admits to the camera that he is scared, that he always feels some fear before he fights. Forrest picks up on Amir’s trepidation and is continually trying to build his confidence,
“Amir is less confident… He’s only vocalizing what all fighters feel, he’s just sissy enough to vocalize it.”
Maybe it’s just me, but I get the feeling that after beating Gerald “the slam-happy” Harris, Amir is more confident than he lets on.
TEAM RAMPAGE TRAINING SESSION
Rampage is at least awake for Matt Brown’s training, so that bodes well for the young fighter. Rampage is really impressed with Brown’s warrior mentality and sees some of himself in Brown,
“If he were Japanese, he’d be a samurai, same as me, a samurai”
The fight is getting closer, so Spike cuts from fighter to fighter to get their takes on how the fight will go down,
Nick Klein, (about Brown) “His technique only gets better the more he gets beat on.”
Matt Riddle, “Somebody’s going home in a body bag.”
Tim Credeur, “These guys are trying to hurt you (emphasizes HURT) when they get into the ring.”
The pre-fight hoopla ends with Amir sounding as if he’s trying to convince himself that he can win. Matt Brown is the exact opposite, brimming with confidence,
“Amir knows I’m better than him. He knows I got better standup”
QUARTERFINAL FIGHT 2
Matt Brown (10-6) vs Amir Sadollah (1-0) *Records include their preliminary victories.
Brown snaps with sharp jabs and kicks… Amir takes on the role of counter striker… Brown works a clinch and pushes Amir up against the cage… He tries to take Amir down by tripping him… Amir shows good balance and strength while blocking Brown’s trip takedowns… Brown throws short punches and knees while trying to pull Amir’s head down in a Muay Thai clinch… Forrest constantly yells at Amir to keep his head up, he succeeds. Amir counters with some good knees to the body… He is gaining more confidence… They trade knees, but Brown still controls the clinch… Amir breaks the clinch, and the fighters circle back to the middle of the cage
Brown lands a nice kick to Amir’s body that hurts Amir… Amir lands a nice left kick to Browns leg that almost makes Brown lose balance… Amir gets more aggressive when he sees Brown almost go down… He charges Brown up against the cage and lands bruising knee that hurts Brown… He follows with a forearm and Brown backpedals away from the cage… Brown gets a charging Amir off balance and takes him down… Amir scrambles to his feet… Round ends pressed against cage.
*Brown wins round by a hair for being more aggressive, landing more punches and kicks and controlling the clinches.
Matt Riddle echoes the intensity felt by all at ring-side, “This is insane”, as we go to commercial break.
Brown comes out aggressive, landing combos and a strong body kick… Amir counters and throws a flying knee and a right hand… Brown gets in Muay Thai clinch and lands knee to Amir’s head… They dance to the middle of the ring… Brown tries to throw Amir, but Amir’s takedown defense is too strong… Amir gets a good hold of Brown’s head and scores a trip takedown
Amir on top on the ground for the first time initiates a ground and pound attack… Matt’s corner yells, “You’re not tired Matt”, but he certainly looks like he is… Amir throws elbows…Matt scrambles, but he can’t get up… Amir stands to get leverage behind a punch… Matt sees his chance to escape and does… He flips Amir onto his back and jumps into Amir’s guard… Amir sees an opening and gets his legs around Matt’s neck just as Matt is trying to throw a punch… Amir clamps down on his Triangle Choke hold. Brown taps with less than two minutes to go.
**Amir wins by submission in 2nd round.
Once again Coach Forrest is on the winning side cornering both of the winning fighters.
Forrest, “Amir is better in the scrambles and he caught Matt Brown”
Brown, “The loss is disappointing… but Amir is a warrior”
Amir, “I’m happy that I not only won, but that both Matt and I showed well”
Rampage, “Matt was doing well, but he got tired.”
Dana is impressed, especially with Amir. He thinks it was a great battle. Both fighters admit they were hurt by the other. Brown admits that Amir hurt him with a knee to body,
“I didn’t get over that until the second round.”
Amir admits Brown hurt him once with a kick to the body in the first round.
So, now we are down to 6 fighters.
Tim Credeur vs Dan Cramer
CB Dollaway vs Cale Yarbrough
In case anyone forgot about troublemaker Jeremy May. Next week’s preview shows us an explosive situation that develops between him and Jesse Taylor,
“Will Jesse Taylor get kicked out of the house.” booms the narrator
Rampage also declares, “I feel sorry for Cale” when talking about Cale’s upcoming bout with CB.
Till next week fight fans, and remember the semifinals will be announced at the end of the episode.