Tuesday, November 9, 2010


The fighters move into the house and one of them is quickly highlighted: Jeff Lentz, who lives a stereotypically unhealthy lifestyle despite being a professional fighter. He smokes all day and drinks all night, though still apparently works very well in training, with plenty of gas in the tank and strength in his muscles.


His characterization in the series reminds me a bit of Chris Leben from the first Ultimate Fighter. Leben didn't smoke in that season, but he did drink a lot, which led to a lot of, shall we say, interesting, drama. Leben did go on to become one of the better ranked Middleweight fighters in the UFC, and even very recently defeated Yoshihiro Akiyama. Leben's had a lot of ups and downs with his unhealthy habits over the years, though, and has repeatedly tried to clean himself up.

Jeff Lentz smoking up a storm
If Lentz gets into the UFC after this season and wants to rise the ranks, it's guaranteed that he'll have to rehabilitate his current lifestyle as well. Smoking daily and drinking nightly will only serve to hamper the growth of a fighter in the long term.


The guys head back to the gym the next day for the team picks. Koscheck explains to his assistant coaches that he believes that Michael Johnson is the best athlete in the house, with Marc Stevens being second. GSP, meanwhile, is doing a bit of dastardly planning. He knows that Koscheck and Stevens are friends, so he believes that Koscheck will want to pick Stevens no matter what. He then writes out Stevens as his #1 pick, in big, bold letters, on a piece of paper, despite the fact that Michael Johnson is his real choice.

GSP's diabolical scheme

Koscheck spies GSP's "list", and falls for the trick hook, line, and sinker, despite the fact that one of his assistant coaches seems to have caught on. He wins Dana's coin toss, picks the first fighter instead of the first matchup, and goes for Marc Stevens, exactly as GSP had planned. This was especially effective since both coaches were eying the same fighter, Michael Johnson, as their #1 pick, though I'm not sure if GSP realized this at the time. So, GSP not only gets control of the first fight, he also gets his #1 pick, and deprives Team Koscheck of their #1 pick. Beautiful. So, that red subtitle should really read GSP 3, Koscheck 0.


The rest of the team picks went like this:


Michael Johnson, Jonathan Brookins, Spencer Paige, Alex Caceres, Kyle Watson, Cody McKenzie, Dane Sayers


Marc Stevens, Sevak Magakian, Sako Chivitchian, Andy main, Nam Phan, Aaron Wilkinson, Jeff lentz

Dane Sayers was the last pick of the bunch, which made him understandably uneasy, though Dana did immediately console him afterward. Nobody likes to be picked last, after all.


Dane Sayers is the last pick 
I've been on Team GSP's side the moment the coaches were announced for this season, so I wanted my personal favorite participants to be on that team. I was very impressed with Michael Johnson, Alex Caceres and Nam Phan in the first episode, so I wanted all of them to be on the same team. Ah, well, two out of three isn't so bad.


Georgres St-Pierre chooses to be merely a training partner to and let his assistant coaches take the reins, which, I believe, is a very smart move, considering that Greg Jackson is believed to be one of the best MMA coaches on the planet right now. GSP also relates that his picks were based on which fighters he wanted to help based on the preliminary matchups, meaning, those in which he saw potential in, and not necessarily those who looked good on paper. He says that he places more focus on his individual fighters improving, and  not necessarily winning, which is also a good philosophy since if you greatly succeed in the former, then the latter will almost certainly come.


Josh Koscheck's training philosophy is what he calls "mindless training", where the fighters just show up at the gym and do whatever the coaches tell them, plain and simple. He says that he has the upper hand over current Welterweight champ GSP in that he's already been on the show, so he has some additional experience. He also states that the public labeling him as "the heel of the UFC" is absurd and that anyone will instantly fall in love with him in person. We'll see, Kos, we'll see.


GSP picks Alex Caceres vs. Jeff Lentz as the first fight. Apparently, GSP chose the fight not because of any real strategic reason, but simply because Caceres really wanted it.

Dana White doesn't really agree with this style, and neither do I, but then again, Greg Jackson's on GSP's staff, so there's definitely something here than what's broadcasted on TV.


GSP believes that Caceres can win the fight standing because of his unorthodox style. Koscheck, meanwhile, would like to have Lentz go for the knockout or, if the opportunity arises, take Caceres down and finish the fight by ground and pound. He is genuinely concerned with Lentz's smoking and how it might affect the fight, though the training was going very well.


Caceres comes out with some kicks to the head and midsection to keep the distance while gauging Lentz's range and abilities, but Lentz manages to drive to the fence, pin him there, and deliver some knees.

As Lentz tries to take Caceres down to initiate his ground and pound strategy, Caceres jumps on him and locks on a standing guillotine. Caceres can't maintain the hold, though, and Lentz manages to take him down. Caceres quickly gets back to his feet, and Lentz finishes the round with a very impressive judo throw.


Bruce Leroy's effective Triangle Choke
Caceres comes out kicking once again, but seems much more tentative in throwing strikes. Lentz once again pins Caceres to the cage, but it's Caceres who gets the eventual takedown. Lentz takes the top position, though, but isn't quite as effective in his ground and pound as either he or Koscheck might have expected. Caceres slaps on a Triangle Choke and Lentz taps out 2:28 into the second round. Very interesting, considering that Lentz boasted mightily during the beginning of the episode that he would never tap from any submission.


Alex Caceres is understandably overjoyed by his win over Jeff Lentz, but boasts a wee bit too much and pisses off a couple of folks. Koscheck, meanwhile, accuses his team of losing and slacking off, which he attributes the loss to. Heavyweight boxing legend Mike Tyson also guest stars as we get to see another great fight. All this and more on the next Ultimate Fighter!


I really liked this episode. Most of the time was allotted for the work in the gym instead of the drama in the house, which, honestly, is incredibly repetitive, especially after 11 seasons. Aside from the great fight, my favorite portion of the episode has to be GSP's classic trick against Koscheck for the #1 pick. Absolutely classic.

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