Thursday, November 11, 2010


This episode features two straight fights, and the first is between Jonathan Brookins and Sako Chivitchian.  Brookings previously won against Sako's close friend and fellow Armenian Sevak Magakian, via a very quickly executed Rear Naked Choke. It's up to Sako to prevent Brookins from ever using that technique against anyone  on his team again, as well as upholding his Armenian pride by avenging his friend's loss.


GSP continues to use his psychological training tools well for his team by actually reducing the number of training sessions to only one a day. GSP says that he uses his strategy personally to make him more hungry and mentally aggressive before his fights, and he wants his team to use that mental edge properly as well. This also shows proper periodization by his coaching staff, since it shows that they've properly scheduled how much intense training their fighters need to reach their peak levels without burning out. I'm sure that other coaches on TUF did the same thing, but it's the first time I've seen it be highlighted. Less is more sometimes, and this is certainly the case here.

Jonathan Brookins takes Sako Chivitchian for a ride

I really like Brookins. He's an incredibly smart kid that keeps his eye on the ball at all times. I like how he wants to stay the same hungry kid even if he wins this season. He doesn't want anything to change from his lifestyle because he doesn't want to soften up. That's a great mindset for a fighter to have. From the brief training clip shown, it seems like the game plan against Chivitchian is to take his back and finish him from there, either with a submission or ground and pound.

Koscheck, meanwhile, realizes that Brookins has great technique in applying the Rear Naked Choke so he drills Chivitchian over and over to avoid getting his back taken, and then win the fight by knockout.


41 seconds into the round, Brookins gets a huge judo throw and immediately takes Sako's back. So much for Koscheck's game plan. Pretty obvious what was going to happen next. Chivitchian taps from a Rear Naked Choke 2:06 into the round. So, both Armenians on the same team get finished by the same technique by the same guy. Really weird.
Jonathan Brookins finishes Sako Chivitchian with a Rear Naked Choke

Sako regrets not following the game plan back in the locker room. When Brookins shot into him to take him down, Sako clinched and pushed him against the cage, instead of separating and creating proper distance for a well-timed knockout, which he should have done.


The next fight is Cody McKenzie vs. Nam Phan. McKenzie is a whiz with the guillotine, as he quickly choked out Team Koscheck top pick Marc Stevens, and attained much of his undefeated (10-0) record that way. The game plan is to obviously get Phan's kneck as quickly as possible and finish the fight with the same choke. McKenzie also has to neutralize Phan's superior striking by closing the distance between them and clinching or taking him down as soon and as quickly as possible.
Nam Phan (left) vs. Cody McKenzie (right)

Phan, on the other hand, feels that he is better than McKenzie both on the ground and standing up. He also has much more experience than McKenzie (16-7), so he's sure he has the upper hand. I completely agree.

Phan is a BJJ black belt, though he didn't showcase his skills during his match against Spencer Paige. What he did showcase there was his great stand up and ground and pound skills, which he'll be sure to utilize well in his match against McKenzie.

McKenzie's also been heckling Koscheck for quite some time, especially after quickly eliminating his top pick, so Koscheck is placing extra pressure on Phan to not only defeat McKenzie, but also to hurt him bad.
Cody McKenzie pins Nam Phan against the fence 


McKenzie immediately goes for the takedown and drives Phan against the cage. The fight pretty much stay here almost the entire time, and when McKenzie does manage to get Phan to the ground, Phan defends well and immediately gets back on his feet.

Interesting to note though that, despite controlling the entire fight thus far, McKenzie has obviously burned himself out by the last minute of the round. Phan is obviously tired as well, but not gassed. They separate and McKenzie is in great danger of getting knocked out.

This shows the difference in experience between the two. Because McKenzie has previously finished all of his fights, he has never gone the distance and thus has no experience in pacing himself. Pacing is very different in training and in actual combat, and McKenzie showcases this here.

McKenzie gets hit with some hard shots, but manages to survive. Though the last round of that was all about Phan's striking, McKenzie still controlled the first four, so the round goes to him.

Cody McKenzie throws a head kick

McKenzie comes out still gassed, so it;s good news for Team Koscheck. The first minute is spent on the feet, and Cody does a very good job using his greater reach to keep Phan from dealing any damaging shots. He pins Phan up against the cage once again, but since he pretty much has zero strength at this point, Phan just shrugs him off. The fight continues on the feet, and Phan steadily gets used to McKenzie's reach until, finally, with 2:08 left on the clock, lands a huge body shot Bas Rutten style (TO THE LIVER!) and drops McKenzie. He jumps in for some quick ground and pound and the referee, Josh Rosenthal, jumps in between them and ends the fight due to strikes 2:54 into the second round.

Nam Phan finishes the fight with a shot to the body

I always love it when a TUF episode features two fights, and this time is no different. Both fights were a treat to watch, even though the second fight was a bit slow at the start. I'm very happy, then, that the next episode will also feature two fights.

The first fight is Aaron Wilkinson vs. Kyle Watson, which I believe will go to Watson. Wilkinson did very well in his fight against Michael Johnson, but was finished with a Rear naked Choke. Watson has amazing BJJ, and I think he can finish the fight in a similar fashion.

The second fight is between rivals Michael Johnson and Alex Caceres. I predict that Johnson can take this fight, and finish Caceres with a KO, either on the ground, or standing up. Caceres is a good fighter, especially standing up, but I think Johnson's athleticism can help him get the win. Plus, Dana White reveals the two semi-final matchups at the end. It's going to be another great episode for The Ultimate Fighter!

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