I really was going to write about the "best looking TUF contestants", but I’m skipping the preamble this week (in favour of..."post-amble"?). Besides, I didn’t feel I’d put the proper amount of research into those rankings yet. You’ve got to treat a subject like that with the utmost seriousness!
This marks the third week in a row where the Australians are being made to look like chumps. In the training segments they show, the Canadians come off as super soldiers and the Australians are shown gasping for air and vomiting. Considering how dominant Patrick Côté’s boys have been so far, segments like this only serve to make the Aussies look even worse.
A fair and even handed portrayal.
There is also some manufactured drama with Canadian conditioning coach Jon Chaimberg helping out Team Australia. I’m not buying into the Côté/Chaimberg beef for a second. If anything, the Canadians should have called him up themselves and sent him over to make the fights more competitive! They can’t seriously be criticizing him for assisting Kyle Noke. Not only does he work with Noke regularly, this is what he does for a living. If he can get himself some free publicity in the process, why not go for it? If the Canadians are that aggrieved, then those fighters who have a working relationship with him should end that relationship after the show. Somehow I don’t see that happening.
Wearing Team Australia’s colours might have been pushing it.
The boisterous Kajan Johnson and the magnificent Elias Theodorou would be a tough act for anyone to follow, so I can’t be blamed for not gushing over Chad Laprise this week. He’s a nice guy. He pushes himself as a role model and preaches modesty and family values. Smell the ratings! Laprise’s nickname is "The Disciple". I wonder if Dustin Pague will sue him for gimmick infringement. Then again, "Disciple" might be the Christian version of "Pitbull".
Chris Indich fares somewhat better, recollecting a troubled youth while espousing his personal philosophy in regards to martial arts competition. There was one section that stuck with me:
I’ve thought so much about this and I’ve thought about a lot of things after this. None of that happens if I don’t win.
That sounds like a dangerous mindset to carry into a cage fight. I would think you’ve got enough to worry about when stepping into that cage, what with trying not to get your head kicked in or your arm ripped off. It’s one thing to self-motivate, it’s another to add pressure to what must already be a stressful situation. The question is whether or not Indich is the type to ramp up his performance to overcome those expectations.
The true stars of this week’s episode are actually the gentlemen who will be battling next week, Nordine Taleb and Tyler Manawaroa. There is an obvious stern disciplinarian/class clown dynamic between the two, something that Manawaroa is probably aware of. When he breaks out the didgeridoo to give the Canadians a rude awakening, it seems designed to drive Taleb crazy. He is pissed and he’s pissed in French! That’s, like, super pissed.
Taleb (en français): I’m gonna run over him, he’ll be paralyzed. I’ll cut him into six pieces. Like I’m telling you, the only bad luck is that there is a referee in the cage. Vengeance will be terrible. I’m the last person you want to mess with.
He’s just asking for someone to shove that up his ass.
The fun continues when Manawaroa takes part in vandalizing the house moose. Oh, come on! They don’t do any permanent damage, resorting to hanging various objects like tampons off of the antlers.
This juvenile behaviour should only last a short period of time.
Perhaps all of these hijinks are meant to distract Manawaroa from the more serious issues he’s dealing with: a thumb injury and weight problems. When he steps up to the scale, Israel Martinez likens the poor result to missing curfew and getting smacked by your mom. Could this lead to...WEIGHT CUTTING DRAMA?!? Don’t tease me like this, TUF Nations!
In this situation, Coach Noke is mom.
Not to be outdone, Taleb gets a piece of the spotlight when he decides now would be a good time to start taking ice baths. He does a ton of pre-bath stretching and posing without actually getting into the tub. When he finally does, well...
I was just saying last week that Nordine needs to "chill out".
He also adds this gem: On Titanic, I will die in two minutes.
Johnson describes Laprise as a "pretty fighter". He certainly looks the part in round one. What he lacks in gregariousness, he more than makes up for with his deadly hands. Right out of the gate, he lands a stiff jab and that sets the tone for the first five minutes. He catches the occasional lunging punch, but other than that he’s in complete control. His stand-up is fun to watch. He lands a flurry that Indich survives. The guy is tough! I have no idea how he wasn’t dropped in that round. There were a couple of punches that I could have sworn he jumped right into. It’s an easy 10-9 first round for Team Canada.
The second round is more of the same, though Indich picks up the pace; still, he needs a miracle shot to get the win. He’s just a step behind everything. What a chin on him though. With the second round closer than the first, Laprise makes a statement in the final thirty seconds with a pair of beautiful spinning back kicks. He gets the unanimous decision victory.
Indich wasn’t finished, but he may as well have been. He’s laid out in the locker room after, a pack of ice pressed against his forehead. Shades of Josh Koscheck after Diego Sanchez drilled him on TUF 1. Martinez says that’s the kind of fight that nobody should feel bad about and he’s right.
With Team Canada running wild with seemingly no end in sight, I started to think about the most successful TUF teams:
- Seasons 1 through 3 had the screwy schedules where fighters didn’t even have to fight to make it to the semi-finals so they were out of consideration.
- The first time we saw one side truly dominate was during season 4 ("The Comeback"). Team Mojo and their de facto leader Matt Serra won 7 of the 8 quarterfinal match-ups including a sweep in the welterweight bracket. Team No Love’s Travis Lutter did manage to take the Middleweight crown though.
- Serra’s second stint on the show, this time officially as a coach saw him earn a 6-2 record against his rival Matt Hughes. Unfortunately, Team Hughes’s Mac Danzig and Tom Speer ended up making it to the finals.
- On the flip-side, Rampage Jackson is easily one of the worst coaches in TUF history, with his two stints resulting in an unconscionable 3-13 record. His only guy to make it the finals was C.B. Dollaway, a replacement for Team Griffin psychopath Jesse Taylor.
So we’ve had a couple of 7-1 records, but never a 1st round sweep. This is a scenario more likely to occur in a Nations setting. Normally, it would be almost impossible for all of the good fighters to end up on one team with coaches pickings sides, but in this situation where it’s simply the best of the best unsigned talents...hmm...add in the fact that (as I mentioned before) the loser of the opening coin flip got nothing while the winner got to control the fights and Team Australia could be in some deep doo-doo.
At least they’ve still got Kahili.
Next week: Taleb v. Manawaroa. Also, I rank the best looking contestants in TUF history (maybe). Suggestions?