Oh…what’s that? It’s time for another thrilling edition of TUF 19? Hooray.
Mark Coleman looks like Michael Stipes on steroids.
Last week’s episode ended on a sour note. A safe performance by Daniel Spohn failed to move the needle even though he won. Dana White and the others must have spoken to him because he takes an opportunity to respond to the criticism. The tournament is chess, not checkers. All it takes is a freak injury to end your chances of winning, so you should do whatever you can to minimize that possibility. In a business where providing entertainment is as important (if not more so) than the end result, that might not be the best way to approach things. He’s also 100% right. The only way you guarantee yourself at least one official UFC fight is by making it to the finals.
Todd Monaghan gets some more TV time this week, though nothing as controversial as last week’s sermon. His frustration over Spohn’s refusal to engage him in the stand-up is compounded by teammate Patrick Walsh approving of Spohn’s strategy. Monaghan preaches team unity when he should really be listening to what Walsh is saying regarding the importance of game planning.
This week’s match-up is between middleweights Dhiego Lima (Team Edgar, 3rd overall) and Tim Williams (Team Penn, 4th overall). The two men are a contrast in look and demeanour. Lima is a happy-go-lucky, super positive competitor while Williams has some hardcore scars that he got in a DUI-related car accident when he was 18. If that’s not enough, Williams goes by the convivial nickname "The South Jersey Strangler".
In actuality, Williams is a gentle soul tempered by his youthful mistakes. He even starts singing a little song while running with Roger Zapata. What does he think this is, TUF: Brazil? It’s almost a shame that he’s so nice because he’d make for a great heavy. Nobody would mess with you if you had Williams in your entourage. We learn that his first pro fight was supposed to be against Chris Weidman, but he had an aneurysm. Yikes! Still, I think I might rather have an aneurysm than fight Weidman.
Williams is all about hard work and doing more than the next man up. Good thing too since Team Penn is put through the wringer in this episode. They’re pushed to the point of vomiting, which is supposed to be a good thing…? Williams’s work ethic has endeared him to Penn who goes as far as to say that he is the pick to win the whole thing. If only the whole team could be so diligent.
You train your way, we’ll train our way.
We’re only four episodes in and we’re already getting chatter from the cast about how there’s nothing to do in the house. They actually show a time lapse of the fighters sleeping. I am hating this season so much.
The drama we do get stems from a lame feud between Matt Van Buren and Chris Fields. Van Buren is nicknamed "Gutter" because he started from nothing. His dry manner of speaking is a source of amusement for his housemates. He and Fields end up mocking each other’s accents (Van Buren is from the south, Fields is from Ireland) and that’s about as far as it goes for now. Dumb as it is, I always like it when the show plants the seeds for a future meeting ahead of time rather than just waiting until the week of the fight. I’m not saying Van Buren/Fields is going to go down in history with Josh Koscheck vs. Chris Leben or Julian Lane vs. the world, but it can’t hurt. Fields needs as much help as he can get. Since making it into the house via opponent injury (in a fight that he was losing badly), he’s been viewed as a non-threat.
We don’t learn much about Lima other than the usual chatter about how he and his brother were hooked on action movies and PRIDE tapes. He’s got a supportive family, including two kids with a third on the way. He’s just loving life right now.
This is what he looks like when he’s angry.
The morning of the fight, they show us a disturbing picture drawn by Anton Berzin that was inspired by Williams.
Saying that Williams looks like a zombie is harsh, but he certainly fights like one. He comes forward the whole time until he’s able to snag a single leg and drag Lima to the mat. I start to nod off in anticipation of yet another ten minutes of a Team Edgar fighter being unable to get up. The first round can’t go any worse for Lima. He defends against an arm triangle, gets smacked by elbows and nearly loses a point for messing around with his fingers in the fence and Williams’s gloves. In one particularly ugly moment, Edgar yells at him to hand fight to which Lima responds by trying to dislodge Williams’s feet from his waist. You could make an argument for a 10-8 round, meaning Lima is essentially screwed if he doesn’t finish.
Round 2 starts with another takedown for Williams and I start wondering what Arsenio is doing. Then it happens. Lima gets back up. Williams is noticeably less active. Lima CRACKS Williams with a counter left. During the follow-up, Williams’s mouthpiece falls out and he juggles it around before getting it back in.
Totally on purpose.Penn implores him to clinch again, but he’s taken a lot of damage. He does get in a couple of good knees. It doesn’t matter though, because Lima is cooking now. He sprawls beautifully to counter a desperation takedown and spins right into back control. He sinks in a rear naked choke! Williams taps! What heart by Lima!
Lima plays it cool as a cucumber after winning. For once, he’s not smiling. He tells his corner man not to lift him so that he can pay his respects to Williams first. Williams is distraught, knowing that he let one slip away.
Mike King: "He got lazy for one second and in this sport all it takes is one second."
They try to cheer him up by saying it was a "Fight of the Night" performance. The compliment doesn’t provide much solace. He knows this was his second crack at TUF and he’ll be going home empty handed again. I wish I could tell him that that fight was the most exciting thing to happen all season. For the first time, I’m actually looking forward to next week’s episode.
Take us out, Dhiego!
Next week: Van Buren campaigned to get Fields, but Edgar told him that wasn’t part of the plan. Instead it will be Edgar’s top light heavyweight pick Corey Anderson v. "The Hillbilly Heartthrob" Josh Clark. Also, Team Edgar goes on what is sure to be a thrilling nature walk. Get your popcorn ready.