The quarterfinals come to a close with our last heavyweight match-up: Pezão (Team Sonnen, 1st overall) v. Jollyson Francino (Team Wanderlei, 3rd overall). To recap, Pezão pulled off an upset by quickly submitting Bellator standout Thiago Santos with a guillotine choke. Since Santos was the biggest name on the qualifying roster, that catapulted Pezão to the front of the line. Francino was also a surprise, using beautiful jiu-jitsu to set up an arm triangle that put away tough talking riot cop Gigante.
Much of the spotlight this week is put on assistant coaches Isabel and Hortência. Isabel gives a speech to help Team Wanderlei break out of their slump (they’ve lost three fights in a row). You can tell there’s closeness between with her and the guys. She’s not as loud and boisterous as Hortência, but she shines in some smaller moments.
Speaking of Hortência, she’s getting harassed by Team Sonnen as usual. This week they encourage her to take an ice bath. Even after she agrees to do some circuit training, the fighters are still on her case. Warlley Alves in particular has a lot of fun with it.
Chael Sonnen saves Hortência from the ice bath, which somehow leads to them dancing again.
And you wonder why there are rumours about them having an affair.
After all that, Hortência decides to hop in the ice bath anyway. There’s nothing she won’t do for her boys. Can we get female assistant coaches on future American TUFs please? Like, Kristi Yamaguchi and Kerri Strug or something? I don’t know. Isabel and Hortência bring both an outsider perspective and a much needed female touch to the proceedings. It’s like when they put Liv Tyler in that first The Lord of the Rings movie or when Brad Pitt goes to see his ex-wife in Moneyball so you know that he and Jonah Hill aren’t up each other.
What was I talking about again?
Oh, right, the ice bath. Hortência reacts as you’d expect ("Everything hurts.") for a former athlete who probably never did anything like that in training. She also has immaculate eyeball control.
Hortência is the best, you guys.
The first thing she does when she gets out is walk over to the sauna to hug Sonnen for warmth. I joke about them fooling around, but they really do have a cute relationship.
The profile on Francino presents him as a calm, easy going guy. He looks like he’s in better shape than when he was in the first episode. All this training is doing wonders for him. Wanderlei is convinced that he’ll be able to outlast Pezão in a drawn out fight.
Pezão is a more conflicted, serious individual. He used to live on the streets doing drugs and fighting for no reason. His father used his brother as an example to challenge Pezão to live to a higher standard. Something must have clicked because here he is with an opportunity to fight for one of the biggest sports organizations in the world. They show a lot of footage of him practicing his guillotine. If it was good enough to get into the house, it might be good enough to advance him in the tournament.
Our last quarterfinal fight also means our last ring girl contestant. Big sigh. Wendy Meira (or just "Wendy" as she introduces herself) is an expert at communication and socializing. I doubt those are skills that most fighters can relate to.
She’s certainly speaking my language. Heyo!
Let’s see if Pezão can live up to the hype here. He has some thunderous kicks and looks the part of a top pick as he shrugs off Francino’s takedown attempts. A stiff left jab shakes Francino forcing him to clinch up. Pezão jumps for a guillotine, but Francino is able to slip out of it and Pezão falls to the mat. Francino moves into Pezão’s guard without much confidence.
Back on the feet, Pezão punishes Francino every time they get close. The constant pressure allows him to lift a tired Francino up in the air for a slam. Then things get really weird. Francino plays a dangerous game pawing away at Pezão’s face, specifically his mouth and eyes. An alarming cry from Francino forces the referee to call for a "time out" (is that even allowed?). They think Francino dislocated his finger, but he says Pezão bit him! He’s calling for Pezão to be disqualified! That’s not a good look for Francino who was clearly losing the fight up to that point.
Despite the complaints, the referee tells both men to stand up and return to their corners. The fight just continues without any clarification. They don’t even mention it in the post-fight breakdown. Absolutely bizarre.
Francino is able to end the round in full mount when Pezão goes for a sloppy takedown. I could be mistaken, but it looked like Francino went for a chest smother in the closing seconds. What the hell is this guy doing? This is one of those times I wish The_Vortex were around to provide a second set of eyes.
I’ve seen this referred to as "Mother’s Milk". Ew.
The second round is awful for both men. They take turns looking exhausted. There are no actual takedowns, just collisions between their bodies with one man tripping and falling. In this case, it’s Pezão who ends up on top more often than not. He does throw some nice short punches and elbows. Too bad there isn’t much behind them. Fortunately for Team Sonnen, Francino presents zero threat for the last three minutes of the fight. I don’t see why this should go to a third round. Even Isabel agrees.
Wanderlei Silva, MD
Pezão takes the fight via unanimous decision. Ironically, it was Francino who gassed out, not Pezão as Team Wanderlei anticipated. Pezão isn’t too happy with himself, which I find encouraging. He should recognize that it will take a much better effort than that to compete in the UFC whether he wins the tournament or not. I also like how he took his and teammate Lex Luthor’s portraits and placed them on the "Final" section of the tourney board. Presumptuous? Maybe. But you gotta believe, right?
You can’t do that on television.
Just like that it’s 4-4 going into the semi-finals. This leads to one of my favourite segments: "Who do you want to fight?"
- Wagnão wants Lyoto
- Lyoto wants Wagnão
- Alves wants Demente
- Demente wants anybody
- Cara de Sapato wants anybody
- Lex Luthor wants Rick Monstro
- Rick Monstro wants anybody
- Pezão wants Cara de Sapato
That last one is interesting because Pezão’s reasons for the callout have nothing to do with a potentially entertaining fight or the easiest path to the finals. He says "We’re not fond of each other and I want to get it over with." Dana White inquires further and Pezão explains that he isn’t fond of Cara de Sapato’s ass slapping.
Based on the fighter and coaches’ comments, the match-ups look obvious buuuuuut…
Wagnão v. Alves
Demente v. Lyoto
…I guess White wanted to f**k with the middleweights for whatever reason.
Pezão v. Cara de Sapato
Lex Luthor v. Rick Monstro
I got Demente and Cara de Sapato going all the way. Who you got?
It is so on.
Next week: Two, two, TWO fights in one week: Wagnão v. Warlley Alves and Pezão v. Cara de Sapato! Also, I assume we’re going to get some progression in the ring girl competition too. It matters!