FanPost

The TUF Diaries: Season 12

Written in 2013 and man, who knew Michael Johnson would develop so well? At the time I wrote this he was on a two-fight skid and did not look anything like the contender he is today. Just goes to show you can't count anyone out in MMA. Anyway - for anyone who might be reading who actually likes my writing, you can check out some of my other stuff at The Oratory. I've got over 500 MMA shows reviewed there in my archives including every UFC up to Fight Night 66, every PRIDE show and tons of other stuff from StrikeForce to WEC and Shooto.

TUF 12: This was one of the more forgotten seasons of TUF I'd say, taking place in late 2010 with a Lightweight tournament and coaches Georges St-Pierre and Josh Koscheck, building to their fight at UFC 124. Roster didn't look all that strong going in off the top of my head. Of note (and I'm adding this intro in 2015) Joseph Duffy of future UFC fame was eliminated in the pre-house fights.

Episode 1 - So we meet the coaches, Georges St-Pierre and Josh Koscheck, and GSP sums the whole deal up by saying he's the good guy to go against Kos's bad guy. In case nobody had noticed, of course. Format is the same as the previous season, with 28 fighters aiming to get into the house and the Wildcard system in use. Entry fights are surprisingly not that good considering it's an all-Lightweight cast. Most memorable are Marc Stevens KOing his opponent in like 13 seconds; Cody McKenzie quickly using his patented guillotine variant to put away Egyptian fighter Amir Killah; and Bruce Leroy just being Bruce Leroy. Best fight on paper? Michael Johnson vs. Pablo Garza, but they only show us clips of it which sucks a bit. Johnson takes a decision over the outsized Garza, for those wondering. Probably the worst bunch of entry fights yet in my opinion with tons of decisions. But on the plus side we've got two potentially CRAZY ARMENIANS!~! in the house.

Episode 2 - Teams are picked and it's more entertaining than usual, as GSP basically tricks Josh Koscheck into thinking he wants Marc Stevens (Kos's boy from Buffalo University) when in reality he wants Kos to take Stevens so he can get Michael Johnson. Smart stuff! You want characters? None really built in this episode unfortunately outside of Jeff Lentz, who gets the drunkard party guy gimmick, and the hyperactive Bruce Leroy who seems to piss everyone off. Team GSP takes the first fight, as Bruce Leroy triangles Lentz in the second round after firmly losing the first. Fun fight but it wasn't the best ever or anything.

Episode 3 - I literally can't remember one thing that happens in this episode. I think it might've been the one where Koscheck and his coaches box GSP's car in in a shitty prank that doesn't really faze Georges actually. Fight is Michael Johnson against Kos's Token Brit Aaron Wilkinson. This one goes to a third round where Johnson manages to wrestle Wilkinson down and choke him out, in front of a watching Mike Tyson. Koscheck's pissed post-fight as he thinks Wilkinson should've won the first two rounds therefore eliminating the third, but I had it one round apiece myself so it's sour grapes from Kos in my eyes.

Episode 4 - Finally some comical house drama, as Bruce Leroy won't stop bragging about his win, and this causes one of the Crazy Armenians, Sevak Magakian, to totally lose his temper and lunge for him before about three of the other guys hold him back. Actually the other Armenian (Sako Chivitchyan) is a pretty chilled dude, but Sevak comes off as a total psycho. Leroy doesn't care of course because why would a guy who behaves like a twelve-year-old care about some mental Armenian bloke? I actually fell asleep here and missed most of the fight, but basically Kyle Watson of Team GSP chokes out Andy Main in the second round. Watson is Matt Hughes's BJJ guy apparently but he's also about as dull as Travis Lutter on downers. So it's 3-0 to GSP at this point.

Episode 5 - Comical moment as GSP brings in Muay Thai striker Jean-Charles Skarbowsky to help train his team. It's funny because GSP outright warns the guys that Skarbowsky's a bit unstable and the guy actually turns up smashed, apparently. And then STILL easily outclasses everyone at kickboxing. Koscheck pokes his nose in and asks him if he's come straight from rehab (!). Dude appears to be a fucking Muay Thai wizard, though. Elsewhere Bruce Leroy manages to annoy Michael Johnson now by fucking around with the fabric softener in the house. Blah. Fight is solid and it's the first win for Koscheck, as Nam Phan does enough to outpoint Spencer Paige. I say the fight was solid but to be honest I can't exactly remember much about it outside of the celebration that sees the whole of Koscheck's team pounding on the walls of the locker room to annoy GSP.

Episode 6 - Koscheck the Prick REALLY comes to the forefront here as he labels Michael Johnson fat for no good reason, then comes to the house to give Team GSP some more abuse. One guy who isn't putting up with it is Cody McKenzie, who comes off like an odd hippie/stoner. He flicks Koscheck's chin during his staredown with Kos's top pick Marc Stevens, angering Koscheck badly. Crazy Armenian Sevak's answer? "Cut his fingers off for the disrespect". REALLY. Stevens is also portrayed as a prick here, bragging that he's the mini Koscheck and generally being an ass. Koscheck's coaches are outright saying to the guy that Cody is a one-trick pony and if Marc can avoid the guillotine then it's his fight. Of course, just seconds in Cody tags him, causing him to shoot in. McKenzie-tine and Stevens is sleeping like a fucking baby. All Koscheck can do is apply lip balm in stunned silence. This might be one of my favourite TUF moments ever. Second fight is Sevak himself against GSP's Jonathan Brookins and it's ANOTHER loss for Koscheck as Brookins takes Sevak down and chokes him out in about two minutes. Dana sees this as a huge surprise as Sevak had looked good in his elimination fight and Brookins wasn't expected to run right through him. So it's 6-1 GSP going into the final match.

Episode 7 - The funniest drama arc of the season begins here as Koscheck has a run-in with GSP's medic Brad Tate. Tate is still around the UFC on most events, actually. Anyway Kos keeps calling him a "male nurse" to get under his skin while to be fair Tate gives him plenty of stick back. We also get the coaches challenge, as Kos hammers GSP at some sort of baseball challenge. Not the most memorable coaches challenge actually. Final first round fight is GSP's last pick, Dane Sayers, against one of the favourites to win the whole season in Sako Chivitchyan. Fun fact - Sako's uncle is Gokor Chivitchyan, the guy responsible for training Karo Parisyan, Manny Gamburyan and basically all the Armenians you see fighting in MMA. It's a predicted blowout for Sako, but while he does win, it's by decision in a much closer fight than was expected. Token funny moment? Jeff Lentz saying he wants the wild card, while still smoking and drinking heavily. Aaron Wilkinson then calls him a "professional waster" which has me in stitches. Wild cards are announced as Aaron Wilkinson vs. Marc Stevens. How Stevens got another shot I don't know after losing his fight in seconds, but hey, he's Kos's boy.

Episode 8 - The stuff with Brad Tate reaches its apex as he verbally retaliates to Kos's taunts, causing Koscheck to lose the plot and grab him around the throat. This of course causes a major rumble in the gym with a pull-apart deal. Crazy Sevak can again be heard making wild threats to Tate about cutting him. Anyway GSP eventually talks to Tate and gets him to stop retaliating to Kos's taunts. He probably said to him, look Brad, I'm going to literally cave this dude's eye socket in, it's all good! Poor Aaron Wilkinson receives news that his grandmother's died, right before the wild card fight. And it doesn't look good for the Brit as he gets dominated in the first...but somehow comes back to tap Marc Stevens with the guillotine (again!) to give us a happy ending. Good for you, dude! Quarter-final picks are then made and literally everyone wants poor Bruce Leroy. Koscheck is furious when Michael Johnson gets the fight, as he feels GSP's manipulated Dana into making that fight.

Episode 9 - Jonathan Brookins chokes out Sako Chivitchyan in the first round and I remember watching this at the time and being stunned as I had Sako pegged as the guy to beat on this season, especially considering Brookins was a blown-up 145lber. He just dominates Sako here on the ground which was incredible given Sako's judo skill. Second fight sees poor Cody McKenzie exposed somewhat as Nam Phan prevents the guillotine and boxes him up before stopping him with a body shot. Koscheck's celebration is naturally obnoxious to watch and you can tell GSP's seething even if he doesn't really show it. Who got the last laugh though?

Episode 10 - Kyle Watson wastes no time in putting Aaron Wilkinson away with a rear naked choke in the first. This sucked because Watson is a complete non-entity while Wilkinson was a genuinely likeable dude with an emotional story arc with his grandmother dying. Michael Chiesa would get this arc right a few seasons later but that's a tangent. Then in a fight closer than Dana expected, Michael Johnson manages to outpoint Bruce Leroy. I'm still not sure why Johnson was so pissed at Bruce but what the hell. Koscheck decides to play nice to match the semis, and we end up with Johnson/Phan and Brookins/Watson.

Episode 11 and Episode 12 - I know this is a cop-out but I literally can't remember ANYTHING outside of the fights from these two episodes. Sevak could've at least snapped and tried to cut off Bruce Leroy's fingers or something. Brookins pounds out a decision over Watson via top control and nice ground-and-pound, while Watson outpoints Phan in general. Two underwhelming fights.

Overall this season started well but petered out when it became clear that A) GSP wasn't going to bite and play into Koscheck's head games, and B) the talent pool was weak and Jonathan Brookins, a natural 145lber, was the best guy on the show. I mean, Season 6 was similar with Mac Danzig as the standout, but there was more entertainment there and some raw talent like Saunders, Sotiropoulos and even War Machine worth watching. Here the best drama was Koscheck grabbing GSP's medic and Sevak flipping on Bruce Leroy. And looking back you could make an argument that Leroy is actually the best guy to come off this season given Brookins has retired, Johnson's lost twice in a row and Phan hasn't really done anything!

Onto the Lesnar season next, another one I don't remember much from.

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