The TUF Diaries: TUF Brazil 2

Actually finished this one today so it's all-new stuff. Enjoy!

TUF Brazil 2. This season obviously got no publicity at all outside of Brazil and I don't know whether it actually did very well there in fact as none of the fighters coming off it tend to get the reactions that the likes of Massaranduba and Rony Jason from Season 1 still get. I get the feeling it came off like TUF 2 did in the US. The cast was pretty strong though with a handful of BJJ guys with serious credentials (Leonardo Santos, David Vieira, Tiago Alves), some legit veterans who'd been knocking on the door of the UFC for a while (Thiago Goncalves, Yan Cabral, Luiz Dutra Jr) as well as the usual mix of largely unknown prospects with interesting records. Coaches were Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Fabricio Werdum, building to a rematch between the two following their 2006 clash in PRIDE.

Episode 1: So it's pretty much the same format as TUF 17 (32 fighters whittled down to 16 in pre-house fights) except it's 170lbs instead of 185lbs. And like TUF 17, the fighters have their families and friends with them to watch the elimination matches. Backgrounds are the usual Brazilian fare with some fighters having escaped poverty and the like. It sounds like I'm trivialising this I know, but everything is so rushed on these elimination episodes so it actually comes off as trivial on the show. Due to I guess a lot of the matches going the distance, the elimination fights are divided across the first two episodes. This episode is more straightforward as the team picks are on the next one too. First amusing point - there's a ton of lookalikes of current or former UFC fighters on the cast. We've got miniature Tom Lawlor (Marcio Santos), the Melvin Guillard/Kevin Randleman-alike (William Macario), Bruce Leroy on steroids (Tiago Alves), Ben Saunders' twin brother (Felipe Oliveiri) and Edson Barboza II (Thiago Santos). Of these guys only the poor Saunders clone misses out. Of these guys, Macario, Alves and Marcio Santos look super-impressive with really nasty wins - Macario via Tito Ortiz-esque elbows that open a gory cut on the opponent; Alves with some slick grappling leading to a kimura and Santos overcoming some heavy knees to choke his opponent out. Also impressive is Pedro Irie, this short, hench guy who swings heavy leather. Luiz 'Besouro' Dutra Jr wins a lopsided decision in his match and from what I remember he was probably the favourite going into the season. The two less impressive guys are Thiago 'Marreta' Santos who actually fights a bit like his lookalike Barboza but stutters to a decision, and then Neilson Gomes who sort of just outworks his opponent (Saunders-alike) to a decision. Not much else to say really but for a bunch of elimination fights these were mainly fun and the winners showed potential.

Episode 2: More elimination fights. Nova Uniao's Yan Cabral looks excellent and he was the other favourite alongside Besouro as he'd of course beaten Sakuraba in DREAM and had that top-level experience. David Vieira also looks pretty slick, showing some phenomenal grappling to decision current UFC fighter Leandro Silva who was bringing in a gaudy record. Dude also has floppy hair and looks like a pretty boy soccer player ala Kaka. What's not to love? We also get the token upset (the largely unknown Viscardi Andrade over Thiago Jambo Goncalves, a real veteran from Team Nogueira) and the token sloppy brawl (token Argentine Santiago Ponzinibbio KOing Thiago Silva - not that one though! - after a ludicrous trade). A couple of the dudes on this episode - namely Juliano Wandalen and Cleiton Duarte - don't look so good however and Leonardo Santos practically flukes his way into the house after his opponent dislocates his finger randomly during the opening moments of their fight. But yeah overall, looks like a talented bunch. So it's time for the team picks and Nogueira and Werdum seem to be picking based on a mix of how good the fighters looked in their elimination fights and also on their reputations coming in, which is interesting. Off the top of my head most of the time the coaches tend to base stuff purely on those elimination fights. Nogueira gets the first pick and takes Besouro, while Werdum goes with Pedro Irie. Standard team picking with the one surprise to me being William Macario being left late while Neilson Gomes is picked early, a surprise when you look at how both performed in the elimination bouts. Even teams though with Besouro with Nogueira and Cabral with Werdum and the rest are largely wildcards anyway. Nicknames when translated, it must be added, are either awesome or comical. We've got 'Foguete' which means 'rocket', 'Pedra' which means 'stone' and 'Marreta' which means SLEDGEHAMMER!~! but we also have 'Patolino' which roughly translates to Daffy Duck (!) and 'Besouro' which means 'beetle'. Wacky stuff as per usual with Brazilians.

Episode 3: We begin with one of the worst pranks in TUF history and I'm not talking lame, I mean outright horrid. Basically Team Werdum decide to destroy the mattresses from the house in order to fuck with Team Nogueira's sleeping patterns. Now, I can't believe none of them figured it'd also fuck with THEIR OWN sleeping patterns but I guess they're cage fighters and not rocket scientists. So they toss them into the pool, but then use them as sledges to slide down this hill outside the TUF house....right into a FUCKING LAKE BELOW. And obviously being Brazil this isn't a clear blue water type thing, it's a MURKY LAKE with brown water and at a glance it appears that the HOUSE IS ON THE EDGE OF THE JUNGLE. I was terrified watching this, seriously. I mean you have Yan Cabral and Viscardi and the rest of them doing wild flips into this filthy water and holy shit THIS IS BRAZIL. There could be fucking anacondas or piranhas or ANYTHING in this water. Yes this is a big fear of mine and I'm probably being irrational, but still. And being TUF Brazil we of course get some super-obvious product placement, with Marcio Santos fretting because he's bought shaving gear with him and won't need it now because there's GILLETTE in the house. Anyway Werdum announces the first fight as Tiago Silva - a regional BJJ champ ala Godofredo Pepey - against Nog's Cleiton Duarte. Nog is pretty pissed at this pick as apparently Cleiton was the most banged up guy on his team following the elimination round. Hey, that's tactics, dude. And it's a largely dull fight as Tiago does his best Jon Fitch impression and grinds out a ground-and-pound heavy win. Guy fights nothing like his namesake nor his lookalike (Bruce Leroy). Lone character development in this episode is for William 'Patolino' Macario who at 21 is the youngest guy in the house. He gets the expected 'hyperactive annoying guy' gimmick as he busts out a freestyle rap to wind up Yan Cabral and then sprays shaving foam into the shoes of Team Werdum. It's largely lame but Patolino does come off as a likeable dude who's a bit immature as opposed to TUF Brazil 1's Gasparzinho who seemed annoying for the sake of it. In a fun side note literally every time these guys are promised some sort of bonus - headphones for each fight win and a NEW SPORTS CAR for the overall season winner and his coach - they show such enthusiasm that it's hard not to love them all. There is no Julian Lane wannabe badass types here for the most part and it's part of what makes TUF Brazil refreshing to watch. With Werdum still in control he decides to pick Yan Cabral to face David Vieira in what promises to be quite the grappling contest. And holy shit does it live up to that, wow. This might be one of my favourite ever TUF fights as Vieira goes all-out for the submission in the first, diving on leglocks and leaping into arm triangle attempts and all sorts. He can't catch Cabral though who while defensive is also wearing Vieira out and landing the better strikes from the top position. Vieira looks spent going into the second round and ends up on the bottom before giving his back, allowing Cabral to catch him in a choke for the tapout. Given Vieira's BJJ pedigree this would've been a major scalp for Yan I think, although I got the feeling in straight BJJ Vieira would probably win. Episode ends on a cliffhanger, though - Cabral thinks he may well have busted his hand hitting Vieira. Uh oh.

Episode 4: Unfortunate beginning as Yan Cabral visits a doctor and after an x-ray, it's revealed that his hand is indeed busted. And in a weird moment it's actually decided that he's going home. No clue why they felt the need to send him home altogether as that hadn't happened on TUF in years. I guess it's only the second Brazil season but still! We then get a video call from Fucking Dana White who tells the teams that he's found a replacement for Cabral in the form of Daniel 'Gelo' (Iceman) Oliveira. Both teams seem upset with the pick as apparently Gelo was quite disrespectful to opponent Marcio Santos in the elimination round and then didn't show much in his fight. More strangeness then ensues as we get a Team Challenge and apparently the winners decide the next fight. So Werdum doesn't keep the hammer despite winning the last two? This really does feel like I've jumped into a time machine back to 2005 and just happened to wind up in a different country. The challenge is this thing where the fighters have to push a car and Team Nogueira absolutely destroy it, pretty much thanks to Luiz Besouro who seems strong as a fucking ox. Nogueira picks Neilson Gomes to face off with Viscardi Andrade. A Team Nogueira training segment introduces us to wrestling coach Eric Albarracin, an American guy who is now an adopted Brazilian. He's a former international wrestler and he's also wildly eccentric, wearing Will.I.Am style glasses and an Axl Rose bandana. He encourages Neilson and Patolino to destroy Viscardi's photo, and Neilson tapes it to a dummy and hits it with an awkward high kick. Next morning his knee is swollen to fuck. Uh oh. Dude can't even walk, and Besouro is forced to carry him over his shoulder to the bus to training. Dude gets it checked out and his ligaments are shredded up, and it's implied that the awkward kick did it. Oops. More weirdness follows as Nog explains Neilson has been sent home like Yan, but he's chosen a replacement and he's still fighting Viscardi. It's fucking THIAGO JAMBO who was beaten by Viscardi in the elimination round. Werdum's guys are furious with this and for good reason as not only did he already lose to Viscardi, but why did Nog get to choose the replacement while Werdum was just handed Gelo? Strangely though it's shrugged off and the fight is ON. Jambo promises to make good this time and beat Viscardi up. He's also got support from teammate Junior Dos Santos who shows up in a random guest slot. Fight though is karmic as while Jambo does better early on, a late flurry in the round puts him down and OUT. Nog loses again and to rub salt into the wounds, Viscardi taunts him from the cage. If you've ever wanted to see Nog REALLY PISSED then this is the episode for you. A big confrontation ensues and Viscardi sort-of apologises, but makes it clear that he was pissed off with how Jambo was casually brought back. I can't blame the guy really. Fun episode overall.

Episode 5: We go pretty much right into the next fight pick. Werdum has the hammer after his last win (despite them using a challenge to decide it last time, this show is SO RANDOM) and he chooses Thiago 'Marreta' Santos to face William 'Patolino' Macario in a showdown of later picks. Patolino seems happy with this as apparently, they were booked to fight in Brazil before twice and never did. No word on who pulled out or anything. Interestingly Werdum remarks that while Marreta's got great stand-up, his ground skills need a lot of work. And sure enough in the fight it's the ground game that lets him down. Basically he can't keep Patolino at distance despite being the bigger, taller guy, and from the clinch Patolino has few issues with taking him down and working him over with ground-and-pound from the top. It's a decision for Patolino and it's Nog's first win of the season. Judging on Marreta's recent UFC success at 185lbs I think he was probably losing a lot in the weight cut to 170lbs as he seems much more put together these days. So now Nog has control and he picks Leonardo Santos of ADCC fame (once tapped GSP!) to face striker Juliano Wandalen. Interesting bit here as Leo explains that his brother paid all his bills so he could train in the early days - his brother for those who don't know is WEC veteran Waggney Fabiano. Prior to the fight though it's another prank gone a bit wrong. Team Werdum decide to basically fuck with Team Nog's locker room, putting what appears to be a black magic type curse on them. There's a weird symbol on the floor, pictures turned upside down, candles and all sorts. Team Nog don't seem to care though outside of Patolino who is terrified, ha. Anyway they decide to throw the candles into Werdum's locker which Werdum's guys decide to throw EVERYTHING at Team Nog. I'm talking chairs and tables and cans of coke and all sorts, holy shit. Really dangerous stuff in the end and you've got David Vieira and coach Luiz Dorea literally covering up in the corner. This is way out of hand and thankfully they stop before someone does get hurt. Fight is largely dull as Leo basically outgrapples Ninja for a decision. Worst fight thus far by a mile, but the best guy clearly went through. So it's now 3-2 to Werdum and we're basically reaching the halfway stages of what has been an interesting - if bizarre at points - season.

Episode 6: Again we get an odd switch in terms of how the fight is selected as the teams play DODGEBALL to decide who picks. David Vieira has Ben Stiller's White Goodman feathered hair and everything, fuck yeah. It's a weird variation on the game too, with just one ball in play. Team Werdum win and Fabricio says he has a SWERVE!~! in mind and with that he selects his top pick, Pedro Irie, to take on Nog's top pick in Luiz 'Besouro'. Besouro is like the absolute stereotype of the Brazilian fighter in that he's stupidly aggressive and mean-mugs constantly and looks like a mass murderer. If you put these fighters in a line-up and told someone to pick the cage fighter you'd go with Besouro every single time. In a notable spot Team Werdum's Daniel Oliveira says (in a talking head segment) that he's good friends and training partners with Besouro and his reputation is such that nobody wanted to fight the guy prior to TUF and he doesn't think anyone in Brazil can beat him. We'll come back to that later. Prior to the fight we get another prank gone wrong as this time Team Werdum try to kidnap Eric Albarracin, and this causes this big rough-and-tumble between both teams. Again, it's all good fun but it's lucky nobody gets injured. Fight comes and it's largely even standing until Besouro takes Irie down, and then it's absolutely one-way traffic as Besouro tools him and puts him away with a rear naked choke. Besouro looked tremendous here and lived up to the hype he had going in as the favourite. Post-fight though Daniel Oliveira makes a comment to the rest of his team about how good Besouro is, and this causes coach Wanderlei Silva - who hadn't really been featured much to this point - to go BALLISTIC and at one point the others have to get between him and Gelo. I can see Wandy's point in that Gelo was hyping up Besouro and probably making him a feared guy like a Uriah Hall or Phillipe Nover type, but this was a total overreaction for me and foreshadowed the crazy Wanderlei we'd see in TUF Brazil 3 rather than the good-natured one from TUF Brazil 1. Probably the most 'nothing' episode yet although the fight was good.

Episode 7: Next fight is academic - Team Nog's Santiago Ponzinibbio against Team Werdum's Marcio Santos. First off though Wanderlei apologises for going mental in the last episode and gives Gelo a hug, and then Chuck Liddell does a cool guest coach spot and tries to teach everyone his trademark overhand right, with The Ponz picking it up the best from what I could see. Santos AKA 'Pedra' is then put over as the token cleaner of the house and it's alluded to that his cleaning OCD is being abused by the other fighters. Hey, at least there are no stupid arguments about cleaning the kitchen thanks to this guy. Fight is a hell of a brawl. Sloppy as all hell but fun too ala Mir vs. Duffee in fact. It's your standard Ponz fair as he seems to drag EVERYONE into these firefights. Pedra does well early but of course Ponz has the incredible chin that he showed the other week in the Larkin fight and that allows him to stay in the game and eventually land some bombs. Pedra goes down and Mario Yamasaki stops it, but Team Werdum feel it was early. Classic quote from Werdum - "one extra punch won't deform anyone's face!". It looked legit to me for the record. And then Werdum pulls a classic RATFUCK HEEL move, one of the biggest on TUF. Basically him and Nog are contacted by Fucking Dana White, who tells them that Daniel 'Gelo' Oliveira has to fight to get into the next round rather than taking Yan Cabral's spot by default. That's fair. And apparently Werdum gets the pick of the opponent. Nog is asked who is healthy of the guys on his team that lost, and it basically comes down to David Vieira and Cleiton Duarte, as I presume Jambo would be medically suspended due to his KO loss. Nog also says Foguete is hurt, but Werdum wants to pick him anyway. Nog reiterates, Cleiton is injured, dude. To which Dana says if he's injured then why the fuck is he still here? Nog says he can still train (unlike Cabral and Neilson Gomes) but he's very banged up. Werdum PICKS HIM ANYWAY. I mean you can see why, but man, what a shitty move to pull. Foguete of course can't really say no for fear of coming off like a pussy ala Tait Fletcher and Kris Rotharmael from TUF 3 and so he takes the fight. Real low move from Werdum in my book and Nogueira naturally is furious. And so we end there and hit the usual road to the WHO IS THE WILD CARD angle. Word.

Episode 8: It's announced that Foguete is taking on Gelo in the match to decide who takes Cabral's spot and evidently Nog is over the issue now as he seems fine about it and Foguete seems ready to go. Next up is the Wild Card announcement and it's unsurprisingly decided to be Marreta vs. Pedro Irie. They didn't have much choice really considering it probably had to be two Werdum guys and of those that lost, Pedra would've been medically suspended and Ninja showed nothing. This is quite a SERIOUS EPISODE also as Werdum's guys mention Gelo is struggling with the weight cut. Nog's guys meanwhile have a BBQ at the house cooked by The Ponz, and poor Foguete can't eat a damn thing. Cut to weigh ins and Marreta and Irie are fine. A shredded Foguete hits 170lbs easily. Gelo meanwhile is.....173.5lbs. Oops. Right away the suit doing the weigh-in says he's not allowed by the commission rules to cut any more weight. Looks like he's out, dude. Cue TEARS as Gelo does his best Andy Wang impression, absolutely SOBBING LIKE A BABY. Doesn't earn him any sympathy though as Werdum and the guys are furious, one muttering that he looked fat when he came into the house and made no effort to sort the issue. The Brazilian Gabe Ruediger then? Sadly we don't get an appearance from Fucking Dana White to get rid of the guy, instead it's just Nog and Werdum announcing that Foguete gets a FREE PASS to the Quarters. Instant karma for picking the injured guy! Gelo is bounced from the series and let us not speak of the guy again. Probably the biggest waster on TUF since James Vainikolo on the Smashes actually. Anyway to break all the seriousness we get a segment showing how David Vieira has slowly gone from "regular guy" to joining Patolino as the token clown of the series. To be fair the pranks they pull here are hilarious, ranging from turning everything in the house upside down (maybe they're Roald Dahl fans?) to spiking the orange juice with tequila which causes poor Tiago Alves to choke. It's TUF 8 style fare but it's a nice change following all those tears. Fight though is just weird. I guess because it was the first ever teammate vs. teammate showdown on TUF Brazil, the rest of the cast didn't really know how to act. So they don't, and we get ABSOLUTE SILENCE as Irie and Marreta put on a bit of a damp squib actually, a fight totally on the feet that sees Marreta pick up a narrow decision. I might've sent it to a third but no bother. So Marreta's into the Quarters which are coming up next episode.

Episode 9: More DEADLY SERIOUSNESS here as the episode begins with the coaches discussing the matches they'd like for the Quarters. It's interesting in that it looks like Nog's team are happy to take tough fights while Werdum seems to want the easiest route possible for his guys. Next we see Luiz Besouro having some apparent issues with his hand. I'm not sure if it stems from the Irie fight as that was like three episodes back and it hasn't been mentioned since, but maybe. Anyway, Team Werdum suspect he might be out of the tournament as he can't even hold a glass. That's worrying for sure. Sure enough Nog calls a team meeting and explains that the doctors have come back and said Besouro has a torn ligament in his wrist and so he's out. This is HEARTBREAKING as the guy sobs even worse than Gelo in the last episode, but for a genuine reason this time. It's so bad - especially when he says he's let his son down as he promised to win for him - that even the clowns Patolino and Vieira are crying. To be fair I think Besouro and Patolino were big buddies so it's understandable. With that another favourite falls to injury, making this the most cursed TUF since Season 11. So it's time for the fight announcements, and Nog seems a little unhappy while Werdum is pleased with Uncle Dana's choices. Matches are Patolino vs. Tiago Alves, Marreta vs. Leo Santos, The Ponz vs. Foguete (teammate vs. teammate) and then Viscardi against David Vieira who has been picked to replace Besouro. Had to be him really given everyone else from Nog's team was hurt, but hey, guy was exciting in his fight so it's all good. Plus he has cool hair. Before the fights though it's another wild prank. Basically Eric Albarracin decides to throw a stink bomb into Team Werdum's van, but it all gets out of control as Team Nog decide to rock the van and cover it with black sheets and shit to make things worse. Naturally with these guys it goes TOO FAR as Werdum himself decides for some reason to set off a fire extinguisher, not realising it'll choke everyone in the van. Wild scene erupts with Marcio Santos seemingly choking half to death as Pedro Irie (I think it was him) keeps spraying the extinguisher, and then Patolino gets involved as Marcio is his buddy and it gets really heated. It's like watching kids having a play fight escalating into the real thing. I mean it's funny too, but when you compare it to how the pranks on the US TUF series' go (even on the ultra-heated TUF 14) you can see this massive difference in that this cast just don't know when to call it a day. Finally it's time for Patolino vs. Tiago. This is actually a squash and it's about the best that Patolino could look. He has this striking style that looks almost sloppy and lazy, but he actually has an excellent grasp of range, is deceptively fast and hits very hard, all of which mean that a BJJ guy with weaker takedowns like Alves is in trouble. Basically Tiago gets tagged early and can't recover and Patolino ends up knocking him all around the ring. It's a HORRIBLY late stoppage from Mario Yamasaki too as at one point Tiago practically stumbles into him and he still allows it to go on. I think he was trying to make up for the anger felt towards him for the Pedra stoppage myself. It's a first round TKO for Patolino who proves he's more than just the house clown. Super episode right here.

Episode 10: This one is a two-fight episode as we're into the Quarter-Finals, so there's not much time for bullshit. Well, there is, but we'll get to that in a second. First off, Santos vs. Santos. As in Leo vs. Marreta. Pretty much everyone is openly stating this is striker vs. grappler, can't get more clear-cut. And in a fun moment, Jose Aldo shows up to offer support to Leo who apparently (playing on what his brother Wagnney Fabiano did for him I guess) put Aldo up and paid for him to train and eat in the early days. You can see right away that these guys are close. Side note but Aldo looks like a midget compared to Nog. Fight is absolutely dominated by Leo, a totally one-sided affair that sees Marreta beaten up from the mount for large periods of time. Leo basically did everything but finish here and you could argue for two 10-8's in fact. Much more impressive than Leo's prior win over Juliano Ninja. Speaking of whom, remember I mentioned bullshit earlier? Basically this guy ends up on the classic pantheon of TUF muppets, as he takes exception to Werdum pranking Team Nog with fireworks, and decides to form his own team - TEAM NINJA - with membership being well, himself. Werdum is happy with this and for the first time since Andy Wang on TUF 5, he boots the guy from his team and offers him to Nog. Who promptly turns him down as he fears Werdum's using him as a TROJAN HORSE and he's not just being a bit of a weird dickhead. Andy Wang would call him a LEADERLESS SAMURAI WARRIOR or something. Next up is David Vieira vs. Viscardi Andrade and they pull a TREMENDOUS PRANK during the weigh-in as they go nose-to-nose before David shoots a takedown, Dustin Neace style. Werdum absolutely shits himself here before he realises they're kidding around and are actually good friends. Makes me laugh every time I see this clip, honestly. Fight unfortunately isn't so good. Vieira finds himself in the unenviable position of being the classic BJJ guy with crap takedowns and while he at least tries to pull guard and dive on leglocks and stuff, he can't do much with the savvy Viscardi who basically picks him off for two rounds. Lone highlight is Viscardi getting a right-hand knockdown in the first. So it's Leo and Viscardi into the semis in a largely uneventful episode due to the pair of decisions.

Episode 11: More hilarity from TEAM NINJA to begin as this time David Vieira has decided to create the guy his own locker room in the corridor using various equipment like mats and trash cans and stuff. Somehow Juliano loves it and actually moves his stuff in there. Really. Don't know whether this dude was playing a character for the reality TV side of things or whether he did lose a few screws in the process of taping but it's funny but weird too. Coaches challenge is next and it's GO-KARTING which is cool. Nog takes an early lead but in the end Werdum races past him to win. In all honesty not the most memorable challenge on TUF, my vote still goes to the original ping-pong between Penn and Pulver complete with the incredulous Fucking Dana White I think. And of course what would this season be without ANOTHER PRANK? This time Team Werdum finally manage to kidnap poor Eric, and shave the dude's head before tying him to a tree in the garden and setting off tons of fireworks, making the house sound like it's been magically transported into a serious war zone. To be fair this whole scene looks like crazy fun if slightly dangerous, which sums this season up I guess. Eric eventually escapes and takes revenge by dumping eggs and flour onto Werdum's guys while they're taking POLE DANCING LESSONS in a really odd scene that you just wouldn't see on the US versions of TUF. Not sure whether it was a sneaky guerilla marketing deal or what. This would be a great episode if it had a good fight but unfortunately Cleiton Foguete vs. The Ponz largely sucks, as it doesn't look like Foguete is in the fight at all to me. I suspect he was just too banged up, but he basically allows The Ponz to back him into the fence, unload with punches, take him down and beat him up there for two rounds straight. Really disappointing but who am I to judge a bunch of injured guys in an unfamiliar setting for like eight weeks? So our semi-finalists are Patolino, Leo Santos, Viscardi and The Ponz. Looks good to me!

Episode 12: It's semi-final time and literally ALL the bullshit is over now and it's down to SERIOUS BUSINESS. Beginning with a rare (for this season) Fucking Dana White appearance as it's time to ask the fighters exactly who they want in the semis. Of course, as it's three Team Nog guys (Leo, Patolino and The Ponz) and only one Team Werdum (Viscardi) it's pretty obvious who the wanted man is. The only guy to say any different is Leo who says he wouldn't mind fighting Patolino if it comes to that. Basically it all hinges on who Viscardi wants and that's Patolino too. Makes sense as he was the least experienced guy coming in. Interesting side bit sees Uncle Dana ask Nog and Werdum who they think is actually the best guy there. Obviously Werdum picks Viscardi, but Nog's choice is The Ponz. "The Argentine is a killer" is the quote. Everyone seems happy with those picks and so it's on and boom, we go right into the first fight - Leo vs. The Ponz. And it's a decent fight too - first round sees Leo take advantage of the Argentine's porous defense and surprise him with an early overhand right, but the majority of the round sees him getting backed up with wild combos. Second round is more of The Ponz as he shows why this ought to be a simple fight for him - stuff the takedown and beat Leo to the punch. But that shady defense and the fact that he throws literally nothing but haymakers means Leo stays in the fight and when we go to a third round Leo dominates with cleaner punches and then a mount and ground domination. Fight actually goes to The Ponz though meaning it's one of those TUF seasons where the semis are automatically three rounds, and evidently the judges gave Ponz the first which was the debatable round. Post-fight Ponz explains that he really jacked his right hand in the first round and was struggling to punch. Dude has serious heart when you consider the second was his best round! Next up is Viscardi vs. Patolino and again it's a fight full of sloppy haymakers and negligible defense. Viscardi appears to have the advantage slightly in the early going but again Patolino is a really deceptive guy and he's actually taking Viscardi's best shots and doing just enough to avoid real damage, while wearing Viscardi out. Third round and Viscardi is much more spent and ends up falling prey to a big right. Some nasty ground-and-pound later and Patolino is in the finals as quite the underdog when you consider where he was picked. But he's also the guy who improved the most during the season judging on his fights. So its a really intriguing final between Patolino and The Ponz....except the voiceover explains Ponz REALLY injured his arm and so Leo Santos is taking his spot in the finals. And for those who forget, Santos ended up winning the finals and becoming only the second guy to win TUF after a loss - the first being Court McGee, duh. Final episode was good in terms of the fights but felt a bit weird as they didn't sum up the season or have a wild party or anything to end it.

Difficult season to rate overall then, but I'd go thumbs up overall. Fights were a mixed bag with some really excellent ones (Cabral/Vieira, Ponz/Pedra, Patolino/Viscardi, Viscardi/Jambo) mixed in with some real stinkers (Leo/Ninja, Ponz/Foguete, Marreta/Irie) but then you tend to expect that from TUF anyway due to the situation these guys are in. The tournament was quite obviously the most cursed in terms of injuries and what-not though since TUF 11, with two hot favourites and a bit of an unknown quantity falling to injuries and then the finals themselves being ruined too. House stuff though was EXCELLENT and up there with the best of the US series'. Patolino was probably the standout character and was more memorable than anyone from the initial TUF Brazil season but the whole issue with Ninja was also all-time hilarious stuff for TUF and the pranks ranged from ridiculous to outright dangerous which made them more memorable than your usual TUF fare too. Big question mark for me is the talent pool as these guys seemed like red-hot prospects going into the UFC outright and yet outside of a pretty bizarre exception (Marreta, which I did not see at ALL) they've largely disappointed with loads of time on the shelf and surprising losses. I think it's like, with TUF Brazil these guys look great in the house because they tend to have flashy BJJ/Muay Thai based games and obviously those look good against similar fighters, but when they have to face what you'd call "grinders" who can negate those skills in the UFC itself they don't quite look as good. I still think Patolino has potential though damnit, superman punch be damned. If you've not seen this season it's definitely worth a look then.

\The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Bloody Elbow readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bloody Elbow editors or staff.