In a never before seen season of the UFC’s Ultimate Fighter, two teams with a history of bad blood and just miles apart from each other, collided like a meteor at blazing speeds into anything in its path. Tensions were already high in the very first episode, as not only were the fighters ready to get the competition started, but the owners as well. Glenn Robinson (The Blackzilians) and Dan Lambert (American Top Team) have a history together and each seem to want to take part in the festivities of TUF 21 as well.
In the first episode, we saw Kamaru Usman sedate Michael Graves with his wrestling and strength. Usman set the tone for the season kickoff and scored 25 points for the Blackzilians. The way the TUF21 structure works is as
Fights 1 - 4=25 pts
Fights 5 - 8=50 pts
Fights 9 - 12=100 pts
With 12 total bouts this season, the team who scores the most points will take home a $200,000 prize. Each fighter may compete up to 3 times according to their coaches, which also means that some fighters may not see any time in the octagon. The last stipulation for season 21, is that for a fighter to qualify for the finale, he would have had to fought twice during the season. The winner of the finale will bring home a $300,000 check, a custom made trophy and bragging rights to South Florida.
In episode 2, ATT chose to go with the striker, Uros Jurisic, while the Blackzilians chose to counter Jurisic with MMA veteran, Luis “Buscape” Firmino. Buscape, is a world-class submission specialist with a great background in wrestling. So it looks as if the Blackzilians have another great grappler going up against a striker from ATT. The results weren’t much different from Usman’s dominance. Buscape got Jurisic down to the mat and controlled him for nearly all the rounds. With another unanimous decision win for the Blackzilians, they lead the competition at 50 points to zero.
In a strategy of mind games, Michael Graves tries to play tricks on “Baby Monster” Valdir Araujo. Though he
went unfazed, karma returns to ATT in episode 3 of TUF 21. Rashad Evans has been hand picking which Blackzilian will be competing that week and so far he has been right each time. Evans’ best guess is that ATT would be throwing them a possible wrench in the socket. Sure enough, ATT decided to get veteran (21-4 record) Steve Carl some action.
In a counter move, the Blackzilians chose Araujo to pick apart Carl. As with any season of the Ultimate Fighter, it can’t go without some drama. Carl was overweight at weigh-ins and ending up in the Blackzilians’ sauna. With so much trash talk and head games from Lambert and ATT, Tyrone Spong and Michael Johnson confronted ATT about using their equipment. After all, this IS a competition. “He’s in our gym. I don’t know who the (expletive) said he could use our sauna,” hollered striking coach, Spong.
American Top Teams’ strategy for this bout was to strike Araujo hard, since 4 of his 5 losses came by way of knockout. But “Baby Monster” had other plans. Carl starts to get desperate and goes off of his game plan. Araujo seizes the opportunity to take his back and slide in a guillotine choke, forcing Carl to tap.
With the momentum rolling the way of the Blackzilians with 75 points to 0, as well as finishing one of ATT’s favorite fighters in the season, Robinson and company are steam rolling their way through this season.
After 3 straight losses on TUF 21, Lambert and ATT looks to avenge their losses this week by sending out Steve Montgomery against Carrington Banks. In a scary turn of events, Montgomery went into a full blown seizure just before weigh-ins. Paramedics got there in time to save his life, but it rattled TUF house.
Montgomery said that his seizure was caused by intaking excess amounts of water and depleting his body of sodium, to prepare for the weight cut. The lack of sodium caused his body to go into shock but lucky he didn’t suffer any damage to his brain or body. It made everyone on the show realize that there’s more to the competition than the bickering and pranks. This is serious business and we’re glad that Montgomery is safe and sound.
American Top Team chooses Sobah Homasi in replace of Montgomery. Banks, a top notch wrestler, took down Homasi numerous times in Round 1 and took the round. In Round 2, Homasi regained his timing and started to stuff the takedowns but was unable to capitalize on them. The judges decided for the first time this season, that the bout would go to a Round 3. In the end, the judges felt like Carrington Banks deserved the win, based on his aggressiveness and relentlessness in Round 3. If you don’t want to leave it in the hands of the judges, make sure that you do everything you can to get that “W.” On this day, Banks just wanted it more.
Now, down 100 points to nothing, can American Top Team look to gain some type of positive momentum or will the Blackzilians continue to dominate TUF 21 season? Tune in next week to find out!