A quick recap of The Ultimate Fighter 25: Redemption so far:
- A bunch of fighters who’ve been on TUF before are back in the TUF house, and they must be behaving, because we’ve seen very little from the house.
- Cody Garbrandt grabbed T.J. Dillashaw’s neck.
- Perhaps as karmic retribution, Team Dillashaw is 3-0.
And on paper, they should easily get to 4-0 tonight. Dillashaw sends top pick and current UFC fighter James Krause, who’s on the show to get “redemption” for losing his prelim fight on TUF 15, against Johnny Nunez, who was 0-2 on TUF 22. Nunez is on the show as a substitute for Hector Urbina, who missed weight by a considerable margin in Week 1.
But TUF is unpredictable, and Krause has to manage his weight and his emotions. He had cut weight to fight Urbina, only to have that bout scrapped. Dana White insisted on putting Nunez in Urbina’s slot vs. Krause, but he wanted to give Nunez time to prepare. Krause and Dillashaw were not happy.
On to tonight’s show …
We start in the house, where Krause vents his feelings about losing to Justin Lawrence in the fight to get in the house in TUF 15. He feels robbed, but it was the best thing that ever happened to him. Dana White turns up to confirm that Krause did indeed go on a tear, first in other promotions and then tapping out Sam Stout on short notice.
Finally, some house entertainment. The ping-pong table sits empty, as did the cornhole boards. But Team Dillashaw decided to make a birthday card telling T.J. being on the other team would be “unbearable.” They add a bear. To make the bear realistic, they add hair.
From their own bodies.
It’s simultaneously disgusting and charming, and they reassure T.J. that no pubic hair was used to make the card.
“JAMES KRAUSE FIGHT PREP” says the graphic introducing the next segment. Krause says Nunez is pretty much the exact opposite of original opponent Urbina. He doesn’t elaborate. But he’s been working on his striking technique with T.J., who says Krause is going to use his range and his southpaw stance. Krause pledges not to win a boring decision.
Next: a brief segment in which Miesha Tate and another woman go to the house to drink with Cody’s team while Cody talks about hanging with his boyyyyys. Or so the previews would have us believe. This is actually where my computer conked out, which is unfortunate because I was watching on the app. By the time I got to my TV, they were already at the next ad break. I’m told nothing happened. That’s good. I’m still scarred from the horrible decision to bring Ronda Rousey into the TUF Live house and set things up as if the guys were going to fight over her like the kids in South Park. That did not happen.
After the break, we see Dhiego Lima and Hayder Hassan talking friendship, American Top Team and vegetables. Back in the Garbrandt dressing room, the team talks matchups, and Hayder says he’d rather not face Dhiego first so as not to cause drama in his gym. Then he says it would be an easy matchup. That comment might cause some drama in his gym.
Johnny Nunez reveals his strategy: Make it an ugly fight.
Miesha Tate trained with Nunez at Xtreme Couture, so she goes over to chat with Nunez.
“You guys getting paid this time?” she asks.
This episode is full of the unexpected.
But we’re immediately back to Cody leaving a flaming bag of poop outside the American Top Team door. (Not that he would know where it is — he was unaware that Hayder and Dhiego trained together until Hayder mentioned it. And if we’re being picky, Dhiego actually trains and works at American Top Team Gwinnett, the suburban Atlanta branch of the South Florida mega-gym.) He and his coaches really want Hayder to fight Dhiego. So apparently, this is all building to something.
Quick reminder: No, they’re not telegraphing the winner of the fight. The teams alternate picks this time, and Cody’s team has the next pick.
After the break, more on Krause. His stepdad, who raised him since he was 6 or 7, recently died. Mom’s in prison. So he looks after his sisters. One is 21 and just moved out, but the other is 11.
Off to his home video, where we see a toddler. That’s his 18-month-old daughter. Not typical, but it seems to be working. And he owns two MMA gyms that has produced some fighters, including TUF 24 winner Tim Elliott.
Weigh-in goes smoothly. Dhiego says Krause should be able to deal with Nunez’s wrestling and win.
This must be a short fight, because we’re going back to the house for a Team Dillashaw poetry slam in the hot tub. Yes, a poetry slam in the hot tub. Then Krause says he likes getting a pedicure before the fight.
This is an unusual episode.
Nunez thinks Krause isn’t here for the right reasons, saying he just wants air time and is taking a spot away from someone else who deserves it.
At last, we have a fight. The Nunez strategy of running full-bore into Krause to take him down works briefly, and he lands a couple of shots as well. After 90 seconds, he lands a big punch as Krause slips, but the favorite is back up quickly. Still, Nunez keeps tagging Krause. Might we see a colossal upset here?
Krause starts controlling distance. He has an immense height and reach advantage, and his leg kicks are doing damage. Dillashaw calls for a “spring cross,” but it doesn’t seem as if Krause hears him. But a few seconds later, Krause lands a devastating knee to the head, and Nunez plummets to the canvas. He’s not out, but Krause immediately pounces on his back. We have seven minutes left in this episode, so what do you think happens? RNC, tap, and Team Dillashaw is 4-0.
The fight doctor, a blonde woman we haven’t seen before, asks Krause if his hands are OK. He says yes. How about your purple toenails? Anything chipped? He laughs.
This is not your typical TUF episode.
Tate goes over to console Nunez, who says he got hit in the liver and got sick.
For once, we have a fight announcement with no extracurricular nonsense between the coaches. In fact, we’ve had none of that in this episode.
As telegraphed, Cody picks Lima vs. Hassan. They set a record for the most repetitions of “I love you, bro” in a staredown.
Weird. Weird episode.
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