The promo promises two quarterfinals, an injury and more Cody Garbrandt-T.J. Dillashaw chatter with various assistants trying to get screen time. Sounds busy. Maybe in future seasons, they should put all the contestants together in a house and see if anything dramatic happens.
The opening credits remind us that Seth Baczynski and Johnny Nunez were apparently in this season at some point.
We open with the weigh-ins for Hayder Hassan (Garbrandt’s last fighter) and Jesse Taylor. Team Dillashaw wears its new “Killashaw” T-shirts, which Garbrandt seems to think is some sort of money-making scheme.
Someone says “Nicolas Cage needs water.” And there’s some talk about peanut butter. We have a different representative from the commission who manages to conduct a weigh-in while the Great Alpha Male Socratic Dialogue continues. One of the fighters finally yells at the coaches to shut up and pay attention to the Hassan-Taylor staredown.
Yes, this is where we stand. The fighters are veterans who shed their youthful nonsense years ago. The coaches are the ones in need of guidance.
We go straight to Fight Day. It’s grappler (Taylor) vs. striker (Hassan). They like each other personally — Taylor calls Hassan the nicest guy in the house — but Hassan doesn’t like Taylor’s fighting style. “(Bleep) wrestling,” he says.
During the ad break, I shudder with dread at thoughts of the Nicolas Cage film Con Air. Why is John Cusack embarrassed by Better Off Dead but not that one?
Round 1: As expected, Taylor immediately goes for the takedown. Three times in the first 15 seconds, in fact. Taylor finally gets him the third time, and he swiftly takes Hassan’s back. After two minutes, Taylor sinks a deep, deep rear naked choke. Hassan somehow frees himself — briefly. Taylor sinks it again, and Hassan starts gurgling. Hassan taps and apologizes to his team.
That’s it. All seven of Garbrandt’s fighters are out. But we’ll apparently have an injury later in the episode.
Dillashaw says he doesn’t want to be a jerk about it, and he doesn’t say anything nasty outside confessional, but yeah — Garbrandt’s team has been wiped out, and that makes Dillashaw a happy man.
During the ad break, I wonder why I’m in the demographic for so many testosterone ads.
We’re immediately back to the gym for the next weigh-in between two of the most impressive fighters in the cast — Ramsey Nijem and current UFC fighter James Krause. For once, the coaches shut up.
Nijem in confessional thinks the matchups are a little weird. This could’ve been a final, he says. He’s not wrong. He’s also the only fighter who has made an effort to do some inter-team smack talk, and he quips to Garbrandt that you have to win to be in this spot.
“At least he has the decency to be a (bleep),” Garbrandt says.
“You are what you eat,” is the response.
I may need to start watching this with the SAP function just to figure out what’s going on. No, I don’t speak Spanish.
Krause turns up for Fight Day rocking a suit. He would be the best-dressed guy ever in the TUF gym if not for Conor McGregor.
Nijem chokes up a bit in confessional as he talks about his relatives in Palestine who support him even while they’re in dire straits.
Round 1: Krause takedown. Nijem starts playing bongos on Krause’s head, earning a warning from the ref to watch the back of the head. They get stuck in a stalemate for a couple of minutes, but a scramble puts Krause on Nijem’s back. Nijem scrambles again and gets up this time, though he eats a few knees in the process.
Nijem does pretty well on his feet, landing punches from some unusual angles. Krause responds with another takedown. Nijem gets a warning against grabbing the cage. The ref also asks Krause to try to improve his position. Krause complies, but Nijem takes advantage of the opening to stand again. Krause lands a spinning back fist with about 10 seconds left, surely erasing any doubt that he won a decent opening round.
Round 2: Nijem comes out swinging. Then he lands, then he pounces. Krause is in trouble. He gets on top in a scramble, but Nijem gets up and once again lands. Nijem takes him down, defends a guillotine attempt and maintains position. Krause is bleeding from the forehead above his left eye. Krause establishes guard, but Nijem has enough freedom of movement to do some damage. Nijem finally gets a little greedy with the position, and Krause stands. These guys are suddenly exhausted, flinging long looping punches at each other.
Unfortunately for them, we’re going to have a third round. Not surprising — unless someone gave Nijem a 10-8 in the second, it’s 19-19.
Round 3 starts with all the defense of an NBA All-Star Game. Just two tired guys popping jabs in each other’s faces. Nijem goes for the takedown and botches things, giving Krause a chance to take his back. Nijem flips to establish guard, and he manages to land some punches from the bottom. But Nijem’s corner is justifiably concerned. You’re generally not going to win a sudden-victory round from the bottom. Nijem gets to the cage, but Krause drags him back. Krause manages to land punches at a rate of roughly two per minute, but the ref doesn’t stand them up. Nijem finally works his way free but dives for a takedown that again goes badly.
Then comes a strong final flurry. Nijem lands more punches, takes Krause down and does more damage. But we end in a scramble, and there’s no way Nijem did enough to win the round.
Fight recap: Dillashaw says Nijem’s game plan was to run at Krause with punches. It’s not bad. “Awesome fight,” Dillashaw says.
Decision: Krause. He puts his suit back on for confessional, but his eye looks messed up. He says it’s just a corneal scratch that will heal in a couple of days.
Nijem says he wishes fights were scored off damage. Krause won off control, Nijem says.
Dana White checks in from Los Angeles and says Krause is questionable but that things look promising. So who would the coaches like to see in the semis?
Dillashaw says he would seed the tournament with Krause first and Tom Gallicchio fourth. Garbrandt shakes his head at the camera. He wants to put the wrestlers (Taylor and Gallicchio) together.
White says he’s going to go with his gut. It’s Dhiego Lima vs. “Toothless Tom” Gallicchio. Lima raises his fists for the staredown. “Oh, I don’t do that,” Gallicchio says.
Krause isn’t happy with the matchup against Taylor, saying he’s not sure why they’d put No. 1 vs. No. 2.
All we can do is hope Krause’s eye is indeed OK. Or maybe hope they’ve been saving Junie Browning to make a late appearance and shake things up in the house, which was not seen once in this episode. A first?
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