After last week’s double header, and Rob Emerson’s second loss, I began to wonder if BJ is not a very good coach. Emerson was keenly aware of his own emotional weakness, something which BJ seems to have done nothing to address except for yelling from the corner advice like “Explode, Emerson!” Well, if he knew how to maybe he would! An experienced fighter like Rob should have beaten Corey, but BJ didn’t help him much. I discussed this in email with Rafael Kayanan, our technical expert for this season, and he responded with this:
BJ Penn was known as the prodigy because things came to him very easily when he started out, so in recent years he has been criticized for not being able to train at the level of the Matt Hughes and St. Pierre’s – which were his last two fights in which he lost. He’s taken some slack on his training regimen for those fights.
Ah ha! It turns out Dana is thinking the same as me and Rafael, for this episode begins as Dana pulls BJ aside for a private chat and utters with the most ominous words anyone can ever hear: “I’m hearing rumors you’re not doing cardio. You don’t want to be a ****in* Shamrock on this show.”
No one wants to be a ****in’ Shamrock.
This was the first episode of this season that I found kind of boring. After Dana’s dire warning BJ takes it to heart — in fact BJ becomes totally docile and fearful in Dana’s presence, just like anyone meeting “the boss”. The next morning BJ finds someone to take out his wrath on and unloads on Andy Wang.
“You’re out of here, Wang! You’re off the team.”
Andy doesn’t cry, although his chin trembles. He pleads with BJ as BJ runs on the treadmill (!) who barely turns his head to deliver the I-told-you-so “You didn’t listen once.”
“I’m sick and tired of Wang, man,” said BJ. You said it man!
Andy compares himself to a masterless ronin, while Dana asks Jens if he’ll take on Andy since no one can be without a team. Jens asks the team — Jen’s leadership skills have turned out to be the surprise of this show, much like Tito Ortiz’s Team Punishment exploits two seasons ago. The team says Wang is a nice guy and he would be welcomed with open arms.
However, in a three way between Wang, Jens and Dana, Andy gets all pissy again about his loyalty to BJ! Dana is flustered. “This isn’t colors like LA with a gang — you should hug Jens Pulver.” Indeed now Jens is annoyed by Andy’s hysterical flip flopping before agreeing to put on the yellow. (see above screencap.) In a cutaway Dana says “Now he’s disrespecting Jens. I’m starting to see why BJ was so pissed. I want to ****in’ kill Andy Wang.”
Back in the conference Dana unloads one of his classic “DID YOU COME HERE TO WIN THIS FUCKING SHOW?????” bleep-filled diatribes. Oh yeah baby give it to me!!!
“You should be saying ‘What do you want me to do first, Coach Pulver!'” says Dana.
Okay enough semi-manufactured drama. After an interlude of Rob Emerson and some other losers relaxing with a beer bong and a hookah (!) we cut to the first fight, Wayne Weems vs. Gray Maynard. Weems comes off as one of the wimpiest guys ever on TUF and just doesn’t have the vocal delivery to pull off the role. Plus he’s named Wayne Weems. With a name like that you had to become a fighter!
Jens sums up Weems. “He came into this team half assed, no skills. No ability. But he’s got a great attitude. The kid has changed. and pushed himself.”
Meanwhile Gray admits he likes combat sports. Given that there’s two fights and we’re at 30 minutes in, you know the two remaining are going to be SHORT.
The fight is short and decisive, as Gray quickly slams Weems and controls him on the ground. Weems manages to escape a guillotine, and that’s it for his highlight reel. He gets on his stomach and Gray wails on him for an endless minute before Herb Dean FINALLY stops it. Weems offense: zero. It wasn’t pretty.
In the kiss and cry, Weems mentions his lack of desire to give up while a a serious mouse under his eyes grows to rat size. Not very convincing. But to his credit WEEMS DOES NOT CRY!!!!!! Instead he walks around acting mad.
Nate says Weems has heart. Wise and tender Corey gives him a heart to heart. “He’s not a fake fighter now, he’s a real fighter.” It was a very special episode!
Okay now it’s crazy Marlon vs. Handsome Matt Wiman. Marlon has stories about street fights, stories about motorcycles, stories about this and that. At age 33 he’s the oldest competitor (I think) and he’s got his rap down pat.
Matt says he wants to be known as Mildly Attractive Matt Wiman instead of Handsome Matt Wiman, but clearly he doesn’t really believe it.
The lead up includes quiet confidence by the Handsome one and Marlon is hoping to bring back striking and prove Muay Thai is not dead. A noble effort, son, but it will take a greater warrior than you.
Another short and ugly fight. Marlon comes in with a weird ass stance reminiscent of a ground sloth and they exchange blows — Marlon’s must have had some juice as Matt has a black eye after the fight, but Matt’s stiff right is brutal. Down on the ground, Matt chokes Marlon. BJ’s corner advice, “Be vicious on the choke.” Matt listens well and Marlon is too woozy to even tap out ad he goes unconscious.
After the fight Handsome Matt knows how to look like a tough guy with sunglasses, a black eye and a black collar — okay kid, we get it. You’re the one.
Marlon is of philosophical about a “lucky shot” which is bullcrap, but AT LEAST MARLON DOES NOT CRY!!!! He stands like a MAN saying “Son of a bitch!’ Okay.
And now Rafael’s fight analysis:
First fight was quite lopsided. Wayne Weems who boasts a 16-2 record is overwhelmed by his opponent Gray Maynard. Weem’s background is wrestling and self-admittedly confessed having limited skills in other arts like BJJ. Weem’s opponent has a more modest MMA record (3-0) but quite an impressive wrestling background himself, Maynard was a national high school wrestling champ and had already trained with coach BJ Penn way back, Maynard is also currently part of Randy Couture’s stable of fighters. So Weems solo skill set (wrestling) does not help him much matched against a better wrestler who has already further developed his MMA skills. Once they get into grappling range, Weem’s previous wrestling background causes him to reflexively turn on his stomach instead of relaxing and trying to stay in a guard. Wrestlers are taught not to get pinned on their backs. A wrestler has incredible power and leverage generated from their hips and the tactile pressure from it is distinctive. So perhaps the way Maynard positioned himself in their initial grappling clinch triggered some wrestling muscle memory in Weem’s. However, in MMA, turning over and giving someone your back places you in the vulnerable position of getting stretched on your belly once the opponent gets their “hooks” in (their legs lock around your hips and forces you flat on the floor). You get choked out or pounded. Once hooked in, it can flatten the very best out there ala Royce Gracie versus Matt Hughes where Hughes ends the fight in similar fashion. Fortunately for Weems and Gracie, the UFC does not allow blows to the back of the head and neck. Elbows aimed at the foramen magnum may have caused some serious harm. The ref stops the fight mercifully. Weems is given props by coach Pulver and fellow teammates, so he won the hard earned respect that some of the previous fighters this season could not. Maynard has yet to be seriously tested, but shows he is one of BJ’s better fighters.
The second fight between Marlon Sims and Matt Wiman ends fast. Sims “Mr. Indestructible” is stunned during an exchange of right punches. Sim’s background looks great on paper when pitted against Wiman’s. Sims has skills in striking like Muay Thai and Kempo added with numerous grappling arts including Sambo, BJJ and wrestling. However, everything on paper gets thrown out with the first exchange of blows. Sims throws a strong right cross and Wiman unleashes an overhand right. Sim’s right causes an instant purplish mouse under Wiman’s left eye to form, but Wiman’s right hits Sim’s on the jaw beside the left ear causing a flash knockdown. When the jaw is struck at this angle, the contorted mandible twist just enough so that it locks the carotids back on the brain and triggers a signal to the body to go out. It is the same principle as getting choked out. The brain shuts the body down. Sim’s Muay Thai background has him throwing his right standing straighter and from a higher level than Wiman’s who weaves lower to his left as he lets loose with his overhand. It was a good gamble for Wiman because at that distance he was betting that Sim’s was either going to throw a strong MT roundhouse to his lead leg or a right punch. Wiman could have easily ducked right into a devastating MT kick now aimed at his head. Wiman chose a perfect counter to an overhand right due to the safer distance of the kick in contrast to Sim’s right cross. Sims goes down and does not tap out from Wiman’s rear naked choke. Sims says he never taps out but that may also be that he was already technically “out” from the punch, so may not have had his wits about him in the first place.
Next week the semi-final fights begin, and with six good fighters…this is going to be pretty good.
Since this episode bored us so much, we present a gallery of the Many Looks of Jens Pulver.