We’re proud to introduce a new feature to our ULTIMATE FIGHTER recaps: expert commentary from Rafael Kayanan. Rafael is a cartoonist of long standing, (check out his work on Conan #39 written by Kurt Busiek, now in stores and his art blog here.) but he is also a technical expert and fight coordinator for movies, with extensive knowledge of fighting techniques, both hand to hand and with edged weapons. He also watches TUF and we’re honored to have him offering his commentary as his schedule allows.
So…on to the fighting!
But before we get to episode Four, we have to offer up this tribute to Episode 3, which contained the greatest line yet in TUF history: “I mean you’re worrying about getting tubes shoved up your ass instead of worrying about fighting.” Yes, Gabe has become the lightning rod of this show, a showboating attention whore whose skills in the ring we have yet to see. Here’s a few photos from the last Ep:
Gabe’s special surprise.
Octagon of the Flies.
OKAY on to Episode 4! After watching the fairly awesome Emerson/Diaz fight, coach BJ is beginning to get a little sad and starts spouting it’s not over until it’s over platitudes. Meanwhile Jens is getting a little perkier. This is definitely shaping up to be a Tito/Shamrock battle except that BJ is genuinely nice. He just doesn’t seem to be able to light a fire under his guys at all and maybe is even disinterested in it.
In the training session we see Jens moving into Tito territory, turning out to be a good coach as he gives them solid advice and wins respect as his guys train their hearts out. However his lineup of superstars has a flaw: Wayne Weems. Jens notes he’s way behind the others and he can’t spend his time trying to get him up to speed. Manny is more blunt: “His standup isn’t there, his ground game isn’t there, his endurance isn’t there…he’s just learning.”
Jens gets on Wayne in training yelling at him to drop his ass and shove his titties out…but this show isn’t gay.
Cut to Gabe the schemer on team Penn. His new plan it to fight… Wayne Weems. Lovable BJ laughs at the camera at Gabe’s transparent ploy to get an easy fight. “Someone’s gotta do it?” Back at the house Gabe’s willingness to fight Weems strikes his teammates as yet more of his out for himself attitude.
MEANWHILE back at Team Pulver a new storyline emerges – Brandon’s not training very well due to a bad foot and he’s OVERWEIGHT but hasn’t had to shove anything up his ass that we know of to get down to 155.
Jens, Manny, Corey and Brian have a secret girls lockeroom talk about Brandon’s weight “He hasn’t even seen 168!” says Jens. ME-ow! Not surprisingly Corey says he’s ready to go anytime! Garulf-AROOOOOOOO. They show Brandon stepping on the weight scale and the guy appears to have a cut six-pack – if that’s overweight we’re all doomed.
Cut to a grueling weight cutting montage in the sauna as Brandon says the seconds pass like minutes. He cools his jets by soaking his feet in the pool for a particularly picturesque tableau.
Back at the house we meet Marlon “The Indestructible” who is shown to be quite adept at either street fighting or embellishment, as Gabe calls shenanigans on his tales of taking 30 people down in streets fights.
Fight announcement, and it’s surprisingly calm. Brandon is indeed called and he chooses Andy Wang, who we haven’t heard much from. Cut to a confab with Gabe (AGAIN!) and BJ — Gabe reveals he has cornered Andy, whose greatest problem is that he likes to bang when he should try to go to the ground and never listens to advice — after all he’s a back belt in jiu-jitsu. BJ flashes his dimples and wonders when his next paycheck is coming in.
Spotlight on Andy who reveals he was born Taiwan and fights to honor his Chinese ancestors. His grandpa used to take him to the park and teach him tai chi, grasshopper. Oh boy, is this kid PLAYING to the stereotypes or what? He’s as bad as the Maine guy who likes Lobstah! The only thing he could do worse is quote a fortune cookie..which he does in the next scene.
At the weigh in Brandon comes in at 155 ½ and with a teeny, gay as hell patterned thong. Oh dear.
On training day, and we find special guest star Matt Hughes cleaning the mats. Oh boy, how did Matt ever find time away from his farm! Turns out he and Jens “go way back and have been in it together from the beginning.” Asshole or not, Hughes is a great character and it’s fun to see him back. Matt shows Brandon a few things, like the importance of using your hips to control a man on the ground. He thinks that Brandon will have to defend against Andy’s takedown style, little knowing that Andy wants to try to stand and bang while quoting a fortune cookie! Oh boy are they in for a surprise.
“I’m here to show Warrior spirit,” says Andy. “Today I will find out where my destiny is.”
“I’m going to rain elbows on his dome,” says Brandon. Now who is fired up?
As the fight begins, Brandon wobbles Andy with a hard left. Andy bounces back up and proceeds to box with a bigger, heavier better boxer for the next 9:55. Andy keeps swinging without connecting, missing with a spinning back kick and a few other kicks. Brandon misses a flying knee but just keeps picking at Andy with blows that aren’t that heavy but a little damage each time. As the first round ends, BJ urges Andy to try to take Brandon down in round two.
Round two, Brandon has drawn blood on Andy’s face. Andy gets him against the fence but can’t take him down. Brandon comes back with a knee. Andy looks tired and Brandon is wearing him down with his punches. BJ is yelling and screaming. “TAKE HIM DOWN! TAKE HIM DOWN!!!!” Gabe was right! Andy isn’t listening!
The second round ends after more ineffectual boxing. The decision is unanimous for Brandon.
In the kiss and cry, Andy admits after Brandon’s initial punch he thought he was in a street fight and wouldn’t go to the ground. “I’m stubborn that way,” he says with the understatement of the season. “I was focused on knocking my way out.”
Brandon says he was lucky Andy didn’t take him down. “I don’ know why–he should have. He’s a black belt.”
Andy collapses crying in the biggest blubber fest ever seen on TUF. I mean it’s not manly sniffing, it’s sobbing and crying.
BJ is having none of it and has zero sympathy for a fighter who ignores a gaem plan that involves what he’s best at. “How can you sit there and be sad when in the ring he doesn’t want to listen to a word anyone says!!” yells BJ. “It’s unreal. He thought he was going to go out there and brawl. Your chances are over. Everybody likes a winner, nobody likes a loser. I don’t care how you did.”
And now, Rafael’s commentary:
There’s a rule that many beginners (and even professionals it seems) fail to keep in mind. That is, when you strike the thai pads or focus mitts – the drill does not end when you are no longer making contact to the pads. The drill stops only after you are no longer in the opponent’s counter strike distance. A beginner executing the drill will often pause as soon as they finish hitting the pads, admiring their work instead of moving out of the way of the opponent’s counter. In this case, Andy Wang, a BJJ black belt fell right into several bad habits. Watch how he does a kick then just stands there during the octagon workouts. He does it in the real match and pays the price several times. Another is not learning how to zone away from strikes. He would back up straight, he was lucky here -if he was fighting a much strong striker than his TUF opponent Brandon Melendez, the match would not have lasted the first round. Another is telegraphing his intentions. Watch Andy dip his head before he throws the overhand right, almost on cue.
At some point, Brandon picked up on these and just cruised to a relatively easy win. After Andy quickly abandoned the game plan he was given by BJJ phenom BJ Penn of striking then quickly taking Brandon down with a single leg, he was lost. A BJJ black belt earns instant props in the MMA world, a black belt in BJJ is difficult to earn. If one earns a purple belt, you have already attained some skills. For some reason, Andy decided not to use the skill sets he knew well. Perhaps because Brandon’s resume also states he has some decent grappling skills.
I liked what BJ Penn said afterwards, his summation was right on point and you can really see the frustration he had with AW.
Next week: finally COREY VS GABE!!!