UPDATE: WE’ve added Rafael Kayanan’s commentary at the end of the post.
Tonight’s episode is no drama—all FIGHT! Maybe this will slow this season’s ratings decline. Finally we get to meet this season’s killer nerd, Joe Lauzon, a quiet internet computer-fiddling type, but Dana warns that “This kid will rip your ****in’ head off.” He’s up against Brian, who has a lot of fights on his record but hasn’t emerged as much of a personality.
At last we get a flashback to Lauzon’s infamous fight vs Jens, in which the kid destroyed Jens Pulver in his first UFC bout via vicious knockout.
Brian talks about knowing that Joe beat his coach. Jens shows the equanimity he’s displayed all season, saying, “I’m not going to hate on anyone, that’s just me being bitter and him doing his job. I forgot to bring my fight.” Jens also tells Brian to forget about the fact that Joe beat his coach. Yes, and try not to think about pink elephants while you’re at it, Vulcan Brian.
Brian admits that he got into fighting to stay out of trouble in real life and his hope is to somehow outlast Joe’s furious onslaught and Joe will burn out, which isn’t a very confident game plan. He also makes unclear metaphors about soiling underwear, and that puts him firmly in our underdog column.
Indeed, as the Vulcan vs Ferrenghi fight begins, Joe immediately slams Brian in a very dominating way and starts raining down damage. Brian clearly has some skills but is outclassed by Joe’s insane attack. At one point Brian does the Captain Kirk vs Gorn rollaway, and Joe actually smashes his elbow into the mat! Brian escapes to his feet, but Joe jumps right on his back and chokes the living shit out of Brian, with as BJ puts it “All your might!”
Dana sums it up “Joe comes out like a beast.”
Jens has the best line of the night. “I’m glad he’s good. That way I didn’t get knocked out by a bitch.”
Brian is saddened. “I wish I could have that minute back.” And admits he was “cremated.” Brian has a funny way with words. Although Brian has the presence of mind not to sob like a baby like everyone else on the show, he does suspiciously bury his head in a towel and shake for a moment or two.
Now we’re up for Corey vs Rob Emerson in Rob’s 2nd chance. Emerson says Corey isn’t as good as Nate (something I have no problem believing) so he’s pretty confident. Emerson also demonstrates a training move generally known as the “downward dirty dog.” Why can’t we have more of these sweaty training montages? Everyone would be happy!
We cut to a warm moment between Corey and Jens walking along a desolate Vegas street. Corey talks candidly about his “two” MMA fights, and admits he lied about how many fights he’s had to get on the show and when he auditioned, he didn’t even know who Dana White was. Jens’ response? “Who cares?”
Cut to fiery Corey revealing that he’s got his talking abut himself in the third person game down just fine: “He is trying to break me! They are trying to give Corey Hill a reason to quit! That shit is not happening!” This is accompanied by footage of Corey wailing on a training dummy in a dominating fashion.
Rob wears his revealing sport thong for the weigh in drawing groans and a “That’s just not called for” from hereditary enemy Nate. Speak for yourself, Nate.
Dana handicaps the fight saying Corey’s freakish height (6’4″) will give everyone a problem but 5’8″ Emerson’s skills will make it interesting.
The second fight begins with 30 minutes to go in the show…. we smell a decision.
It looks like Rob is fighting a preying mantis, and no one is very comfortable. Corey is raw but aggressive, but Emerson can’t overcome the reach advantage. Then it goes into a bout of prolonged circling as they feel each other out. Emerson is afraid to go in.
In the corner BJ gets super excited; he’s the Matt Serra of this season, repeating things endlessly. “Punch and fight, Emerson! Start kicking the leg!” The entire round is a lot of stand-up with both fighters landing some punches but no real damage.
First round looked pretty even to me, In the second Emerson is more aggressive and clearly does a lot more damage, and ends with Corey in a leg lock. But the judges think Corey won the first round, and it goes to a third sudden victory round.
Both guys look gassed. But Corey has a bit more snap to his punches. In the end, Emerson is more afraid of getting into Corey’s octopus punch, and lands a few leg kicks, but Corey keeps moving forward more. BJ can tell that Emerson needs to do more damage and his “Explode Emerson!” will haunt the nightmares of all who heard him yell it 95 times.
Dana thinks no one looked impressive but that Emerson won, but the judges saw it unanimously the other way. Corey’s awkward aggression won the day. After the fight he admits it was his VERY FIRST MMA fight. AW surprise twist ending! Wait double twist! Dana knew it all along, but figured “The kids had so much raw talent we figured we’d give him a shot.”
Dana: “Emerson should have jumped in and won that fight, but he didn’t do it, he was fighting not to lose.”
Emerson shows remarkable self-awareness for this season, and admits that’s the problem he’s had with his whole career. “I don’t know what to say, I thought I won the fight. It’s not going to be easy sleeping these last couple of days.”
So far, Joe is the fighter to beat from BJ’s team. His intensity coupled with his skills will give problems with a lot of the fighters on the show who tend to take awhile longer to get going. He is also relentless and showed that he can mix strikes and grappling well. His future opponents has to take Joe off his rhythm by either hurting Joe by catching him early or have better defensive and counter skills. There’s actually a good chance that Joe can be caught by setting him up when he’s in mid flurry. He’s displayed that he can lose accuracy when he gets carried away when he elbowed the octagon floor – elbows are close range strikes and to pull that far back and miss so horribly can be disastrous against a higher level opponent. However, so far no one on the TUF show except perhaps Diaz has shown they can hold up against Joe.
Lots of circling and both fighters need to work on cutting off the other’s footwork. Corey looked good in the training sequences, but again the comment I made in another post about how bad training habits eventually filter into one’s fights is evident here as well. Corey hits the mitts and slumps his head down to be able to focus better on the shorter trainer holding the mitts. At his height that is a disadvantage. He does not need to lower head level against opponents who are so much shorter than he is. If he develops a better jab and follows it with a strong right cross he could knock a lot of opponent’s out or keep them at bay from getting those leg kicks in on him. Corey can exchange a strong right punch for a leg kick if he learns to time it correctly. Rob’s leg kicks exposed Corey’s weakness but perhaps the punishmnet Rob received from his last fight may have caused him to be more tentative. There’s nothing worse than bruises getting hit again a few days later. This fight was much harder than it needed it to be -with more experience Corey could develop an arsenal of crisp striking combos. If he develops kicking abilities and better submission counters he will be a force on the TUF scene.
Two fights next week and the debut of…WEEMS!