Very excellent episode we have this week, with plenty going on every step of the way to keep the viewers excited. It starts off almost immediately with the wild card fight, featuring Kyacey Uscola and Kris McCray. Now, Uscola really impressed in his fight against Rich Attonito. He was showing a very good stand up game until he got disqualified for that illegal knee. McCray, on the other hand, didn’t impress me at all. His skills didn’t seem sharpened enough and he gassed way too early in the fight. So, needless to say, I was for Uscola all the way in this fight.
The first round was pretty darn incredible. Both fighters came out very aggressive but Uscola seemed to have the advantage early on when he caught McCray with that stomp kick to the knee. It hit dead on and looked to have twisted McCray’s knee a little bit. Needless to say, he was hurt. Unfortunately, Uscola fails to immediately capitalize on this and simply watches on for a few seconds while his opponent literally drops his hands to wince in pain. Even when he does wise up and charge for the attack, he does so way too cautiously. Instead of bolting and jumping on his opponent with punches in bunches, he comes forward slowly, tentatively, almost in fear that the person whose leg was almost taken out just a second posed an incredibly large threat. McCray was wide open and Uscola didn’t take the opening, plain and simple.
Even odder is, Uscola seemed to slow down after that initial bout of aggressiveness and McCray seemed to pick up the pace even more, which is pretty much the complete opposite of what one would have expected after that first minute or so. McCray’s leg was obviously hurt as the spring in his step was partly lost and he slightly limped on it from time to time. Still, Uscola never became aggressive ever again and was just tentative much of the time. That didn’t stop the rest of the round from being fairly exciting, though. Both fighters still threw punches and kicks back and forth, and it wound up close near the end, with McCray getting Uscola’s back on the ground.
Alright, this is where Uscola pays for his early mistake. McCray takes down his opponent very early ion the second round and submits him within the first minute. What? Really? Yes, it was that fast. I was stunned, to be perfectly honest. Uscola’s record of 18-15 isn’t exactly impressive, but he has 33 professional fights under his belt. 33! McCray, on the other hand, only has a record of 5-0. 5 Only 5 professional fights, plus a lackluster showing in his last one, which cost him the match. Uscola had the obvious advantage in terms of experience, but still lost very easily to a hurt opponent. I honestly can’t believe it until now, but really, hands down to McCray on this one. He obviously wanted it way more, showed the heart of a champion, gutted it out until the end, and improved way more from his last fight. I was perfectly honest when I mentioned he didn’t impress me at all in his last match, but he went all out here and fought like a champion.
The quarterfinal matches then need to be decided so Dana gets Chuck and Tito in a room to discuss who fights who. Needless to say, all three of them bicker for a few minutes until Dana gets tired of wasting time and sends them out, leaving him to sort everything out by himself.
The first fight will be the rematch everyone wanted to see: Nick Ring vs. Court McGee. I was personally very happy about this, since I was very happy about their performances during the last fight and felt that McGee was indeed robbed when the fight went straight to a decision instead of a third round. The stare down was intense this time around, instead of being slightly comical like before.
The second fight is Kyle Noke vs. Kris McCray, the third is Brad Tavares vs. Seth Baczynski, and the fourth is Jamie Yager vs. Bryant. My predictions for these ones are Noke, Tavares, and Yager.
After the fighters have settled back into the house, a surprise pops in to say hi. Forrest Griffin comes in the door looking like Andrei Arlovski and pulls out an Xbox 360 game. It was really great to see Forrest on the show again. He was part of what made The Ultimate Fighter a successful franchise in the first place and is a former champion.
I really like the guy and he’s still one of my favorites, but I was pretty annoyed when I reliazed he was there to devote an entire segment of the episode to marketing UFC Undisputed 2010. Granted, I’m not one to criticize, since I’ve inserted products into my articles before, but I didn’t want to waste too much time with people telling me how great the latest UFC product is.
Thankfully, the segment didn’t take very long and was actually very enlightening in a way. Forrest was there for only 2 hours and the guys seemed to have the greatest fun in the world. As Rich Attonito said, it was the fastest two hours of his entire stay in the house. Everyone seemed to have genuine fun at the 2 hour break they got, what with being cooped up with potential opponents for months on end with very limited forms of entertainment available. Plus, in the end, Forrest got to reenact his fight against Tito, with James Hammortree controlling his coach. Hammortree knocks Forrest out and “avenges” Tito, in a way; really fun stuff.
To be quite honest, though, and yes, I’m being extremely hypocritical here, but I have played the demo of the game on my PS3 and, from what I’ve seen of what was shown on this episode, it really does seem to be a very cool game, what with the awesome graphics, animation, controls, fighter choices, and everything, so check it out if you like. There’s an Amazon link at the bottom the article for the gaming unit of your choice.
Unfortunately, after all the hilarity dies down, bad news come crashing back in. Nick Ring goes to the doctor to get his ailing knee checked and finds out that it’s as bad as he and Tito think. The doctor basically says that he Ring can still fight if he really needs to but, he can screw it up even worse if he does, which may lead to all sorts of serious, and permanent, damage.
Dana drops by the house that evening and talks one on one with Ring. Dana doesn’t say it out loud, but he’s obviously very concerned about the injury and doesn’t want Ring to suffer in the long term for it. He asks Nick if he still wants to fight. Nick says no. Flat out no. He realizes that he’s dropping the opportunity of a lifetime, but doesn’t think it’s worth it if it means he might never be able to walk again afterward. Choosing to back down and fight another day, he shakes hands with Dana and they walk back into the house to make the big announcement.
All the fighters are stunned by the news, of course. Dana says that he’ll discuss it with the coaches to see who’s replacing Ring and tell them the results as soon as possible, but before he can make it back to his van, James Hammortree steps up and demands he get the spot. Dana, as everyone knows, loves this kind of attitude, and grants him the fight right then and there.
He announces it back at the house and Joseph Henle is pissed. He’s been campaigning to get back in the competition since his loss, and getting his possibly chance taken away just kills him. He at least makes this known to Dana, which might bear positive fruit in the future.
Alright, enough drama! It’s fight time! Court McGee vs. James Hammortree, round one! It’s an excellent round, with both fighters coming and staying very aggressive until the end. It wasn’t the most brutal stand up war ever seen, with both fighters coming out of it pretty much uninjured, but it was a war nonetheless.
The second round is all déjà vu, though, as Court McGee submits James Hammortree within the very first minute; with a standing guillotine, no less. Very, very impressive, to say the least.
I am absolutely pleased with this episode, and my wish about the series continuing to be awesome every episode most probably will come true, as the preview reveals that we’ll not just have two fights again, but the whole Tito drama piece that winds up with Rich Franklin replacing him as a coach and as Chuck’s next opponent finally takes place!
Check out my reviews of the other episodes of The Ultimate Fighter season 11 here!