(Chris Cope and Javier Torres: They will clinch you into a living death.)
With control of the matchups still in his hands, JDS wants either Javier Torres or Ramsey Nijem to fight next. One dude who won’t be fighting any time soon is Dos Santos’s last pick, Keon Caldwell, who has been struggling in practices. Junior tries to encourage him. Keon barfs in the bathroom. He thinks he’s falling behind because his mind is “where’s my family’s at.” He misses his daughter and he’s having a tough time with everything.
Brock Lesnar is in a bad mood. He hates to lose, and notices that his team is lacking in wrestling skill, which was their downfall in last week’s fight. Unfortunately, there isn’t much time to get everybody up to speed. “You can’t make chicken salad out of chicken shit,” he tells us, once again. “You know, you can’t polish turds to make ‘em look pretty. But we’re doing all we can.”
“If we don’t win this next fight, Brock is probably gonna kill us,” Charlie Rader says.
Keon talks to his coach in private and says he wants to go home to his daughter. Dos Santos tells him to be strong, and that it will be way better if he stays. He can’t believe Keon would turn his back on the opportunity of a lifetime.
Dana White pays a visit to see where Keon’s head is at. “Aren’t you here for your daughter?” he asks. “Focus on why you came here. You’re here for her…Do you want to be a professional fighter? Do you want to be in the UFC? Do you want to be world champion?” “Yes sir,” Keon says. “Yes sir. Yes sir.” Crisis averted?
JDS selects his #3 pick Javier Torres to face Team Lesnar’s #6 pick, Chris Cope. According to Junior, Javier is “a confidence guy, and like he really wants be a WeFC fighter.” Says Brock: “They’re doing exactly what we would do, they’re picking the cream of their crop against our weaker guys. So we’re a little nervous about this fight.” Javier puts on an impressive death-stare in the faceoff. Several people notice that Chris Cope was shaking.
Team Dos Santos’s assistant coach Lew Polley knows Chris Cope. They’ve trained together at Team Quest, so he lays out all of Chris’s weaknesses to Javier. He doesn’t like wrestlers, he doesn’t like the clinch and the grind. “I know he’s a part-time fighter, he’s not fully committed,” Polley says. As he tells Javier: “Take him down, beat the shit out of him, repeat…just follow the script word for word, and you’re going to look like the greatest actor ever. You go off-script and you’re going to be horrible — a fuckin’ B actor, making soft porn.” Awesome. This dude is like a ‘hood Greg Jackson.
Lew gives Keon some extra attention in practice to get his mind right, but Keon goes to Junior directly afterwards and says he’s done. Junior is no longer interested in convincing him to stay. Keon is history. As Dana says, “the only upside to this thing is that it happened early enough to get his ass out of here and get somebody real in here who can run with this opportunity and make something out of it.”
Chris Cope knows he’s different than some of his teammates because he has an 8-hour job, and can’t train all the time. Brock wants to see something different out of Chris. He wants to be wowed.
Brock gives his Any Given Sunday speech. When he came to the UFC, he was pushed as indestructible, inhuman. But he’s just another dude, and every dog has its day. We’re all human, we’re all created equal. All the great champions have suffered a loss in their career. Anybody can take over at any time. It’s a game of inches. It’s a matter of putting the leather where it needs to go. Any given Sunday, anybody can win. So win this fight, okay Chris?
Chris stays up late the night before the fight, shadow boxing and rolling. His teammates think he should be in bed. They wouldn’t bet money on him at this point.
Chris reads a letter from his girlfriend to get in the right headspace. The basic gist is, this is his destiny, and it’s not an accident that he’s in this house. It’s already pre-determined, already mapped out. His girlfriend’s daughter gave him a stuffed rabbit named Bun Bun to take with him, and it lets him feel like he’s at home even though he’s not. Javier’s wife is pregnant, and he wants to succeed for his family. Keon looks even more bitch-like in comparison.
Time to bang…
Round 1: Right away, Javier is asking Chris to hit him in the face. Javier closes the distance and clinches, grinding on him like Lew suggested. Chris with a knee to the body and some dirty boxing. They exchange knees. Javier with a foot-stomp. Chris escapes, throws some punches. Javier smiles. They clinch again, and Javier judo-tosses him. Chris gets to his feet, Javier takes his back standing. Chris defends. A knee from Chris and they separate. Chris tries a leg kick. Chris lands a 1-2 before they clinch again. Big foot stomp from Javier, and a hook from the clinch. Chris puts Javier’s back against the fence, gets some distance and lands a punch. Javier seems to be relying on the clinch to his own peril. Time to go off the script? A knee from Javier on the separation, and Chris is cut under his left eye. Neither guy wants to pull the trigger in the last seconds. Javier just stands there grinning, and Chris grazes his balls with a low kick at the horn. Serves him right, kind of. Hard round to call. Javier put on a lot of pressure and scored a takedown, but Chris seemed to land more shots overall.
Round 2: Chris dashes in with a punch, but Javier grabs him right away. They briefly clinch against the fence, and Javier punches on the exit. Body kick from Javier. Chris returns a high kick. They clinch again, trade knees, jockey for position. More knees are exchanged and they break. Superman punch and leg kick from Javier, followed by a teep. Leg kicks from both fighters. Chris throws a high kick. Javier ducks under a punch and clinches. They break. Chris rushes forward, gets clinched up again. Javier with a nice uppercut on the break. Chris attacks with punches and a leg kick. Javier lands a leg kick that stumbles Chris. Chris regains his footing and throws some strikes of his own, before yet another clinch. And that’s where the round ends.
The judges declare it a draw after two frames, and we move into the sudden victory round. Chris lets out a triumphant “WOOOO!” His coaches tell him that Javier is exhausted.
Round 3: Javier opens with a leg kick. Chris returns it, Javier loves it and wants more. Javier rushes in with a body kick, Chris returns high. Leg kick Chris. Javier clinches. Javier tries another judo-toss, but botches it and Chris gets top position for a moment, before Javier gets back to his feet and re-establishes clinch. Javier gets kneed in the balls; he tries to take a break, Herb Dean tells him to keep fighting. Chris knees Javier in the balls again. Chris throws out another “WOOOO!” as Javier is recovering. “Just fight!” Brock yells. Chris comes out throwing heat. Javier grabs another clinch when Chris throws a knee. They break. Both land punches. Leg kick Chris. Javier throws a superman punch, clinches again. Big foot stomp from Javier. They separate. Leg kick Chris, body kick Javier. Javier does his superman punch/clinch thing again. A knee from Chris. They both land some knees in the clinch. Chris scores with a nice hook on the inside. Another superman punch and clinch from Javier, and the round ends. Very, very close fight.
All three judges score the last round 10-9 for Chris Cope, who advances to the quarterfinals. ”Chicken salad out of chicken shit!” Brock announces in the locker room, triumphantly. “That’s what we are, chicken shit! We make do with what we got. Any given Sunday, fellas.” Brock admits there was nothing pretty or cool about the win, but he was still wowed by Chris’s perseverance and heart.
Junior tries to console Javier as Team Lesnar celebrates in the next room. Lew can’t hold his tongue: “If that doesn’t piss you off, then you don’t need to be there…this team is way better than that team and now they have momentum…now we lost control. So no more fucking around. This should eat you up until you’re ready to fight again.”
In the next episode: Team Dos Santos gets a new fighter to replace Keon, Lew pushes the team too hard, and JDS has to straighten him out. “I’m the coach here,” he says. Oh, drama!