After last week’s battle royale, we’re left with 14 middleweight hopefuls, who run up in the TUF house like speed-freaks in a blackout. Is it just me, or is the house nicer than usual this year? It looks like somebody’s actual home, not a reality show barracks. Where are the TapouT bunk beds? Man, is it going to be sweet when they wreck the place.
Not all the fighters survived their qualifying fights completely intact. Chris Camozzi is dealing with a mouth infection from a broken tooth and Clayton McKinney is nursing a jacked shoulder.
Team Punishment: Nick "The Cock" Ring, Kyacey Uscola, Kris McCray, Jamie Yager, James "The Ball Peen" Hammortree, Clayton McKinney, Chris Camozzi
Team Liddell: Kyle Noke, Rich Attonito, Charles Blanchard, Josh Bryant, Brad Tavares, Court McGee, Joe Henle
Tito thinks Chuck made some questionable picks for his team, as several of them look smaller than natural 185-pounders. Big-ass James Hammortree comments on their shortness. Dana White is baffled, too. He says that Tito got every guy who won their fight in the first round the day before. But it’s cool, because Chuck did research on the guys beforehand, and is confident that he has some serious competitors. Is there a method to Chuck’s madness?
We meet Liddell’s assistant coaches — some of them, at least. Liddell’s longtime trainer John Hackleman is in the house, and so is ATT boxing guru Howard Davis Jr. We see Jake Shields lurking in the background, but the Strikeforce middleweight champ doesn’t get any lines.
Tito quickly establishes himself as a very amped up, hands-on coach — more a drill sergeant than a celebrity advisor. When Clayton is slow in practice and complains about his aching shoulder, Tito jumps on his back and rides him around the cage, berating him for making excuses. Not exactly a caring nurturer, this guy, though he does later buy new running shoes for every member of his team. Along for the ride on Team Punishment are Ortiz’s longtime trainer Saul Soliz and jiu-jitsu ace Cleber Luciano.
It’s fight announcement time. Chuck picks his #1 selection, Kyle Noke, to knock off Ortiz’s sixth pick and possible weakest link, Clayton McKinney. It’s a matchup that almost guarantees victory for Team Liddell — but is it wise to waste your top guy in a squash match?
Brad Tavares, Kris McCray, and Jamie Yager are already a clique, based on their shared brown-ness and slight asshole-ness. Using the airhorns that just happen to be included with the house, they go around blasting everybody awake in the middle of the night. Kyacey is pissed off, ready to crack heads. McKinney also fails to find the humor in the little prank, and gets into it with Yager at breakfast the next morning.
Clayton gets an MRI to see what’s wrong with his shoulder. Turns out there’s no rotator cuff tear, no muscle tear, nothing that would cause permanent injury, but there is a contusion and some fluid collection on the humerol head (or something like that, I’m not a doctor). A deep bone bruise, basically. It gives Tito license to keep ragging on McKinney for being a pussy: "You’re crying like you have a broken arm, I just need you to suck it up a little bit." McKinney says he has a groin pull as well. Oh man. There’s one in every season, huh?
Kyle Noke is originally from Australia, and trains with Team Jackson. He used to do security for the "Crocodile Hunter," Steve Irwin. There’s an obvious joke here about throwing yourself in front of a flying sting-ray, but I’m far too classy to make it.
Chuck used to think of his scheduled third match with Tito Ortiz as a "tune-up fight," but after Tito accused Chuck of being an alcoholic who needed an intervention from Dana White, the Iceman is motivated to take the fight seriously, and smash the HBBB at all costs: "He might get dropped here…and knowing Tito, he’s that big of a pussy, he might press charges." Later, when asked when Liddell vs. Ortiz III will go down, Chuck says, "Usually it’s a week after the show…if that bitch actually fights me." FORESHADOWING?
Tito brings in cupcakes for his birthday, as well as a Chuck Liddell piñata, stuffed with money. His guys are slightly surprised to see that the bills are all singles.
McKinney is agitated before the fight. Maybe it’s the weight cut, maybe it’s nerves, but he’s snapping at his own teammates, and can’t seem to click with anybody. He weighs in at 185.5, with Noke at 186. It’s time to throw down…
Round 1: Noke lands a hard leg kick, and McKinney returns the favor. McKinney with two more leg kicks. Noke with a nice teep. Ortiz screams punch combinations to McKinney, but neither guy is really pulling the trigger. McKinney grabs Noke’s back after Noke charges in with a punch, and drags the Aussie to the ground. Noke goes to work from his back, setting up a triangle choke…and sinks it.
McKinney is furious, and begins to storm out of the gym, but Tito begs him to come back and give him a minute of his time. McKinney returns, and Tito immediately shows him how to defend the triangle that tapped him. McKinney feels humiliated having to go over the technique right after a loss, but Tito says "Please? Please? Please?" until McKinney completes the drill twice. Afterwards, McKinney is despondent on the mat, and Tito says "Please stand up. Humility’s a motherfucker, but it makes us men." Whoa. Ortiz may have lost the first fight, but so far he’s the more impressive coach.