(Hey Jamie, what did you think of Precious?)
We’re halfway through the round-of-16, and the guys are looking a little beat up. Clayton McKinney is out for a couple months with a shoulder injury that he has to get surgery for. The recently-smashed Charles Blanchard is also injured, and says he’s in no condition to beat anybody. (Not that he was when he was healthy, but whatever.) And of course Rich Attonito is sidelined with a broken hand. Which begs the question: Is anybody going to be well enough to compete in the wild-card match? James Hammortree and Kyacey Uscola seem like they’ll qualify by default — but two more guys may need to come back to fight for Rich’s spot as well. Maybe we’ll meet one of them tonight.
Tito has control, finally, and chooses Kris "Savage" McCray to go up against Team Liddell’s Josh Bryant. McCray and Bryant have a lot in common, even if Josh doesn’t "look or act" like a fighter. First off, they’re both undefeated. Bryant is a perfect 10-0 professionally, while McCray is 5-0 as a pro and 4-0 in amateur competition. They also had less-than-ideal childhoods. Bryant mentions that he didn’t get along with his stepfather (or mom, for that matter), and moved out as soon as he could. Later, McCray says he’s afraid of no man, except his father when he was younger, but they have a good relationship now. I’m guessing their relationship changed as soon as Kris got big enough to kick his dad’s ass.
But there are also some obvious differences between the two fighters. While McCray looks like a true middleweight, Bryant is another one of those guys who could easily be competing at welterweight. And while Bryant is your garden-variety white dude, "Minority Report" member McCray is Austrian, black, and Mexican, an ethnic mixture that most people mistake for Puerto Rican until he starts speaking German.
"We punish ourselves to punish our opponents," Tito Ortiz says about his grueling team practices. Kyacey thinks they’re being overtrained, and worries for McCray, who doesn’t know any better and will do what Tito tells him to.
When McKinney shows up in a sling after a three-hour surgery — proof that he wasn’t faking his injury — Tito apologizes for questioning his heart. "That’s big for me to do that, yes, I normally don’t do that," Tito says. "But I think he deserved it." Cue slow clap for Tito Ortiz’s generosity.
Round 1: McCray opens very strong, landing a counter right, leg kick, and some knees in the clinch. He scores with an uppercut and body kick. They clinch. McCray tries to set up a takedown, but settles for a knee to the body. Eventually, he takes Bryant down and gets into back mount. He’s too high for a choke so he tries for an armbar, but loses it. He tries a guillotine when Bryant gets up, but loses that too. They clinch and get into a dirty boxing exchange. McCray latches onto Bryant’s back and drags him down, but McCray pops back up. The same thing happens again; Bryant refuses to stay down. Bryant turns the tide by taking McCray down. Bryant tries to set up a rear-naked when McCray rolls out, but McCray defends it and stands up. McCray pulls Bryant down, ends up on his back, and starts throwing shots to his head, but Bryant escapes. McCray lands some knees to Byant’s legs against the fence and some punches in a clinch. The round ends with a stalemate against the fence. Kris might be too gassed to keep throwing strikes, but the round was clearly his.
Round 2: McCray starts with a leg kick. Bryant pops his head back with a jab. They clinch and trade knees. They separate and Kris throws a body kick and clinches again. Bryant lands some nice punches after they separate. He’s looking sharper now as McCray is fading. McCray returns with an uppercut and a knee in the clinch, but Bryant takes him down. McCray grabs onto Bryant’s leg as Bryant works some elbows to McCray’s head. Bryant lands some huge punches when McCray gets up. McCray lands a big knee from a clinch, but Bryant responds by body-slamming him. McCray gets up and drags Bryant down. Bryant actually outstrikes McCray from his back, landing some effective elbows to the head as McCray doesn’t do much other than throw an occasional punch to Bryant’s body. Bryant tries to set up an armbar as the round ends. He evens the score, and we enter Sudden Victory.
Round 3: McCray jabs, clinches, and throws a knee. Bryant latches onto McCray’s leg and takes a break for a while. He briefly puts McCray on his ass, but they stand again. It turns into a complete stalemate on fence. Will we need a fourth round? Herb Dean should probably separate them, but chooses not to. It’s turning into the most boring round in TUF history. Finally, Herb steps in. Bryant lands most of the good shots in a brawling exchange. McCray shoots, Bryant sprawls and gets into side control. Then, he casually steps over to mount. McCray rolls, and Bryant sets up a choke, then an armlock when it doesn’t pan out. The last bell rings.
Josh Bryant wins the unanimous decision, and Team Liddell is up 4-1. McCray looks broken and exhausted afterwards. He’s not disappointed with his performance because he gave everything he had, though he admits gassing after round one. Tito says Chuck has a rabbit’s foot up his ass, but he doesn’t plan on quitting. "Ride until I die, in everything I do."
On the next episode: Tito’s bad luck continues when another one of his fighters goes down in practice, and Chuck and Dana White "come to blows."