(Crappy, TV-shot video of the Alex Caceres vs. Jeff Lentz fight, courtesy of TheMMAResource.)
Alex "Bruce Leroy" Caceres and Jeff Lentz down some shots right away. They’re both characters. Jeff’s a chain-smoker from Jersey with a dye-job, and says he’ll never tap, not even to an armbar. (Pay attention! This will be important later!) The guys are apprehensive about the cigs and booze that Lentz is constantly consuming, but Jeff says he’s just playing with them, and he actually has gas for days. I mean, he’s clearly a nicotine addict and probably has a drinking problem on top of that, but it’s all just a persona, y’know? As for Alex, he can play the harmonica, he once killed a gator with his bare hands, and he nearly murdered a deer, too. But as they say, man is the most dangerous game.
In advance of the team selections, Coach Josh Koscheck has every guy in the house ranked, 1-14. He’s got Michael Johnson at #1, Marc Stevens at #2, Sako "Psycho" Chivitchian and Sevak Magakian at 3 and 4. Koscheck loves those Armenians, bro.
Greg Jackson has been here before with Rashad Evans on TUF 10, and now he’s Georges St. Pierre‘s consigliere. He advises Georges to go after the first matchup rather than the first fighter, if possible. GSP knows that Koscheck likes Michael Johnson, so he gets an idea to try a little gamesmanship. "We’ll see if he’s smart," GSP says. Koscheck, as it turns out, is not smart.
GSP prepares a fake list of his top picks, with Marc Stevens at #1. When it’s time for everybody to congregate for fighter-selections, Georges has his list hanging out, completely exposed to Koscheck. Kos notices the list and scans it, thinking he’s getting some inside info.
Koscheck wins the coin-flip, and opts to pick the first fighter. Obviously, he chooses Marc, in an attempt to screw St. Pierre. LOL, what a maroon! GSP and Greg grin at each other. GSP takes Michael Johnson for his own first pick. Kos looks at his notes, confused, perhaps realizing that he’d just been masterfully trolled. Yep, that was the dude you wanted, genius. GSP raises the roof in celebration. Classic.
The teams shake out like this…
Team Koscheck: Marc Stevens, Sevak Magakian, Psycho Chivitchian, Andrew Main, Nam Phan, Aaron Wilkinson, Jeff Lentz
Team GSP: Michael Johnson, Jonathan Brookins, Spencer Paige, Alex Caceres, Kyle Watson, Cody McKenzie, Dane Sayers
Phan’s a big-show veteran, and nobody on Earth can defend McKenzie’s guillotine choke, so it’s a little surprising that they didn’t get picked earlier.
GSP considers himself more of a training partner to his guys than a coach. The actual coaching will be done by Greg Jackson, the strategist, the maestro. "He’s the guy that make the music play," GSP explains. Also in GSP’s camp is kiwi BJJ ace John Danaher, who GSP describes as "the smartest guy I’ve ever met in my life. He’s like a dictionary of knowledge." He speaks like a philosopher, expounding on the goal of the "beautiful victory." GSP promises his guys that he’ll make them better fighters.
Meanwhile, on Team Death Star, Koscheck thinks he has the edge because he’s been on the show as a contestant. "I believe in mindless training," he says. Basically, his guys show up, he tells them what to do, and they do it. They’ll be doing a lot of wrestling, because wrestling wins fights. (Ugh.) He’s got AKA’s Bob Cook as head trainer, plus boxing coach Teddy Lucio and two-time Olympian wrestler turned MMA fighter Daniel Cormier. Koscheck knows he’s the heel of the UFC, but "labeling me is absurd. If you meet me and have a conversation with me, you’ll fall in love with me, guaranteed."
With his first fight selection, GSP chooses his fourth pick Alex Caceres to go against Team Koscheck’s last pick Jeff Lentz. Alex wanted the fight, so GSP gave it to him. "He likes to keep it standing up, and that’s where my world is," Alex says. Dana’s not sure about letting the fighters choose their matchups. Koscheck thinks Jeff’s ground-and-pound will win the day.
Alex and Dane spar outside while Jeff watches, smoking. Jeff doesn’t think much of Alex. He notices that Alex taps his foot before every attack. It’s a "tell" that he could take advantage of. "My gameplan is to hurt him so bad he wants to go home tomorrow," Jeff says. But he’s antsy the night before the fight. It’s the first time he’ll fight without his mom there watching, and he’s a little nervous about that. "She motivates me…nobody wants to lose in front of their mom."
The day of the fight, Bruce Leroy suits up in full kung fu regalia. Jeff is not impressed by the gimmick. (Dyeing your hair isn’t a gimmick, by the way, it’s a lifestyle.) Alex explains that the proper mindset is "as if you’re sleeping but not dreaming…ready but not tense…calm but not asleep. In between." He gets in a sparring/visualization session with GSP before the fight. GSP raises Alex’s hand in the Octagon. Alex used to get smacked around by his parents a lot because every time he got in trouble he would smile. He’s just a smiley dude.
Lentz shows up to the cage with his hair dyed blonde instead of red. Both Alex and Jeff are 21 years old, both stand 5’10", and both sport a 68" reach. They should be best friends, not enemies.
Round 1: Alex throws high kick, then a body kick that catches Jeff coming in. Alex tries a reverse kick that misses. Jeff springs forward with a high kick of his own, then clinches. He foot-stomps against the fence. Alex throws a knee in the clinch, but Jeff has him stuck against the fence. Jeff tries a trip takedown, but Alex stays upright and gets in a knee from a thai clinch. Jeff tries the trip again, but Alex defends. Jeff puts him back against the fence. Jeff tries for a double leg and Alex sets up a guillotine standing. Jeff puts him down and escapes. Jeff scores a takedown, Alex gets up. Jeff works for the single-leg, but botches it and Alex almost gets on top of him. They get back to their feet and clinch some more. Herb Dean separates them with 30 seconds left. They trade kicks. Alex with a wild punch/kick attack, Jeff returns kicks. They brawl and Jeff nails a great judo toss at the end of the round, probably securing the 10-9 on the scorecards. "I got you buddy!" Jeff shouts from the stool between rounds.
Round 2: Alex with a teep. Lentz with a head kick, and another. Alex teeps again, then throws a body kick, and grabs on when Jeff starts firing his hands. Alex tries a guillotine, Jeff slips out. Alex drags Jeff to the mat and has his back, but Jeff spins around and gets on top. He lands a couple elbows. Alex establishes guard and sets up a triangle choke. Jeff tries to slam out of it, but Alex hangs on, makes some adjustments, and locks it. Jeff taps. He TAPS, guys. The one thing he said he’d never do. Oh my God, it’s the very definition of irony!
Dana is happy to see Bruce Leroy win. He likes the kid, and digs his personality. Alex is amped. "I feel sorry for whoever I get in the next round…you better be ready for a gooddamn fight ’cause I ain’t handin’ out no free tickets."
On the next episode: Alex gets drunk and rubs in his victory to poor Jeff, Josh Koscheck chews out his team for losing focus, and Mike Tyson stops by to teach the TUF guys the importance of staying the fuck away from Don King.