Alex "Bruce Leroy" Caceres may have impressed us in last week’s fight, but he’s making no friends in the house by bragging about his victory non-stop. While hanging out with the defeated Jeff Lentz, he says that Jeff may have been "underesterating my talents and skills," and claims that every head kick bounced off his afro. Lentz manages to avoid strangling the bastard, but the other TUF guys are quickly losing patience.
GSP brings in wrestling world champion Guivi "Gia" Sissaouri, to work with his squad. Homeboy is sick on the mat. It’s a great little master-class for the guys, but Georges has another visitor coming in later that will make Gia look like small potatoes. (Hint: Face tattoos, tigers.)
Down 0-1, Koscheck is playing catch-up. His fighters already seem to be breaking down, physically and emotionally, so Kos makes it clear that they need to toughen up and quit ass-dragging in practice. Training seems to improve after that.
It’s fight announcement time, and since Team GSP won last week, they retain control of the picks. St. Pierre selects Michael Johnson (his craftily-obtained #1 draft pick) against Aaron Wilkinson (Koscheck’s #6 pick??). GSP is obviously looking to take Koscheck’s heart with a brutal victory, but is it a wise strategy to waste your ace on the other team’s weakest link? (Keep in mind that Jeff Lentz was Team Koscheck’s #7 pick.) Still, a badass wrestler vs. a British guy. This seems gift-wrapped for the red team.
Johnson is almost overwhelmed by the importance of the moment. He’s been trying to get on a show for a couple years, and he’s so psyched to get in there and bang. "All I need to do is beat this dude’s ass," he says. "That’s it." During a one-on-one training session, GSP advises Johnson to circle away from Wilkinson’s right side, away from his power, making Aaron reset each time. But the general strategy is to take Wilkinson down and G-n-P the snot out of him.
Prank time! Koscheck pulls two cars right up against GSP’s ride in the parking lot. Kos badly wants to get under GSP’s skin, but Georges has seen these kinds of mind-game antics before. "It’s not my first rodeo," he says. After some effort, GSP manages to squeeze into the passenger side of his car ("Aiie, viola") and drives off. Kos does a robot impression to mock him.
Wilkinson is a product of the Wolfslair. He thinks he’s being underestimated, obviously, and feels he rises to his level of competition. In practice, Koscheck and Cormier help Wilkinson work on getting off the cage when Johnson inevitably puts him there. Cormier is impressed by his skills. Koscheck wants this win so he can get up in GSP’s face and, I quote, "Blaaaah, motorboat his ass." !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Weigh-ins proceed without incident.
Johnson says he "chose this fight" to establish his dominance in the house. Wait, GSP is still letting his guys choose the matchups? No wonder his A-team is picking off Koscheck’s practice squad. Get your house in order, Rush, or you’re going to set yourself up for a losing streak later in the season. Dane Sayers is already fucked, pretty much.
GSP is a huge Mike Tyson fan (aren’t we all), so he asks Dana to bring Iron Mike out to visit his team. Tyson is a big fan of MMA, and he’s happy to swing by. "Hey, what’th up George’th," he says, entering the warm-up room before Johnson’s fight. GSP says Tyson was his idol growing up, and used to love him some Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! Michael Johnson is both starstruck and amped, warming up with freakin’ Mike Tyson watching in his locker room. Meanwhile, James Toney is in Team Koscheck’s locker room, trying to show Aaron Wilkinson the death-touch he just learned from Trevor Sherman.
Time to do the magic…
Round 1: Johnson lands first with a leg kick, and they trade punches. Johnson wants to strike a bit before his first takedown attempt. He pops Wilkinson a good one and takes him down against the fence, then gets in a couple punches as Wilkinson works his way up. Wilkinson punches out and they’re back kickboxing. Leg kick, body kick from Johnson. Wilkinson catches a kick and tries to take Johnson down, but MJ defends. Wilkinson tries a guillotine, and punches Johnson twice when he loses it. Wilkinson throwing nice straight punches, but his coaches want him to put them in combination. They also refer to him as "English" when they’re shouting instructions. Can’t wait for the shouts of "Make it happen, Vietnamese!" during Nam Phan‘s fight. Johnson shoots and slams Wilkinson down with a double-leg. Wilkinson scrambles and gets out. Johnson tries to take Wilkinson’s head off with punches and a knee, but Wilkinson escapes, then grabs onto Johnson against the fence and converts a takedown of his own. He immediately starts dropping elbows from the top. Johnson looks stuck. More elbows, but Johnson ain’t doin’ shit. Wilkinson gets some space and rains down some punches to the bell. "English" clinches the round, 10-9. Even Mike Tyson knows it, and he’s a boxer. Still, Tyson’s pulling for Mike and shouts encouragement from the cage.
Round 2: After some light sparring, Johnson jacks a sharp superman punch into Wilkinson’s face, then clinches with him against the fence. Johnson throws knees to the legs. Wilkinson escapes and stalks forward with punches. Johnson clinches and takes Wilkinson down. Wilkinson rolls to his knees and gets up, then scores with a punch combo and a knee to the dome in the clinch. Johnson is warned for shorts-grabbing. Wilkinson charges for a takedown and gets it after some effort. Once again, Wilkinson has Johnson pinned against the cage, dropping elbows here and there. But it doesn’t last long — Johnson gets up and takes Wilkinson down. Now it’s his turn to unleash the nasty ground-and-pound we’ve been promised. The assault lasts about five seconds before Wilkinson gets out and they’re back on their feet. They both look gassed now, throwing weak strikes. Wilkinson shoots in to press Johnson against fense, but Johnson reverses. They trade knees and separate. Wilkinson stumbles forward with a weak-ass telegraphed shot and Johnson defends. MJ escapes and they brawl to the bell. Johnson won the round, apparently, because they’re going to Sudden Victory. Unfortunately, neither guy seems to have anything left.
Round 3: Or do they? Johnson comes off his stool like a freakin’ torpedo, stumbling Wilkinson with punches and taking him down. Johnson does his best to finish, smashing down from the top, working off of pure heart. Wilkinson is bloodied and dazed. He rolls, Johnson grabs a rear-naked, and Wilkinson immediately taps. Michael Johnson proceeds to the quarterfinals, and Team GSP goes up 2-0.
Things looked shaky for Johnson in the first round — handled on the mat by a Brit? for real? — but he justified his reputation in the third. The guy just found another level in himself, and went into Beast Mode. He’ll definitely be a force in the competition.
Surprisingly, Koscheck isn’t a dick about the loss. He consoles Wilkinson, and says he’s extremely proud of his performance. So maybe we shouldn’t expect him to be a coaching heel, like Rampage Jackson on TUF 10. And of course, Kos reminds Aaron that there’s still a couple of wild card spots to be filled. Wilkinson is certainly the frontrunner over Jeff Lentz at this point.
On the next episode: Tyson puts in more work with Team GSP, and Koscheck announces "I don’t like losing to nobody. Especially a French guy." But he’ll still motorboat your ass, no matter where you came from…