(“New episode of ‘Coal’? YEAH, BABY! GET SOME!” / Gif via IronForgesIron.com)
The quarterfinal round kicked off in last night’s episode of The Ultimate Fighter: Team Bellyache vs. Team Stare Directly at the Camera While Being Interviewed by Megan Olivi, and Shamar Bailey’s not feeling a personal best. The gray-team standout tweaked his back, and direct pressure ain’t comfortable. As he discusses it with Justin Edwards, Chris Cope lurks by, as if on cue, and screams “Woo!”
“I’mma choke that voice box out,” Shamar says.
But before he gets a chance to do that, Ramsey Nijem and Clay Harvison will square off. Dos Santos feels Ramsey is the best wrestler on his team. Ramsey says that his Palestinian heritage helps him be the fighter he is. He’s seen the road-stops, the walls, the guns; he feels grateful to be fighting in a controlled environment, and not for his life.
Dana White brings UFC middleweight contender and war hero Brian Stann to the gym. Stann tells the guys about being a Marine Corps captain, the lifestyle of discipline, how success breeds success…wait a minute. Is this just an ad for the Marines? This is like those segments on The Biggest Loser where they teach the contestants how to cook with Jennie-O-brand turkey. Come on, you know what I’m talking about. I can’t stand that crap. Anyway, Brock tells some of these long-haired punks to fill out an application.
Clay still can’t bend his dislocated finger completely, but he’s gonna throw down anyway. Brock works with Clay and Chris on their wrestling — which they’ll need, since their opponents both specialize in it — and shows them the whizzer defense that Shane Carwin pulled on him in the beginning of their fight last year.
Ramsey shows up to weigh-ins in classic Palestinian style, with some jacked-ass hip briefs. He gets in Clay’s face in a very loving way, then bends over to complete the Nick Ring impression. Unfortunately, Ramsey feels sick before the fight, and he’s not one of those dudes who normally get sick before fights. Could be an issue, but there’s no time to worry about it…
Round 1: Brock screams for the whizzer before Ramsey even tries his first takedown. Ramsey fires an overhand right. Clay launches forward with a 1-2. Ramsey grabs him coming in and takes him down easily. Clay tries to get up and Ramsey takes his back. Clay nearly rolls out, but Ramsey stays in control. Ramsey flattens Clay out on the mat and sinks the rear-naked choke. Clay taps. God damn, that didn’t last long. Ramsey Nijem is TUF 13′s first semi-finalist.
DW: “That was the fastest and most decisive finish of the season…Junior might be right, this kid might be the kid to beat.”
Dos Santos: “That’s how you fight when you get sick? WOOOOW!”
Clay is pissed at himself, obviously. “Stripper Ramsey, what the fuck. That’s how you screw the pooch, ladies and gentlemen.”
Brock: “Clay just got outclassed in wrestling. Giving up your back like that to a wrestler is just self-destruction.”
Moving on. Shamar wants to make Chris Cope pay for the constant screaming thing. His plan is to meet Chris in the middle of the Octagon, make him move backwards, beat him up on the feet, and take him down when he feels like it.
Coach Brock realizes that Cope is a big underdog here: “The first 30 seconds of this, you’re just gonna have to weather the storm,” he says. He calls the fight a classic matchup of “wrestler vs…Chris.” Once again, they drill the whizzer, hoping it might actually work this time. Brock points at the ad in the middle of the cage. “Do whatever you need to do to own Burger King. This is your house right here, Burger King.”
In the face-off, Chris smiles and nods while Shamar mean-mugs and shakes his head. Could they be any different?
The night before the fight, Cope tries to get some tips from Nordin Asrih, who previously lost to Shamar by decision. “His game plan is easy,” Nordin says. “To put you down and hold you down. He doesn’t want to fuck with you.” Nordin gives Chris some angry notes on his guillotine setup, which seems to leave him open for punches. “There’s no time bro,” Nordin says. “I’m fighting tomorrow, don’t be an asshole,” Chris says.
Shamar is mad intense before the fight: “He made a mistake, he woke up a beast.”
Says Chris: “Shamar, the ‘woo’ that you get so angry about? Win, lose, or draw, I’m still gonna do it.” And then he does.
Round 1: Shamar starts out as the aggressor, pushing forward, chasing Chris around the cage. He lands a left straight. Chris throws some punches but doesn’t land anything worthwhile. Shamar shoots from too far away, Chris defends it and slugs him in the head while pressed against the fence. Chris turns him around. Shamar puts Chris’s back against fence. Chris escapes. Shamar comes in with punches and a clinch. They trade knees to the legs. Cope escapes again. Left straight and a clinch from Shamar. Knee to the ribs from Chris, and some dirty boxing exchanged between the fighters. Another knee from Chris, and he escapes. Shamar with a left overhand/right low grab/clinch, which will become his trademark for the rest of the fight. Chris grabs a headlock and uses it to escape. Shamar does his hi/lo/clinch trick again, and works hard to drag Cope to the mat but he can’t pull it off.
“Let your fuckin’ hands go kid,” Dana shouts at Chris. Brock tells his fighter the same thing.
Round 2: Shamar stalks forward and lands a jab. Chris brushes him back with counter-punches. He’s throwing more now. Shamar fires to the body. Chris jacks a short hook. He lands the jab while Shamar is coming in. Shamar with that hi/lo/clinch. Chris gets out after some dirty boxing. He lands a couple on the feet, and seems to be gaining some momentum. No big shots, but he’s making Shamar respect him. Shamar shoots, settles for the clinch, and lands an uppercut on the exit. Shamar comes in to engage and they clash heads. Chris jabs. Shamar lands a clean punch combo. Both guys throwing now. Shamar shoots, Chris puts him against the fence. Shamar reverses the position. Chris escapes. They slug it out. Shamar shoots and puts Chris’s back against the fence. Chris fires some punches to his head. Chris turns Shamar around and escapes as the horn sounds.
The way I saw it, Shamar won the first round with his takedown attempts and pressure, and Chris out-boxed Shamar by a slight margin in the second. Chris’s takedown defense was really the story of the fight, but he was a little hesitant to throw in the first frame. This one should go to sudden victory. But it doesn’t. All three judges score it 20-18 for…Chris Cope? Damn. The fact that all three judges scored the first round for Chris is kind of absurd. Junior shouts “what?” Brock says that Chris wowed him and — you guessed it — made chicken salad out of chicken shit.
Shamar talks to Dana afterwards, and says he wanted to show that he could do more than wrestle. DW is like, “well, it looks like you tried to take him down.” (Burn!) Shamar tells Dana he sprained his back. And now Shamar is going to be haunted by that Woo! for the rest of his life.
On the next episode: Tony Ferguson goes apeshit into a glass coffee table, two more quarterfinal fights, and the semi-final announcements. We’re moving along nicely, here.