(Exhibit A. Props: IronForgesIron.com)
One positive thing you can say about the 13th season of TUF? It was mercifully brief. We’re already winding down to the end here, with just two more episodes to go until next Saturday’s finale show. Last night gave us two more quarterfinal fights, the selection of the semi-final matches (which go down next week), and a standout contestant making one of the most dramatic and unexpected heel-turns in TUF history.
Zach Davis feels confident in his quarterfinal rematch with Chuck O’Neil considering he’s already beaten him once. He knows it’s a dangerous matchup, but he wants to keep the fight standing this time to show the diversity of his skills. Because when you’ve got a good thing going, change it up I guess. Bad sign. Junior Dos Santos wants Zach to “do what he do well” — put Chuck on the mat and use his jiu-jitsu.
Chuck offers to give his teammate Charlie Rader his win bonus because Charlie recently had his son taken away from him and is being charged an arm and a leg for child support. The situation draws the sympathy of his teammates (“It’s not right…He deserves to have his kid, plain and simple”), but Charlie says he can’t accept the money. And of course, Chuck doesn’t even have it yet, so there’s that too.
“Chuck’s like a bad penny, he keeps showing up,” Zach says. And it’s already time for fight #1…
Zach Davis vs. Chuck O’Neil
Round 1: Zach lands the first jabs. He pushes forward, and Chuck starts to work his counter-punches. Chuck takes the middle of the cage, and lands a hard leg kick. Chuck fires some punches; Zach has already seen enough and shoots. He puts Chuck’s back against the fence and throws some knees to the body. Chuck returns fire. Zach drops a level trying to take Chuck down, but Chuck defends it. The ref breaks ‘em when the action slows. Push-kick from Zach, another sharp leg kick from Chuck. Zach attacks with punches and a teep. Leg kick Chuck, and he rocks Zach with a right hand. Chuck swarms and Zach responds by shooting and clinching with Chuck against the fence. Chuck pounds down on Zach’s head, then gets some space and starts throwing. Zach re-establishes the clinch. Chuck escapes and they trade punches. Chuck gets the better of the exchanges and Zach is on the run. Chuck finishes the round teeing off on Zach’s face, clinching the 10-9.
Round 2: Zach jabs, throws a leg kick, and gets tripped down by a leg kick from Chuck. Chuck pounces on, but Zach quickly establishes guard. Chuck lets him up. Zach weakly throws a leg kick, then a teep. He looks exhausted, but he’s still going through the motions. Zach shoots, Chuck sprawls. Chuck tries to disengage but Zach stays on him, grabbing onto his waist. He drags Chuck down and pulls guard, but Chuck escapes to his feet. Ferocious punch combo from Chuck. Zach shoots, Chuck sprawls. Chuck gets up with Zach glued to him. Zach puts Chuck’s back against the fence. Knee from Chuck. The ref breaks ‘em. A hard 1-2 from Chuck, and another punch that stings Zach. And a leg kick. And a hook. Another leg kick. Zach floats out more weak kicks and gets tagged hard. Chuck lands again with the 1-2. Zach shoots, Chuck sprawls and escapes. Leg kick from Zach and the round ends.
The judges score it 20-18 x 3 for Chuck O’Neil, who moves onto the semi-finals. No more Trash-Bag Charlie, eh? Dana White’s heart is clearly with the kid from Massachusetts; he’s shown jumping out of his chair to cheer the action. “Chuck is definitely the toughest guy here,” he says. Meanwhile, Zach is furious, and punches a hole in the already-wrecked gym door. “I can fucking beat him!” he laments. Later, when Zach has calmed down, he says, “I have so much fun out there. Even on a bad day like today, I enjoyed it.”
And it turns out to be a really bad day for him. His ragged, puffed-up eyes don’t just look bad — they’re pretty much ruined. After the fight, the doctor told him he tore both his retinas, and shouldn’t fight again because they can tear more easily in the future. Zach says he went through the bad times, fighting in parking lots for $100 — and now when things are starting to go good, it all falls apart. Poor bastard.
Ryan McGillivray is fighting Tony Ferguson next, and he’s using his daughter as motivation: “I don’t know how to make a good living to give her the things she deserves. But I found something I might be good at…I missed her birithday. And I might have to miss other things. And I hope she understands.”
Ryan McGillivray vs. Tony Ferguson
Round 1: They spend the opening moments trading jabs. Tony tries a body kick. Ryan comes in and gets countered hard with an uppercut/right-hand combo. For a second it looks like he’ll be able to stay on his feet, but then…no, he wilts to the mat. The ref jumps in immediately as Tony starts to throw down the finishing touches. At first it looks like an early stoppage, but Ryan is clearly in la-la land. Welcome to the semis, Tony.
After a rough early going for Team Lesnar, the Brock ‘N’ Roll Express (as I’ve taken to calling them, starting just now) makes up 75% of the semi-finals, with Chris Cope, Chuck, and Tony still in the bracket. The only Team Dos Santos member left in contention is Ramsey Nijem. The coaches feel that Ramsey and Tony are the best fighters out of the four, but Dana has a crush on Chuck, and Chris is a dark horse that keeps proving people wrong.
Dana announces the semi-final matchups. The first fight will be Ramsey Nijem vs. Chris Cope. As usual, Cope poses for the initial face-off with a wide, clownish grin on his face. “I can’t take you seriously, Ramsey,” he says. But Ramsey is dead-serious, maybe for the first time on the show. “You better,” he says.
The other semi-final pairing, of course, is Tony Ferguson vs. Chuck O’Neil. Chuck honestly looks a little spooked walking up to the faceoff. Tony says it sucks fighting a friend, but we’re gonna see some fireworks.
The night starts merrily enough — with Stripper Ramsey performing his one-man all-male revue on the pool table and getting alcohol sprayed on his dick, you know, normal dude stuff — but boy does it turn ugly fast. A friendly tussle between Tony and Charlie Rader flips a psycho-switch on Tony, who to this point has only been a well-dressed nice-guy. Tony tackles Charlie over a glass coffee table and then puts his forearm across Charlie’s face. The mood in the room turns dire. Charlie gets up and checks to see if they’re still playing around. “Are you being serious? Are you good?” he says. But Tony is not good; he’s seeing red for some reason. After some verbal tussling, Tony brings up Charlie’s son. (“Where’s your kid at?”) Wow, what an asshole. Tony then throws a stool, putting an exclamation point on his own dickishness.
Charlie is beside himself with anger and wants to throw down right then and there. A little later, Charlie’s in his bedroom fuming, and Tony comes in. The guys try to get Tony to apologize for the low-blow about Charlie’s son. Tony’s like “what?” The guys tell him how he brought up Charlie’s kid, and Tony’s like, “oh yeah…WHERE’S YOUR KID?” Unbelievable. Charlie tries to go after Tony but they’re both restrained by their teammates.
Now, Chuck is just fine with meeting Tony in the semis. “I have more than enough ammo…I’m beating him. I’m gonna take his dreams away, I guaran-damn-tee it. Or I will die trying.” Well alright. Now things are starting to get interesting…