Jason Miller saunters into the TUF gym and dumps an armful of long, foam tubes. “Today we’re going to learn the first rule of the Octagon,” he says. “Defend yourself at all times.” He grabs one of the tubes and starts whipping the fighter closest to him. The gym erupts into a orgy of swinging tubes and high-pitched screams. Yes, my children. Embrace the Mayhem.
Meanwhile, Coach Michael Bisping is working on some payback for last week’s tire prank. He and his lackeys remove the tires from Mayhem’s car and arrange them in the Team Miller warm-up room, like so many throw-pillows. “Son of a bitch…ah, you limey,” Miller says when he discovers them. But it gives him a good laugh. Game recognize game, I guess.
(Hmm. Maybe we should do a video list on the Greatest TUF Pranks of All Time. Or the Worst ones. One of the two. If it’s a slow news day, look out for it.)
Team Bisping has a sparring session, and while he calls for 60% strength, some of his guys are out for blood. Akira Corassani says he wants to put fear in his teammates so they know he’s daddy. (Creepy!) Diego Brandao and Marcus Brimage throw bombs at each other like a six-figure contract is on the line, and have to be separated when Brandao starts threatening Marcus’s life.
“I’m from Alabama,” Marcus explains, “I don’t understand many languages besides ebonics and redneck, but ‘I’m going to kill you?’…you from Brazil, you know they got 401k for kidnapping over there.” I don’t really know what that means, but between that and their lack of Internet, Brazil is sounding like a terrible place to live.
Akira is “that guy.” He says he wants to make people’s days go by faster by making them laugh — which he usually accomplishes by letting people smash him in the nuts with pool balls — but his center-of-attention routine is wearing on some of his teammates. Plus, he’s a prankster. He puts rice in the other fighters’ gloves. Dustin Neace has three testicles, apparently, so Akira hides the three-ball inside, with a note that says “I know what you did last summer.” Again, no clue what that means. Obviously, I know it’s Jennifer Love Hewitt’s greatest movie, but I don’t know how it fits in this context. Akira operates according to his own definition of logic.
For the first bantamweight matchup, Coach Miller chooses Johnny Bedford (his #2 bantam) against Josh Ferguson (Bisping’s #4). Ferguson walks up and pulls out a sheet of paper from his pocket that has “Fuck You Bedford” already written on it, which is some David Blaine voodoo street-magic type shit. But it seems to anger Bedford, not impress him. The face-off is intense, and loaded with trash-talk. “You can have all kinds of fun after I knock you out of this tournament,” “I can do everything I want to you, bitch,” etc., etc. Johnny is way bigger, by the way. Josh is another guy who seems better suited to flyweight, if such a thing existed in the UFC. Ah well. Someday, right guys?
One small problem: Bedford messed up his right hand in the elimination round, and can’t really punch with it, so it might not have been a good idea to fight him this early.
Akira’s prankage reaches intolerable levels. A classic water-bucket-over-the-door prank ends in relative failure, and Dustin “3-Ball” Neace has had enough of finding bird-seed in his gloves. So he pours some unidentified food-stuffs all over Akira’s bed, and leaves a note warning him to stay out of his bag. This leads to a bedroom confrontation and an epic bout of “let’s repeat ourselves over and over again,” which you can watch at the top of this post.
John Dodson is on Team Miller, but all his friends are on Team Bisping. Brandao, in particular, is a teammate of Dodson’s from the Greg Jackson camp. Dodson and a few blue-jerseys form an inter-house squad called Death Leprechaun — a magical name that only Johnny Bedford can spell.
And here’s another problem: Dodson starts leaking info about Bedford’s hand to his boys, which kind of makes him a snitch-ass mole. During the weigh-ins, Bisping calls out “What’s wrong with [Bedford's] right hand…looking a little sensitive,” so the cat’s out of the bag on that one right away, pretty much.
Time to fight. Bedford is five inches taller and owns a seven-inch reach advantage.
Round 1: Ferguson wins the first striking skirmish. Bedord shoots, dumps Ferguson, and pushes him against the fence. Bedford with some elbows from the top from Ferguson’s guard. Ferguson gets up and lands a 1-2. Bedford fires a terrible-looking spinning back kick and misses completely. Bedford with a 1-2/head kick. They clinch and trade knees. More knees from Bedford. Bedford takes Ferguson down again, and fires down some punches. He gets to side control, steps over Ferg’s head and attempts a straight armbar. (Miller, from cageside: “Now break it off and make him sing a sad country song.”) But Ferguson manages to escape and scramble on top, punching wildly. Bedford is up, Ferguson has him in a headlock briefly, Bedford escapes. Bedford lands a jab and body kick then a takedown. He takes Ferguson’s back on the mat to clinch the round.
Round 2: Ferguson comes out aggressive, wanting to make something happen on the feet. Bedford lands a nice leg kick. Ferg sticks him with a left. Bedford shoots, Ferg defends, but Bedford stays on it and completes the takedown. Bedford fires punches down against the fence. Ferguson locking him down from below. Bedford gets to side control, smothering him from the top. Ferguson explodes out, gets to his feet, and throws a dramatic flying knee that makes Coach Bisping groan as Bedford catches him and deposits him on the mat once again. Bedford scores with some short elbows and hammerfists from half guard. Bedford stays active to the end, and wins the unanimous decision after two rounds.
“I notice a recuuring theme in the show,” Mayhem says.
“Just because the guy’s won a couple fights, he thinks he’s won the show,” Bisping tells us. “The guy’s living in a dream world.”
Miller savors the victory with his team in the warm-up room. You know who doesn’t look thrilled? Johnny Bedford himself. In fact, he looks like a man with a broken hand. Hopefully he’ll have enough time to recover before his next fight in the bantamweight semi-finals.