If a person with no knowledge of Mixed Martial Arts asked me to describe the dramatic tension within The Ultimate Fighter 2, I would be hard pressed to describe it succinctly. In a vain attempt to elaborate upon the numerous highs and lows of the season, I would speak on the competitiveness of the welterweight fighters as well as the excitement their fights inspire. Of course, to be fair, I’d also speak of the heavyweight division, which so far, has been nothing but a dance contest between obese gentlemen. I would stutter and stumble as I spoke of the great fights that have happened while trying my best to avoid mentioning the other, less entertaining bouts that have involved their fair share of groin strikes, chicken impersonations, and tae kwon do style attacks. It would be hard to describe the obvious parallels of the show to a novice. The best solution, as far as I can tell, would be to have them watch an episode and decide for themselves. Depending on the week, the reactions would vary greatly. Thankfully, this week’s episode, thanks again to the welterweights, was more than capable of pulling its own weight and impressing any casual viewer.
Monday’s episode began as they often do, with Dana White getting pissy. Once again, a heavyweight fight failed to impress, and to Dana, this was more than unacceptable. Last weeks fight between Seth Petruzelli and Dan Christison was a stand-up war; that is, if you consider Pepsi versus Coke a war. The fight consisted mainly of Dan nailing Seth in the balls a couple times, Seth hitting Dan with a spinning heel kick, and lots and lots of weak low kicks. The fight went unanimously to Seth, but failed to entertain anyone, including, I’m sure, Seth and Dan’s immediate family’s. So, on that sour note, Dana began his latest speech about the significance of carpe diem. It seemed they took it to heart, seeing as the night ended with yet another slugfest between two hungry welterweights.
From Dana’s best St. Crispen’s Day impersonation (“ For he today that sheds his blood for me shall be my brother! Oh yeah, and don’t fuck up this opportunity”), we segued into this week’s welterweight challenge. Randy Couture again presented us with a battle of will, spirit and intellect that tested our athletes beyond all measures of physical endurance (or I could just say it was a modified game of “Simon Says”, which do you prefer?). Pretty much, Randy had a list of boxing combinations and exercises that the welterweights had to complete when Randy commanded, the catch being he had to say “Randy says” before the command. Obviously, anyone who didn’t follow the rule of “Randy says” was eliminated. Simple enough? Apparently not, seeing as Jason Von Flue flopped his way out of the challenge in a whopping 8 seconds when he regretfully completed Randy’s second request without the requisite, “Randy says”. Alas, those with the greatest spirit fall the hardest. To make a meaningless description shorter, Team Hughes won the challenge. Video games, video games, product placements, lust for pixilated cheerleaders (Jesus, these guys need to get outside), and SCENE!
From there, the fight was announced. Like almost every other welterweight fight we’ve been blessed with, this weeks bout put a striker against a ground fighter; Luke Cummo from Team Hughes playing the kickboxing role against Anthony Torres from Team Franklin with the ground part. The match up presented an intriguing conflict, seeing as both coaches agreed that Luke would have the definitive advantage on the feet due to his “crisp” and “unorthodox” Muay Thai. Rich Franklin believed that if Anthony was able to take Luke down and control him there, the fight would go his way. Surprisingly, Hughes showed confidence in his fighter, failing to mention for the first time since the shows opening episode that he didn’t care if his fighter went home or not. According to many message boards, Hughes seems to be leaving a bad taste in a lot of mouths, and unless you’re a school cafeteria cook, that’s unacceptable. Perhaps it’s just Hughes’ hyperbolic competitiveness that puts him at odds with the viewer. Whatever the case, many people, including myself, seem to think that Hughes has a way of going too far in his attempts to win; Jason Von Flue’s snubbing being the main perp.
Hughes or no Hughes, a fight was scheduled. Both Teams’ training sessions were shown, once again hyping the opposition of each fighter’s strengths. Luke weighed in at a lanky 169, while Anthony came in at a lean 169.5. The night before the fight, there was an amusing segment shown revolving around Luke eating one of his “health” food concoctions. Forgive me if I don’t have the ingredients right, but he was eating a combination of wild rice, garlic, and celery among other things out of a large glass bowl. Rashad Evans was brave enough to taste the wicked stew, most likely hoping that it would increase his dancing ability for the next fight. The clip acted to remind the viewer of Luke’s eccentric lifestyle as well as his unpredictability, something we would be reminded of later in his fight.
So, without any foreplay (I have to stop with the sexual similes, this show has gotten enough press for it’s underlying homosexuality already), the fight began. Anthony came out aggressively against Luke, pushing him back and forcing him to react as he juked and feinted inside of Luke’s range. Luke, feeling the pressure of Anthony’s pace, got underhooks and began to control the pace. Anthony quickly found himself against the cage and loved it apparently, because that’s where he ended up being a good portion of the fight. Anthony did fight back though, getting a takedown and managing to get in Luke’s half-guard. Luke was very savvy on the ground though, defending all of Anthony’s attempted strikes while stopping the pass. The fight stalled a bit on the ground, but picked up once the fighters were back on their feet. As Luke got more comfortable, his elbow strikes started to take off. He landed a few on Anthony near the first round, and because of that, forced Anthony to act. Unfortunately for Luke, Andy’s tenacity led to a takedown, and before long, control of Luke’s back. To his credit, Luke defended perfectly. Anthony never really came close to a submission and did little or no damage from the rear. Luke eventually reversed and finished the round out with a good number of elbows and punches from the dominant position. Though Anthony had the attempted submission and the takedowns, Luke’s reversals and strikes had deemed any arguments for an Anthony lead null and void.
The second round carried from the end of the first, with Luke controlling the pace and landing clean blows on Anthony. Luke also began his use of the Muay Thai clinch early in the round, thumping Anthony’s midsection with strong knees. As the blows continued to land, though none of them too damaging, Anthony’s confidence began to wane. And, as we all know, with the onset of hesitation comes the arrival of fatigue, and Anthony was more than showing it. Perhaps it was the failed submission, or maybe even the reversal near the end of round one. Whatever the case, Anthony looked like he had already lost halfway through the second. The fight went to the ground later, with Luke again making Anthony wish he’d never shot for the takedown. Round two ended with Luke looking crisp and Anthony doing his best impersonation of a man with typhoid fever.
Round three was more of the same; Luke getting the clinch and blasting away with knees, punches, and elbow strikes. Near the end of the round, Luke opened up a nasty gash across Anthony’s right eye, but it wasn’t deep or situated in a dangerous enough place to stop the fight. As the fight wound down, Anthony tried his best to mount some sort of comeback, but his fate was already written. Luke had won via unanimous decision, with one judge giving him a shameful score of 30-26.
If it wasn’t for the heart and intensity of the welterweights, I, and many other people, would not watch this show. Tonight’s fight was an ideal example. Coming off of another lame heavyweight match, the welterweights lift us up to the emotional peak we’ve known many times through this sport. But what of tomorrow? What of next week’s episode? I for one, hope that some heavies can step it up and show us why they were picked for the show. No matter the case, the depth of talent at the welterweights should be more than enough to carry us through the season, but at what price?
Photos used with permission by the UFC®.
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