Published Wednesday, March 31, 2010 | 11 p.m.
Updated Wednesday, March 31, 2010 | 11:23 p.m.
Chuck Liddell is back in the UFC spotlight for the first time since losing to Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua last April, this time as a coach opposite old rival Tito Ortiz in the new season of “The Ultimate Fighter.”
With rumors of a Dana White/Oritz quarrel and even the possibility of Rich Franklin stepping in to take his place in mid-season, anticipation is high for this one.
Let’s get to it.
Season starts with 28 fighters walking into the Las Vegas UFC gym. No surprise it starts with an interview with Jon Henle. Talking from first-hand experience here, Henle likes to talk. A lot. Get used to the sound of his voice.
Dana introduces Chuck and Tito, who obviously need no introduction and Dana explains the new setup for this season — the inclusion of a ‘wild card.’
Fourteen fighters will get in the house. After first seven prelim fights, Dana and coaches will select two guys worthy of a second shot. The winner of that gets a spot in the quarterfinals. I like this, it gives the UFC to give a second chance to a favorite character if they happen to get caught in their first fight.
This episode should be full of fights, first up is Jamie Yager vs. Ben Stark. Coaches get to watch them fight in these elimination fights and then pick teams after.
Yager comes out with some impressive striking that has Stark out of his game immediately. Geez. Head kick. Head kick. Head kick. Stark is done immediately, out. Knockout win for Yager. Nice work.
Next up Jordan Smith vs. Brad Tavares. Tavares utilizes the clinch, shows impressive striking and drops him with a knee in the first round. Another impressive knockout win.
Third fight is Cleburn Walker vs. Kris McCray. McCray says he has the most ferociousness of the group and the most heart. ‘Tame but off the chain,’ he says. McCray with a great throw to start off the round, he moves into full mount and Walker taps immediately because his shoulder dislocated in the throw. McCray shows some athleticism by back flipping after the win.
Norman Paraisy vs. James Hammortree. Cool fighter name, right? Hammortree. Finally we make it to a second round even though Hammortree whoops Paraisy for the better part of it, working into mount and ground and pounding like crazy. Well, maybe we haven’t made it to a second round, it sounds like Paraisy wants to quit. He does, Hammortree wins.
Everybody’s mad…Liddell says it’s like tapping to strikes, which Tito has done. Haha. Chuck says it right in front of Ortiz and he looks away. That’s funny.
Miller Lite fight highlights! What is this? Breezing through a few fights here: Nick Ring picks apart Woody Weatherby. Kyle Noke beats down Warren Thompson, gives him a bloody mask to wear in the second round with a clean elbow.
Court McGee defeats Seth Baczynski in a fight that Tito says, ‘These guys were throwing for the fences right off the bat.” McGee gets floored by a right hook, stays alive, and the fight goes to a deciding third round. McGee turns to wrestling and eliminates Baczynski.
Victor O’Donnell vs. Chris Camozzi. Great first round by both fighters. O’Donnell landing some shots that should be putting Camozzi down but he just keeps coming. O’Donnell even says nice when Camozzi takes him down. Another sudden victory fight is the result after two rounds. Wow another close round from what they show of the final round. It’s too bad there isn’t a second chance for the loser of this one. They both deserve a shot. White says, ha, somewhat coldly, that people will say there is no loser in this fight but actually, ‘there is a loser because one guy has to go home and the other gets to live his dream.’ Way to sugarcoat. Camozzi wins the decision and sends O’Donnell to the hospital. Tough way to go man.
Kyacey Uscola vs. Brent Cooper. Uscola drops Cooper early with a right hook and isn’t quiet about it. Uscola is a veteran and believes he’s got a shot to intimidate some of the other guys. He got off to a good start.
Joe Henle vs. Constantinos Philippou. “Henle’s getting killed the entire fight,” says Dana. But anything can happen in the octagon and Henle rolls into an armbar and wins it in the second round.
Next up is Rich Attonito vs. Lyle Steffens. Rich whoops up on Steffens, wins by unanimous decision. Followed by Josh Bryant out wrestling Greg Rebello, surviving some hard shots in the process. That brings us to Charlie Blanchard vs. Jacen Flynn. Charlie takes Jacen down and uses ground and pound to finish him off.
Charley Lynch vs. Clayton McKinney, two guys interested in putting on a show and ironically, they’re buddies. Friendship goes out the window and these two bang. McKinney dominates the standup and breaks Lynch’s nose. Lynch tries to fight through it but that’s a nasty broken nose and he is done. OOOHHH that nose is even nastier than I thought it was. They show it up close after the fight. Oh bejesus that’s bad. Modeling career over for Lynch.
That’s it for the fights. Why are they subtitling Kyle Noke? He’s speaking with an Australian accent not Japanese. Anyway, next week is team selections. See you then.
Definitely when Chuck gets Tito with the, ‘It’s like tapping to strikes’ comment. For those who don’t quite remember, Ortiz tapped due to strikes in his first shot at the UFC light heavyweight championship against Frank Shamrock in 1999. Liddell was on site. He defeated Paul Jones by TKO earlier that night on the undercard.