Sherdog’s Guide to ‘The Ultimate Fighter’

By Scott Holmes Apr 29, 2010
This week’s TUF opens with a discussion circling the “wildcard” fight.

Two fighters who were beaten will be brought back to fight for a spot in the quarterfinals. Along with that scenario, there is an open spot thanks to an injury suffered by Rich Attonito. Jamie Yager and the boys speculate who will be brought back, and so far the most vocal about returning are Kyacey Uscola and James Hammortree.

“Tito is pretty damn happy to have his first win now,” says Dana White, wondering what that will mean for the next matchup.

Tito doesn’t have to think about it too hard. Kris McCray offers to scrap, and his coach takes him up on it. Tito chooses Josh Bryant to face McCray, and Ortiz’s pupils think it’s a great choice.

“Doesn’t look like Bryant wants to fight,” says Uscola. “Doesn’t look like the fighting type, doesn’t act like the fighting type. I think the ‘Savage’ is going to run over him.”

Even Team Liddell might agree. The best description for Bryant from his team is that he’s “unassuming.” Not a rousing recommendation from a house full of supposed killers.

At least his coach will back him up, sort of. Liddell calls Bryant a “gamer” but then proceeds to gush about how jovial Bryant had been while cutting weight. In fact, Liddell says, “He cut the most and he was the most friendly during cutting.”

Congratulations, Josh, you’ve won the prestigious “Most Friendly During Cutting Award,” which has somehow eluded being handed out in the past 10,000 years of wrestling history.

With no ribbons to speak of, John Hackleman is forced to hand out advice instead: “If you don’t fight your ass off and fight your best, it’ll haunt you the rest of your life.”

“We punish ourselves to punish our opponents,” says Tito, giving his own advice while putting his boys through one of those workouts that makes you hate your coach for life. Uscola is worried that it might be too much to handle for fighters so close to fight time.

“I don’t know what to think,” he says.

Other highlights of Tito’s training session include an apology from Tito to Clayton McKinney for being insensitive regarding the extent of his shoulder injury. McCray also reveals that he speaks German. So there’s that.

Fight time and in the first round, McCray shows some savvy with body shots and knees to pinken the belly of Bryant. The wrestling is a stalemate for the most part with neither being able to dominate or do anything explosive, resulting in plenty of leaning and failed throws.

Other than taking the back of McCray just briefly, Bryant is outmatched throughout the first round. McCray enters the second round looking like he has nothing left in the tank. Bryant begins to find his jab, and with McCray not moving around too much, his uppercut is landing almost every time.

McCray is tired, and Bryant begins to turn the fight in his favor. He mixes it up by going low and picking up McCray for a light slam to the floor, which pairs nicely with some elbows.

McCray wills himself back on top, though. He catches a few illegal elbows to the top of the dome from Bryant, but nothing is called. The two finish the second round trying to look busy enough to win.

It seems like a given that McCray took the first round and Bryant stole the second, and sure enough a third round is ordered up. Like the first, Bryant and McCray spend a few minutes in a clinch battle against the fence until Bryant takes over the final two minutes.

Bryant gets the Zero to Hero Award (along with Most Friendly During Cutting), as he looked outclassed to start only to finish strong by rattling McCray with a barrage that leaves him holding onto nothing but hope. Bryant almost pulls off a rear-naked attempt as the seconds run out.

Josh Bryant takes the decision, and Tito is left scratching his head as to why McCray would gas so easily, which brings us back to Uscola questioning the need to break down their bodies during training when they are scheduled to scrap. Liddell has other obligations and has been absent from a few fights, which has to make things worse for Tito from a coaching standpoint.

Next week’s teaser shows that the wildcard and replacement debate won’t go away: Another injury looms on the horizon. Oh, and dodge ball. Tito and Chuck will be playing dodge ball, and America will laugh once again.
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