Nam Phan file photo: Sherdog.com
“When I was on TUF season one, I knew how naive I was,” says Josh Koscheck to start this week’s episode. The curly-haired coach is hoping like heck that his team will start to pick up on the tools he’s laid before them. “Our system works. You know it works,” he says, talking about his AKA-based coaches and their approach. “Look at Cain Velasquez, myself, Mike Swick, Jon Fitch.”
Kos brings in one of those names in Jon Fitch to work out with the team. “Sooner or later, you've got to sack up, put your balls on the line and kick someone’s ass,” says Koscheck as they all suit up and proceed to do the exact opposite as Fitch throws the yellow team around like rag dolls.
Back at the mansion, Alex "Bruce Leroy" Caceres, the erstwhile prankster of the show, is up to some hijinks. He informs Michael Johnson that he had earlier filled a bottle of laundry detergent with bleach. Johnson races to the washer to check on his clothes and berates Bruce Lee Roy. “I didn’t know you used fabric softener!” pleads Caceres.
Off to see some training, and GSP has a surprise in store for his team that is even worse than being hurled around by Jon Fitch. Jean Charles Skarbowsky has been invited by St-Pierre to train with the boys. Georges gives a cautionary introduction for his pal who he calls “a character,” and indeed he was.
Skarbowsky bullies them all and delivers the kind of violence you’d expect from a Muay Thai legend. Cody McKenzie calls the session “brutal,” and there is a cornucopia of cringe-inducing footage.
Did I mention Skarbowsky was drunk? Yeah, apparently he came in all sauced. Of course the only thing better than sparring with a former Thai champ is sparring with a drunk former champ who doesn’t know how to turn off the “ow-too-hard” switch.
Spencer Paige vs. Nam Phan is the next fight chosen by St-Pierre. After the stare down, Spencer picks apart his opponent's body language: “Nam looked down at the ground and he kind of walked out all sad-looking,” says Spencer. “It almost made me sad.”
Spencer is one of St-Pierre’s prized pupils; Georges thinks Paige is coming along just as he should and calls working with him “a pleasure.”
On the flip, Kos is ogling Phan’s power shots in practice and remarking to his team that Phan is looking fly and ready to go.
Former light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell waddles in sporting a fresh black and eye from his loss to Rich Franklin. The fellas light up, and you can tell they are thrilled to shoot the breeze with “The Iceman.”
It's not hard to see that Sevak Magakian is a big fan and seems to be the most vocal of the group, asking Liddell what kept him motivated for 12 years. Liddell tells them you have to love it, as he's clearly having a hard time giving up his own love of fighting.
“You’re still the champ,” Sevak says to Liddell, who seems touched.
Fight time comes and both Phan and Paige are talking eloquently about the Octagon experience. Both willingly admit the anxieties, the sounds, the fears, the doubts and the inevitable sound of the cage shutting and a change coming over them.
These two came to fight and get after it immediately. Paige nearly takes Phan's legs out while Phan nearly takes Paige’s face off with a straight right hand counter to a kick. Paige looks strong, beating Phan to the punch. Phan keeps coming forward and pays for it.
Phan catches a break when he catches a kick and puts Paige on his back. From there, he doesn’t hesitate to rain down shots from on top. Those blows come often enough that Spencer can't put an escape plan together. After some up-kick attempts from Spencer below, Phan pushes aside his legs, passing guard and working Paige’s wrist behind his back. The submission attempt has Paige wincing and yelping in pain at the bell.
Spencer started that round looking like the safe bet, but by the end of the round he was in massive trouble.
Things don't get any better for him between rounds: “I think my left hand’s broke,” says Spencer, writhing while GSP fans him. “Don’t worry about it,” says St. Pierre. “Just breathe.”
Paige comes out looking ready. He throws a kick, only to immediately nurse his foot once it comes down. Hard to tell what exactly is hurting him, but either way both men are still out to fight like pros. Plenty of body shots land from both guys as they throw kicks and pummel each other's torsos.
Spencer starts to take the lion’s share of the abuse, absorbing both knees and punches before standing up after a failed takedown attempt. Nam is going for the high kick often with his right foot, forcing Spencer to continually block with the only good hand he has left.
The frustration grows, as does Spencer’s pain. Phan is relentless, and Paige is starting to lose focus thanks to the all the connections. At one point Spencer yells “F--k!” in frustration and throws a hard kick in retaliation.
Phan continues to pick him apart with a precise and varied attack. Nam Phan is given the decision, and Josh Koscheck and team go wild. Of course, Josh has to rub it in to GSP in an almost stage-mom manner. Never mind Spencer Paige shuffling by with his broken body and bruised spirit.
Back in the locker rooms, Spencer is getting love from comrades and attention from the medical staff, while Koscheck’s yellow team pounds their palms against the wall between the two teams. By the way, GSP’s squad is still up 3-1. Way to stay classy, Team Koscheck.