Cody McKenzie file photo: Spike TV
Over time, most TUF teams tend to mirror the attitudes of their coaches. This season’s main storyline has consisted of Josh Koscheck trying to annoy Georges St. Pierre to the point that he reacts. After a couple of fights, each coach’s agenda has bled into his respective team. GSP’s red team seems to have taken on the subdued, nose-to-the-grindstone facade shown by St. Pierre, while Koshcheck’s boys are much more antagonistic in their approach.
Last week, the yellow team beat on the locker room wall in celebration. On the other side of that wall, Spencer Paige’s head hung low, and his team suffered in silence.
This week, Koscheck decides he isn’t through, as he badgers Michael Johnson during a stretching session. Johnson says he is washing his hands of Koscheck. Johnson marches off. “Koscheck’s just been a huge d--khead lately,” he says, adding that the behavior has been “childish and disrespectful.” MJ makes a good point, explaining that it’s a little early to be celebrating when the yellow team could still end up winning the competition 6-1. Johnson continues, calling the yellow team Koscheck’s flunkies and saying they flip a switch and turn into jerks whenever their “ringleader” is around.
For the first time this season, Team Koscheck has control over the matchups. They decide to pit their first pick, Marc Stevens, against GSP’s sixth pick in Cody McKenzie.
It’s not a big surprise, as Cody has been putting a bigger target on his back lately. “He’s sending his little protégé after me,” says Cody, who has taken a somewhat surprising role as GSP’s attack dog. Georges made it clear last week that he needs no protection, but McKenzie enjoys dishing it out to Koscheck.
Cody gives Koscheck a tiny little chin check after his stare-down with Stevens, and it catches Koscheck off guard. Josh is annoyed by the maneuver, which is hilariously ironic considering the tactics that he typically employs. Why do those games work so well against Kos? “He’s a meathead for sure,” says Cody.
Perhaps in response to Cody’s move, GSP preaches once again to his guys the need to stay focused and avoid the temptation to sock the red team. Georges has repeatedly told his boys that he will not respond to Koscheck’s taunts until the yellow team’s captain crosses the physical line. At that point, according to Georges, it would be a “disaster” for Koscheck.
As far as the matchup goes, it’s a mixed bag. Marc is a standout wrestler with a lifetime-long background in competition. Cody, on the other hand, is from Alaska, and claims to be completely unorthodox. His plan? “Just throw, kick, punch, knee and grab a hold of their neck if they take me down,” explains McKenzie.
“I’m not like these other guys he’s fought. He’s not going to guillotine me. He’s not going to submit me,” says Stevens. Marc dismisses Cody one last time, claiming that this fight will be a lesson learned for McKenzie, AKA the man who likes to sit on the back deck with his Crown Royal, drawings and chewing tobacco.
Dana White gives the edge to Stevens due to an array of skills that Cody doesn’t possess. Let’s face it; even by his own admission, McKenzie is a one trick pony with that guillotine.
Cody’s breakdown is concurrent with White’s. He tells Nam Phan over a snack: “[He probably has] better cardio, hits harder, has better scrambles, a better overhand right, better wrestling.”
This prompts Phan to ask the logical next question: “Then what are you going to do?”
“I’m going to win,” Cody answers.
Cody shakes his head at Stevens’ suggestion to touch gloves at the start of their fight. McKenzie opts instead to rush Stevens with a looping punch and a kick. Stevens drops low for a double leg, and McKenzie goes down easily. Naturally, McKenzie has a guillotine in the works before they touch down, and Stevens leaps to the other side to begin his escape attempt, but…never mind. He’s unconscious.
It’s a big ring, but Stevens put his head in the two-foot window where his odds were at their absolute worst. Stevens had never been submitted before, and fighters are cocky about such things.
McKenzie calmly gets up and walks away, having just subbed Koscheck’s number one guy in mere seconds.
Koscheck looks like Haley Joel Osment right after he discovered the ghost in his tent in “The Sixth Sense.”
“Koscheck was absolutely horrified,” says Dana White. Koscheck proceeds to complain of a “sick belly feeling,” adding that he also felt an “ooh-ie feeling.”
GSP cautions his team against celebrating afterwards, opting to keep it classy while the yellow team is left stunned and speechless.
Back in the locker room Koscheck talks to his last two fighters, Armenians Sevak Magakian and Sako Chivitchyan. “Let that experience motivate you guys,” says Koscheck to the boys, who look more like they’ve been motivated to retire early.
Back in control, Team GSP decides that Sevak will be facing Jonathan Brookins, who has been a wallflower all season. While Koscheck describes Sevak as a “crazy Armenian,” the man he will be fighting is mellow, enjoys yoga, meditation and likens himself to a plant that wants to see the sun.
GSP raves during training that Brookins is like a sponge and is his secret weapon. Indeed, Brookins looks weaponized after clashing heads with GSP during training, causing a deep cut over the eyebrow of St. Pierre.
GSP tries to hide his cut but is having a hard time thanks to Koscheck, who has taken the liberty of hiding GSP’s sandals. Georges is forced to look around for them as Koscheck provides the soundtrack by cackling at him.
We get right to the fighting with this second matchup. The laid back Brookins meets the excitable Sevak in the center of the ring with a kick to the body. Sevak moves in close to tie up, but Brookins throws Sevak onto his back beautifully. Sevak attempts to stand back up, but Brookins hops onto his back. Sevak is forced to deal with Jonathan’s hands as he keeps masterful body control by balancing on the Armenian. Brookins finds his opening and clamps down a rear-naked choke that forces Sevak to the floor. The Armenian taps only two minutes in, and Koscheck’s team has lost two in a row without landing a single punch.
“I was blown away by how fast Brookins buzz-sawed through Sevak,” says White. “Brookins looked absolutely nasty in that fight.”
“I don’t want to put fear in no man’s heart,” says Brookins. “But I will earn your respect. I promise that.”
Even though the fight was short, Brookins looked like he might be special.
Next week the two remaining fighters -- Dane Sayers and Chivitchyan -- will tangle, and Koscheck and GSP will spend a day on the baseball diamond to find out who will be the Ultimate Batter.