Sako Chivitchyan: File Photo/Spike TV
This week begins with the last of the preliminary fights. Dana White thinks Dane Sayers has been ”thrown to the wolves” in facing Sako Chivitchyan, and he might be right. Sayers was outclassed in his opening fight, but he got by on pure guts. White says that Dane isn’t near Sako’s level (or anyone else’s for that matter).
GSP says that it’s by choice that Dane Sayers was held back to fight last. Georges wanted to squeeze in as much training time as he could before putting Sayers back in the cage. Dane was the last fighter chosen and his lack of expertise made him a huge underdog in the eyes of most of his competitors and the coaching staff.
During fight prep, one of Team GSP’s trainers, Jean-Charles Skarbowsky, is trying to tap into what makes Sayers tick by pushing him and telling him that this is his country, and that Koscheck needs his permission to be here. Dane has “red pride” stemming from his Blackfoot and Chippewa Native American heritage. Skarbowski thanks Dane for letting him into America in a gesture meant to either inspire Sayers or possibly create an ally in case the French and Indian War kicks up again.
Meanwhile, Sako’s background is a compelling one. He emigrated from Armenia to LA and became a judo bad ass, which comes as no shock since he is from Gokor Chivichyan's family circle. It hasn’t all been black belts and sunshine for Sako, however, as he was shot in the leg a few years ago by “gangbangers.” Now he’s turned himself around and is trying to join the Parisyans and Gamburyans that have roamed the UFC.
There is also still the matter of the wild card fight. Unlike the past few seasons, more than a few fighters are eager to get that second chance. Spencer Paige is out with a broken hand leaving Jeff Lentz, Andy Main, Marc Stevens and Aaron Wilkinson all eagerly waiting to hear if they will have new life.
Not a week goes by that Josh Koscheck isn’t trying to be a pest to someone on Team GSP, and this week it’s staff medic Brad Tate. Tate comes under fire as the teams file in and out of the training area. Koscheck makes it a point to bump into the big medic.
“You’re a male nurse,” says Koscheck after Tate won’t back down.
An awkward amount of time passes as Tate and Josh stare at each other. Josh continues to point out Tate’s male nurse status. Later, Koscheck tells Brad through the camera that “you’re not a fighter,” adding “I’ll choke your ass out.” .
Eventually Tate leaves the room after sticking around to show that he’s not intimidated, but anyone who’s seen the promos for future episodes knows that this does not end well.
“I’m f---ing Canadian,” says GSP, shaking his head as he walks onto the Las Vegas 51’s baseball field. That's right folks – it's time for the most exciting time in any TUF season: the coaches challenge! It’s that special time when you learn that the titans of MMA can’t dribble a basketball or swing a racket without usually looking like a buffoon.
This time, St-Pierre and Koscheck will face off in what Dana White calls a “batting showdown.” In other words, we don’t expect home runs, but here’s a bat and helmet. Go nuts.
There’s a graduated scoring system with a series of fences starting just outside the infield. The usual brick of cash is put on the line with as well as some extra juice for the winning coach’s team.
Koscheck takes a few awkward cuts before catching up to a some balls and scoring some points. Poor GSP pirouettes after whiffing over and over and is forced to hear Sevak Magakian berate him from the bleachers, proving that America has rubbed off on the Armenian.
Josh’s second round of swings yields a similar score, but then Georges shows why he’s almost superhuman, somehow figuring out baseball in 10 tries and cranking out solid shots, closing the lead.
Impressive. A guy who’s never picked up a bat is only down by a few points going into the last round. Koscheck taps into his youthful muscle memory and starts stroking the ball, doubling his previous point total and putting GSP away for good. Koscheck relishes the win, of course, and his boys whoop it up over the earnings.
With all that out of the way, it’s time for the fight, and in the first round it’s a different Dane Sayers that shows up. Sako chases after Dane, lunging wildly while Dane shrugs him off. “Don’t lock hands with him, Red Horse!” Cries GSP. Every time they tie up, Sayers obeys St-Pierre and stifles the judo master. Shocking that for all his pedigree Sako isn’t imposing his will on Dane. Sayers is even getting the better of it in the clinch and only misses a few takedowns due to “Psycho” grabbing the fence.
It was a close first round, but Sayers' offense was mostly limited to a guillotine attempt at the beginning. In the second round, Sako continues to push the pace, getting a takedown and working some good ground and pound. On their feet, it's a lot of slow dancing only made interesting by the fact that Sayers isn't being dumped on his head. The first round was close, and the second obviously went to Sako, but it seems more people were impressed with Dane’s effort despite Sako’s 20-18 decision win.
Afterward, Dana White doesn’t care about who the coaches want but brings them in anyway. He wants to hear which fighters are his best options for the wild card fight. Koscheck offers Stevens and Wilkinson, and while GSP agrees with Wilkinson, he offers Sayers up as a true work in progress. Dana says “I need the two best guys,” and after their closed-door huddle, DW and the two coaches make their way back into the training area to tell the fighters that they have chosen Marc Stevens and Aaron Wilkinson, rocking the faces of all the hopefuls.
Next week we see the fallout of that choice, and it appears that the beef growing between Koscheck and Team GSP medic Brad Tate will get physical. Make sure to stretch out before reading.