Aaron Wilkinson file photo: Spike TV
Last week on “The Ultimate Fighter,” we learned which fighters received spots in the wild card match. This week, we get the fallout.
Aaron Wilkinson was an understandable choice for a second chance, but the other fighters waiting in the wings are left scratching their heads as to why Marc Stevens was tapped. UFC President Dana White selected Stevens based on the assumption that he and Wilkinson were the best fighters available, not giving much credit to the efforts put forth in their respective fights. Naturally, that’s got some of the boys a little irked.
“The dude who got tapped out the quickest got the spot that was designated for people who put up the best fight,” said quarter-finalist Jonathan Brookins, shaking his head. “And some people like the cucumber pickled.”
Andy Main is thinking the same thing, pointing out that Stevens was “choked out cold in a few seconds by someone with half his experience”.
Coach Josh Koscheck, of course, is pleased to see two of his boys get a second chance, and he gushes about both, proud of the “heart, character and love these guys show.”
Wilkinson and Stevens trudge along on the treadmills, side-by-side, sweating it out together to make weight in order to fight each other. Aaron says he’s glad that at least one of them is going through to the next round. Stevens says it’s a funny thing, because the previous night, he was wondering if he could pay Wilkinson enough to join his staff back home.
Last week, we also got just a few beans from the brewing feud between Josh Koscheck and Team GSP’s medic, Brad Tate. This week, we got the whole burrito.
At first, we see the two having gentle play fights, cuffing each other around. Koscheck starts shoving plungers in Tate’s direction, while Tate shields himself with a trash can. Koscheck says he kept it professional, and the whole thing seems innocuous enough.
Later, Tate is de-pantsed while entering the gym for weigh-ins, causing the medic to cry out, “Come on, man! You can see my balls on camera”. Once the teams are seated on the risers, Tate and Koscheck continue yapping at one another. Then it spreads: Tate begins to mock Sevak Magakian’s Armenian accent. Eventually, he starts to dig in to Koscheck about his losses in the Octagon. Koscheck swings back with the whole “male nurse” thing, and then decides to walk over and put his hands around Tate’s throat.
Naturally, this is not well-received.
Tate jumps up, and he and Koscheck scuffle while members of both teams try to break it up. Dane Sayers gets in between the pair, earning him some rough shoves to the face from the UFC fighter in front of him, and finding no retreat with the world’s largest “male nurse” behind him.
The two men are finally separated, but Sayers is storms out in tears, upset that Koscheck took out some of his grief on him. Koscheck follows Sayers out, along with Georges St. Pierre, who corners Sayers into making amends. However, it’s clear that GSP is starting to lose control of his team. No longer are they staying level-headed like their coach, and it’s Koscheck’s antagonizing causing them to fray at the seams.
The coaching staffs aren’t the only people squabbling these days. Michael Johnson and Alex Caceres have been jawing at each other for a while, and things aren’t getting any better.
“I ain't Jeff,” Johnson warned Caceres, in case the two should ever meet in the cage. Johnson calls out “Bruce Leroy” for his lackadaisical training and griping about back pain, but Alex claims it won’t matter come fight time.
Just before the wild card fight, Aaron Wilkinson receives some bad news from back home: his mother calls to inform him that his “Nana” has passed away. She also warns him that his grandmother would have kicked his ass if he came home, making him promise to stay in the house and to take care of business. Wilkinson vows to stay and do his job, and chooses to keep the info to himself, rather than sharing with the house.
Before the match, Dana ponders whether Stevens is “the real deal.” When the fight begins, it sure looks like he is.
Wilkinson and Stevens feel each other out with some kicks and jabs before Stevens drops low and fast, planting Aaron with a double-leg. Stevens then easily mounts Wilkinson and gets off one nasty elbow and a punch before Wilkinson spins around and gives up his back. Wilkinson plays the spin-and-defend game, alternating between bad positions to stave off the finish. Several rear-naked chokes, an armbar and a triangle attempt later, the round ends, and somehow Wilkinson has stayed alive.
Early in the second round, the previous incarnation of Marc Stevens reappears, as he walks directly into another guillotine choke and promptly taps out.
“Apparently I need to work on my guillotine defense,” says Stevens, flatly.
“Basically, in round one, Marc Stevens comes out and looks like the guy everyone expects him to be,” says White after the match. “He absolutely beats the s--t out of Wilkinson in that first round.”
“Maybe he’s not who we thought he was,” adds White.
Stevens hates that he didn’t show the level he’s fought at before. Wilkinson hates that he had to fight his teammate. Nonetheless, Wilkinson moves on. In order to determine whom he’ll be facing next, St. Pierre employs a secret ballot amongst his team to give them a voice in the decision -- but there’s really only one match-up the coach is concerned with.
“Alex and Michael hate each other,” St. Pierre says. “I want them to fight each other, because after this fight, they will respect each other, like the tiger and the lion.”
“The guy with the afro,” says Johnson when asked his choice of the remaining contestants. GSP laughs and nods. Even after most of the guys also pick Alex as their preferred opponent, Dana sticks with Georges’ idea and orders up Johnson and Caceres as the next fight.
Koscheck is annoyed and struggles to get through some smack talk.
“Poor Canada,” says Josh, before blaming Dana’s decision on the fact that he felt bad for his champion and “babied him a little bit” by giving St. Pierre the match-up he wanted.
The other parings are as follows: Jonathan Brookins squares off with Sako Chivitchyan; Cody McKenzie will try to guillotine Nam Phan; and Kyle Watson meets wild card Wilkinson.
Looks like “Bruce Leroy” and Johnson will be up first, and we end the episode with a long stare down, made more intriguing by ominous background music and Dana White standing between them, eerily watching.