Sherdog's Guide to 'The Ultimate Fighter'

By Scott Holmes Apr 6, 2011
Could Team Dos Santos build momentum in week two of 'The Ultimate Fighter' Season 13? |

“Nobody ever died from being tired,” says Junior dos Santos, giving his team some stern encouragement during training as week two of “The Ultimate Fighter 13” begins.

Dos Santos is trying to build on his team’s win in the season’s first fight, which saw Shamar Bailey outpoint the Brock Lesnar-coached Nordin Asrih after two rounds. The victorious Shamar feels his team’s morale could have gone south in a hurry if he had lost his fight. Bailey says that some of his teammates aren’t as ready for all of this, in a cerebral sense.

Team Dos Santos assistant coach Lew Polley feels the same way, pointing to one member of the team in particular.

“Keon is mentally struggling,” says Polley.

After taking a puke break during training, Keon Caldwell explains that he has, indeed, been homesick and admits that his head just hasn’t been on straight. He talks about how his daughter was calling after him as he departed for the show.

“All I can hear is my daughter yelling for me,” says Caldwell.

Polley makes it clear that they plan to build Caldwell back up, but after practice, Keon pulls Dos Santos aside and tells the coach that he is planning to leave the show and return home.

Dos Santos attempts to talk Caldwell out of the hasty decision with a tried-and-true “This is what you want, right?” speech. Both coach and team feel Keon should continue on for his daughter’s sake.

In short order, UFC boss Dana White appears at the training center and makes a beeline for Caldwell. He puts the screws to Keon by pointing out that, if he loves his daughter so much, he should stick around and try to achieve something for her and himself.

“Wanna be here? Wanna win? Love your daughter?” asks White. Keon responds in the affirmative to all of the typical questions Dana asks of those on the precipice of leaving, but “TUF” historians will know that it’s never that easy. When someone is really struggling with the realities of being on this reality show, any excuse to go home becomes an intoxicating siren song.

Meanwhile, Brock’s team is having its own problems, as Lesnar is already starting to lose patience with his squad after an 0-1 start.

“Man, if we don’t win this next fight, Brock’s probably going to kill us,” says Charlie Rader.

“You can’t make chicken salad out of chicken s--t,” Brock says of his crew. It’s a quick reversal of the heavyweight’s position from last week, when he said he could perform such a feat. How quickly salad can turn bad.

Still in control of the matchups, Dos Santos decides to pit his second pick, Javier Torres, against Chris Cope, whom nobody is scared of. In fact, it is Cope who appears frightened, his fist visibly trembling as he squares off against Torres after the announcement.

Unfortunately, once again, “TUF” provides no subtitles for Englishman Michael Bowman, who describes Cope as “shaking like a s--tting duck” -- or at least that’s what it sounds like.

Polley picks apart Cope, with whom he has trained before, saying Cope has “many glaring negatives” and is a “part-time fighter.” Polley seems confident that he’ll be able to equip Javier with the right game plan to handle Cope.

Speaking of Lew, after another rough session between Polley and Caldwell, coach Dos Santos finds himself in the hallway with Caldwell once again. This time, when Caldwell says he wants to leave, “Cigano” relents and lets his fighter walk.

Keon says his goodbyes and gives a half-hearted “I might not even get this chance again” speech to the camera. Dana weighs in, saying that the only upside to Caldwell leaving is that they were able to “get his ass out of here early” and bring someone “real” in quickly.

Chris Cope discusses the challenges of having a full-time job and only being able to train during certain windows of time. It’s clear that Lesnar doesn’t have a tremendous amount of faith in his fighter as he gives his team an “every dog has his day” pep talk.

Cope’s teammates feel the same way: as Clay Harvison and Charlie Rader discuss the fight, Rader says, “My money’s not on Chris; I hope I’m wrong.”

En route to the fight, Cope reads a letter from his girl back home telling him that it’s his destiny to compete on the show. His daughter has sent him a stuffed rabbit, so that he can take a tiny piece of home with him on the road.

His opponent is also fighting inspired.

“All your dreams can come true,” says Torres, explaining that his mother thought he was crazy when he pointed to the UFC action on a television screen in Mexico years ago. His mom popped him in the head and told him he should be in school instead.

Now, Torres is about to step into that eight-sided cage. Having just found out that he’s got a baby on the way, he’s equally juiced to make mama and new mama-to-be proud.

“I tell you, the ultimate fighter of Season 13 is going to be a Mexican guy,” he winks.

The first two rounds of Torres and Cope’s confrontation are fairly tame and dominated by double underhooks. Torres takes the opening frame, pushing the pace and tossing Cope to the ground to score points before landing a knee that cuts Cope beneath the eye.

Neither man is up for a standup war. When jabs or kicks are thrown, they inevitably tie up and head for the fence. Cope seems hesitant to engage, but manages to do just enough to force a third and deciding round.

In the overtime period, Cope pins Torres to the fence and gets busy with knees. When they separate, Torres manages to throw and land kicks, but the bulk of the round features Cope using double underhooks to push Torres against the cage. As a result, Cope gets the decision and gives Team Lesnar its first win.

“I think they orchestrated the waltz for two rounds,” says Lesnar, adding that there was nothing “fancy” or “cool” about Cope’s performance, but that his fighter persevered.

“No worries. It’s normal for us. That’s why we are fighters; you’ll come back stronger after this fight,” coach Dos Santos tells Torres, trying to soften the sting of defeat. Ever-serious assistant coach Polley isn’t so kind, telling the team that the cheering they’re hearing from the Team Lesnar locker room should eat them up inside.

Inside the winning locker room, Brock tosses Cope his stuffed rabbit after giving a backhanded compliment that, you guessed it, was rooted in “chicken salad” and “chicken s--t.”

How about a new spin, Brock? Something like “fresh ingredients made simple?”
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