Sherdog’s Guide to ‘The Ultimate Fighter’

By Scott Holmes May 14, 2011
It was wildcard week on the 13th season of 'TUF.' |

Last week, we learned that Javier Torres from Team Dos Santos and Chuck O’Neil from Team Lesnar were given a second chance at winning the 13th season of “The Ultimate Fighter,” as the welterweights were chosen for the all-important wildcard matchup.

Torres’ coaches convinced Dana White that their charge is the real deal, while “Cold Steel” O’Neil impressed the whole room, even in losing to Zach Davis. These two have a chance at getting back into the competition and redeeming themselves, but not everyone’s clapping and singing “Kumbaya.”

In fact, O’Neil’s teammate, Len Bentley, is downright furious and indignant after the wildcard fight is announced.

“At no point in time were any of the names called in the wildcard superior to mine,” says Bentley, chasing after UFC President Dana White as he heads for the door.

Bentley grabs Dana’s hand and implores him that, “more than anything in the world,” he’d like to face quarterfinalist Ryan McGillivray at the “TUF 13” finale. Bentley presses on, wondering why he wasn’t chosen for the wildcard match.

“Nobody felt you wanted this bad enough,” says White, alluding to the conversation he and the coaches had during the selection process.

“I don’t know what to say. I thought my performance...,” Bentley says, trailing off while refusing to release Dana’s hand. White informs Bentley that if he had only spoken up a few hours earlier, they wouldn’t be having this conversation.

“Guys are coming up to me and talking about the finale,” a bewildered White says later to the camera. “‘I want to fight this guy in the finale.’ F--king, what are you talking about, the finale?”

Coach Brock Lesnar isn’t feeling much sympathy for his fighter, who can’t seem to let it go.

“Tough s--t, that’s life,” Lesnar tells Bentley, whose bellyaching continues back at the house. Even teammates Charlie Rader and Tony Ferguson think “The Liger” is being a bit too whiny. Bentley goes so far as to tell O’Neil that, while he respects him, he doesn’t feel Chuck deserved the wildcard slot over himself. O’Neil later tells the camera that he understands Bentley’s frustration, but the situation is simply not his problem.

McGillivray decides to stir the pot by telling Bentley a little secret he had learned from Junior dos Santos: Lesnar didn’t think that Bentley was ready and felt his injured knee might serve as an excuse if things got tough. Bentley is stunned by his coach’s betrayal. He tells anyone listening that he’ll fight Brock himself.

“I think Len thinks he’s, like, 6-foot-5, 300 pounds of pure muscle,” says Ramsey Nijem. “I don’t think he realizes he’s a little dude who’s not intimidating. He’s a ginger.”

“Brock was blowing smoke up my butt,” continues Bentley, who claims Lesnar only coaches when the cameras are rolling. Later, Bentley confronts Lesnar at practice; the coach confirms that Bentley’s knee was the final factor and that White specifically said he was looking for healthy fighters.

While Bentley continues sulking, Lesnar moves his attention to prepping O’Neil. Lesnar didn’t like the way Chuck responded to his corner during his first fight and is making it a point to coach him up. Chuck’s happy to be getting the pointers and is “appreciating every minute of it.”

When O’Neil arrived at the “TUF” house as a replacement for the injured Miles Jury, he was sporting a vagabond-style beard which earned him the moniker “Trash Bag Charlie” from his peers. O’Neil decides it’s time to shave it off and admits that he had been “joking around too much and turning this into a summer camp.”

The shave is a serious time for Chuck, but it’s soon an even more serious time for the coaches, because -- drumroll, please -- it’s time for the “TUF” coaches’ challenge! Each season, we’re treated to what usually amounts to a shameful display of athletic ineptitude, as the two head coaches square off in sporting events outside the Octagon. This time, White leads everyone out onto "Fertitta Field," a most certainly donated gridiron located at Dana and the Fertitta brothers’ high school alma mater.

Despite Lesnar having once tried out for the Minnesota Vikings and Dos Santos presumably having zero footballing experience, White still feels this will be a fair fight since it’s a “skill-based” event. The whistle blows and the coaches lumber across the field to hit the rope sectional for some high knees, then move on to pushing a blocking sled for 30 yards or so.

Next, they trade atrocious field goal attempts until Dos Santos remembers that he’s Brazilian and kicks one through the uprights. Dos Santos catches a pass and high-steps like Deion Sanders while blowing kisses to his team on the sideline. The squad goes bananas as they celebrate their own winnings of $1,500 each. Junior then generously splits his $10,000 prize with his coaches, even giving $100 each to Brock’s team and coaches. Only big Brock himself doesn’t get a taste, delighting Dos Santos to no end.

Once he’s through making it rain, Dos Santos and his squad head back to the wildcard weigh-ins, where both Torres and O’Neil make weight without incident. O’Neil comments on Torres’ look during their square-off pose, noting that, with his hair pulled back and oversized shirt covering his fight shorts, Torres “kind of looked like a girl that just left a guy’s house.” Inspired, Chuck pushes his own pants to his ankles to mirror the look. Lesnar looks on, unamused.

The next day, it’s time to see which wildcard fighter will climb his way back into the running. Torres and O’Neil get to work, circling and firing off some shots before settling in for a few minutes of pummeling for control against the fence. Torres gets a knee or two off before O’Neil turns him around against the fence and does the same. A knee to the groin from Torres stops the fight momentarily, but O’Neil composes himself quickly. They resume in the center of the ring and O’Neil throws a high kick, a low kick and a kick attempt to the body. Torres sends O’Neil moving backwards with a flurry and Chuck, against his coach’s previous advisement, circles away to the right, allowing for Torres to pop him a few times.

Going into the second round, Dos Santos begs Torres to be more active and pull the trigger. O’Neil throws a good straight, firing up Lesnar, who implores him to stay in the center.

“You own the center!” Lesnar shouts.

Torres pushes O’Neil to the fence again and scores a trip takedown, but Chuck slips away when Javier looks to take his back. O’Neil powers through a takedown of his own and sets up shop in Javier’s half-guard. O’Neil drops a few hard shots onto the tattoo that covers Javier’s right side, under the ribs. O’Neil has a grip on Torres’ wrist and looks to be setting up a kimura. Anytime Javier gets his hand loose, Chuck makes him pay with body shots to that same spot just below his ribs. Torres finally scoots out from underneath, but while he is on all fours, O’Neil folds his arms around Torres’ neck for a brabo choke and flips him over. Torres’ face quickly turns purple and he is forced to tap with 30 seconds left in the fight.

“He did a phenomenal job,” says Lesnar, pleased as punch that O’Neil did everything the right way.

While Team Lesnar had a rough start to the season, the squad winds up tied with Team Dos Santos after the preliminary round, each sending four fighters into the quarterfinals.

Dana White congratulates the remaining fighters and announces the matchups for the next round. Team Lesnar’s Clay Harvison faces Team Dos Santos’ Ramsey Nijem in a battle of skilled, hard-nosed bangers. The Lesnar-coached Chris Cope meets Shamar Bailey -- a fitting matchup since the two have a burgeoning feud due to Cope disturbing Bailey’s sleep each morning with a scream. In the lone rematch, O’Neil will get a chance for revenge against Zach Davis. Finally, Team Dos Santos’ Ryan McGillivray goes up against the only man to score a knockout win thus far in the season, Tony Ferguson.
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