Dustin Neace is the new owner of a curious nickname courtesy of TUF 14. | Photo: Dave Mandel
The third episode of the 14th season of “The Ultimate Fighter” was award-winning. It’s not that the episode itself should win anything, but, within it, we will be handing out blue ribbons for the best joke, the best nickname and perhaps the best quote to rival any of the previous seasons.
Jason Miller corrals his team onto the mats to announce that they will be doing something different for their training warm-up. He reaches down into a pile of water noodles -- those long, pliable foam things kids use whilst splashing in the pool -- and pulls one free.
“The first rule of the Octagon is: Protect yourself at all times,” says Miller. Before he even gets to the end of the sentence, Miller has slapped John Dodson on the head and the fight is on.
Everyone grabs a noodle and begins beating each other senseless. The team says they enjoy that “Mayhem” is trying to keep things loose during practice. Miller thinks his coaching style is paying off and grades his performance so far with what he calls a “strong B.”
After practice, Miller finds that the four tires from his Dodge Charger have been strewn about his team’s locker room. “Oh, you limey,” laughs Miller at Bisping’s reprisal to Team Mayhem’s tire-stacking prank last week. UFC boss Dana White laughs heartily upon seeing Miller’s car on blocks outside the training center. Bisping says that since Miller loves tires so much, “Why not give him four more?”
Things aren’t as whimsical during or after Team Bisping’s training session. Discord grows between fighters during a heated sparring session and Bisping’s guys are ornery and after being told to spar at “60 percent.” It doesn’t take long until the teammates are walloping each other at full speed.
“My strategy is to actually put fear even in my teammates, so they know who’s daddy, who’s the king,” says Hamid Corassani, one of the guilty parties.
Bisping breaks up the skirmish, only to have another brouhaha spring up behind his back.
“Little do I know that World War 3 is going on behind me,” says Bisping, who’s forced to step between a fuming Diego Brandao and Marcus Brimage. The coach tells his team to “pack it in,” but Brandao is raging and yells out to Brimage that he’ll kill him.
“I’m from Alabama. I’m not versed in too many other languages besides Ebonics and rednecks,” says Brimage. “But, I’m going to kill you? Hell, you’re from Brazil. You know they got 401K for kidnapping over there.”
It isn’t a politically correct thing to say, but that line would kill during “The Comedy Central Roast of Royce Gracie.” As such, it receives the honor of the best joke of “TUF.”
Bisping calls Brandao a “ticking time bomb” and speaks to him about dialing down the intensity just a bit. Diego listens and then tells Bisping, “Before my mommy cries, his mommy’s gonna cry.” Bisping laughs and asks that they all leave their moms out of this.
Back at the house, Corassani is proving to be the clown of this year’s class.
“He’s busting his balls to keep everyone entertained,” says Steven Bass. “He’s literally busting his balls.”
Bass isn’t joking: Corassani keeps everyone thoroughly entertained by sitting spread-eagle on a pool table, then allowing the boys to shoot billiard balls at his cup-covered junk until he’s had enough.
Later, while everyone sleeps, Corassani creeps around the house and stuffs the other team’s training gear full of food, like rice and marshmallows. He leaves a special note and a ball in the gloves of Dustin Neace, a joke regarding Neace allegedly possessing three testicles. Corassani says that’s why Neace has been given the nickname “Triple Sack.”
With confidence, we now hand out the trophy for best nickname. Triple Sack will forever be hard to beat.
The next day, both teams come together for the fight selection and Miller announces that Johnny Bedford will be his team’s “executioner” for this fight. Team Bisping’s Josh Ferguson is summoned as Bedford’s opponent, apparently in a disciplinary measure from coach Mayhem.
“For your crime, for calling Bryan Caraway a bitch,” Miller says, referring to last week’s schoolyard chant, “you will be sentenced to go 10 minutes with our one-man army.”
Having correctly guessed his opponent, Ferguson pulls out a piece of paper on which he has scrawled “F--k Johnny Bedford.” Johnny doesn’t like the note at all and begins telling Josh all the great things he’ll get to do once Bedford has knocked him off the show. It’s an epic staredown -- “nuclear atomic,” in Mayhem’s words -- but Ferguson walks away unfazed.
“I’m never scared of skinny people,” Ferguson tells his coaches.
Back at the house, Neace is still stewing over finding that his gloves have been messed with.
“I was lucky enough to have three testicles,” begins Neace, which is, hands down, the best partial quote you’ll ever hear -- another trophy.
Neace decides to retaliate and covers Corassani’s bed with rice, which leads to the pair having a stilted and awkward argument. They politely threaten to hurt each other without screaming and call it a day.
Afterwards, Akira makes a strong case for the second-best quote of the night when he warns Neace, via the camera, “You’re making a big mistake. You’re knocking on the gates of hell.”
Back on the training front, Bedford is nursing a hand injury before his fight with Ferguson. Coach Miller and Bedford aren’t concerned, but Ferguson learns of the injury through Bedford’s teammate, John Dodson, who admits that he’s closer to Ferguson and Louis Gaudinot than his own teammates.
“They are my team,” says Dodson, which would be fine if he weren’t feeding them treasonous info.
Ferguson tells Bisping about the injury; “The Count” and his squad relish the idea of having a mole within Team Miller’s ranks. Bisping cautions Ferguson to prepare to see that right hand anyway, since Bedford will probably throw it regardless of any pain it may cause him.
Fight day comes and, sure enough, Bedford has no problem using his right hand. At 5-foot-10, Bedford is much longer than 5-foot-5 Ferguson, and also carries a 7-inch reach advantage. Even with the reach, Bedford prefers to stay close early on, using the clinch to fire off good knees and bully Ferguson against the cage. Ferguson gets in some body shots when they’re close and occasionally tags Bedford with some solid punches, but can’t put any combos together. Bedford uses a few trip takedowns to keep control of the first round and pounds on Ferguson whenever they hit the ground.
The second round is more of the same. Bedford gets his takedowns and Ferguson always has to defend or play catch-up with his strikes. Anytime the two tie up, Bedford just trips Ferguson and then works for a finishing position, which he can never quite get. Ferguson gets up and away one last time, but a failed flying knee puts him on the ground again, where Bedford spends the final minute peppering with elbows to the face. After 10 minutes, it’s a clear-cut unanimous decision for Bedford.
Post-fight, Bisping is content with Ferguson’s effort, but is critical of his last-ditch efforts.
“Rule number one: If you’re here,” says Bisping, holding his hand low to represent Ferguson’s height, “and your opponent’s up here, you don’t try a flying knee.”
After the match, Miller and Bisping share some words. Miller turns to Bisping’s guys and says, “Team Bisping, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, but he’s failing you.”
Miller congratulates his team back in the locker room and tells Bedford that he’s got Miller all pumped up to fight Bisping now. Over in the blue team locker room, Bisping is left with nothing but deep sighs.
“Just because that a--hole has won a couple of fights, he thinks he’s won the show,” says Bisping. “He’s living in a dream world.”