This week, Hamid Corassani takes the driver's seat on TUF 14. | Photo: Ryan O'Leary
On last week’s episode, Dustin Pague nabbed Team Mayhem’s fourth straight win by choking out Louis Gaudinot. This week, before Louis can even get his breath back, trouble is afoot.
Diego Brandao is out for blood, though it’s unclear exactly what has the Brazilian raging.
“I’m going to take your head off,” Team Bisping featherweight Brandao says to Team Mayhem’s Steven Siler. It doesn’t seem like Siler knows what he’s done wrong, since he keeps calm and doesn’t say a word while Brandao punches the locker room wall. Coach Michael Bisping leaps into action, warning Brandao against any further action that could result in injury.
After things calm down, Jason Miller shows up at the “TUF” house with a gift for another of his 145’ers, Dustin Neace. “Mayhem” awards Neace with a brand new cowboy hat adorned with a big “B” for Neace’s nickname, “Beast.”
Eliminated Team Bisping bantamweight Josh Ferguson doesn’t appreciate Miller’s gift one bit. Since day one, Ferguson has been sporting a cowboy hat with a “B” on the front; now, he’s calling Neace out as a “swagger jacker.”
Later, Miller discusses the team’s obvious mole problem with Siler, who informs his coach that teammate John Dodson is the most likely snake in the house. Siler is supposed to be next in line to fight against Brandao, but Miller convinces his charge to hold off for another week. Brandao is so psyched and ready to fight at the moment that Miller wants to call a timeout and ice him.
The plan agreed upon, Miller informs Neace that he’ll soon be fighting Team Bisping’s Hamid “Akira” Corassani. Miller knows Akira is heavy at the moment and hopes to catch Team Bisping with their collective board shorts down.
“It’s going to give us a decided advantage,” says Miller “Akira will be really fat, Dustin will be really in shape and Diego will be really pissed.”
Miller and team keep the ruse going the next day by having Siler step on a scale during training to look as though he’s monitoring a weight cut. Mayhem has a feeling that Dodson “will be blabbing his cute little mouth” about what he’s seen in short order, and sure enough, Dodson falls for the trap. When Team Bisping learns of Siler’s preparation, they begin to get Brandao ready for his fight... one week early.
Meanwhile, Ferguson is still annoyed by having his swagger jacked, so he creeps into Neace’s room while everyone is asleep and swipes the cowboy hat. The next morning, as his coffee brews, Neace notices his hat is missing and goes ballistic. With their history, Neace figures Akira to be the thief and proceeds to trash Akira’s stuff -- all of it. The damage isn’t confined to the house either: All of Akira’s training gear is strewn around the blue team’s locker room at the training center.
Bisping arrives a short time later and immediately blames known prankster Miller for the mess. Before long, everyone’s yelling in the hallway, turning up the steam on until Akira is in Neace’s face.
“I want to fight you tonight,” says Akira before challenging Dustin to a bareknuckle contest.
Ferguson chuckles as the two, still at each other’s throats, continue jawing at one another while the teams line up for the fight announcement. All it took was one little hat to strike a match for this powder keg. Ferguson just laughs, chalking his actions up to being a person that acts first and doesn’t think about the consequences. Things get worse before the actual announcement.
“I’ll make you love me,” Akira says to Neace, eschewing the typical violent threats and getting into more nefarious territory, the sort of threat where one fighter is either forced or volunteers to commit unspeakable acts on the other.
When the announcement finally does come, Miller surprises Team Bisping with Corassani-Neace matchup. Akira removes his shirt while walking over to Neace, deciding to forgo the typical square-up pose and just go straight forehead-on-forehead. No fan of this, Neace immediately shoots low, taking Corassani to the mat. A scuffle ensues, forcing coaches and teammates from both sides to pry the fighters apart. In the aftermath, Bisping rebukes one of Miller’s assistant coaches, asking with expletives just who he’s talking to. This earns Bisping a hard shove from Miller, who yells, “Who the f--- are you talking to?”
“We’re supposed to act normal right now?” Miller laughs afterward as everyone is forced to remain calm while the cameras are reset, since there’s still another fight announcement to go. Tempers still cooling, Miller announces the fight everyone knows is coming, Diego Brandao versus his puzzling arch-nemesis, Steven Siler.
With fight announcements out of the way, Miller and Bisping get back to doing what’s important: talking trash to one another. As he heads out of the training center, Miller informs Bisping that he plans to knock him out in the Octagon.
“When’s the last time you knocked anyone out?” asks Bisping.
“Hey, it’s a good time to start, right?” Miller responds.
Mayhem has a talk with Dodson afterward, telling the bantamweight that his choices are the cause of all the “ill will” while Dodson sheepishly listens. Miller feels “the resolve of the team is strong,” however, and takes it easy on his little traitor. Dodson, for his part, doesn’t seem to concerned.
“All this went down because of me,” Dodson says. “Eh... s--t happens.”
The next day, Bisping’s team seems to be in disarray, as their coach is a no-show for another weigh-in. Well, a late-show anyway: Bisping offers a meek apology as he walks in carrying a bag of fast food.
Heavy or not, Akira makes the weight without incident and now he and Neace can finally settle their feud.
Neace and Corassani feel each other out with some kicks and some loaded swings. Akira catches a leg from a missed kick, pushing Neace to the floor. From there, Akira works to posture up, but Neace keeps grabbing on and negating the space. Corassani is able to get a few elbows and punches in, but Neace is quick to hold on tight, scooting around enough to avoid punishment.
Neace keeps looking for an escape, but can’t get any sweeps going. He finally finds space and secures one of Akira’s legs, pushing him down for a heel hook. Akira looks stuck, giving some light taps almost instantly, but referee Herb Dean doesn’t see and the action continues. Distracted, Neace adjusts his hold, but Akira sneaks out and gets back to his feet. Neace scores a takedown to end the round, but it is clearly Akira’s round -- except for the whole tapping out thing.
Still up in arms about his heel hook, Neace is fuming and adamant to his coaching staff that Akira tapped. Neace is so worked up that he can’t even sit down between rounds.
“If the ref had jumped in and said he tapped,” says Dana White, “I don’t think too many people would argue.”
The second round plays out almost the same as the first, Neace and Akira stepping in for one or two hard shots, then backing up to do it again, like rams. Neither man can find a chink in the other’s armor until Akira unceremoniously drops Dustin with a left hook, seemingly from out of nowhere.
Akira follows Neace to the ground with punches, looking for the finish, but Neace keeps him at bay and moves to get his guard going. Akira spends the next few minutes maneuvering around for positions that allow him to lay leather, dropping a big punch from on top and a knee to the body from the side.
Neace is still very active from the bottom, punching Akira’s head while trying to climb up his torso for a triangle, something, anything. Akira is still too cagey and won’t let Neace get comfortable. Using constant pressure and scoring big with the knockdown, it’s Akira’s fight to lose.
When the buzzer sounds, he and his coaches act like it’s in the bag. Bisping offers some light taunts to Miller’s side, but Akira takes it a step too far, walking over and pantomiming some sort of chainsaw action that has Dustin leaping off his stool, ready to fight again.
Nevada State Athletic Commission Executive Director Keith Kizer steps into the cage and warns Akira that he’s about to be suspended if he doesn’t calm down right away. The fighter obeys and wins the decision, the first “W” for Bisping’s squad.
Team Bisping goes to celebrate outside the training center where, earlier in the day, Ferguson moved the giant “M” from Jason Miller’s parking spot to cover the handicap designation.
“I don’t know who called the tow truck,” a grinning Bisping says, sitting with his team on lawn chairs and watching the truck pull up. Miller comes out to see, too, only to be told by Bisping, “I know you’re mentally handicapped, but you have to be physically handicapped to park there.”
“Victory” says Bisping, taking a swig of water while Miller’s Dodge is carted off.