‘TUF 21’ Recap: Episode 8

By Chris Nelson Jun 10, 2015



Last week, Vicente Luque scored a third-round submission of American Top Team captain Nathan Coy, giving the Blackzilians a 200-50 lead on the scoreboard and a 6-1 record on the season. The Blackzilians’ gym will once again host this week’s matchup, the final 50-point bout.

Blackzilians owner Glenn Robinson wastes no time selecting his next fighter, calling upon mustachioed Brazilian Felipe Portela in the locker room just moments after Luque’s victory. Robinson calls the 27-year-old one of the most improved fighters on the team and says he expects Portela to “shock a lot of people,” regardless of the opponent.

The next day, American Top Team’s coaches meet to pick their next representative and immediately suss out Portela as the Blackzilians’ choice. That makes ATT’s call pretty simple: Dan Lambert decides to go with Hayder Hassan, who scored a first-round stoppage of Portela under the Titan Fighting Championship banner just months before “TUF” began filming. Hassan will be the first fighter of the season to compete for a second time, having collected ATT’s only win thus far with a 48-second knockout of Andrews Nakahara. Excited for the opportunity, Hassan says he’s ready to go out and “show them who’s daddy.”

At the official weigh-in, Hassan tips the scales at 170.25 pounds, while Portela checks in at an even 170.

“You’re going down again,” Hassan whispers during the staredown. “Just be ready for a repeat.”

In the locker room, Portela gets a pep talk from Anthony Johnson and Matt Mitrione, both of whom tell “Balboa” that he might have to “eat a couple” shots to get inside and grapple with Hassan.

“I’m gonna give him his worst fight ever,” Portela tells the camera. “That’s my prediction. If I’m gonna finish or not, I don’t care. I’m gonna beat his ass.”

Meanwhile, at the ATT gym, coach Din Thomas watches tape of the pair’s first fight and suggests some strategies for Hassan -- although, considering the result, it seems like the best advice would be “just do what you did before.” Although it lasted only three minutes, Hassan feels he gave Portela too much breathing room in their first meeting and plans to apply heavy pressure in the rematch.

Come fight day, both guys seem supremely confident, and now all that’s left is to do it.

Portela steps to the center of the cage, changes levels and floors Hassan with a takedown just two seconds into the fight. Hassan scoots backward and works his way up the fence, Portela still wrapped around his waist. A knee from Portela catches Hassan on the cup, but the referee issues only a verbal warning and does not pause the action. Hassan tries to peel away Portela’s hands, while the Brazilian grapevines Hassan’s leg and tries to trip him to the ground. One minute in, the welterweights separate and Hassan walks forward on Portela, bombing with heavy punches. Portela shoots low and hits another takedown, a single-leg this time. Hassan quickly stands and is admonished by the ref for grabbing the fence to regain his footing.

Hassan gets in Portela’s face with jabs but can’t find a home for his overhand right as “Balboa” keeps a high guard and deflects the power punches. The next takedown attempt is shut down by Hassan, who continues to walk forward on the Blackzilians fighter but isn’t exactly keeping up a high-volume attack. Portela lands some solid leg kicks from his back foot but is mostly concerned with evading Hassan’s punches. In the last minute, Hassan scores with his best punches of the round, rocking Portela’s head with heavy right hands and uppercuts. If the round wasn’t won before, Hassan’s late offense should be enough to seal it in his favor.

Round two begins with Portela cutting angles around the outside while Hassan stalks from the center of the cage. Hassan’s jab is there again, and his power punches, while largely deflected, have Portela wary of standing too close. Portela has started looking for a haymaker of his own, swinging big right hands over the top, but Hassan is too quick and evades them every time. Meanwihle, Portela’s left eye is badly reddened, showing the effects of Hassan’s punches.

With just over 90 seconds remaining in the round, Hassan knocks Portela backward with a clean left hook-right straight combination. Portela takes a few leg kicks and throws a reaching, straight left, but it catches Hassan backpedaling and doesn’t land flush. A right cross connects for Portela, who has to cover up immediately as Hassan bombs him with a four-piece combination. Hassan is keeping the pressure on late and maybe eating some unnecessary shots because of it, but it looks like too little, too late for Portela. The Brazilian hits a takedown in the closing seconds, but Hassan is back on his feet before the final horn. Both corners start game-planning for a possible third round, but it seems unnecessary: Hassan should have this.

The judges have reached a majority decision with scores of 20-18, 20-18 and 19-19, and the winner is American Top Team’s Hayder Hassan.

With the Blackzilians leading 200-100 on the scoreboard, American Top Team will host next week’s bout, the first 100-point fight of the season.

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