‘TUF 25’ Recap: Episode 3

By Mike Sloan May 3, 2017
Mehdi Baghdad from Season 22 opens the show talking to the viewing audience and telling everybody that he is the best on the show, how much he’s changed since his first stint on the reality series and how excited he is to be fighting Jesse Taylor by show’s end. Coach Cody Garbrandt is pumped up about how his pupil has been training and he’s confident that the Frenchman will prevail.

Season 7’s Taylor is at the house, reliving his buffoonery on how he got kicked off the show. The drunken hooliganism was out of control and at first, he doesn’t seem to be too remorseful for how he much of an ass he was. Highlights of Ultimate Fighting Championship President Dana White booting him off the show before he fought in the finals run next and Taylor admits that it was a tough pill to swallow in his efforts to get back to the UFC.

After the first commercial break, Baghdad is at the house the next day and he reveals that he and Taylor used to train together back in the day at Team Quest. Baghdad is even more confident on camera that he can beat “Coco the Monkey” before clips of his original stint in the house run. From there, Mehdi is back home in Los Angeles for his home video and he displays his house, which is a boat in Marina Del Ray. Now that he is fighting at his natural weight, unlike when he fought at featherweight on Season 22, he feels like a million bucks.

Taylor’s training with coach T.J. Dillashaw follows and the former UFC bantamweight champion is thrilled to have him on the team. The young John McCarthy lookalike is training like a beast and it’s not long before his home video is shown. Taylor appears to have matured immensely since Season 7 and he’s hanging out with his sons, who he doesn’t get to see as much as he would like.

After the second commercial break, Taylor weighs in at the TUF house and he’s actually a half-pound under and he claims it’s the best cut he’s ever had in his entire life. So, to celebrate, he runs around the backyard nude, much to the chagrin and bemusement of his housemates. At the official weigh-in, both combatants came in on point, giving their matchup the expected green light.

After the obligatory pre-fight training and hyping-up routines, it’s time to fight. Marc Smith is the referee for the duel and Taylor comes right after him and shoots in for the takedown. Baghdad tries to fight it off, but “JT Money” is too powerful and quickly takes him down against the cage. Baghdad is trying like mad to break free and explode back to his feet, but Taylor is all over him. Baghdad rolls over, giving up his back, but he’s able to defend the rear-naked choke threat. Baghdad rolls over once again and recovers to half guard, but Taylor is relentless. A few elbows and punches come down from on top and one of them opens up a gash over Mehdi’s left eye. In a panic, Baghdad rolls over again, but Taylor is on him like a boa and seizes his back. The rear-naked choke misses and at that point, the Frenchman jumps back to his feet. Baghdad tries to create space to strike with about 90 seconds remaining, but Taylor is intelligent and scores another critical takedown. Taylor lands in full mount after a wild scramble and again looks for the rear-naked choke once his foe rolls over. Baghdad swallows a nice right elbow before recovering to half guard with a few seconds left. It’s all Taylor, almost 10-8, but the Californian gets it 10-9.

Baghdad sticks and moves early and easily stuffs a quick double-leg attempt. Mehdi nearly cracks Taylor with an illegal knee but it’s not totally clean. Back up, Baghdad drills his opponent with a sharp left hook that drops Taylor, but he can’t follow-up. Taylor’s pursuit from the canvas warrants another takedown and from there, it’s all downhill for Baghdad. Once they hit the deck, Baghdad’s confidence mutates into frustration. Taylor is pressuring him against the cage, kneeing him to the thigh and body. Baghdad stands up and tries to break free, but Taylor just drags him right back down. The Frenchman pulls guard, looking for a sweep or escape, but “JT Money” is like a wolverine on top. At the halfway point, Baghdad needs to do something drastic if he’s to turn the tides, but he can’t get the American off him. Taylor continues to rain down punches from on top in half guard while Garbrandt is screaming at Baghdad to get up. Baghdad isn’t listening -- or can’t hear -- his coach’s instructions while Taylor continues to maul him. A trio of powerful right elbows smack onto Baghdad’s head and with 30 seconds left, this one is all but over. Baghdad can’t create any space to explode to his feet and the fight ends with Taylor on top, completely dominant. Easy 10-9 round again for Taylor, who should win the judges’ decision running away.

As expected, all three judges see it in favor of Taylor via unanimous decision. Team Garbrandt walks off disappointed, but “No Love” says to his team that anybody with a punch will knock Taylor out. The red team is pissed now that they are down 0-3 and the reigning bantamweight is riding his fighters to get out there and kick some ass. Meanwhile, Team Dillashaw is celebrating like wild men, hooting and hollering in their room. Before the next fight announcement, the two coaches are going at it again, with Garbrandt talking about how he used to kick T.J.’s butt in training.

Once the bickering subsides, Dillashaw opts to have show newcomer and Hector Urbina’s replacement Johnny Nunez to fight James Krause. Next week will see the guys making a “real hair” birthday card for Dillashaw and former women’s bantamweight queen Miesha Tate visits the house.

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