Only eight fighters remain on this season of “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil,” and two will be eliminated tonight as the first middleweight and heavyweight semifinals are contested.
Wagner Gomes will represent Wanderlei Silva’s team at 185 pounds against Chael Sonnen favorite Warlley Alves in the episode’s first fight. Then, fresh off his heavyweight quarterfinal win, Team Sonnen’s Marcos Rogerio “Pezao” de Lima will meet Team Silva’s “Cara de Sapato,” Antonio Carlos Jr.
Before any of that, however, both teams are tasked with picking the two finalists for the season’s Octagon girl competition. After exhaustive tape study of the eight remaining contestants, the fighters select Ana Cecilia Cunha and Fernanda Hernandes, one of whom will earn a spot at the “TUF: Brazil 3” finale.
Team Sonnen is still being put through the wringer in the gym, though their coach has scaled back their training to one workout per day to allow his semifinalists to recuperate. Sonnen also brings in Eric Albarracin, wrestling coach to Anderson Silva and others, for a light practice which quickly turns into the green team providing a capella funk beats while Albarracin shows off some jump rope tricks.
Things look a little less fun during Team Silva’s training session, where the squad’s heavyweight finalists rough one another up on the mat to simulate tough fight conditions. Over on the treadmill is “Wagnao,” who fights first and already has his game plan for Alves prepped: close the gap, put the fight on the fence and apply pressure.
Bruce Buffer makes an appearance at the gym on weigh-in day, and as the “Veteran Voice of the Octagon” points out, it’s his first visit to a “TUF” set in the show’s nearly 10-year history. Buffer and the coaches announce that this season’s four finalists will receive all-expenses-paid stays in Las Vegas to watch a live UFC event.
The middleweights hit the scale and both are cleared for their semifinal, with Gomes weighing in 184.1 and Alves at 184.9.
The fight opens with a touch of gloves and an exchange of leg kicks, followed by a single-leg shot from Gomes. While defending the takedown and hopping backward to the fence, Alves snares Gomes’ head in a guillotine with his right arm. Once his back hits the cage, Alves jumps guard and cranks the choke, forcing the still-standing Gomes to tap out after only 25 seconds.
“Every time that Warlley fights, I feel like I have to explain what people are seeing, because it happens so fast,” says Sonnen. “I know that weight class inside and out, and I can tell you: Warlley can compete with anyone in the world at 185 pounds. One year from now, Warlley could be the UFC champ.”
Alves is ecstatic over the victory and chooses to express himself through song with a custom rap delivered from cage-top, followed by an abstract rendition of “Viva Las Vegas” in anticipation of his trip to Nevada.
Soon after, the heavyweights are shown stepping on the scale ahead of their showdown. As the smallest big man on the show, “Cara de Sapato” comes in at 212 pounds, significantly lighter than 233-pound “Pezao.”
Both men come out throwing hard shots, and both land cracking punches as they trade in the pocket during the opening seconds. De Lima looks to clinch on the fence but can’t hold his man there, and Carlos circles out to score with a couple shots upstairs. Straight back to the clinch goes Pezao, but the plan backfires when Carlos trips him to the canvas. De Lima gets back to his feet, though he’s soon dumped back to the ground with Carlos on his back. Carlos cinches up a body triangle and sinks in a deep rear-naked choke that has de Lima tapping out within seconds, and then going unconscious anyway.
Carlos’ corner explodes, as their training partner has finally snapped Team Silva’s five-fight losing streak. Next week, Ricardo “Demente” Abreu will try to keep that momentum going when he takes on Team Sonnen’s Marcio “Lyoto” Alexandre at middleweight. Vitor Miranda of Team Sonnen and Richardson Moreira of Team Silva will close out the season with the second heavyweight semifinal.