The elimination round of “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil” Season 3 wraps up tonight as 16 fighters vie for eight remaining spots on the rosters of coaches Wanderlei Silva and Chael Sonnen.
First into the cage is heavyweight Richardson Moreira, a Team Nogueira fighter also known as “Rick Monstro,” who goes up against Rio de Janeiro’s Alexandre Machado, a.k.a. “Bebezao.” Moreira connects with his first punch, a whipping right hand, and follows up with three or four more as Machado stumbles backward. After failing to trip Machado to the ground, Moreira holds an underhook with his left arm and socks Machado in the face with massive right hands, knocking him out cold. Both coaches seem impressed with the victory and praise Moreira’s aggressiveness.
Middleweight Markus Perez Echeimberg admits to being “a bit of a nerd” in his intro but says that playing video games helps him strategize in fights. His opponent, Guilherme Vasconcelos, is a decorated jiu-jitsu player, so it’s unsurprising when Vasconcelos shoots for a double-leg takedown in the opening 10 seconds. Echeimberg defends and lands a toss of his own but winds up on the bottom after a scramble. When Echeimberg tries to buck out, “Bomba” explodes to take back mount and applies a fight-ending rear-naked choke.
In a matchup of heavyweights with big-show experience, onetime Strikeforce signee Marcos Rogerio de Lima is up against ex-Bellator competitor Thiago Santos. “Big Monster” takes the fight to the fence, working on a single-leg and leaving his neck exposed in the process. Marcos “Pezao” jumps guard with a tight guillotine that forces Santos to tap -- and then go to sleep -- in less than one minute.
Pedro Paulino, a 29-year-old medical student from Mato Grosso do Sul, takes on Ismael de Jesus of Goias in the next middleweight tilt. Paulino stuffs a front kick and does a little dance before charging in to shove “Marmota” against the cage. De Jesus trips Paulino to the ground and works his way back up, and the fighters resume striking for a few seconds before Paulino notices that the ring finger on his right hand was broken in his fall to the ground. The doctor is called in and the fight is immediately halted, giving de Jesus the win via TKO.
“If it were me, I’d put my finger in place and go on,” says Wanderlei. “You’ve got nine other fingers!”
Highlights are shown of a fight between another Team Nogueira heavyweight, Antonio Paulo Branjao, and Brazilian Top Team representative Fernando Camoles Ribas. The fight “turns into a grappling match right away,” according to Sonnen, with Camoles coming out on top in round one. Branjao takes control in the second stanza, however, hurting Camoles with a hard takedown by and finishing with punches from full mount.
The coaches don’t see eye-to-eye on the next middleweight fight: Wanderlei believes the first two rounds were won by Wendell Oliveira Marques, while Sonnen says the decision should go to Warlley Alves. The judges side with neither, and the upsized welterweights must fight a third round. This time, both coaches and two of three judges agree that the decision should go to Andrade, who is shown landing spinning kicks and drilling Marques with hard right hands. Sonnen says his assistant coaches have pegged the unbeaten X-Gym product as one to watch this season.
Middleweight Marcio “Lyoto” Alexandre seems to emulate his namesake, Lyoto Machida, by using a karate-based striking attack early in his fight with Giuliano Brescianini Arantes. In round two, Alexandre changes tact and jumps guard with a deep, arm-in guillotine which forces Arantes to submit.
The final heavyweight eliminator is between Bruno “Blindado” Silva and Vitor Miranda. Both fighters are missing loved ones -- Silva’s late father, and Miranda’s son, who tragically drowned in 2011 -- and both cite family as the major motivation for their fight. Highlights show Miranda lighting up Silva with combinations of punches and leg kicks, but Blindado stands his ground and continues to throw back under heavy fire. In round two, Miranda breaks out of a clinch and lands a nasty high kick, shin-to-neck, that puts Silva down for the count. Despite the loss, Wanderlei says Blindado’s toughness should earn him a chance as a possible substitute this season.
The 16 winning fighters line up as coaches Silva and Sonnen prepare to pick their teams, but what looks to be a relatively civil ceremony turns animated when “The Axe Murderer” threatens to quit the show unless Sonnen apologize for his past disparaging remarks about Brazil.
“I accept your surrender,” Sonnen teases. “I’m prepared to get all these gentlemen to the UFC, and I’m willing to do it without you, so I accept. Please, step aside.”
Sonnen, naturally, refuses to apologize, and Silva storms out of the gym cursing a blue streak. Team Silva assistant coach Isabel Salgado tells the former Pride star not to neglect the fighters who have struggled to make it on the show and are now sitting around, waiting for an end to the stalemate. Sonnen argues that he already paid for his comments about Brazil by taking a beating in his second fight against Anderson Silva. This does not please Wanderlei, who exits the gym at episode’s end without picking teams.