Three fights into the season, the Blackzilians are pitching a shutout. Wins from Kamaru Usman, Luiz Firmino and Valdir Araujo have given the team a points lead of 75-0 and ensured that this week’s bout -- the final 25-point matchup -- will once again take place at Jaco Hybrid Training Center.
The situation is looking dire for American Top Team, who saw former World Series of Fighting titlist Steve Carl submitted by Araujo in last week’s contest. But, given the season’s unusual, non-tournament structure, things could turn around quickly: Starting with next week’s fight, wins are worth 50 points each, meaning a pair of victories could put ATT right back in the running for the $200,000 team prize.
Carl, who struggled to make the 170-pound limit on last week’s episode, says his loss to Araujo was more cerebral than physical.
“It was all mental,” Carl tells ATT owner Dan Lambert in the locker room. “I mean, I’ve felt that way in a fight before, but never that bad. I just disconnected... I just wasn’t in there.”
Lambert struggles to understand why his team has been “fighting in a fog,” while coach Marcus “Conan” Silveira says the defeats come down to a lack of passion. Steve Montgomery responds by saying something about being from South Carolina, “where they stopped the f--king British,” before comparing himself to a dragon. The team agrees that this is a good attitude to have.
The next day, ATT’s coaches meet to select their next representative. Lambert quickly scratches Marcelo Alfaya, calling the Brazilian veteran “a question mark,” and also deems the vocal Hayder Hassan unfit to compete due to a lingering hand injury. The trainers briefly consider Sabah Homasi before settling upon Montgomery for the fourth bout.
“We’re excited to get ‘Creepy Steve’ in there,” Lambert says. “We haven’t had the best performances so far out of these guys, and we just need someone that’s gonna go in there and bring it.”
Later, Blackzilians owner Glenn Robinson arrives at the fighter house to discuss his team’s next move. Coach Jorge Santiago says he’s noticed ATT’s Nathan Coy slimming down, an indicator that he could be up next. Santiago and his fellow trainers believe the best match for Coy is junior college wresting champ Carrington Banks, and despite some reservations about Banks’ lack of MMA experience, Robinson acquiesces.
“The beauty of this entire game, compared to other season, is it’s about who outhinks who,” says Robinson.
The next morning, the house is jolted by cries for help coming from one of the bedrooms. The cameras rush upstairs and come upon a horrific scene, as ATT fighters try to assist Montgomery, who is in the throes of a terrifying seizure. Montgomery pulls through and appears to become responsive before medics arrive, but the incident leaves fighters from both camps disturbed.
“I thought he was gonna die. He was purple,” says Coy. “I think whenever you get things put in perspective, it makes what we’re going through in the house seem like nothing.”
Lambert tells the camera that the seizure was likely triggered by a lack of electrolytes, since Montgomery had been water loading in preparation for his weight cut.
With “Creepy Steve” hospitalized, ATT is forced to go with Plan B, and they select Homasi to take Montgomery’s place. Homasi, who moonlights as a “male entertainer,” says his night job has prepared him for MMA’s big stage.
“I gotta go out on stage, in front of a crowd filled with a bunch of girls, and with the fight, I gotta go out to the cage and perform with a bunch of people watching,” Homasi explains. “I guess it’s the same, right?”
At the official weigh-in, Homasi checks in at 171 pounds, and Banks tips the scales at 170. Homasi smirks as the fighters square off, while Banks chomps gum and returns a blank stare.
That night, Montgomery returns to the house sporting a jaunty cap and thankfully looking no worse for wear. He confirms that his seizure was brought on by a botched weight cut and says that he is being forced to leave the house as a result.
“It’s a really, really crappy situation,” says Montgomery. “The thing that hurts me is not exactly what I’ve done to myself, but what I’ve done to my teammates.”
UFC President Dana White calls the situation “unfortunate” and says that, if he can stay healthy, Montgomery will get a chance to fight inside the Octagon.
The next day, it’s fight time, and Banks opens the bout in a low stance while Homasi inches forward with leg kicks and jabs. Banks puts the ATT fighter on the fence with a double-leg takedown attempt and, after 30 seconds of struggling, drags Homasi to the ground. After having a back-take blocked by the cage, Banks delivers a few knees to the body before Homasi is able to post and stand. Homasi drives forward with a knee to the gut and snuffs out Banks’ next takedown attempt.
Banks is being kept on the outside and moved around the cage by Homasi’s single punches, so the wrestler shoots in again. He takes down Homasi but can’t keep him grounded, and when Banks shoots again, Homasi is waiting with a knee to the jaw. Banks’ punches are sporadic and wild, overhand rights which bounce off Homasi’s arms. Homasi has the clear striking advantage, and Banks finishes the round shooting for another takedown.
Between rounds, there are no surprises in either corner: Blackzilians coach Tyrone Spong wants Banks to yank out Homasi’s legs to complete takedowns against the fence, while ATT’s Silveira tells Homasi to “put a big one in his face.”
Homasi stuffs the first shot from Banks and returns fire with an inside thigh kick. Banks indicates that the kick landed to his cup, but referee James Warring says the strike was clean and tells the welterweights to fight on. Backing up toward the fence, Banks catches the incoming Homasi with his best punch of the fight, a short hook-slash-forearm on the nose. Homasi stifles another takedown attempt, so Banks comes up high and shoves him against the cage with underhooks. Banks drops levels again, then spins to try and jump on Homasi’s back, but both men are slippery and Banks slides right off.
The fighters reset with two minutes left in the round, both corners imploring their men to get busy. Homasi slips to the ground after a kick, but the tired Banks just waits with hands low for his opponent to stand. Banks puts a couple jabs in Homasi’s breadbasket before falling to the ground behind a kick. Homasi sprawls and thumps the body with a couple left hands while Banks shoots from his knees. They scramble up for the final 30 seconds, and Homasi closes the fight with a left hand and a couple leg kicks.
The bout goes to a decisive third round, which Homasi kicks off by attacking Banks’ lead leg. The Blackzilians representative fires back with low kicks and sticks a couple hard jabs in Homasi’s face. Homasi continues to push forward but isn’t letting his hands go, allowing Banks to get off with small bursts of punches. Banks feints a level change, blocks a high kick with his glove and then shoots into another knee from Homasi.
With two minutes left, Banks completes a takedown near the fence. Homasi socks him with a couple punches to the face before posting and getting back to his feet. Banks scores with a double jab, follows up with a right hand and resumes circling backward around the perimeter. Homasi blocks an overhand right and counters with a clean knee to Banks’ body as the final 40 seconds tick down. Both guys swing wild punches at the end of the fight, though neither scores with anything significant, and who the judges will side with is anyone’s guess.
Banks is declared the winner, though no scores are announced. Homasi and ATT head coach Ricardo Liborio are stunned as the Blackzilians fill their training center with cheers. The gym will host its fifth consecutive fight next week, with the Blackzilians now up 100-0 over their South Florida rivals.