In week one of “The Ultimate Fighter: Team Lesnar vs. Team dos Santos” Shamar Bailey of Team dos Santos gained control for his team by defeating Nordin Asrih by unanimous decision, moving himself into the quarterfinal round in the process.
Week two kicks off with Dos Santos working his team over with a conditioning regimen headed by Rafael Alejarra, who in the past has been the personal trainer for former Pride champion and current UFC middleweight Wanderlei Silva. It’s Alejarra’s usual head gear and snorkle routine, where fighters are seen boogieing on the treadmills pushing the levels of their endurance.
“Nobody ever died by getting tired, so let’s go,” said dos Santos.
Coach dos Santos is mulling over the idea of putting either Javier Torres or Ramsey Nijem in the next fight, but conditioning will be the key to his selection.
Keon Caldwell, Team dos Santos’ last pick, is blatantly falling behind in practice.
“Keon is mentally struggling right now… we’re trying to build him back up,” relayed assistant coach and MMAWeekly Radio correspondent Lew Polley.
Caldwell has a moment of weakness and disappears in the bathroom to vomit after a tough practice. Mentally, he laments that he is in another place and suggests that those struggles are overlapping his practices.
“I think I’m falling behind because my mind isn’t here, it’s with my family,” said Caldwell, who consitantly referes to his daughter throughout the episode.
Coach Lesnar is anything but happy after the fight between Bailey and Asrih, but expected Bailey to dominate the way he did.
“You can’t make chicken salad out of chicken (expletive). You can’t polish turds and make them look pretty, but we’re doing what we can,” said Lesnar.
Lesnar ups the intensity in training to make sure his team is properly prepared for the next bout. The team feels the pressure, not wanting to risk the consequences of another loss.
“If we don’t win this next fight, Brock is probably going to kill us,” said Lesnar’s number two pick, Charlie Rader.
Caldwell pulled coach Dos Santos to the side and told him, “I want to go to my daughter,” knowing full well that would mean leaving the show. ??
“It’s an opportunity for your life. Give up? No, don’t do it,” said dos Santos, imploring Caldwell to stick it out, if not for himself, for his family.
Later, UFC president Dana White talked to Caldwell, giving him a modified version of the “do you want to be a (expletive) fighter?” speech. Without much resistance, he convinced Caldwell to stay.
Coach dos Santos chose top pick Javier Torres to take on Lesnar’s second to last pick in Chris Cope. ?
“I chose Javier because he is very confident guy and he really wants to be a UFC fighter, so I think he’s ready,” said Dos Santos. ?
Lesnar knows Torres has the advantage, and is frustrated by dos Santos’ strategy. Still, Lesnar said, put in the same situation, he would employ the same game plan of using the upper echelon fighters to pick off the weaker ones.
Caldwell again approached dos Santos about returning home, however, this time it’s final. dos Santos didn’t argue the issue, and told Caldwell that if he is that concerned about his family he should go. In a confessional, dos Santos said that if Keon had his family’s best interest at heart, he would have stayed.
Cope was the obvious underdog. Lesnar said Cope hasn’t ”wowed” him or his team, but he’s looking for that ”wow” factor come fight time. ?
“Any given Sunday, baby,” is Lesnar’s mantra, trying to mentally prepare Cope for the fight.
It was a hard fight to watch. The duration was spent in the clinch pressed up against the fence. It was a draw after the first two rounds, but Cope eked out the decision in the sudden victory round. Cope earned the final frame by keeping Torres against the fence, and then, when they disengaged, struck him from the outside with straights, jabs, and a few low kicks.
Chris Cope defeated Javier Torres with a 29-28 nod from all three judges, giving Team Lesnar their first win and control of the picks.
Lesnar wasn’t overly impressed by the win, but said he was “wowed” by Cope’s perseverance and heart.
Coach dos Santos was somewhat light-hearted about the loss, trying to keep Torres in good spirits, but his assistant coach, Lew Polley, was vocal about how disgusted he was with the fight, and seems to be taking the reigns of the team.
After the first two episodes, it’s all tied up: Team Lesnar 1, Team dos Santos 1.
Next week, Team dos Santos gets their new fighter, while dos Santos ?puts Polley in check when he notices him trying to take control of the team.
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Brian Lopez-Benchimol is a writer for MMAWeekly.com.
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