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Friday, December 15, 2017

TUF weekly recap by NOS® Energy Drink

Kamaru Usman Steve Carl

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The Blackzilians continued their run of dominance over American Top Team in Season 21 of “The Ultimate Fighter.”

Entering the bout in episode nine of the season, the Blackzilians led ATT 200-100 in points but had won six of the eight fights between the gyms. ATT’s only two wins came courtesy of Hayder Hassan. With the competition moving onto the 100-point fights for episodes 9-12, the Blackzilians turned to Kamaru Usman, who had won his first fight on the show, while ATT went back to Steve Carl.

ATT’s decision to fight Carl seemed like a stupid one to me given how disastrous his first fight was, and this was not much better.

Just like his first fight where he struggled to make weight, Carl nearly missed weight again. In fact, he had to remove his last article of clothing and go naked in order to make the limit of 171 pounds. He said he was told too much in terms of strategies entering his first fight on the show and indicated he would have things organized this time around. That didn’t happen.

Blackzilians owner Glenn Robinson was confident in Usman entering the fight. What he envisioned actually happened.

“I don’t have a doubt in my mind that we’re going to win this fight,” Robinson said. “You can put your best guy in there and Kamaru’s going to break them.”

Robinson also predicted Usman would win by using ground-and-pound.

Meanwhile, ATT owner Dan Lambert backed Carl’s second effort for the team and ended up looking bad for a second time.

“We think Carl matches up pretty well against Usman,” Lambert said. “He’s good at looking for chokes during takedowns, he’s got a good guillotine game. We’re going to hope he looks for a neck.”

You could almost tell just from each gym owner’s comments who had the better chance of winning; the Blackzilians believed Usman had the game to win, while ATT was merely hoping something would go their way. Things didn’t.

From the start of the fight to the end, Usman just dominated.

In the first round, Carl got in a few shots in standup, but it only took about a minute before Usman scored a takedown. He landed a few strikes before Carl stood things back up. However, Carl ended up bleeding from the mouth due to a few strikes. Usman again went for another takedown and just physically dominated Carl, throwing his opponent up against the cage. Usman was just wearing out Carl and using his great reach to land strikes. He won the first round easily.

In the second round, Carl went for an armbar early but Usman tossed him to the mat and then tried to take mount. He had dominant position and again put Carl up against the cage. After that, Usman got Carl on the ground and just wore him down with position.

It was just as Blackzilians owner Robinson predicted — a ground-and-pound victory for Usman, who won by unanimous decision.

“Steve had nothing for [Usman],” Robinson said after the fight, and he was exactly right.

Carl was embarrassed with his performance and had no explanation for it.

“The two fights I’ve had on this show, the two fights I’ve had for ATT, were two of the worst performances of my career,” Carl bemoaned. “And it’s been almost 10 years since I started. I really don’t know if it’s this whole show atmosphere or the pressures of being on a team and not letting a bunch of people down.

“I took more punches in each fight than I did in my entire career, and I don’t know how to really respond to that. So I feel like it’s just time to throw everything away and start from scratch and just start building my technique from the bottom up.”

The Blackzilians are now up 300-100 in points and have won seven of the nine fights. One more win and they will have captured the crown for season 21.

About the only question we have for ATT is this: How many more times can Hayder fight?

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Below is the NOS® performance replay from the fight:

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