TUF weekly recap by NOS® Energy Drink
And it all comes down to the finale!
The Blackzilians entered Episode 11 of Season 21 of “The Ultimate Fighter” leading their competition with American Top Team 300-200 points. A win for the Blackzilians would have ended the competition, while ATT needed a victory just to even up the series. And in a most improbable fashion imaginable, ATT came back for the win.
The Blackzilians chose Jason Jackson to represent them in the fight, while ATT countered with Mike Graves. Jackson had won his fight earlier in the season, while Graves had lost, so choosing Graves was a mixed decision for ATT.
When they polled the gym’s coaches, one was very vocal about wanting Soldado to fight, while four other coaches chose Graves.
“He has all the talent in the world,” ATT’s Dan Lambert said of Graves.
After being picked, Graves said that cutting weight would “be hard,” but he believed he would be able to do it.
The Blackzilians’ choice of Jason Jackson to fight was an easy one.
“Jason’s just a special talent and I believe in him,” Blackzilians owner Glenn Robinson said.
Jackson was pumped up for his fight.
“I’m very excited. This is a big test for me,” Jackson said. “If I don’t challenge myself, I don’t belong in the UFC. … I don’t care about TV time; I’m just here to win. … I’m out to prove that I’m an a– kicking machine.”
While preparing for the fight, Graves had an injury scare that could have put his status for the fight in doubt. He felt something pop in his shoulder blade and it stiffened up. He described it as a stinger in his neck, but said he wouldn’t let it keep him from fighting.
“I’m hurt but I’ll just work through it,” Graves said.
He recalled a time in high school as a wrestler when the same thing happened. He said he fought through and still won his match.
Would history repeat itself?
When the fight started, Graves came out early throwing kicks. A major turning point occurred about a minute in when the two threw kicks at the same time and collided. Graves appeared to get kicked in the groin and was grabbing at his privates, though the referee did not stop the fight despite the foul. That led to a huge advantage for Jackson, who pounced and went in to finish Graves. Jackson pounded away at Graves with knees to the side and strikes to the head. He was hammering Graves for over a minute straight while Graves was covered up like a turtle. Oddly, the referee never stopped the fight, and Graves eventually escaped and reversed the situation. He took down Jackson, got a rear mount, and went looking for a choke. Jackson, who must have been gassed from pounding Graves for over a minute straight, succumbed to Graves, who submitted him with a rear-naked choke at 3:01 in the first round.
The Blackzilians — namely Glenn Robinson — were furious.
“The guy didn’t defend himself for 1:30!” Robinson complained to the ref after the fight.
Even ATT conceded that the outcome was surprising.
Lambert called it “one of the crazier fights” he’d ever seen. He also admitted he “was surprised the ref did not stop it.”
Graves also said he was worried about the ref stopping the fight.
Jackson said after the fight that his effort to get a stoppage wore him out. He says he broke his hand pounding Graves and that’s why he was unable to defend the submission.
As hard as it is to believe, the teams are now tied 300-300, and it all comes down to the final fight of the season in episode 12.
There were a few other notable moments from the show. There was the coaches’ challenge where gym owners Dan Lambert and Glenn Robinson squared off in a relay race, with Lambert easily winning and then talking crap.
“Can’t really take a lot of pride when you beat Glenn in something physical,” Lambert said sarcastically.
Kamaru Usman and Sabah Homasi also got into a conflict at the house, so there is a lot of tension between them leading into the final episode.
Below is the NOS® performance replay from the fight: