Thoughts on watching the second episode of The Ultimate Fighter Season 10...
The show opens with a focus on the season's two marquee contestants: Kimbo Slice on Team Rampage and Roy "Big Country" Nelson on Team Rashad. It's an interesting study in contrasts.
Nelson comes in an experienced MMA fighter and former IFL champ, whereas Kimbo of course is notorious for his YouTube videos where he cries at the world to leave Michael Jackson alone. It's a seasoned pro vs. as Dana White puts it "the toughest guy at the BBQ." We all know who'll win that matchup, if it comes to that, right?
But if you forget their histories and look at the two individuals on display here, the assessment changes. Kimbo has come in phenomenal shape—for a heavyweight he's shredded—and he continues to work hard. He embraces the opportunity to learn from his coaches, who marvel that he soaks up the lessons "like a sponge."
Nelson, on the other hand, looks like, well, the fattest guy at the BBQ (though, admittedly, he did even as IFL champ) and seems to think his experience means he doesn't need to work hard or take coaching. We all know who'll win that matchup, right?
But enough foreshadowing...on with the matchup!
Rampage, he ain't too bright. For this episode's matchup he pits lumbering ex-football player Wes Shivers—whose fighting style might best be described as "being a giant"—against Rashad's #1 pick, James McSweeney, whose name Rampage can't figure out how to pronounce. "McSweenoo?"
As round one opens, McSweeney looks overwhelmed by his opponent's size and spends some time literally running away and cringing until he realizes Wes is susceptible to leg kicks.
Wes may not have absorbed a lot of fight technique but he sure listened when Coach Rampage warned his fighters not to touch gloves with the opposition. That boy keeps leaving McSweeney hanging with his hand extended, even after delivering an inadvertent groin kick.
All right, so generally speaking this blog isn't going to get bogged down in a blow-by-blow account of these fights. You can get that elsewhere, or just watch the fight yourself. Besides, this one isn't at all worth going into detail about.
Both fighters show pretty sloppy standup and abysmal stamina, and ultimately McSweeney wins a decision after just two rounds. The lack of a third round has thrown some observers for a loop, as Wes Shivers—though without discernible talent—spent much of round one pushing his smaller opponent around.
That's pretty much all he did, however. He managed a takedown in each round but fumbled with the submission attempts like a teenager trying to get his date's bra unsnapped. He didn't maintain control on the ground for long, nor did he capitalize on the opportunity to damage his opponent. On his feet he used his bulk to push McSweeney against the cage on occasion but failed to control or damage him there as well.
Meanwhile, when he could break away from the giant's embrace, McSweeney delivered one unanswered leg kick after another. It wasn't much of an offense, but the kicks added up on the judges' scorecards as pretty much the only solid points scored throughout the fight, with Shivers getting minimal credit for falling on top of his opponent. Though both fighters looked pathetically fatigued in round two, McSweeney sealed the deal with a late round flurry that had Shivers badly rocked.
The two-round decision for McSweeney leaves this observer wondering: This was Team Rashad's No. 1 pick?
Wes Shivers didn't make much of a career for himself in the NFL before turning to MMA. Now that it looks like MMA isn't going to work out much better he should try his luck singing country music. His fight game may be shallow, but that's one deep voice. "I'm not sayin' I'm goin' out there to hurt him, but...shit happens." Damn, Wes! Figure out how to make that rhyme and you got yourself a country hit!
Next week's matchup is announced and it's Big Country vs. Kimbo: "the biggest fight in TUF history!" Okay, if you say so.
I know as an MMA fan I'm not supposed to be rooting for Kimbo to win this: he's a throwback to the inglorious bloodsport DW's worked so hard to get the world to forget.
But given the contrasting attitudes on display by the two fighters, I've got to admit I'm more interested in seeing Big Country get the smug wiped off his face than I am in seeing Kimbo fall down through the holes in his game. Kimbo's working hard and trying to learn. Nelson thinks he already knows it all. I'm rooting for the guy who's looking at this as an opportunity, not the one who assumes it's something he's already entitled to.
But that's just my opinion...