Moving forward with my look at the first two rounds of The Ultimate Fighter Season 8 we are moving into Light-Heavies, which is solid group but not as stacked as the lightweights with true UFC talent. Nonetheless this weight-class contains outstanding ground skills and his headlined by a pair of BJJ blackbelts and a pair of wrestlers.
Eliot Marshall is my poster-boy for this weight-class because i have been very impressed with his over all skills. His first fight with Karen Grigoryan was very impressive and was a damn crime that he was not awarded the win. Grigoryan was a very strong fighter and honestly both Elliot and Grigoryan likely belonged in the house, but Elliot clearly was superior in almost every aspect of the fight expect that of strength.
Eliot then easily swept aside Shane Primmer, who was a very likable fighter, but after the sad showing against Eliot and the way Dana White spoke of him afterwards makes me think Primmer will not be in the UFC. Eliot is a little under the radar because he lost his first match, but he is likely the most well-rounded fighter.
Krzysztof Soszynski has had two very impressive fights and really is a 1a in my mind, easily on the same level as Eliot.
Krzysztof's first fight really didn't tell us much because it was a two-hit fight, Krzysof hit Steward, Steward hit mat. Krzysztof quickly showed himself to be a bit of a goofball outside of the cage and has quickly prove to be the king of the prank.
Krzystof's second match was against Kyle Kingsbury, who normally fights as a heavyweight but cut down weight to make the show. Kyle is a very strong fighter who lost both his fights mainly because of bad match-ups. Kyle is very new to the fight game, he was a AZU Sun Devil Football player and has learned only Muy Thai since leaving football. His ground game is very weak and both his fights were against strong wrestlers.
He was dominated on the ground in both fights and Krzystof stood in with Kyle very well, landing big shots. Krzystof could easily win this season and will be in the UFC either way.
Vinicius Magalhaes, or Vinny, has likely the strongest Jiu-Jitsu in the house but also the weakest stand up. That said he was able to defeat Lance Evans with out going to the ground using his one move on his feat, a right legged high kick. Vinny has gotten the 'pretty boy' label and seems to be self satisfied.
His fight against Jules Bruchez I think showed what a joke Jules was, who seemed terrified of Vinny's kicks and then took the fight to the ground the first chance he had. Vinny was able to show off his BJJ for the first time, swept Jules with a closed guard and moved right into a shoulder lock. Vinny is likely still growing as a fighter but anyone who goes to the ground is in for a nasty surprise.
Finally we come to Ryan Bader, the wild card of this weight-class. Bader has the potential to be the Jesse Taylor of this season, meaning his wrestling and over powering strength could trump other fighters with possibly superior skills. Bader is very strong and is a very hard worker.
He defeated Kyle Kingsbury in his first fight with a very strong arm triangle, and then defeated fellow wrestler Tom Lawlor. Bader's stand hasn't really been tested and it may never be with the take downs he has. If he beats Eilot I don't think there is much that stop Bader.
With the fighters looked at all that is left is the coaches. I came in as a Frank Mir fan, but has this show has gone on he seems to be more and more of an arrogant douche. Nog on the other hand is a carbon copy of a coach i once had, and both Nog and my coach were stand outs in their sports and had moved into very successful coaching careers.
It seems very clear that Mir picked the fighters with superior skills at this time, good attitudes or not. Nog picked guys with more raw skills, good heart and better work ethics. Nog also has created a more positive training atmosphere than Mir, who has fighters bickering with each other and sharing tips to get each other eliminated. I think more of Nog's fighters have true UFC careers ahead of them because of their attitude in the gym, which often determines a fight career more than just skills.