Double shot of the Ultimate Fighter 5 this week as both semi finals are up in line for the finale on June 23rd.
In the first episode of the double header we’ll pick up where we left off, in the locker room of Manny Gamburyan after his victory over Matt Wiman. Karo is excited for his cousin, but is also angry that he wasn’t able to yell instructions in Armenian because his corner was too loud. Nate Diaz and Karo have some words, which seem playful at first, but quickly escalates as Karo starts (jokingly) slapping Nate around and Nate takes exception to it, As Karo and Nate begin to argue, Nate apologizes to Manny in mid argument as he explains he is merely defending himself. Karo comes back and wants to have a private word with Nate but Nate has had enough. Karo leaves the building, asking everyone if they “knew who he was”. I’m a Karo fan, but in the editing he’s the one who comes off as an ass in this episode. I’m a huge fan of Nate, and he is definitely cut from the same cloth as big brother Nick.
I’ll say that I’ve known Nate for awhile now, and I like the kid a lot. What you see is definitely what you get, and I’ve never experienced anything from him other than him being respectful and friendly. He’s got a sense of humor as well that I’m not sure if it’s been shown as much on the show. And of course, I’m always stoked to see someone on the grappling circuit make it good.
Meanwhile, visa via conference call the coaches and Dana White determine the semi-final match ups. Dana decides to have a little fun at Jens Pulver’s expense and suggest teammate versus teammate match ups. This is of course the last thing that Jens wants to see and he vocalizes his displeasure. Dana was only kidding, of course, and the matchups are set for Joe Lauzon vs Manny Gamburyan and Nate Diaz vs Gray Maynard. Both coaches are pleased with the match ups.
Dana White pays visit to the house with the coaches and sits down to a dinner with the fighters. Funny moment when asked what’s the worst part of living at the house, and someone responds all of the farting. Joe Lauzon does a commercial for Directv.
Fight time, and we’ve got Joe Lauzon vs Manny Gamburyan up first. Manny ducks under Joe’s high kick and immediately gets the takedown. From here Manny executes a smothering offense from the top and when Joe attempts to get up Manny locks on a tight guillotine. Joe executes a nice switch under to escape and the positions are briefly reversed until Manny forces the fight to the mat again. From here Manny continues to grind away for the rest of the round.
Second picks up where the first one left off , although it does take Manny a bit longer to get the takedown. Joe does a better job of getting to his feet. Not much else happens in the round which largely went Manny’s way.
The third round looks like it’s going to be a replay of the first two and Manny is going to cruise to a decision victory. With two minutes to go Joe shows signs of life as he executes a nice sweep from the half guard and manages to take Manny’s back. Joe looks for the choke as Manny balls up and remains calm. Thirty seconds to go and Manny escapes, winding up on top of Lauzon’s guard and time expires. Unanimous decision for for Manny Gamburyan, who advances to the finals. Dana White, who had stated several times previously that he believed many was too small for this competition, admits he was dead wrong.
Joe had an impressive run in the show as well, and BJ says it was guys like Lauzon which made the experience worthwhile for him.
The second episode of the double header is up next, with Gray Maynard vs Nate Diaz. Gray was BJ’s first pick, who states that Gray need to allow BJ to help him in order to beat Nate. BJ has an interesting comment on what jiu jitsu is, stating that it is the illusion that everything is all right, and then suddenly being able to sweep your opponent and catch them in some sort of submission.
Silliness (and boredom) reign at the house as some not so innocent chucking of lemons turns into an all out fruit war that winds up breaking a window.
Later on Dana White shows up at the house with 10K in cash and says there will be a ping pong contest between Jens Pulver and BJ Penn. The winning team gets $1000 each. Winner is the first to 11 points, best two out of three. Admittedly, both BJ and Jens suck at ping pong, but with this much at stake they get really into it (and they show many slow motions shots of them playing and Dana in the background). BJ takes the first game, Jens the second, and Jens then wins in overtime!
A bit of Nate Diaz working out. In a nice moment, he tells Jens what a good coach he thinks he’s been, and Jens reciprocates by saying the pleasure has been all his. As the final workout approaches all of the fighters seem to be getting a bit emotional. Emotions are also running high between Jens and BJ who of course will be fighting each other at the finale as well.
For the last match up of the series, Dana’s analysis is that Nate has better standup and jiu jitsu, where as Gray has an edge in wrestling ability. Should be a great fight.
Last night of the house, everyone else is busy getting drunk and trashing the house. Cole Miller gets especially drunk. All of us have been to this point at sometime, not all of us have been as unfortunate to do so on television. As Cole is passed out, the guys decide to shave his head.
Fight time! The fight begins as you might have guessed, Gray going for and getting the takedown, and Nate trying submission after submission. Gray does a good job of escaping and keeping himself safe, and punches when he has the opportunity. One of these punches opens up a nasty cut on Nate Diaz, who seems unfazed and continues to hunt for the submission. Back on the feet Nates striking seems more effective, but he doesn’t get a chance to work too much of it as Gray gets another takedown immediately. Round ends with Gray in Nate’s half guard, Nate is a bloody mess but cleans up well in his corner.
Second round and Nate stuffs a Gray takedown, but finds himself in a front headlock. Gray manages to convert to a guillotine which looks like it has Nate in trouble who battles out. In the resulting scramble, Gray winds up on the bottom and Nate grabs the submission, a guillotine choke (actually, a Peruvian Neck tie, ironic enough because the orginator of the move, Tony DeSouza is in the corner of Gray). Gray taps out, and Nate is going to the finals to meet teammate Manny Gamburyan.
See you at the finale on June 23rd!