After the obligatory recap and opening sequence we jump right into the training session as Koscheck has brought in his rather famous friend Jon Fitch to help out. He also speaks about his time on The Ultimate Fighter and the ways in which he learned about MMA from his coaches back then, absorbing everything as though he were a sponge. He also leads his team in a “Hard work pays off” chant which may not win points for originality but is a time tested theory.
From there the action moves to the house and we are once against thrust into the dramas surrounding Alex. This time he set out to bleach Team Koscheck’s clothing by putting the chemical in their fabric softener but ends up sicking Michael Johnson with it as he was not privy to the prank. Cast members take turns belly aching about how immature Bruce Leroy is.
Team GSP has a special guest of their own, one who is not nearly as famous but much more wacky. He is Jean-Charles Skarbowski, champion Muay Thai kickboxer and also, to hear it from St. Pierre, world famous drunk. He gets into the cage with the team and tosses them around. It’s a bizarre little segment that I found all together watchable.
St. Pierre still holds all the power and decides to go with
Spencer Paige (GSP) vs. Nam Phan (Koscheck)
From there the producers get a few minutes to try and sell the fight to us by introducing us to a side of the characters that we have not met before. In a rather pathetic attempt to humanize Phan they try and blow up a scandal around him running too much. There are clips of him running and other cast members lounging in the pool. Then he talks about the way the other guys criticize him for overworking himself. Sometimes if there isn’t a story to tell the producers should just accept that.
Chuck Liddell comes to visit with Team Koscheck. They mention that he is fresh off his loss to Rich Franklin at UFC 115 and his face corroborates that story. The cast members gather round and instead of gleaning information off of him they ask him if he is going to saddle up one more time to kick Tito Ortiz’s ass. OK.
Spencer Paige vs. Nam Phan
Round 1- Paige opens up by pushing the pace. He delivers a blistering leg kick that takes Phan down momentarily. He follows up with some more and they quickly become his main source of offense. I should point out that Phan was my favorite to win the whole thing even before the first episode. Phan catches him with a 1-2 combo that seems to sting but not much else. Paige keeps circling the ring delivering shots when he can. He is certainly staying busier out there. It starts to catch up with him though as you can start to see exhaustion on his face. St. Pierre’s version of coaching seems to be to yell “Hey!” every time Paige lands a shot. Two minutes to go in the round and nobody seems to have inflicted any serious harm which means it’s still anybodies to claim. It doesn’t stay that way for long as Phan catches one of Paige’s kicks and takes him down with it. Then he keeps on with a smothering ground and pound that is done while standing. With 30 seconds left he decides to take side control which then turns into North South control. Phan then locks on a killer kimura. I’m shocked that Paige doesn’t tap as it starts to conjure up memories of St. Pierre’s fight against Dan Hardy. Round ends, Phan 10-9.
Round 2- Paige is not the same fighter coming out of the gate. It’s all Phan all the time and that pretty much extends for the entire round. It comes out after the fight that Paige is fighting with a broken hand and a messed up shin. He keeps going for a spinning back kick and three times ends up slipping and landing on his rear end. He also looks dead tired and militantly frustrated. The round is anti-climactic as Phan dominates and waltzes into the next round looking for stiffer competition. Phan 10-9
Nam Phan defeated Spencer Paige via decision
Another strong episode from the folks at Zuffa. I love the show so what I say is coming from a place of constructive criticism, but the way they are slavishly tied to their formula is becoming tiresome after all these years. If, on the wild outside chance, GSP and Koscheck don’t hate each other in the same way that say Rampage Jackson and Rashad Evans did then they should just let that ride. After the fight Team Koscheck got up and banged on the walls of Team GSP’s locker room. It was unimaginative and added nothing to my enjoyment of the show but I’m sure in the minds of the UFC this is the way they are selling their December PPV. And maybe they are right, this show is for the amateur MMA fan and perhaps if we can get them hooked with these contrivances than they will eventually outgrow them and learn to appreciate the sport for what it really is. That said this episode gets another hearty endorsement from me and I look forward to next week when we are treated to two fights and shots of GSP bleeding out of him head.
Tags: Chuck Liddell, Georges St. Pierre, jon fitch, Mixed Martial Arts, Nam Phan