Posted on: October 23, 2008 11:12 am

Halfway Through?

So we are now at the midway point for TUF 8. And to think, there is sooooooo much more fun to be had in the coming weeks.

But the issue at hand right now is the incidence that everyone seems to have been waiting for; Junie Browning to step up and fight someone in the cage!

Junie has so far been involved in altercations in the house, in the gym, in the bathroom, in the hot tub, in the conservatory with a knife with Colonel Mustard, etc.  Has it all been for show? Can he back it up? This is the week that we all find out.

Last week Eliot Marshall beat Shane Primm. That gives Team Mir control for the first time. At this point, we all knew that Junie was going to self-destruct had he not just gone ahead and fought next. The other lightweights all agreed to let Junie pick the next opponent, and Junie made it quite clear that he wanted to fight Rolando.

Here are some key points that I remember from this week in The Ultimate Fighter 8 History:

1. Rolando's Black Belt- Did Rolando really have a black belt in BJJ? Yes I'm sure he does somewhere in his closet at home. Does Rolando deserve a BJJ black belt? I don't know, I'm not a qualified black belt level jiu-jitsu instructor. This is what I DO know. On my team I have the following BJJ fighters and coaches available to me: Frank Mir, Robert Drysdale, Demian Maia, Vinny Magalhaeres, Eliot Marshall. Team Big Nog has: Nog, Amaury Bitteti, Daniel Valverde, Anderson Silva, Lyoto Machida, Rolando Delgado. Is Delgado the weakest of the bunch out of the names I've listed? Sure he is. Does that mean he doesn't deserve a black belt? Not necessarily. I know that in car rides/at the house we discussed Rolando's black belt, and it seemed as if he had a tough time explaining the story of who from and how he received his belt. Couple it with the fact that the majority of the other guys I've mentioned have been national and international level BJJ'ers, left some of the other guys a bit skeptical of his skills.

There is a big difference between being a world champion black belt, and being a black belt. If you watch me vs. Bader, you see that we both have wrestling backgrounds. You also see that Bader wrestled at a D1 school and was an All-American, while I wrestled for a non-NCAA program and was a national champion. If there were belts awarded in wrestling, I'd consider myself to be a black belt. I've defeated NCAA All-Americans, national qualifiers, etc. But there was still a difference between Bader's wrestling and my own.

Is Rolando a black belt? Another black belt must have thought so.

My comments about the UPS man hand delivering Roli his belt were genuine. Perhaps skewed, but nonetheless I wasn't making a snide comment just for the sake of it, it truly is what I believed at the time.

2. Junie's Black Belt Loogie
Junie throws a black belt at Rolando during the fight announcement/staredown. Then he spits at the blackbelt as it lays on the floor. It seems as if a lot of people are upset by this. Maybe it is because I wasn't brought up in the traditional martial arts, but I don't see the belt as being some sacred almighty piece of equipment that must never be tarnished. Sure it represents hard work and dedication, but people take things too seriously. If someone came up to me and threw a pair of Asics and a singlet at me, then proceeded to crap all over them I wouldn't be upset. I would either be amazed, disgusted, both....or just laugh. Yeah I'd probably just laugh.

3. Junie's Weight Cutting
Was Junie over? Yes. Did he make weight? Yes. Did he complain and act like a child about it? Yes. Do they have scales in Kentucky? Probably not.

4. The Fight
In person, holy crap it was exciting. The build up probably added as much to the fight as anything else. Legitimately I thought that Junie would live up to his own hype and provide MMA with the first in-ring murder in the history of the sport. I didn't think there was any way in hell that Roli would win round 1, and almost squeak out a win in the end. Roli's reach proved to be a real problem for Junie, and when we all thought Roli would fold under Junie's punches, he proved us wrong. I've already seen a lot of comments regarding how the fight was "toughman-esque", and how it was horrible for the sport. The fight was a lot better live really. The excitement of all the fighters, the coaches, really doesn't come off appropriately on TV in this case. Team Nog wanted Roli to kill Junie for his crimes against the ghost of Count Maeda and the early Gracies, while I wanted Junie to win just so that it didn't make Team Mir eat crow for defending Junie.

5. The "Non" Stand-Up
In round 3, Roli is on his back with Junie pecking away at his legs with kicks and a vicious display of inactivity. This was the time when we knew Junie was going to win the decision. Every time it seemed Josh Rosenthal would step in and stand-up Roli, Junie would do just enough to keep him down. Unless you are Gegard Mousasi or Renzo Gracie, it is pretty hard to win a fight off of your back. Say what you want about Junie's possible inbred pedigree, but he played it smart and played to the rules to secure the victory with this tactic.

Next week, we have another prelim light-heavyweight fight. Will it be a Polish guy, a Brazilian, a tall order cook, or everyone's favorite portly southerner in battle next week?
Posted on: October 2, 2008 1:31 pm

Here one day, gone tomorrow...or still here!

Vegas! Street lights, hotels, airplanes,…and a Ginger Bread House?

That is what we are treated to as Episode 3 of the Ultimate Fighter season 8 begins!

We get an opening montage of why some are here to fight. Ryan Bader is here because he wants to advance his career. Junie Browning is here because he was raised poor, and apparently being poor leads to being tough. My thought is that this was his one chance to drink something besides bourbon, and Junie knew there would be a full liquor cabinet. Kryzstzof is here to offer everyone steak.

After the first few fights, many people were banged up. Brian McLaughlin and Karn “The Count” Gregorian were the two most notable. Keeping up with the tradition that Karn set on Sesame Street years ago, he was sporting TWO black eyes after his THREE round fight, giving him ONE fracture in his nose. I understand that Karn spends most of his time studying mathematics, but apparently he also is a student of anatomy as well. Karn informs us at the dinner table that his nose isn’t broken….it just has a crack in it. Brian “Mr. Potato Head” McLaughlin and Karn are called to the forefront of the UFC training center by Dana White, only to be informed that they were indeed going home. Well actually they were going to McCarran Airport first I assume.

And with two guys being sent home, that leaves room for someone to get a 2nd shot! That man turns out to be Kyle Kingsbury! The replacement lightweight fighter was too busy surfing the Internet and throwing up Westside signals to make his way back right away, so we will see him later.

Let me reeeeeeewind for a second back to Karn’s situation. I was in the same dressing/locker room as Karn for the prelim fights and was able to see the aftermath from his fight. After every fight a doctor comes back to the room to inspect the fighter and report any injuries that may be present. The doctor actually CLEARED Karn after the fight and Karn himself INSISTED on going to the hospital to get his nose checked. Apparently Karn actually DID know more than the Dr. seeing as how his nose was broken, but I’m sure it was a choice that Karn will be kicking himself for for a long time.

With 15 out of the 16 fighters present, the team picks were ready to be made. Dana flips a large blue Peso and it comes up Mir’s colors. Before this, Dana said “I never remember how this works”(referring to who picks first/picks the first fight) to which Al Stankie replied “If it comes up blue it’s Mir”. Pure classic Stankie. Frank Mir decides to pick the first fighter, rather than the first fight. Mir goes with experience over beauty and chooses Krazystuff Sosyzinski (I remember him telling me that is how to spell his name, so I’m going to refer to him by this from now on). Big Ant Rod Min Nog chooses Ryan B”r”ader first for his team. Nog thinks that Bader might be the champ, so I will take his advice and watch and see. Swerve? I think so. Mir had been telling Big Nog that he was not going to pick Vinny Magalhaes because a) Vinny was Brazilian and b)Nog was Vinny’s MMA hero. Well Big Nog took it to heart and didn’t choose Vinny, throwing chivalry aside, Frank decided to pick Vinny with pick #2. After that, all you need to know is that I was picked #4 for Frank Mir’s team (2nd to last overall for the light heavies) and I wore a spectacular pair of sunglasses, button down shirt, and gold chain while doing so.

Due to Mir picking the first fighter, Big Nog gets to pick the first fight. Frank can’t see us losing any matches, Big Nog sees team unity as the most important aspect of the competition. We cut to some training montages next, and come to find out that the competition has taken a different turn than I expected.

Frank Mir utters the words “Being a coach is an opportunity to expose myself to other fighters”. Yikes Frank! If I had heard this before we got a chance to roll, I would have been a lot more careful about exposing my back to you! The coaching staff for Mir consists of Ken Hahn, Robert Drysdale, and James Horne; who was not featured with his own vignette. James is a brown belt under Frank, a huge guy, and young.

After the coaches introductions, we get to see Junie Browning get drunk while he and Shane Primm give confessionals about who has the more annoying country accent.  Apparently Shane wins the competition because Junie has a nervous breakdown about the fact that he can’t even be the biggest redneck in the house. Shane Nelson has an AMAZING revelation and thinks Junie might be bi-polar?!? Shane, I know you are a psychologist and all but what on Earth would make you think that?

Shane Nelson wonders huh, who they will bring back huh as the lightweight guy huh, no ways huh? And in walks the replacement……”The Emaciated Beaver” Rolando Delgado himself! Rolando walks in and let’s us know that the Westside is the best-side by throwing up gang signals. I remember being in the hot-tub when Rolando showed up and thinking “Who the hell is that?” I also remember walking around 15 minutes later and thinking “What the hell is that?”, mostly because Rolando was standing sideways and I couldn’t decipher whether he was a human being or one if someone has misplaced one of the bamboo sticks that served as decoration in the house.

I don’t have much to say about Nog’s training sessions except that Al Stankie is the man.

We line up for the first fight announcement and Big Nog chooses Ryan to fight against…ME!!!

Ryan "Darth" Bader vs. Tom "The Filthy 'Darth Maul'-er" Lawlor!!!

The match-up makes sense to Nog because he thinks that I might out wrestle his other guys, which is true, but that Bader might out wrestle me…which is also true. Despite the beatings that Nog has taken over the years, he has the intelligence of an ancient prophet.

Look mom I’m on TV! Training with Frank Mir! Get off me Frank! Watch out James, I’m taking your back! Hey Ken, I’m punching you in the face! I don’t care if you are 150 lbs, I’m coming for you!

As you can tell from past seasons of the show, it is really easy to become bored in the house. Krazystuff came up with the great idea to shrink wrap all of Bader’s clothes to his bed, which honestly is a great prank. A lot different than peeing on beds or giving upper deckers. Bader didn’t find the shrink wrap until about midnight that night and was up late unwrapping his bed. Great prank. About the only one I could have thought up that was better and harmless would have been to undue the light bulbs in their room and take a crap in them, then put them back on so that the light burns it and it stinks. But I digress.

Dana, Nog, and Frank give us their thoughts on me vs. Bader. Dana thinks whoever has better hands will win, Nog thinks it might be a knockout or a submission or maybe a decision, and Frank thinks that it is a good chance for Team Mir to pick off Bader now. I do my best pregnant woman/John L. Sullivan impression during the weigh-ins and stare down.

Let me address the family/team aspect that they then show of Team Nog. It is true that Team Nog ate more often as a group than we did. It is also true that none of Team Nog’s coaches are native to Las Vegas, so they did not have their wives,children,etc in town to worry about. Frank, James, Ken are all guys who live in Vegas and have these things to worry about. Just my .02 cents and I’m sure it will be addressed more in the future.

Bader is bigger than me, stronger than me, faster than me, and my haircut sucks. These are all true statements. I’m also beautiful, which is probably the most true statement I uttered in my pre-fight interviews.

Bader gives me some good advice. Tells me that he loves me, and that he is going to put “it” on me. What “it” is, I’m not really sure at this point but I’m thinking that it resembles something along the lines of what he did while he was carrying a light-saber in his infamous TUF 8 tryout video.

Hey we have the same reach but I’m 2 inches shorter! And the fight begins with me stuffing 2 of Bader’s shots and landing some punches/counterpunches in the process. A little clinch work and then Bader gets a beautiful double leg that drives me across the cage! I guess him and Nog have a crystal ball because they both said he would out wrestle me. Someone from the red corner yells to “Put your hands on his throat”, I believe signaling the return of the ever powerful rape choke. At this point I did what I should have done more often, and fought hard to get the underhook and stand-up. On bottom I wasn’t being hurt by Bader, but I wasn’t offensive either. Ryan had great control and was simply overpowering me with his weight while he was on top. Very heavy.

We stand back up, throw some punches, get in the clinch and exchange knees, then throw some more punches. At this point I got overzealous and went for the kill, which ended up being a bad idea!

In retrospect stuffing Bader’s early takedowns may have been detrimental to me, as my confidence in stopping his shot and keeping it standing grew. I thought  the force was with me and I could be the Tom Skywalker to Ryan’s “Darth” Bader, but as I threw a Jabba the Hut sized punch at his head he threw me to the ground as if I was Princess Leia. Bader controlled me from on top a little more until….

Honestly, I don’t remember. Even after watching the fight I have a few theories as to what happened:

a) Really…Bader is a good looking guy. I am a frequent visitor of MatBattle.com and thought that this was a great way to test out if I had what it takes to be featured on that site. A combination of being away from females for a week, and Bader’s studliness may have caused me to get a slight erection…causing the blood to shift from my head to my genitals, and Bader threw a phantom punch. It didn’t really hit me, but the blood loss made me pass out, or….

b) Bader hit me so hard that I went unconscious.

Oh yeah, I also had contracted Dengue Fever before the fight.

Regardless, I went nighty-night and my chance at the six figure UFC contract went bye-bye.

We get my post fight reaction, where I congratulate Ryan on his performance. And just like I said then Ryan, my hat is off to you! Possibly because you did a great job and I was disappointed yet accepting of my loss, but more than likely because your right hand swelled my already oversized head up and the hat was killing me.

And I’ll go ahead and leave everyone with these few final thoughts. I cried for about 5-10 minutes following the loss. Call me a baby (I do cry and crap my pants quite often), call me a wimp, say whatever you want….I’ll just use it as motivation. Then drink alone in the corner of my room while I keep crying.

The worst part about fighting was that I didn't get to choose entrance music. I am accustomed to getting on the ramp, dancing like a moron, singing, stripping, etc (check www.tomlawlor.net for videos). I was out of my element without it.

I have NO clue where my gear is from my win over Ryan Lopez. Gloves? Don’t know. Shorts? In a bag somewhere, but I have my gloves and hand-wraps from my loss hanging proudly in my room.

It sucks being the 1st guy eliminated, but that just means 6 weeks of free partying and world class training! And with the economy in such a slump, I’m more than excited about the free food!

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again………get ready for a wild ride on TUF 8. I may have been kicked out of shotgun by Bader, but I’m definitely still along for the ride!

P.S. I'll be doing a blog this weekend on my experience cornering Seth "The Silverback" Petruzelli at the Oct. 4 EliteXC card for his fight vs. Aaron Rosa!
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com