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?