LAST WEEK: Jamie Yager makes no friends with his antics in the house. Rich Attonito scores a controversial win over Kyacey Uscola when Uscola (allegedly) drills Attonito with a knee while downed, a situation that causes Coach Ortiz to go berserk and start breaking the cardboard doors in the training center. In a bit of karma, however, Attonito breaks his hand during the fight and cannot continue on the show. Chuck takes a break from filming while Charlie Blanchard faces Jamie Yager, and Yager destroys Blanchard early to earn the begrudging (and no doubt temporary) respect of his teammates.
We open with a look at the Yager/Blanchard fight from last week, with fighters giving their thoughts. Nick says Yager is like a cat because he always lands on his feet. He did have amazing takedown defense in that fight, didn’t he?
Yager explains to the rest of his crew how the tournament format works with the new wildcard system. They note that four fighters have lost thus far and three of them are eligible for one of the wildcard spots. Clayton, who lost in the first elimination bout, won’t be fighting again due to a shoulder injury. He says he’ll be out for a few months and is out of the competition. Charlie says he’s out as well because he’s injured. He’s willing to fight but is in no condition to do so. I don’t think he’d be given a wildcard spot after the way he lost so quickly last week anyway.
In addition to the wild card spot, there’s also an open space in Rich’s spot because of his hand injury. Hammortree says the wild card spot was designed for a controversial judge’s decision and believes he fits the description.
Both teams arrive at the training center, and Ortiz picks the next fight. Yager’s hair looks especially large today. Ortiz picks Kris McCray because Kris told Ortiz he wanted to fight. Ortiz picks Josh Bryant as McCray’s opponent. Kyacey says Josh doesn’t look like a fighter or act like a fighter, and he believes Kris will wipe the floor with him. Joe says everyone believes Josh doesn’t look like a fighter because he’s so unassuming, and he’d like to see him get a win. Tito concedes that the fight will be tough, but believes it’s a good pick for his team.
Hackleman gives Team Liddell a pep talk about fighting to the best of their ability, and then they begin a training session to prepare Josh for his fight. Josh talks about his past and how the divorce of his parents made him a stronger person and a better fighter. He believes fighting made him grow up faster. That would make him a rare case in this sport, then.
Chuck talks about Josh. To be perfectly honest, I couldn’t really understand one word that Chuck said here, but I’m assuming it’s something about Josh having the heart of a warrior or Josh being a gamer or Josh never giving up. But don’t quote me on that. Chuck then speaks a lot more clearly, saying that he’s never seen anyone as happy about cutting weight as Josh.
Team Ortiz hits the training center while Kris introduces himself. His last three professional fights apparently all ended in 39 seconds. Well, that takes some talent. He says he likes to break guys early and go for the kill. Then he says the same thing in Spanish.
Kyacey says the team is overtraining, and he doesn’t like it one bit. He says McCray doesn’t know any better and will just do what Tito tells him to do.
Back at the house, Hammortree and Ring checks on Clayton, who had surgery for a torn labrum and appears to be stoned out of his gourd on painkillers. I don’t blame him one bit, because the surgery sounds incredibly painful. Nick says that some of the coaches don’t believe Clayton is hurt that bad, but it’s not exactly an injury you can fake. Clayton asks Hammortree to help him take a leak, and Hammortree politely declines.
WEIGH-INS: Josh Bryant 185, Kris McCray 185
Brad says he’s rooting more for McCray because they’re friends. There’s not much loyalty in the house this season, is there?
Liddell says he’s going to miss this fight due to previous engagements. I see a pattern developing here. He’s handing the reigns over to Hackleman, who says that he may technically be in charge, but Liddell will be calling the shots like John Gotti did when he was in prison.
Team Punishment hits the gym for training. Tito apologizes to Clayton for telling him he didn’t really want to work and was taking the easy way out. Clayton says he trained for a week with the injury and tried to make it, but just couldn’t do it. Tito pats himself on the back for apologizing. And then Clayton gives Tito the finger when he turns his back to walk away.
Liddell calls in via Hackleman’s phone to give a pep talk to Josh. Josh says he’s not nervous for the fight because he feels like it’s a winnable fight. McCray says he’s not scared of anything. McCray pays a visit to Josh’s locker room and gives him a solid pre-fight hug.
Yager gives Josh a thumbs up during his walkout, and then proves he’s a WWE fan by doing Dave Batista’s classic “turning a thumbs up into a thumbs down” gimmick. This made me cackle. Yager is growing on me, much like a fungus.
JOSH BRYANT VS. KRIS MCCRAY
Round 1: Herb Dean is your ref. Feeling out process to start, and McCray lands a nice right uppercut. Kris chases him with a knee attempt, starting a scramble near the cage with both men trading wild shots. Josh lands a stiff right uppercut and they separate. McCray with an uppercut followed by a knee, then presses Josh into the cage. He tries what appears to be a bodyslam, but nothing doing there. Josh reverses the clinch, but not for long as Kris takes him down and takes his back with the hooks in. Josh stands up and goes out the back door and gets back to his feet. Clinch work against the cage. Kris with a plum and some weak knee attempts. Kris tries a single-leg, then gets behind Josh and goes for a german suplex, but Josh lands on his feet. Kris drags him to the ground but Josh gets back up immediately, then presses Kris into the cage while trying a double leg, which he eventually gets. Josh takes his back without the hooks in, goes for a rear naked but cannot get it. Kris gets back up and gets behind him and lays in a couple of punches that do some damage. Josh back to his feet now with his back against the cage. Kris is working for a single-leg again but can’t make headway. Josh lands a solid knee to the body, then Kris does the same. Josh goes for another single-leg but can’t get it as the round ends. Heavy.com scores the round 10-9 for Kris McCray, but it was a close one and could have gone the other way.
Round 2: Feeling out process begins this round as well. Josh misses with a head kick. Josh lands two stiff hooks, then a big uppercut that rocks Kris. Josh lets him recover, though, and Kris lands a body kick followed by a takedown attempt. This fight looks like a sumo battle without two fat guys. Both guys are gassed and this is getting ugly. We’re back to a greco clinch. Kris lands a big knee to the body, but Josh gets a takedown. He tries to take his back but Kris holds Josh’s leg. Josh thinks kimura but can’t execute. Both guys back to their feet and trading big punches. Josh gets the better of this exchange by landing more clean shots, then gets a big takedown. Now Kris thinks kimura, but he can’t execute either. Kris gets back to his feet, then drags Josh down with an ugly takedown and lands in the guard. Kris throws repeated shots to the body and Josh does nothing to defend. Josh closes his guard and throws elbows and hammerfists from the bottom. These are two very tired men. Kris lands a big right hand from the bottom. Kris moves into position for an armbar but can’t get it. The round ends. Another close round, but Heavy.com scores it 10-9 for Josh Bryant.
We’re going to a third and final round.
Round 3: Both fighters walk doggedly to the center. Kris gets a greco clinch and presses against the cage, but Josh reverses it. Kris with an elbow to the body. Josh grips a single leg. He wants a takedown but doesn’t have the energy. Kris is working a standing kimura at the same time but can’t get it. Josh gets his arm free from the kimura. Kris lands a body shot followed by two punches to the head. This is one ugly, ugly fight. Kris presses Josh against the cage again and grabs a single leg, but can’t get the takedown. He’s holding the leg for dear life, though. Herb breaks them up after a period of inaction. Both fighters swing wildly with Josh getting the better shots in. Kris shoots for a takedown, but Josh stuffs it and lands in side control while laying in shots. Josh attempts an arm triangle, misses it, goes into the mount, then to the back and gets a rear naked. It appears tight, but Kris avoids being choked out. The round ends with Kris going for an armbar. It wasn’t pretty, but Josh did enough to win this fight with the third round. Heavy.com scores the round 10-9 for Josh Bryant. Heavy.com scores the fight 29-28 for Josh Bryan.
OFFICIAL DECISION: Josh Bryant by unanimous decision
Josh says this is the best win he’s ever had, and that people will take him seriously now. McCray is so tired that he can’t get off the ground, and Tito just stares at him. Tito says Chuck is getting lucky, but they’re not giving up.