In keeping with the proudest traditions of the Hammer House fight team, Wes Sims lost by submission last week. Sims, a towering oaf in both body and spirit, was no match for the smooth takedown and nifty arm-triangle choke of one Justin “The Viking” Wren – who seems nice! “It’s a relieving experience,” he said after the fight. “And it’s a blessing and I’m so excited!” Well we’re excited too, Justin, we’re excited for you. And just when you thought Wren couldn’t get any more earnest and winningly aw-shucks than he managed to be right there, he went ahead and started a thread at the notoriously merciless Underground forum called – seriously, seriously, get ready – “Thanks & I am fortunate for the support UG!” Such is the extent of Justin Wren’s likeability that everybody was completely decent to him over there. It was kind of touching.
Also, last week everybody bullied Zak because he probably jerked off in the shower and didn’t clean it up. Onwards!
Darrill Schoonover, much maligned man of moobs – which is to say titties – turns out to maybe be an alcoholic. He’s drinking before eight in the morning, and unless you’re coming off a backshift, that’s probably not cool. Zak Jensen, who, again, you might remember from probably jerking off in the shower and not cleaning it up, says that if he had to choose somebody to fight, he’d take the guy who’s drinking and kind of acting like an idiot. That’s just good basic advice for living, but since this is The Ultimate Fighter he’s going to have to be a little more specific that that or else risk like eight guys being like, “You callin’ me out, bro?”
Rashad Evans introduces his team to guest coach Phil Nurse, the Muay Thai trainer who controversially greased Georges St. Pierre up between rounds of the B. J. Penn fight. Some called it cheating, others called it living the dream. But Phil Nurse isn’t here to argue. He’s here to drill stand-up. Darrill Schoonover, lacking in both commitment to his punches and in cardio, soon comes to the attention of his coaches, who aren’t thrilled that he’s been getting his drink on before getting his gear on and getting his train on. They get their coach on, though, and straighten everything out. Rashad says with genuine enthusiasm that Schoonover is a diamond in the rough, and although he doesn’t get any respect from Team Rampage, “there’s something in Schoonover that they just don’t know.” To digress, briefly: probably the most enjoyable thing about The Ultimate Fighter is watching the way certain fighters – by no means all – grow into the role of coach. Matt Serra is the first name to come to mind; Tito Ortiz would be another. It seems to me that Rashad Evans is flourishing in his role as coach as much as anyone before him, and it’s not just the impressive 5-0 record his team has put together that tells you that – it’s his unfailing enthusiasm for his fighters, his commitment to them, that he shows us each week.
It’s all about doing what you love, I guess, and for Rampage, that means addressing Darrill Schoonover exclusively as “Titties.” Rampage is relentless, and Darrill Schoonover, who may very well be drunk, talks some nonsense about how he feels like dropping down to light heavyweight and knocking Rampage out. Predictably, this doesn’t sit well with Rampage, how begins a rant that because of the tyranny of the FCC consists of nothing but bleeps and the word “titties.”
At the fight announcement, where we learn that the foreshadowed Zak Jensen/Titties showdown is totally going to happen this week, Rampage is still on him, asking, “Got milk, bitch?” Which probably isn’t an honest question. Schoonover has had enough, talks back, and starts towards Jackson. Not seriously, not in a way where there’s any real potential for violence, but Schoonover does utter threats. Now, Rampage shouldn’t be calling another man Titties. We’ll probably all agree to that much. But Schoonover can’t be threatening coaches, especially when that coach has cool lines like, “If you feel froggy, jump.” Because it’s tough to come back from something like that. Rashad steps up and tries to help his man save face, but it’s a bad scene all around. Rampage speculates that Rashad, who has famously tweaked his nipples in a weird Jackson’s Submission Fighting pre-fight ritual, has titty envy of some kind, and he might have a case.
In the Team Rampage van, we learn that a few days ago Kimbo Slice was asking, “What’s that dude’s name, the one who be breaking down mentally?” And the answer to that question was poor, poor Zak Jensen, who Abe identifies as Piggy in an unfolding Lord of the Flies scenario. Based on certain physical similarities, and the fact that Zak clearly has no interest in the conch, I’d put it closer to Full Metal Jacket, but that’s splitting hairs. It seems like pretty much everybody in the house is in on the pool Wes Sims is organizing to see when exactly Zak flips his wig completely.
But while everyone is throwing around dates on Zak, it’s pretty clear that Darrill Schoonover is by far the greater threat. Look no farther than his massive tattoo of a knife-wielding clown who has decapitated a young girl and sliced out her eyes. There is a disturbingly Juggalo sensibility that underlies this piece that’s makes it all the more worrying. If the Nevada State Athletic Commission wasn’t testing for Faygo before, they should seriously consider it now. A room full of men who willing signed up for what is basically Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy: The Series agree that Schoonover made a really poor choice on that one. Evans describes Schoonover as “an interesting character. He’s kind of quiet, and he’s kind of weird at the same time, you know? He’s kind of got a weird quietness about him, like, serial killer weird. Like . . . weird.”
Schoonover brings a new intensity to his training as the fight nears, especially during one strange but no doubt useful drill: he’s got Rashad pressed hard against the cage, while a trainer holds a kick pad against the side of Rashad’s head. From there, it’s elbows, elbows, elbows. The other neat thing to come out of Team Rashad’s training this week is a burpee variation wherein two men perform that most horrible yet most awesome exercise facing each other, and when they leap up at the end of each repetition, they slap hands in a rousing aerial high-ten. It sounds weird but it’s probably awesome for morale. Hey, good job on that last burpee! Hey thanks, you too, buddy!
Zak’s training isn’t going nearly as well. While sparring fairly lightly with big Wes Shivers, Zak sustains a leaky, leaky cut in a bad place, right over the eye. Everyone feels so terrible when someone gets hurt in training like that: the guy who got hurt, the guy who inadvertently hurt him, sometimes even the coaches who asked for the drill. Surely everyone in the entire gym must feel at least a little. . . no, wait, there’s Kimbo in a full-on Rocky pose. If Zak’s too sliced up to fight, Kimbo’s back: “If Zak is out, I get to bang again!” Settle down, Kimbo, he’s fine. In fact, he’s more than fine, he’s finally enjoying some support from his teammates, who rally around him in training and cheer him on vociferously during what is actually a pretty crappy sparring session.
Rashad and his coaches, at the gym early for a light workout, discover a caricature of the team that Tiki had a cartoonist put together. Rashad as a frog, Wren as a chicken, Big Country looking nearly as fat as in real life, Titties with some titties, that sort of thing. Rashad decides to remove the piece from plain sight so as not to throw their man off. Team Rampage continues their elaborate psy-ops by scrawling “TITTIES” on Schoonover’s dressing room door, and drawing little nipples in the “o”s. “The guy has titties,” Jackson reminds his fighter. “The guy has titties. That sums it up. He ain’t too happy with himself. Think about it: if you had titties, would you be happy with yourself?”
Rashad takes another approach with his man. “Today is your birthday for more than one reason,” he tells Schoonover, who just turned twenty-four. “Because today you will be born as a UFC fighter. What a treat! God loves you so much.”
You know what, as the fight gets underway, it really looks like Zak’s titties are pretty much on par with Titties’ titties. Was this Rampage’s strategy all along, seizing on Schoonover’s titties (so to speak) to deflect attention away from his own fighter’s boobs? Perhaps we’ve underestimated the man’s tactical mind all along.
Anyway, Schoonover comes out slugging, presses Zak against the cage, and pummels him in the clinch. Zak scores a nice trip takedown off a single leg, but Schoonover starts to work toward a triangle choke immediately. That’s not to say he works toward a triangle choke suddenly, or quickly, or with any kind of urgency – it’s the most deliberate triangle attack you’re ever going to see. If it works, it works, so I’m not about to knock it, but in the time it takes Schoonover to get everything set, Roy Nelson’s stew has finally finished cooking. That stew is ready to go. The time is now for that stew.
And the fight is over! A minute and a half after the initial attack, Zak passes out inside an eventually snug triangle choke. Zak did his best, though. It would be wrong to say that he acquitted himself well, because he didn’t really have an opportunity to show much, but he fought hard until the end, and that’s always worth something.
Team Rashad may have won this round – and the previous five rounds, actually – but Rampage is like his man Zak, he’s going to fight hard until the end. “It ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings,” he says, “and Titties ain’t sung nothin’ yet.” Rampage is actually super happy with himself for that one.
Next week! We’re seriously getting down to it! Only two fights left! And I have a theory. Every time it has been teased that Kimbo might be back in action following an injury to a teammate, nothing has happened. In this week’s preview of the next episode, there wasn’t so much as a hint that that might happen. And so maybe next week is when it is most likely of all! That’s how TV works, right? Let’s find out in seven days!
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