TUF 14’s Team Alpha Male member shares his thoughts on last night’s episode
Last night’s episode of The Ultimate Fighter was a cornucopia of entertaining elements.
From Team Mayhem pulling “The Ol’ Switcheroo” at the fight announcement after finding out John Dodson is telling Team Bisping the match-ups to the in-the-cage action itself, there was plenty for our TUF blogger TJ Dillashaw and lead writer Spencer Kyte to discuss.
This is the Heavy MMA TUF 14 blog with TJ Dillashaw.
Kyte: This episode picks up — as every one does — where the last one ends off. How tough is it to see guys on your team keep losing? We see Diego Brandao get fired up walking back to the training room. How hard is it being on the losing side of things for four consecutive fights?
Dillashaw: For me, I didn’t take it too personal. Diego is kind of an emotional guy. To me, I came into it thinking it wasn’t really a team thing anyway. I knew the way the match-ups were going to go — they picked their strong guys to go against our… they did good match-ups. Anything can happen in a fight, but I figured we’d lose the match-ups that they picked. I wasn’t surprised.
Kyte: We get to Mayhem figuring out the whole Dodson thing and scheming around that. Is it just another example of Mayhem being one step ahead in terms of the competitive side of things and the strategic side of things?
Dillashaw: I guess so. It would have gone the same way if we had control. I think it’s more just the stylistic match-ups. He did hold Diego back a little bit, which was smart — Diego’s an emotional guy, and he saw that. So yeah, he’s a little bit ahead on what he knows is going on because he has control. He’s doing a good job of it.
Kyte: We get a first real appearance from you — your first bit of dialogue — explaining the set-up of what Dodson has told you guys. You’re the guy in this episode who is sharing the information from Dodson. Any annoyance with being the guy who got the wool pulled over his eyes?
Dillashaw: We all did, but yeah, that was a smart thing that Mayhem did. Dodson didn’t even know; he was surprised too. He was telling Diego that he was fighting, so I figured it was a reliable source. I wasn’t angry that I looked like the guy that didn’t know what was going on because that was the case for everybody.
Kyte: We get through to the fight announcement and it becomes a bit of a wrestling match, ending up in that testosterone-fueled “let’s fight bare knuckles in the garden tonight” crap between Akira and Dustin Neace. What were your thoughts on it? You don’t strike me as a guy who goes down that road.
Dillashaw: I’m not going to let emotions get to me. I’ve been around wrestlers and other guys that mess around with each other; you pull pranks on each other, and that’s just the way it goes. I think Neace took it a little too much to heart and was a little immature about the whole situation, getting so angry about it, when really it was just Akira trying to have some fun with him.
Obviously, he was having fun with him because he was an easy target, getting so angry about it. That just fueled his fire, and Akira just likes to talk [crap] as well. I think it’s just guys that don’t know how to take a joke, really; they can dish it out, but they can’t take it. Everything gets on their nerves.
I think maybe it could have been one way for Akira to get the fight that he wanted as well; pushing the issue, picking on Neace a lot. Eventually, he knew it was going to boil over, and he was going to get to fight him.
Kyte: What did you think of the fight itself? I was surprised that it was just a two-round fight. I thought it would be going to a third. What did you think watching it at the time? We’ll get to the tap or no tap in a second.
Dillashaw: I remember watching it thinking Akira had won both rounds, but when I watched it on TV, it did look a lot closer to where it could have gone to a third round. I don’t know if that’s because I got to see the tap closer or whether it was just a little closer than I remembered. I didn’t see the controversial tap either.
Kyte: Yeah, you see it pretty clear on the episode, and obviously, it’s one of those things where the two sides are arguing for their guy.
Dillashaw: Yeah, it was a lot more noticeable when I watched it on TV. Not only does he give a false tap, he also turns and screams; he’s yelling as he’s doing it. To me, that’s a verbal tap, as well as tapping a guy twice on the leg. To me, it looks like a tap on TV.
Personally, I didn’t get to see it that clearly, but we’ve always said in practice — and it’s the way in MMA – don’t let go until the ref pulls you off. If you’ve got a submission, don’t let go of it. You always continue until either the bell rings or the ref pulls you off, and Neace just made that mistake.
Kyte: I don’t know if you’ve ever been in that position, but how hard is it to shake that off between rounds? We see Neace is pretty rattled by it after the first, and Akira came out and dominated the second.
Dillashaw: It’s really hard. I had to learn this through wrestling, and I’m glad I did because I can have it in my arsenal now. When a ref makes a bad call, you’ve got to forget about the bad things and everything that happened. You’ve got to continue moving forward, push through any adversity.
I’m sure that was a big, huge thing on his mind through the middle of the round, thinking, “I already won this fight; it should be over,” but you can’t be thinking that way. You’re not going to be on your A-game because you’re too worried about what already happened.
Kyte: What were your thoughts on Akira’s post-fight celebration? Keith Kizer came in and gave him a little mini-scolding, but to me it seemed pretty ridiculous. There might be a third round, you may or may not have tapped — maybe act like you’ve been there before, settle down, and get to your corner in case there is a third round.
Dillashaw: Not only was it bad sportsmanship to do that — I’d never go and celebrate in a guy’s face that I just beat, no matter how much I don’t like the guy. I look at this as being a competitor and I have respect for everybody.
A little too premature on the celebration, and his celebration wasn’t that great to be all excited about it. If you’re going to be real excited about a fight, you should have a really good performance, and I don’t think he did that.
Kyte: You guys pull another prank on Mayhem, changing the markings for his parking space, and his car ends up getting towed. Just more keeping yourself entertained and breaking the monotony of training?
Dillashaw: That’s pretty much what it comes down to is entertaining ourselves, and it goes back-and-forth, knowing that when you prank them, they’re going to prank you back. Just gives us a little form of entertainment and something new in the day.
It was a perfect opportunity. Me and “Taz” — Josh Ferguson — walked out and moved Mayhem’s “M” to have him park in the handicap spot, but then we came up with the great idea to tell the coaches about it. I think Tiki was the one with the tow truck buddy out there, and had them come and tow his car.
I thought it was kind of bad with everything that went down — the crazy fight and all the emotions going on — but you take advantage of it when you can, right?
Kyte: How happy are you see your team get control and see that you might get to control who you fight a little more? We get a little tease that you finally really make it on the show next week and start angling for who you’re going to fight.
Dillashaw: It’s huge to be able to pick who you get to fight. There’s a lot more I’d like to say, but we’ll have to wait until next week.