It’s that time of the week again. I am here to recap the events of The Ultimate Fighter: Tournament of Champions (Team Benavidez v. Team Cejudo). Last week we covered the special two hour season premiere and got to witness the first two fights in this tourney which will produce the #1 contender to Demetrious “Might Mouse” Johnson’s Flyweight title. The two will collide on Dec. 2 at the Finale event in Las Vegas.
This weeks episode has the tournaments 3rd fight, which sees (5) Hiromasa Ogikubo(15-3) from team Benavidez face off against (12) Nkazimulo Zulu (7-2) from team Cejudo.
Lets get underway.
– First up we have Dana breakdown the tournaments first 2 matches. We see small clips of them and move on. We get some small talk from Dana about the competitors in this weeks fight. We get some footage from the house. Apparently there are some cultural differences in the house given the fighters are from all over the world. Some of the fighters feel that Nkazimulo is rather rude, hard to get along with. They say he doesn’t speak with anyone in the house and just keeps to him self. It’s clear Zulu is just a little out of place and some of the guys don’t know how to handle it. The situation escalates when Zulu tries to wash a dish and Dimacio Page blows up on him. I don’t feel that was entirely necessary but what would this show be with out a little bit of in-house drama, right?
– We head straight into some training footage of Zulu. He started karate when he was five. He eventually moved on to other disciplines and then MMA. He is the Extreme Fighting Championship Flyweight champion. The EFC is the biggest promotion in Africa. Cejudo is covering some wrestling with Zulu. He comments on his warrior mentality. We get some in cage footage of him. He has some nasty knees. The game plan is to work on his ground game. They feel that’s where his biggest holes are.
– Next, we have Ogikubo’s background. He hails From Asakusa, Japan. He has a wife and 2 kids back home. He works at night so he doesn’t get to see them as often as he’d like. He works at the Gym he trains at, as the Jiu Jitsu instructor. He started in karate when he was five years old. His father was the instructor. He said he hated it when he was younger but eventually came around. His interest in MMA started when he saw episodes of Pride on t.v. Before he fights he has a ritual where he visits a temple. He takes time to find peace and prey before he fights. He believes he is the best Japanese fighter.
– We then get footage from his training session. Benavidez comments on the Japanese and their demeanor. He expects that Ogikubo’s strength will be in his fighting spirit. We get Dana breaking down his fight history and his recent victory to become Shooto Japans’ Flyweight Champion. He goes on further to explain how he has slick submissions skills that could potentially cause a problem for Demetrious Johnson. (not likely). Ogikubo goes on to explain his fighting style. He says “My style is to weaken and chip away at my opponent with karate kicks and punches. Then I take it to the ground and finish it with a choke.” It’s clear that the language barrier creates issues when it comes to Benavidez trying to coach. He acknowledges the length disadvantage he has the in the fight. He says they will plan to implement his submission game.
– We get some house footage of Ogikubo hanging with Ronaldo Candido. Even though they speak different languages, they seem to be getting together really well. Ogikubo says he appreciates the hospitality and is glad to be on the same team as Candido. He wishes to face him in the finals.
– Next, we finally get some background footage of Zulu. Hes sharing photos with some guys in the house, which is nice to see after the first segment. He has two daughters back home in South Africa. He says, in South Africa you need at least two jobs to survive. He holds a job as a mechanic. He explains to difficulty in having to work virtually all day and then still having time to train.
– We get footage of Zulu prepping for the weigh-ins. He is wearing a head piece that his people back home wear. It is apparently meant to deliver the spirit of the Zulu warrior to those who wear it.
– The coaching staff and teams are behind the TUF doors waiting to enter the gym for weigh-ins when Coach Cejudo starts taking some jabs at Benavidez. He currently sits at 2-0 over him in tournament victories. They go back and forth over some completely irrelevant topics, and end up getting in an almost childish like argument over who knows what. Wow, that was ridiculous.
– We get Dana explaining the position that the coaches are in, given they are in the same division as the competitors in the house. They’re essentially training these guys to take there title shot. As the number 1 and number 2 contenders currently, they are bound to face several of these guys in the future. It is a rather unique scenario. Still, it didn’t warrant that nonsense.
– … So remember when the coaches were acting absolutely ridiculous? It gets worse, or better depending on how you’re looking at it. We see Henry Cejudo incite some other argument that goes from them judging ones character to Henry Cejudo giving us his best Benavidez impersonation. It’s painfully awkward and doesn’t end soon enough. Anyways, both fighters are on point and Dana gives us one last hype spot.
– It’s fight day. Ogikubo is going over how he feels his abilities are above his opponents. He is confident in all the work he puts in and expects an easy victory. Zulu is very motivated by his family. He wants a to provide better life for them and knows winning this tournament can provide that. Ogikubo promised a first round finish. The fighters warm up in the locker rooms. Dana makes his appearance to wish the fighters luck, they make their final preparations and we’re off to the races.
Fight #3 (5) Hiromasa Ogikubo (15-3) v. (12) Nkazimulo Zulu (7-2)
Round 1: Ogikubo starts off with a kick. Both fighters are throwing one maybe two strikes at a time and not much is connecting. Zulu starts opening up with some kicks. Ogikubo shoots for a takedown and secures it. He sits in half guard for about a minute peppering little shots to Zulus head. There is virtually no defense from Zulu, he starts suffering some damage and ends up putting Ogikubo in his full guard which almost sees him suffer more damage. Zulu starts answering back with strikes from the bottom, but it is quickly put to rest as Ogikubo works back to half guard, then to Zulu’s back in a beautiful transition. Ogikubo locks on what looks like a perfectly placed rear naked choke but Zulu is able to fight it off and survive the round. Wow, crazy defense. 10-9 Ogikubo. Solid ground control.
Round 2: Zulu comes out the aggressor Ogikubo shoots and Zulu stuffs its. Ogikubo is seeming a little slower, perhaps he punched himself out in that first round. They get into a scramble that ends with them on the ground with Ogikubo on top. Back in full guard, both men trade shots back and forth, despite Ogikubo slowing down a bit he is clearly stealing the round with the way he is maintaining top control. Zulu tries to escape only to end up having Ogikubo take his back again, he searches for another rear naked choke and eventually gets the tap. Winner Ogikubo Via 2nd round RNC.
– The coaches and Dana cover the fight. They had Ogikubo taking round 1 as well. They recognized Zulu’s efforts to turn it up in the second round but ultimately, it wasn’t enough.
– Zulu discusses the loss and admits that he needs to improve his ground game, he gives congrats to Ogikubo.
– Dana says a pretty redundant statement and discusses the current tournament status.
– They announce next weeks fight. Which is (4) Demacio Page (19-10) vs. (13) Adam Antolin (11-3)
The two competitors give a little pre-fight talk and we hear the coaches input on both fighters and what they expect to happen.
– And that that’s folks. Hope you enjoyed the recap. Tune in again next week as we cover the next fight in the tourney and breakdown the events that transpired from this weeks episode.
CATCH UP ON LAST WEEK’S SHOW HERE: THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER REPORT 8/31 – Benavidez vs. Cejudo, episode 1: Teams chosen, Pantoja vs. Morena, Kara-France vs. Mitchell