The Ultimate Fighter 21: ATT vs. Blackzilians: Episode 2 Review


The second installment of The Ultimate Fighter 21 opens with last week’s loser, Michael Graves, and American Top Team (ATT) trying to deal with the the defeat dealt to them in the opening fight of the season.

Hayder Hassan of ATT – who was highly animated after the first fight in the Blackzilians’ Gym, calling out Kamaru Usman while he was still in the cage – attempts to engage Usman in what he considers ‘mind games’. He compliments Usman on his voctory and says he has ‘nothing but respect’ for him and that he hopes they get to ‘mix it up’ before the show ends. When alone with his ATT teammates, Hassan says, “I’m gonna knock his bitch ass out”. Meanwhile, Usman, who says he doesn’t “play in to the psychological warfare going on in the house,” was admittedly confused by Hassan’s antics:

“This guy just makes it hard to… Do I like you? Do I hate you? What is it?”

When the teams get around to choosing who will represent them for the second fight, Hassan’s name comes up in conversation, but due to the fact that he is recovering from a hand injury, ATT opt for Uros Jurisic instead. Jurisic is a 21-year-old Slovenian scrapper with a record of 3-0. To represent them, the Blackzilians choose Luiz ‘Buscape’ Firmino. Buscape, at 32 years old and with a record of 18-6, is far more experienced than his Eastern European opponent.

In a similar match-up to the fight in Episode 1, ATT have selected a fighter who prefers to stand and strike, while the Blackzilians have again chosen a strong grappler who will look to control his opponent on the mat.

We are reminded of the hostility between gym owners Lambert and Robinson when tempers almost boil over at the weigh-in. As the fighters square off, Lambert accuses Robinson of giving him a ‘tough guy look’. A few pejoratives are exchanged, but the situation ultimately amounts to nothing as wiser heads prevail and the fighting is left to the fighters.

Luiz “Buscape” Firmino vs. Uros Jurisic

Buscape comes out wild with a running front kick to open the fight. Jurisic lands a left and throws a couple of kicks that miss their mark. He continues to load up with the left and finally connects causing Buscape to lose his footing. The ATT fighter rushes in to capitalise, but his efforts backfire as he winds up on his back with the Brazillian on top. Buscape’s team call for him to work an arm triangle from on top in half guard, but it doesn’t materialise. Jurisic recovers guard and works strikes from the bottom. As the round continues, Buscape seems happy to sit in Jurisic’s guard. He maintains top control and lands strikes to the head and body, while Jurisic becomes less active from the bottom. ATT members scream at Jurisic to get up but offer little in terms of constructive advice, and the Slovenian remains pinned to the mat. Jurisic finally kicks out from guard but ends up in the turtle position where the Brazilian holds him for the dying seconds of the round.

At the beginning of the second round, the 21-year-old Jurisic looks tired and has become tentative with his striking. Despite clear instruction from his corner between rounds to keep the fight standing, Jurisic shoots for a takedown 30 seconds into the round. Predictably, Buscape reverses the takedown, and he finishes on top in side control. Buscape holds his opponent there for about 30 seconds before the ATT representative explodes and gets back to his feet. There is a brief striking exchange with Jurisic swinging wild punches before Buscape dumps him back to the canvas. From there the Brazilian is happy to remain on top and sit in his opponent’s guard. Chants of “uh vai morrer” ring around the Blackzilians’ gym as they anticipate a second consecutive victory. Jurisic gets back to his feet briefly on couple of occasions but fails to follow some technical advice from his corner and seems ill-equipped to deal with the grappling skills of Buscape, who easily drags him back down to the mat.

As in Episode 1, Dana White did not hesitate in expressing is disappointment after the fight.

“Well that fight sucked” White said. “Uros did nothing his corner told him to do.”

White’s assessment is accurate. The fight did suck, and Jurisic did fail to follow his corner’s instructions. He shot for a horribly ill-advised takedown at the start of the second round despite his corner’s instruction to keep the fight standing, and he refused to heed Lambert’s advice to let go of Buscape’s head when they were standing against the cage towards the end of the fight. These decisions cost Jurisic as he wound up on his back with his opponent on top of him on both occasions.

Some of the blame must be shared with the ATT corner, however. Aside from the advice between rounds to keep the fight standing, and the instruction to let go of Buscape’s head against the cage, the cornering was pretty pathetic. Desperate cries of “get up” – which is all that was offered to Jurisic for the majority of the fight – fell short of what was required in terms of technical and constructive advice.

The finger could also be pointed at ATT for their strategy in selecting fighters with limited ground-fighting ability two weeks running. The Blackzilians sent two experienced grapplers into battle and have picked up two straightforward victories. One can only assume Lambert will switch up his strategy next week as ATT slip to two consecutive defeats, and the Blackzilians race to a 50 point lead.

Check-in to SevereMMA again next week as we find out whether ATT can start to turn the season around.

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