The Ultimate Fighter 21: ATT vs. Blackzilians: Episode 6 Review


In last week’s episode, American Top Team (ATT) managed their first win of the season and, in doing so, halved the deficit to just fifty points. Team confidence is high, and they know that a victory this week would see them draw level on points and retain momentum.

The Blackzilians’ moral is understandably low having suffered defeat for the first time in the season. They try to remind themselves that despite a narrow 50-point lead, they have won four out of five fights and have dominated proceedings for the most part.

As the episode gets under way, UFC President Dana White gives his thoughts on the situation as it stands.

“ATT wins [last week], they get home-team advantage. Two questions now: what does this do to the Blackzilians; do they fall apart from here, and can they recover from this loss? And number two: does ATT keep the home-gym advantage and start to get the momentum now and get some wins and some points under their belts?”

In an attempt to reassert their control, regain home-gym advantage, and extend their lead, the Blackzilians select Jason Jackson to represent them in this week’s fight. At a time when team moral is low, Jackson seems driven and his confidence is high. The 24-year-old is an excellent striker with fast hand speed and good footwork, and the Blackzilians feel he is the man for the job this time out.

ATT choose Marcelo ‘Grilo’ Alfaya to represent them. Alfaya, 36, is a veteran of 24 fights and is a black belt in brazilian jiu-jitsu. The ATT product will hold a significant advantage in experience over Jackson, who has a record of just 4-2. ‘Grilo’ will also have an edge on the mat. Jackson, meanwhile, will be lighter on his feet and boasts a six inch reach advantage.

In watching footage of Jason Jackson, last week’s winner, Hayder Hassan, points out that the Blackzilian has a tendency to keep his head straight up when he throws his right hand. ATT look to this as something they may be able to capitalise on come fight time.

Both fighters make the 170-pound weight limit without issue, and the teams are set for the season’s first showdown at ATT’s gym.

Marcelo Alfaya vs. Jason Jackson
Jackson lands an inside leg kick to open the fight. The opening minute lacks action, but Alfaya is issued with a warning from the referee for losing his mouthpiece, which is knocked loose by a left hand from Jackson. With the moutchpiece back in place, the fight resumes. Jackson is circling on the outside and is finding a home for his jab. Two minutes in, Alfaya makes his first attempt to get the fight for the mat. He shoots for a couple of takedowns and tries to pull guard, but Jackson is able to defend and stay on his feet. Jackson stays on the outside and continues to fire the jab. With about a minute remaining in the round, Alfaya manages to cut off the cage and works a double leg against the fence. Jackson defends well again, however, and Alfaya is forced to resort to another attempted guard-pull. Jackson defends once more and remains on his feet. The round ends with Alfaya pressing Jackson against the cage, looking for a takedown that never materialises.

The second round begins, and Jackson is circling and landing jabs along with the occasional inside leg kick. Alfaya is offering very little in terms of offence, and two minutes into the second frame he has yet to attempt a takedown. The hand speed and footwork of Jackson seems to have Alfaya stumped. Midway through the round a frustrated Dan Lambert can be heard shouting, “put your hands up and fight!”. Alfaya picks up the pace and aggression briefly but is unable to execute anything of consequence. The uneventful round comes to a close, and Jason Jackson appears the happier of the two fighters.

Two of the three ringside officials score the fight for Jackson and the Blackzilians are jubilant once more.

Dana White, after one brief week of excitement, resumes his disappointment.

“That fight was not the fight I was expecting. It was a huge disappointment”, White started. “When you look at this thing on paper, the way that these two matched up, it should have been a good fight. ‘Grilo’ gets hit with that jab, knocks his mouthpiece out, and that’s it man. The guy never got back into the fight. Fighting is as much mental as it is physical and, as far as I’m concerned, he was mentally out of it and lost the fight right after that shot. And, unfortunately for the American Top Team, we’re going back to the Blackzilians’ gym.”

As the episode draws to a close, White makes an interesting announcement, revealing that we may see some of the current fighters substituted from the show and replaced by new prospects. The decision to swap fighters, apparently, will be at the discretion of gym owners Dan Lambert and Glenn Robinson.

“Another thing that makes this season different than any other season is the owners now have the opportunity to bring in two new fighters,” White announced. “So, they can get rid of two guys and bring two new guys in and it’s going to be interesting to see if they decide to do that, and if they do, to see who are they going to let go, and who are they going to bring in. Because this could change everything.”

Exciting developments ahead then with the potential for fresh blood in the house. For now, the Blackzilians have managed to shift the momentum back in their favour and will look to continue dominating the season. Meanwhile, it’s back to the drawing board for ATT.

Tune in to next week to see whether ATT turn the tide, or the Blackzilians turn the screw.

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