The Ultimate Fighter 21: ATT vs. Blackzilians: Episode 7 Review


Thus far, TUF 21 has been a fairly one-sided affair. The Blackzilians shot to a record of 4-0 in the first four episodes of the season. In the fifth episode, American Top Team (ATT) finally managed record a win and gave themselves a glimmer of hope. Last week, though, the Blackzilians quashed any notions of an ATT resurgence and reasserted their dominance with a fifth win for the season.

Midway through the season, with six of twelve fights in the books, the overall record stands at 5-1 in favour of Glenn Robinson and his team. Meanwhile, Dan Lambert and ATT find themselves in a dire position and in real danger of embarrassing themselves if the current trend continues.

At this juncture, both sides have the opportunity to replace two fighters. Dana White gives his thoughts:

“If you’re Glenn, Glenn’s won five of the six, he might not do anything. Dan has lost five out of six. This is a pivotal moment for the American Top Team. This decision that Dan makes could make or brake ’em.”

ATT’s Steve Montgomery was forced off the show in episode 4 after suffering a seizure while cutting weight. Lambert decides to bring in Cristiano “Soldado” Souza to replace Montgomery. ‘Soldado’ is described as being a tough athlete with a capoeira background. The 32-year-old holds a record of 7-1 with a nice mix of knockouts and submissions to his name.

Blackzilian fighter Andrews Nakahara suffered a TKO loss to ATT’s Hayder Hassan in episode 5 and was handed a 30 day suspension by the athletic commission. As a result, it is decided that he will be replaced by Alexandre “Pulga” Pimentel. ‘Pulga’ is high level BJJ player with an MMA record of 13-1.

Interestingly, the only fighters replaced by either team are fighters that were already ruled out due to medical suspension. Dana White, although unsure whether Lambert has made the correct decision from a tactical standpoint, is unsurprised.

“So, Dan Lambert decides the only one he’s going to replace is Creepy Steve who was already out on medical [suspension] anyway. He’s not allowed to fight”, said White. “He’s picked this team originally, he’s gonna stand by ’em. I don’t know if it’s the right business decision in winning this competition.”

As it comes time for the teams to select their fighters for the seventh fight of the season, ATT opt for their team captain Nate Coy, while the Blackzilians choose Vincente Luque. Coy is a veteran and a standout wrestler, while the less experienced Luque is known for his slick BJJ. Both fighters make weight, and the teams return to the Blackzilians gym in Boca Raton for another 50-point bout.

Vincente Luque vs. Nate Coy
The two men meet in the centre of the cage and Luque lands a couple of stiff punches that have Coy looking for a takedown inside the first ten seconds. Luque defends the takedown and punishes Coy with punches as the ATT product clings to the Brazilian’s leg. Coy is bleeding from his right eye as they resume standing. Coy shoots again but Luque’s takedown defence is excellent, and he remains on his feet against the fence. Coy lands a few knees to the legs of the Blackzilian as he works for a takedown. Coy hangs on to the Blackzilian’s leg as the action moves away from the fence, but Luque lands heavy punches to his opponents head, forcing him to let go. Coy looks tired now and is looking for a takedown at every opportunity as Luque is getting the better of the stand-up exchanges. The round ends with Luque successfully defending a tired-looking double-leg attempt against the cage.

Coy comes out aggressive with the striking to open the second frame, but Luque continues to get the better of their exchanges. Luque lands a hard uppercut about minute in. Lambert calls for Coy to take the fight to the mat, but Coy seems content to stand and trade. Two minutes in, Coy catches a kick and executes his first successful takedown, but Luque is able to stand straight back up. A good portion of the remainder of the round consists of Coy pressing his opponent against the fence and looking for a takedown. He almost manages it with a little over a minute remaining, but Luque bounces right back to his feet once more. Luque attempts an armbar late in the round which sees him wind up on the bottom as the round draws to a close.

The judges score the fight a draw after two rounds, and the fight goes to a third and final frame.

The third round begins with some tentative striking. Coy shoots for a takedown, but Luque sprawls well and defends. A minute in, Luque lands a kick to the body that appears to have Coy hurt. Luque fails to capitalise, though, as Coy goes on the offensive with a takedown attempt in desperation. He eventually completes the takedown against the fence and almost takes his opponents back. Luque gets to his feet instead, however, and they are against the cage one more time. Luque attempts a throw, and in the scramble both fighters get back to their feet. Luque throws a knee to the body and Coy tries to respond in kind but slips to the canvas. As Coy attempts to stand, Luque sinks in a deep anaconda choke. The Blackzilians cageside begin to celebrate immediately, but Coy is fighting hard to defend. Luque sits back against the cage and continues to squeeze. It takes the best part of 30 seconds, but the gritty ATT veteran is forced to tap.

Dana White is critical of Lambert after the fight: “Dan needs to change up his strategy and he needs to change it up soon because he’s getting blown out of this competition”. Lambert admits that the situation was getting desperate.

“We’re getting pretty close to desperation mode. We’re gonna have to come out with some big guns.”

The Blackzilians retain home-gym advantage with just five fights remaining in the season, and they extend their lead to 6-1 in fights and 200-50 on points. The outlook remains bleak for ATT, who now need to win four of the five remaining fights in order to win the season outright.

Check back in with to see how the rest of the season plays out.

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