The Ultimate Fighter 21: ATT vs. Blackzilians: Episode 8 Review

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Last week on TUF 21, Vincente Luque of the Blackzilians defeated American Top Team (ATT) captain Nate Coy to retain home-gym advantage and extend their lead to 200-50 on points. They now lead the season by six fights to one, and ATT need to win four of the five remaining fights in order to win the season outright.

To represent them in the eighth fight of the season, the Blackzilians choose the only fighter of their original team who is yet to fight – Felipe Portela. ATT, who are admittedly in “desperation mode”, choose the only fighter from their team who has won a fight – Hayder Hassan. Hassan demolished Blackzilian Andrews Nakahara in the first round of the season’s fifth fight. Nakahara was subsequently put on medical suspension and has since been substituted from the show. Interestingly, Hassan also has a KO victory over Portela in their last professional fight which took place in October of 2014.

There is an strange moment at the weigh-in when Portela delays in stepping forward to reveal himself as Hassan’s opponent. When they step to the scale, however, both fighters make the weight limit and the fight is on.

Felipe Portela vs. Hayder Hassan
Portela shoots for an immediate takedown and is successful in dragging Hassan to the mat, but Hassan quickly gets back to his feet against the cage. From there, Portela lands a couple of knees and Hassan complains of a low blow. The referee warns Portela to be careful, but allows the fight to continue. Hassan breaks free from Portela’s clutches and takes the centre of the Octagon. Hassan stalks his opponent and lands a stiff jab before Portela shoots and takes the fight to the mat once more. Hassan is quick to get back to his feet again and defends another single-leg takedown attempt. Hassan is more aggressive with the striking now, throwing wide punches. Portela, meanwhile, is having some success with inside leg-kicks and continues to threaten with the takedown. Portela taunts Hassan and waves him on. Hassan lands a big flurry of punches before the round ends.

Portela opens the second frame with a couple of leg-kicks, and Hassan throws a couple of winging shots despite advice from his corner between rounds to shorten his punches. The fighters continue to trade on their feet, but the pace and aggression from both fighters has slowed significantly. Midway through the round, Portela appears to be bleeding from his left eye. Hassan continues to throw out the jab and is landing with punches and kicks, while Portela’s output has virtually ground to a halt. Both fighters pick up the pace in the final minute of the round, each landing punches and kicks that connect. Portela lands a late takedown and follows it up with a couple of right hands against the fence as the round draws to a finish.

Two of the judges score the fight 20-19 for Hassan, while the third scores it 19-19. Hassan takes the victory in a close-fought encounter, and for just the second time in the season ATT regain home-gym advantage.

Dana White gave his thoughts post-fight:
“It was a good fight,” said White. “[Portela] stepped up, and he brought it. Hayder was too much for him. Hayder wins. American Top Team is back, and they’re going back to their gym.”

The points now stand at 200-100 in favour of the Blackzilians with the final four fights of the season worth 100 points apiece. The Blackzilians need two more wins to secure victory, while ATT need three.

Tune in next week to see whether ATT can level the score on their home turf, or if the Blackzilians can edge one step closer to victory.