As usual, this episode opened with a recap of last week's action when, in the first of two fights aired, Team Forrest brought the scoreboard to 4-0 after Matt Brown (9-6) defeated Jeremy May (6-5) via round one KO. The second bout of the night pitted Team Blue middleweight Dan Cramer (3-0) against Luke Zachrich (6-1) and ended via referee stoppage in the second round. Thanks to Cramer the "boys in blue" finally scored a win and control of the next fight picks.
It was a new day and an elated Rampage Jackson played a little air guitar while he explained to viewers that he was going to milk all that he could out of the fact his team had control of the next fight selection. For that match, Rampage picked veteran wrestler Gerald Harris (7-2) to take on Amir Sadollah (0-0) from the brown team.
Coach Jackson summed up Harris by describing him as a "mini-me" because of their similar fighting styles; wrestlers who love to slam opponents and dish out vicious ground and pound beat-downs. Harris, humble but not short on confidence, had no doubt his arm would be raised at the end of the fight. He was, after all, facing an amateur fighter with no proven experience to speak of.
Amir shared with viewers that he knew he looked like an amateur fighter on paper but assured them he "doesn't suck." There is something about this kid that reminds me a lot of Forrest when he was a competitor on TUF season one. Perhaps it is the adorable goofiness of his personality coupled with a quiet strength that gives the impression he is a true fighter that will "bring it" and leave it inside the ring/Octagon every single time he competes. Or it could simply be that I tend to admire underdogs that, when faced with fight or flight, always give it their all, win or lose.
Anyway, Forrest admitted Amir wasn't thrilled with facing a guy like Harris who is known for delivering big slams, especially when Amir has yet to officially make his pro debut. I'm not sure if Forrest was trying to make light of the situation or if he was temporarily bored at the moment when it occurred to him that he should wager his hair, or at least half of it, on Amir getting a victory over the veteran fighter Gerald Harris. Season one viewers might recall Forrest taking the clippers to half of his noggin while competing so the probability of him following through, should Amir reign supreme, was 100% in my book. That sounded like a losing situation no matter what? so would it be wrong of me to cheer on Amir (0-0) and send negative energy to Harris (7-2) through the boob-tube as if I could somehow impact the outcome of a match that took place two months ago, from the safety of my Lazy-Boy rocker?
At any rate, it was time for the sixth preliminary fight of the season and the winner of Harris VS Sadollah would receive $5,000 courtesy of Burger King.
Round one: Both fighters came out and touched gloves and circled a bit until Harris shot in and got the takedown. Amir held his own and managed to remain calm and not make the "newbie" mistake of panicking at the first sign of trouble which, in this case, would be the realization that a veteran fighter known for his big slams and vicious ground and pound beat-downs was towering over him with bad intentions. To Amir's credit, he landed a few elbows from the bottom during the struggle and then made his way back to his feet, very Chuck Liddell like.
Harris immediately scored another takedown that came via, you guessed it, a scoop and slam, but Amir managed to kick Rampage's "mini-me" off of him and found his way back to his feet. Harris, once again, scored another takedown but wasn't able to really deliver any damage from the top position and while Amir was attempting to stay busy on the bottom, none of his strikes were effective. After another series of the same, the bell sounded and I imagine all of the judges scored round one for Gerald Harris from Team Rampage.
Round two: Amir came out as the aggressor by throwing a jab or two as well as some decent leg kicks. Harris appeared to have timed Amir's third or fourth effort to score with strikes/kicks and shot in at the perfect moment, ran his foe into the fence, got another takedown and followed up with a solid elbow. Noteworthy was Amir's initial defense to avoid another trip to the canvas; a wide split that generated leverage and balance, a tactic usually applied effectively by pro fighters with much more experience.
Once again, Amir managed to get back on his feet and when Harris went for another takedown attempt Amir caught him with a knee that looked good on camera but wasn't effective enough to finish the fight. He did briefly find himself in the dominant position before Harris took him down again. Amir stood right back up, clinched with Harris and delivered a nasty knee that folded the 7-2 veteran like a cheap lawn chair. Sensing the end was near, Amir followed up with strikes through a gap Harris was unable to shield as he crouched on all fours and offered no defense. After a number of unanswered blows the referee intervened and stopped the punishment.
Harris protested the stoppage, to no avail, because hovering in the fetal position and/or imitating a turtle tend to represent survival mode, not bettering ones position. As quickly as Team Rampage earned control of the matchmaking, they lost it, bringing the scoreboard to 5-1 in favor of Team Forrest.
Harris was taken aback by the series of events and couldn't believe he lost the fight. So much hinged on his performance, in his opinion, as he rattled off a laundry list of people in his life that he had just let down. Coach Rampage consoled his fighter and offered an encouraging pep talk that made it clear to his "mini-me" that a loss is not the end of the world and he should use it as a learning experience in order to grow.
Gerald Harris didn't get the win but he did manage to display his strengths as well as expose some of his weaknesses, something every fighter tends to do at some point. My impression is that Harris is a talented competitor and natural athlete who absorbed what his trainers and coach tried to teach him. He is only one of thirty-one fighters who will end this experience without winning the contract or officially becoming the next Ultimate Fighter, but I have no doubt we will be seeing him inside the Octagon again beyond the season 7 finale.
With control back in the brown teams court, Forrest pitted Cale Yarbrough (0-0) against Pat Schultz (7-1-1), the replacement fighter for Paul Bradley from Team Rampage who was sent packing in the third episode due to an outbreak of mat herpes. Schultz was defeated by Luke Zachrich (7-1) via round one submission (rear naked choke) in the tenth middleweight elimination bout and was very happy to have been given a second chance to showcase his fight game.
Could a second 0-0 fighter pull off a victory against another experienced veteran in the same night? Rampage didn't think so, especially after finding out Cale would have to drop 17 lbs. in 24 hours in order to make weight. Cale and Forrest both admitted Cale is a banger with very little experience on the ground yet Schultz was hopeful the fight would remain standing with both fighters slugging it out, which is exactly what happened.
Round one: The fighters touched gloves and Cale immediately threw a leg kick but found himself on the canvas just as fast when Schultz caught it. The remainder of the round consisted of both fighters trading punches, body shot and kicks. Schultz dropped the less experienced fighter several times but Cale managed to recover quickly and continued coming back for more.
This fight turned into a nasty slobber-knocker as the wild punching hit a fever pitch with Schultz getting the better of the exchanges when out of the blue, Cale shot in and took his foe to the canvas. I'm not exactly sure what he was thinking considering the fact he himself admitted he has no ground game. Perhaps he felt the need to prove it, which is exactly what he did.
What was more surprising, after Schultz managed to make his way back to his feet, was that Cale shot in and took the fight to the ground a second time. The only possible explanation was that Cale was trying to score points on the judge's cards but to his credit, Schultz had no answer for Cale's tactics.
Round two started off with both fighters throwing jabs, kicks and swinging for the fences with about 50% accuracy until Cale took the fight to the ground once again. This time Cale made the most of it by dropping elbows and punches as well as following step by step instructions from his corner about how to transition to the mounted position. Cale aborted the plan after several failed attempts and simply resumed the ground and pound, most of which went unanswered by Schultz, until the round ended.
Rampage assumed there would be a third round and Forrest shared that his fighter was ready, should the judges feel the need for "sudden victory" in order to determine a winner. It wasn't necessary. The scorecards favored Cale, sending Rampage on a rampage. For the second week in a row, both coaches lost their sense of humor with the other but the mounting tension is a promoters dream and I have no doubt Dana White will find a way to capitalize on it for record breaking pay-per-view buys when these two face off July 5th in Las Vegas.
Tune in next week for more drama between the coaches, the final preliminary fight between Nick Klein and CB Dollaway and the semi-final match ups.