Episode No. 2 recap

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

This week’s episode of “The Ultimate Fighter 10: Heavyweights” serves as a look into the UFC’s past to a time when Quinton “Rampage” Jackson was still an active fighter.

Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson opens the episode by sharing with his teammates that he believes he’ll be next to fight. There doesn’t seem to be a lack of willing adversaries, and Roy Nelson says he would love to take the fight.

At the gym, Slice gets a little bit of special instruction from Jackson and his coaching staff, and “Rampage” who admits he sees a little bit of himself in the still-developing streetfighter.

Slice knows his weakness if the ground game, and Jackson believes Team Rashad will try to capitalize on the glaring hole.

Meanwhile, opposing coach Rashad Evans says mental focus and coachability were key components in his team selection process. However, former IFL champ Nelson doesn’t seem to be fitting in to the system, and he earns a talking-to from the coaching staff.

Nelson likens the tensions to a “conflict between two masters,” but Evans’ staff lets “Big Country” know they believe he needs to change his approach.

It’s fight selection time, and despite the loss in Episode No. 1, Team Rampage still has control of the board. Jackson selects Evans protege James McSweeney to face the massive Wes Shivers.

Evans admits he believes coming after his No. 1 draft pick is a personal attack, and Jackson admits that it is.

With the bout set, it’s time to meet the fighter. McSweeney is an Englishman who trains with Evans as part of New Mexico’s Team Greg Jackson. McSweeney believes that elite-level training on a daily basis, coupled with the advantage of working with his real-world coached in “The Ultimate Fighter” gym will help him succeed against his much-larger opponent.

Jackson arrives at the gym and finds Evans working on a mental training session with his team five minutes after their scheduled slot at the facility. It results in a bit of a standoff between the two coaches, and though each has a smile on their face, Evans admits it’s a forced expression.

Shivers shares with us his background in football, and the missed chances in the NFL that led him to a new career in mixed martial arts. At 6-foot-7 and 270 pounds, Shivers believes he’ll be able to absorb McSweeney’s blows while answering with fierce strikes of his own. Shivers also believes it’s an honor to be picked so early in the show and take on the opposing team’s top-ranked fighter.

Both fighters prepare intently for the bout, and both predict a violent finish. With 100-plus kickboxing bouts in McSweeney’s background and a professional football career a major part of the massive Shivers’ background, they may be right.

Referee Steve Mazzagatti gets the action started, and Shivers passes on the touch of gloves. McSweeney looks to utilize the low kick, but Shivers answers over the top with punches each time. Shivers charges in behind a series of punches, earns the clinch, and then the trip.

McSweeney works from half-guard, and Shivers looks to work on McSweeney’s left arm. A kimura is briefly locked in, but McSweeney rolls and escapes back to his feet.

McSweeney again looks to utilize his legs on the attack, though a brief inadvertent shot to the cup halts the action. On the restart, the massive Shivers again rushes forward.

After a brief clinch, Shivers already appears to be showing signs if fatigue. McSweeney uses the opportunity with two minutes left to start picking apart his opponent with jabs and low kicks. Shivers answers with heavy blows when he can, but it’s obvious McSweeney’s speed is going to factor in to the remainder of the contest.

McSweeney starts to get a little fancy with his attacks, and Evans calls for him to “stay fundamental.” McSweeney returns to sticking and moving until the round ends. It’s a close round, as Shivers was in charge early but completely collapsed at the end.

As the second round opens, McSweeney continues to bounce around the cage. Shivers throws big blows, but he refuses to maintain a forward attack despite his corner’s requests. Less than a minute into the round, and Shivers’ hands are on his hips.

Shivers catches a kick and shoves McSweeney to the floor, immediately setting up in half-mount before earning full mount. McSweeney rolls, and Shivers works in a rear-naked choke. However, the choke is on the chin, and McSweeney, survives, rolls, and stands.

Shivers is visibly exhausted when he stands, but McSweeney is hesitant to attack. Evans yells for his fighter to move forward and “Don’t wait.” McSweeney does attack, but it’s not neatly enough for Evans’ liking. Meanwhile, Shivers is too exhausted to move forward.

A right hand wobbles Shivers, and McSweeney locks in a guillotine choke as his opponent looks for the takedown. Shivers pops out with less than 10 seconds remaining, but he can’t offer anything to end the fight. The bell sounds, and Shivers is very, very slow to rise.

Both teams prepare for the possibility of a third round, but Mazzagatti informs the fighters that a decision has been rendered. It’s a majority decision for McSweeney, and Team Rampage drops to 0-2.

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