The Ultimate Fighter 21: ATT vs. Blackzilians: Episode 3 Review


In the aftermath of their victory in last week’s episode, the Blackzilians are in high spirits, while American Top Team (ATT) lick the wounds of their second consecutive defeat.

As the episode gets going, Valdir “Baby Monster” Araujo of the Blackzilians notices that a bottle of wine belonging to him has gone missing. He confronts several ATT members about it, but they deny any knowledge of the wine’s disappearance. After Araujo leaves, however, Graves confesses to his teammates that he drank the wine earlier in the day.

One-on-one with the camera, teammate Steve Carl expresses his disapproval regarding Graves’ repeated efforts to incite the other team following his loss to Kamaru Usman. Another teammate, Sabah Homasi, also passes comment on how Graves has been “drinking every day”, and contrasts are drawn between how Jurisic and Graves are dealing with their respective losses. Jurisic returned to the gym with the team the same night of his fight, while Graves has mentally regressed and turned to alcohol.

In contemplating how to get the team back on track in their next fight, ATT coach Ricardo Liborio theorises that their early losses may be owing to the relative youth and inexperience of Graves and Jurisic. With this in mind, ATT opt for experience in 25-fight veteran Steve Carl. Carl is a well-rounded submission wrestler and a pressure fighter. The Blackzilians decide to keep the pressure on their opponents and select one of their most seasoned fighters in Baby Monster. A black belt in Brazilian Jujitsu and Judo, and with 19 fights to his name, Baby Monster will look to get the fight to the mat where he believes he will have the advantage.

Prior to the weigh-in, Carl complains that cutting weight in the house is difficult and bemoans the fact that the sauna is located on the Blackzilians’ side of the house. Carl ends up missing weight and has to spend an additional hour in the sauna in a last ditch effort at making the 170-pound limit. While Carl is in the sauna at the Blackzilians gym, The Blackzilians decide to ask ATT to leave and finish the weight cut elsewhere. There is a brief confrontation between Tyrone Spong and ATT captain Nate Coy, but ultimately, the Blackzilians allow Carl to finish cutting weight in the sauna. He makes the weight at the second time of asking, and the fight is on.

Valdir “Baby Monster” Araujo vs. Steve Carl
The fight opens with some tentative striking from both fighters. Araujo makes his first attempt at a takedown about 40 seconds in, but it’s easily stuffed by Carl. Carl lands a hard kick to the body, while the Brazilian is having some success with leg kicks. The ATT representative lands a couple of hard right hands and follows up with a flurry of punches as Araujo backs up against the fence. Baby Monster is forced to shoot for another takedown, which is again stuffed but buys him some time to recover, as he holds Carl against the cage. Approaching the half way point of the round, Araujo uses a single to dump Carl on his head but the ATT fighter jumps straight back up. They on the fence again now, where Carl manages to reverse so that Araujo’s back is against the cage. Action is sparse until about the 20-second mark when Baby Monster attempts a throw, almost giving up his back. He stands back up and finishes the round strongly with some striking against the fence.

In between rounds, Din Thomas in the ATT corner advises Carl not to telegraph his punches. Tyrone Spong in the Blackzilians’ corner instructs Baby Monster to mix up the kicks by throwing high as well as low. Araujo follows Spongs advice as the round gets under way, and the Brazilian gets the best of the striking in the opening minute or so, prompting Carl to shoot for a takedown. The fighters wind up pressed against the cage again in the middle of the round. Araujo attempts a modified Brabo choke from a standing position but lets it go. The fighters spend another minute or so against the cage without much action before Baby Monster establishes the clinch and lands a hard knee to the body that causes Carl to drop down for a double against the cage. This allows Araujo to work for a guillotine. He manages to secure it, pulls guard, rolls to mount, and earns the tap at 4:12 of the second round.

Despite the fight providing the first finish of the season, Dana White was underwhelmed and seemed baffled at Carl’s failure to follow his team’s instruction:

“Instead of listening to what his team wanted him to do, he didn’t implement his gameplan. He paid for it, and so did American Top Team.”

After three episodes, ATT slump to a 0-3 record for the season, a 75-point deficit, and they are yet to host a fight at their gym. The teams will return to the Blackzilians’ Jaco Hybrid Training Center next week where Glenn Robinson and co. will try to heap further misery on Dan Lambert and ATT. ATT will do their best to rectify a desperate situation and turn the season around, but at the moment they seem more than a little lost and devoid of ideas.

Check back to next week to see how episode 4 plays out.

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