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The Ultimate Fighter Watch Continues: Iron Mike Tyson

By Gina L. Caliboso

After Episode 1, there is more drama revealed in the picking of teams. As GSP had picked Jeffrey Lentz as a loser of a preliminary bout, the show put Lentz as a definite character and MMA fighter that drinks and smoke cigarettes. He changed his hair from pink to yellow to match Team Koscheck.

Meanwhile, Mark Stevens, an acquaintance of Koscheck, played a pivotal role in the opening moments of the teams being formed. When Dana White flips the coin, the winning coach either gets first pick of a fighter or gets control of the first fight pick. GSP wanted Michael Johnson as his first pick and came up with a strategy to get Johnson on his team. This particular chess move was played out earlier in GSP’s locker room. GSP had put Stevens (Koscheck’s boy) as his ‘first pick’ and allowed Koscheck to see Stevens name, when really, he wanted Johnson. It was a bluff on GSP’s part and well played it was. When Koscheck won the toss, he chose Stevens and GSP immediately chose Johnson. Intrigue and cleverness – love it!

Episode 2 also gave more insight into the training and coaching mindsets of GSP and Koscheck. According to GSP, he perceives his role as more of a “training partner versus a coach.” GSP is more hands on and has a definite mission to make his team of fighters better MMA fighters. GSP reveals that he had gone on to choose his team based on different criteria and standards that he saw unique to each fighter. For GSP, the show is “not about winning, not about me.” He states, “It’s their show, their time to shine.” And he used a phrase straight from the Tao of Jeet Kune Do by Bruce Lee, he wants the fighters to transform into martial artists.

By contrast, Koscheck maintains a belief in “mindless training.” His training philosophy includes that his fighters “show up and train and that if you listen to me, you will achieve your goals.” Upon his own admission, Koscheck believes he will be the guy that carries the T.U.F. and that he is appropriately labeled the “heel of the UFC.” And I love Koscheck’s attitude: “Labeling me is absurd if you come and meet me person to person, and sit down and have a conversation and hang out with me, you’ll fall in love with me – I guarantee it.”

For the first elimination bout, Caceres (aka Bruce Leroy) chooses Jeffrey Lentz as his opponent. Unlike previous coaches, GSP allowed Bruce Leroy to pick his opponent. According to GSP, “a fighter motivated to do something is always dangerous.” In the night before the bout, the show highlights Lentz propensity to smoke and drink. Bruce Leroy is shown in a traditional gung fun uniform as well as sporting a Jedi braid. On the morning of the bout, Bruce Leroy describes himself as “ready but not tense.” For all you Bruce Lee fans, it’s the opening scene from “Enter the Dragon” as Lee’s character speaks to his Sifu. In the bout between Bruce Leroy and Lentz, both fighters fought a very competitive fight. Lentz came away as the first round winner. But in the second round, Lentz went for a KO, but Bruce Leroy defended well and put Lentz in a good triangle choke resulting in the submission. Bruce Leroy and Team GSP win the first bout of the season.

In Episode 3, the show begins with how the house deals with the aftermath of the victory. Bruce Leroy talks too much about his victory, hubris really, and as one of the fighters admits, “I stop listening 10 minutes ago.” Bruce Leroy, young and arrogant, really needs a lesson on humility, but he still emerges as the character that sparks.
Episode 3 continues to pose more insight into the training approaches of both GSP and Koscheck. GSP brings in wrestler Gia Sissaouri as an Assistant Coach and his role as a training partner continues. GSP is methodical and has faith in his fighters and their abilities. Even as Koscheck is only one fight down, he brings his fighters into the UFC Center and notices his fighters are lackluster, complaining, and crying. He poses a challenge to his team bluntly stating, “I’m here for you guys, get your mind right.” His team responds well and raises their level of performance in training. Finally, as Team GSP has control of the fight picks, it is announced that Michael Johnson will go up against British Erin Wilkinson.

There is no absence of antagonism on Koscheck’s part. He deliberately blocks GSP’s car doors so he can’t get in and GSP quietly responds with, “some people take my kindness for weakness. Anything he does, I’ll keep it to myself.” GSP is obviously going to be subject to a lot of pranking. Koscheck gets to be the “bad boy” and GSP is the cool victim. I honestly can’t keep my eyes of either fighter because their personalities are so different.

As a boxing writer, I was pleasantly surprised by the appearance of Iron Mike Tyson. GSP welcomes Tyson into the dressing room before Johnson’s fight and says that Tyson was “his idol growing up.” Since he is a fan of Tyson, Johnson had admitted how cool it would be make Tyson a fan of Michael Johnson. Johnson is motivated and with Iron Mike watching, he faced a great competition.

Johnson is an exceptional athlete, a natural fighter, and very instinctive. He has good stand up and good defensive stature. Wilkinson, a fighter out of Manchester, England, is a tough strong fighter as well. In the course of the fight, Johnson had a takedown then Wilkinson had a takedown. It was even for the first two rounds and for the 3rd and final round, Johnson got Wilkinson on the ground and put him to submission. According to Tyson, Johnson is faster but Wilkinson had better timing, but once in the choke, Johnson pulled off the submission.

The appearance of Tyson in the UFC makes it clear that fighters are all students of fighting. At his best, Tyson was the heavyweight champion of the world and MMA fighters should really learn from him and take advantage of his experience. When Tyson was at his best, no one could beat him. It’s something that cannot be taught and hopefully the Team GSP fighters can take whatever insight from Tyson and apply this knowledge.

As the shenanigans begin between the opposing personalities of Koscheck and GSP, I watch with intent to see just how each coach and team responds. Koscheck is an extremely competitive and fierce fighter. As I sit here writing this article, my DVR has Episode 4 all set and ready to go for viewing. Needless to say, I’m about to watch it, and for Koscheck, as the preview has shown, being 0-2 to GSP is unacceptable.

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