The Ultimate Fighter returned this Wednesday night and saw American Top Team looking to avenge their loss in the opening episode of this season.
Kamaru Usman utilized his wresting acumen to grind out a decision against Michael Graves to give the Blackzilians an early lead in the points standings. It was a rather uneventful fight that saw UFC President Dana White call for the next fighters to show a little something more.
Suffering his first loss as a professional, Graves talked with his teammates about concerns moving forward in his MMA career. Fans love to think as MMA fighters as the ultimate tough guys and Graves’ conversation about a drop in confidence was an excellent example of the mental strain fighters endure. While Graves struggled to maintain the same confidence level as before, his teammate Hayder Hassan was anxious to step in the cage. He attempted to play “mind games” with Usman but the Blackzilians member wasn’t having any of it.
Episode two also saw Glenn Robinson and Dan Lambert exchange some not so nice words with another.
As a reminder here’s how the two teams stack up.
AMERICAN TOP TEAM: Marcelo Alfaya, Hayder Hassan, Nathan Coy, Steve Montgomery, Michael Graves, Sabah Homasi, Uros Jurisic, Steve Carl
BLACKZILIANS: Jason Jackson, Luiz Firmino, Kamaru Usman, Andrews Nakahara, Carrington Banks, Vicente Luque, Felipe Portela, Valdir Araujo
In the second fight of the season, American Top Team’s Uros Jurisic looked to get ATT on the board against the Blackzilian’s Luiz “Buscape” Firmino. Jurisic, a former karate competitor, switched to MMA after joining American Top Team. Originally from Slovenia, Jurisic had his first pro fight in 2012 but sat on the sidelines until picking his MMA career up again in 2014. Jurisic brought a 4-0 record to the TUF set. Firmino is one of the season’s more veteran fighters as he’s been in over 20 professional fights. He’s competed against a number of notable fighters like Tyson Griffin, Francisco Trinaldo and Tatsuya Kawajiri among others.
Round one started fast and furious with both guys looking to land some power shots. Firmino was momentarily dropped but was able to secure a takedown as Jurisic charged in. The Brazilian maintained top position for the next few minutes but was unable to land any strikes to cause noticeable damage. Jurisic also failed to utilize his jiu-jitsu game to threaten with submissions outside of a few weak guillotine attempts. Firmino finally started to turn up the pressure while on top but appeared to be more concerned with not losing top position. Jurisic did throw up an arm bar attempt but Firmino was never in any clear danger. The round ended with Firmino on top and it’s clear the Brazilian had an advantage on the ground. Round one went to the Blackzilians, 10-9.
Round two began with Jurisic being the more active fighter with strikes but it was clear he was concerned about the takedown from Firmino. Surprisingly, Jurisic shot in for a takedown but was quickly reversed and found himself on the bottom with the Brazilian in side control. Jurisic exploded to his feet and managed to avoid any damage while being on the bottom. However, it wouldn’t be long before Firmino had Jurisic on the ground again. Jurisic did manage to scramble back up to his feet but Firmino wouldn’t relinquish his vice-like grip around the waist of the ATT fighter. Jurisic struggled to get Firmino off of him and in the end it would be his undoing. Firmino utilized a smothering top game to take the second round, giving the Blackzilians back-to-back victories to kick off the season.
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