A surprising fight between two amiable fighters provides a brief interlude in the never-ending airing of grievances between Cody Garbrandt and T.J. Dillashaw.
Tonight on The Ultimate Fighter ….
Cody Garbrandt rips into T.J. Dillashaw!
Dillashaw responds with a smirk!
Urijah Faber looks like he’d rather be in Sacramento!
Will Garbrandt grab Dillashaw’s throat again and brag that an eagle got a snake?
(Oh, and two fighters with compelling stories will battle for a shot at reviving their careers, which seems like it should be the A-plot rather than the B-plot, just like the Family Guy with the Star Trek: The Next Generation cast competing for screen time with a rather mundane Meg story.)
This recap will include all the Alpha Male drama, but we might mention the fighters a bit.
The matchup, made last week, is TUF 19 champion Eddie Gordon (Cody’s team) vs. TUF 22 participant Tom Gallicchio, billed here as a jiu-jitsu expert.
But first, Dana White recaps the Alpha Male conflict, and we cut back to Cody and Urijah yelling at T.J. in his dressing room doorway. Most of the conversation is bleeped. The rest of it … I would call it elementary-school playground arguing, but our local school is actually much more intelligent than that.
After what seems like 45 minutes but is actually about five, we’re reminded that we have a fight on the agenda. We see Faber offering to roll with Gordon because — plot twist — Faber has trained with Gallicchio. Yes, Gallicchio was actually on Team Faber in TUF 22. Is the TUF house big enough for all this baggage?
We get a quick intro to Eddie “Truck” Gordon. “My redemption story is a little different being that I won season 19.” They show about 20 of the 71 seconds from his finale win over Dhiego Lima, who is also in the TUF 25 cast. We think. We haven’t seen much of him.
Gordon describes his UFC career as up and down, though he lost all three post-finale fights. He pays homage to Josh Samman, whom we all miss, who beat Gordon with a stunning head kick. landed one of the best knockouts in recent years to put out Gordon. He followed the Samman loss with a split-decision loss to Chris Dempsey and and a rear naked choke loss to TUF Brazil 3 winner Antonio Carlos Junior.
T.J. takes the team out to a Mexican restaurant for Lima’s birthday. Lima is thrilled, not for the rare bit of air time but for the nachos. Gallicchio refers to it as a fancy restaurant, but he’s the one who has to watch his weight. Over fajitas, T.J. tells Gallicchio that Gordon just has a big right hand and nothing else. Lima might disagree.
That leads us to Gallicchio’s back story, which he narrates like John Malkovich reading to children on Saturday Night Live. Gallicchio won his fight to get into the house (not shown) on TUF 22 and was on Faber’s team but lost early on.
Since then, he has had his shoulder and foot reconstructed, and he screamed profanity about his UFC dream being gone. We see him running with his motorcycle in a prolonged effort to start it, a nice illustration of his relative poverty. On the bright side, he now has a supportive girlfriend. He also runs a business stocking candy machines. That’s recession-proof. Any openings for freelance writers looking for a side gig?
He trains with Dan Henderson’s Team Quest. “Dan runs it old school. We spar a lot.”
After an ad break and a brief, incomprehensible conversation with Gordon and Julian Lane, we see Gordon’s home video. First, he’s changing diapers as if he’s auditioning for a rom-com in which the guy finds diapers stinky. He says being a Jamaican immigrant gave him a work ethic that helps him balance fatherhood and training.
He doesn’t have a baby-sitter, so baby goes to the gym with him and cries while he hits pads. He tells us a lot of people don’t realize he’s a high-level wrestler because he loves the striking game. And he points out he could be the first two-time TUF winner.
Over to T.J.’s training. Dillashaw, unsurprisingly, wants Tom to get the fight to the ground. Fast. Tom hails his conditioning, saying Gordon might beat him for two minutes, but after those two minutes, “it’s Tom’s world.”
Weigh-in. Uncomfortable-looking commission guy in purplish/magenta sports coat. When the hairy Gallicchio takes the scale, a fighter teases him to take off his sweater.
Fight time. Given the time, we know it’s not going the full two rounds. That’s a drawback of this format — we pretty well know how long a fight is going to be, based on the time it starts.
Gallicchio says he has been walked on and back-stabbed in this sport. It’s a stark contrast between the smiling guy walking to the cage and the emotional guy talking about his sacrifices and desire.
Big John McCarthy is our ref. We get it on.
Gordon bears an eerie resemblance to Anderson Silva, and he controls the early exchanges. His reach keeps the jiu-jitsu ace at bay. Eighty seconds in, he lands a couple of shots that get Tom wincing. Tom manages to clinch and land a good knee, but Gordon eases his way back out.
After some weak shots from distance, Gallicchio finally goes low for the takedown. Could we see a massive upset here? Gordon gives up his back as he stands, and Gallicchio hops on with hooks and a rear naked choke attempt. Gordon’s face shows the strain as he fights but never shakes Gallicchio off his back. They finally fall to the mat, and it’s over.
“He tried to get back up with no technique,” Garbrandt says of Gordon. Mistake No. 2: Gordon tried to peel off Gallicchio’s feet instead of fighting the choke.
Gallicchio is happy. He plans to take his girlfriend on a vacation. (On TUF Talk, Gallicchio revealed that he and his girlfriend took a cruise to Mexico.)
We’ve managed to go 30-40 minutes without Alpha Male bickering. The break ends before the fight pick, with both teams once again awkwardly crammed into the hallway to heat things up. Cody and T.J. keep trading their alternate takes on Alpha Male history before T.J. gets bored and asks to get on it with it. He sets the next fight — Team Dillashaw’s Jesse Taylor vs. Team Garbrandt’s Mehdi Baghdad.
Taylor might be the ultimate redemption story here. He was a monster on TUF 7 in several ways, winning his fights and acting out. Then he lost his spot in the finale with an ill-advised post-show rampage in Vegas. Baghdad is 0-2 in the UFC but owns a win (officially an exhibition because it was on TUF) over recent main-eventer Artem Lobov.
Should be fun. And at some point, we’ll surely see Joe Stevenson again. We know he’s there somewhere.