By Jesse Holland
Special to UFCmania
Episode 4 starts out with highlights of last week's fight and after a few voiceovers it's pretty clear the theme thus far is how Team Penn is dreadful and Team Pulver can do no wrong.
BJ remains optimistic about his team's future despite being 0-3 and I almost believe him until he hits us with "It ain't over ‘til it's over". If the best you can do to summarize your plan of attack is a Yogi Berra clichÃƒÂ© from 1973 then you're basically admitting the ship is taking on water and you're not handing out any lifejackets.
It's training day for Team Pulver and Wayne Weems is identified as the weakest link. The editors go out of their way to make him look like he's training for the Special Olympics. I half-expected him to get dropped off at the training center in a short yellow bus.
Jens expresses his disdain for the faltering Weems and even exclaims "I'm not here to wash his butt!" I probably wouldn't have taken that literally had I not been witness to a colonic in last week's episode.
We shoot over to a training session for Team Penn and the first shot is of BJ lying on the mat talking to Gabe. Not that BJ has ever been accused of being lazy but you know what they say about a picture and a thousand words.
Gabe decides he's going to man-up and call out Wayne Weems. BJ fondles himself like a curious schoolboy and laughs at the idea. The rest of Team Penn gets wind of it and accuses Gabe of taking the low road.
Emerson is particularly critical which surprises me considering he just got done getting his ass whooped. He does have a point since Gabe said he would fight anybody and then calls out Weems in a private meeting with BJ.
Still, Emerson doesn't have the right to criticize an active fighter (even Gabe) for hurting the team when he couldn't even get past his first fight. I don't know. Maybe I'm just old-fashioned.
While I'm on the topic of people who should think before they speak, Marlon thinks it's open-mic night and goes into a dark and sordid tale of life on the street. He rattles off a resume that includes over three hundred street fights and a match that pitted him against five opponents (which he claims to have won).
Not to be outdone in the exaggeration department, Gabe steps up and calls Marlon a liar. He also compares him to Steven Seagal and accuses him of drinking the blood of his opponents and fighting blindfolded. As funny as it sounded Marlon made no effort to deny it.
Back at Team Pulver Brandon wants to fight next but is extremely vocal about his sore foot. For a guy who calls himself "The Murderer" he sure does a lot of complaining.
Manny lets it be known the sore foot is a red herring for too much body fat. Jens tells Brandon to get within five pounds on pick day and he can fight.
One rubber suit and a stationary bike later, Brandon hits his mark. He proceeds to call out Andy Wang and then makes it seem like we should have seen it coming. Considering Team Pulver's toy belt has gotten more airtime than Andy, he should be grateful we even recognize him at all.
Having said that, Andy is gracious enough to give us a quick history on his MMA background and how he fights for family, honor and his Asian-American heritage. You gotta love the old-school mentality.
On the other hand we also learn that despite his skills Andy has been known to fight with reckless abandon. That information comes courtesy of Gabe, who was cornering Andy in his last fight. What was that about reckless abandon? I'll say one thing: Gabe sure gets around.
It's time for the weigh-ins and we have the first KO of the evening as Brandon drops 25% of the viewers by showing up in a stripper's thong. Why Brandon, why? Andy poses with a pair of nunchakus. He's got style I'll give him that.
Team Pulver returns to the gym and as they walk in a few of the guys are surprised to find Matt Hughes mopping the floor. I hate to recycle old jokes but if you look up "foreshadowing" in the dictionary you would see a picture of...oh nevermind.
Matt calls Jens a brother and wants to make a bet that Team Penn hasn't done a whole lot of training for the day. Heck I'm no gambler but I'd take that bet myself. Surprisingly we only get about a minute of Hughes before the segment ends. I guess for most people a minute of Matt Hughes is more than enough.
It's the night before the fight and out of nowhere the producers sneak in the slow piano music. Sure enough we cut to Andy getting sentimental over a family photo and then Brandon playing with one of his kid's toys (that is eerily reminiscent of a rubber mouse that my cat used to play with – I guess it's true what they say about a fighter's salary).
Andy goes to the well one too many times and blurts out "Live like a man, die like a man, then you become a man". BJ quotes Yogi Berra. Andy actually sounds like him.
We finally get to the fight but I'm still disturbed by the preceding commercial for Next. It's a weird premonition movie starring Nicholas Cage. What bothered me is that he's been balding since 1989 yet he's trying to sport that long and creepy old-man hair – the kind guys over 40 grow to look hip. He looks a little like Damone from Fast Times at Ridgemont High.
Round one is underway and Andy eats a punch and crumples right out of the gate. He recovers but the difference (and disadvantage) in reach becomes painfully obvious. Brandon looks comfortable on his feet and continues to circle and strike. Andy tries to reach in but eats a few shots every time.
The round starts winding down and despite BJ screaming for a single leg takedown Andy is content to just stand and strike. It costs him a round and a mouthpiece. Round one is all Brandon.
Round two picks up right where round one left off. Brandon looks tired but is still connecting. BJ is absolutely SCREAMING at Andy to shoot. Andy is either too scared or too stubborn to try and continues to get tagged.
The end is near. Slow and sluggish, Andy couldn't get any stiffer if he was in a staring contest with Medusa. He manages to get Brandon to the fence on two occasions but looks lost and cannot capitalize. Round two for Brandon who wins by unanimous decision.
My first question at the end of the fight was how someone like Andy gets a black belt in Jiu-Jitsu and does not shoot the entire fight. After that performance I would be very interested to know where he got his belt and who it was under (UFC.com does not say).
Brandon looked good striking but it was hard to evaluate him because he was not tested at all. He was never on the ground and spent the entire fight picking Andy apart. I guess we'll have to wait and see what his next fight is like to really know.
Afterwards Andy talks about how he's proven that he's a warrior and that no one can look down on his performance. Maybe he was punch-drunk or thinking about a different fight. BJ doesn't share the sentiment and pretty much dumps all over Andy's failure to listen.
Andy did concede that he was stubborn and would have to atone for his loss. I don't think a trip to Israel on Yom Kippur could atone for that showing. It's one thing to be stubborn but Andy just flat-out ignored his team.
He then starts crying and believe me when I tell you the breakdown Forrest Griffin had after losing to Keith Jardine seems like a mere whimper when compared to the performance Andy just turned in. I'm a firm believer that there's no shame in crying but Andy really put that theory to the test in this episode.
Stay tuned next week as Noah gets owned by Tony DeSouza and Corey and Gabe finally square off – assuming Gabe can drop 22 pounds by fight night. I'm not sure if he makes it but they did fade out with a shot of Gabe unconscious on the floor of the sauna. See you then!