By Jesse Holland
Episode six opens with a fight announcement and Matt Serra selects Ben Saunders to fight Dan Barrera. Considering the amount of drama we've been subjected to in the past five weeks, opening the show with a fight pick is a welcome change.
If Ben wins, Team Serra will be 5-1 and control the quarterfinal picks. I'm not sure if Hughes' blood is boiling just yet, but it's definitely started to simmer.
Team Hughes gears up for training and Dan promises God he's going to go "balls out". Hopefully Dan doesn't try to implement the North/South choke with that philosophy.
It seems Dan is also getting a little overzealous in training. Aside from mauling Blake, he gives Jared the patented B.G. James knee drop right to the Yam Bag. Because Jared already has such a high-pitched voice, no one can immediately tell if he's been hurt.
Paul returns from his cousin's funeral and is quickly shuffled off camera. Some of the guys are wondering why Dan is always in the bathroom during training. Drugs? OAB?
Latrine-cam reveals it's vanity, or should we say Danity, as D.B. finds the best training partner to be his own reflection.
As punishment for roughing up his teammates, Dan gets Coach Hughes for his next training partner. Lest there be any doubt as to the difference between coaches and contestants, Hughes was on him tighter than the Virgin of Nuremberg.
While I appreciate the lesson, Hughes actually did his team a disservice by injuring Dan's hand. By the time he left the gym it looked like a Boxing glove dipped in a bowl of pigs-in-blankets.
Mac compared it to a latex glove that's blown full of air. I was kind of hoping he would put one of his head and inflate it as an homage to Howie from Maui.
Team Serra gets wind of the injury and Serra himself gets a little too excited at the prospect of Dan's hand falling off. Coach Longo telepathically diagnoses it as a broken hand.
Despite a negative X-Ray, Dan pulls a fast one on his teammates by pretending he's off the show. Judging from the forced laughter, not everyone was glad to see him stay.
In a tender moment, Dan whips out a picture of Mrs. Barrera and the first question he gets is whether or not she is Jewish. I don't see the relevance but I guess you never know when you're going to need a good recipe for kosher brisket.
In our second consecutive family emergency, Dan calls home to have his wife scream at him. While her description sounds similar to a panic-attack, Mrs. B is certain she's at death's door. A sympathetic Dan advises her to eat some cottage cheese or Cheetos.
I probably would have recommended an anti-depressant but hey I'm sure curdled milk is just as good.
A part of me feels bad for Dan, who must now fight with both a physical and mental distraction. Dan's ability to mute his angst has me wondering if he's been down this road before.
It's fight day and Ben admits to being as giddy as a schoolgirl. I can only hope he doesn't fight like one. He also claims he'll take care of Dan's dog, his horse and his woman.
He might want to hear the audio replay from that last call before making that kind of commitment.
Like many religious zealots, Dan declares that God is on his side. Why it always has to be one or the other is something these guys can never explain with any coherence.
Round one is underway and a quick look at the clock reveals it's 10:40 p.m. Two rounds! A brief lock-up and a standing knee from Ben who follows that with a nice kick. He misses the next one and Dan lands an inside shot. Another knee from Ben who then misses with a soft kick and Dan makes him pay with a crushing hook.
Ben folds up like a cheap lawn chair and Dan pounces on him. Ben quickly recovers and tries to lock Dan into a submission. Dan wiggles free and stands over him. Hughes is screaming to let him up but Dan just stands there. Time ticks away and Herb Dean finally stands Ben up.
Ben resumes the kicks. Dan closes in and a hit/slip sends Dan to the mat but he stands right back up. No damage. Dan gets a hold of Ben and throws him down. More standing and circling. Dan misses another opportunity. Herb stands Ben up once again.
Ben immediately shoots and gets the takedown but a wily Dan is on his feet almost instantly. Both exchange good shots but Ben is pushing the action. Ben slips on a kick attempt. Round one ends.
Lots of action but it was a very close round and a tough one to score. Ben was the more aggressive of the two and landed more shots, but the few strikes Dan landed caused 10x more damage. I give it to Ben 10-9 but just barely.
Round two starts and Dan is oozing blood. Ben lands a nice stiff jab. Then a low kick, then another. Dan eats a huge knee. Ben connects with a jumping kung-fu kick. Then a low kick. Then a high kick. Dan is taking real punishment. Two more low kicks and another huge knee after Dan tries to clinch.
A bloodied Dan is getting picked apart and looks lost. Herb stops the action to check Dan's vision. Serra doesn't like the break in momentum and lets Herb know it. The fight resumes and Dan continues to get creamed until the buzzer. This round was all Ben. I give the fight to Ben on a close first round and a dominating second.
Everyone looks surprised when the judges announce there is a decision. Ben wins by majority. Team Hughes is dissatisfied with the decision. Coach Hughes walks over to Keith Kizer (NSAC Director) and asks him if he got the judges from a classified ad.
Hughes 1, NSAC 0
Dana calls it the worst decision he's ever seen. Apparently he missed the Din Thomas/Clay Guida fight. The first round was very close and probably could have gone either way, but calling it the worst of all time is a bit much.
Dana does however reward Dan for a strong effort and gives him a $5,000 bonus in addition to the 5k bonus Ben gets for winning.
Afterwards Serra pops into the Team Hughes locker room and congratulates Dan on a war. He also admits to expecting the fight to continue for a third round. Meanwhile Hughes finds a quiet place to reflect on his string of losses and wonders if he made the right picks.
Stay tuned next week as Matt Hughes stomps through his team like Godzilla in Tokyo, Dana eggs him on, and Team Serra looks to keep the humiliation going.
See you then!