James Horne is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt under former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir. He currently serves as an assistant coach under Frank on season eight of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 8 on Spike TV. He will provide a behind the scenes perspective as we head head into the homestretch of the series. This column is sponsored by Kill It Clothing.
Everyone needs a hug … at least that's how John Polakowski feels and he let's everyone know it every chance he gets.
Last night's episode of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 8 may have seemed a bit weird to those watching the clips of John's frequent big hugs while in the fighter house. To be honest, at first, it was a little weird having a dude you don't know real well hugging everyone from both teams every day.
That's right, he actually hugged EVERY PERSON from both teams EVERY TIME he saw them EVERY DAY. And we're not talking about brief embraces … John brings you in for the real thing.
Regardless, John is genuinely a real nice person -- he definitely won't be getting into any street fights anytime soon. It was good to see that the latest episode took the time to capture that … even if it does come off a little kooky.
Because he's such a laid back and friendly guy it was definitely odd to see him get so upset about someone removing all the marshmallows from his Lucky Charms. He definitely appeared to overreact, but perhaps that was his way of getting pumped up for the fight … who knows.
On a side note, the constant pranks throughout this season were beginning to get a little irritating as time wore on for the coaches … and we weren't even living in the house. It seems like this group of guys, including their ring leader Krzysztof Soszynski, has taken it to an alarming level this season.
It's clearly escalated beyond the point of "just good fun."
So when Krzysztof -- who is apparently always bored in the house -- once again decided to stir the pot it was not a positive thing. Throwing pork chops and raw eggs off a balcony onto a group of fighters below is never a wise move … even if he may be able to beat up most of them.
Of course, of all people to hit, Krzysztof got Junie Browning -- the dude with the shortest temper -- not once but twice. Naturally, he didn't just brush it aside, charging up the steps to confront Krzysztof.
Fortunately, Junie never made it through the door and it basically ended there. I was actually surprised it didn't escalate further, considering Krzysztof and Junie were never on good terms after the first night in the house.
In short, Junie was actually better able to control his temper as the show progressed. Too bad Krzysztof controlled his number of pranks.
Anyway, back to the fight between Georges and John.
John had a very big edge heading into that fight -- George Roop really hurt his hand bad in training. We called in Don House -- one of the best boxing trainers and hand experts in the business -- and Dr. Jon Petrick – and ART (active release therapy) practitioner -- from Pain Relief Center in Las Vegas to assess the situation.
It wasn't good.
But Don and Dr. Patrick worked some crazy magic and were a big factor in him being able to fight John so soon after damaging his hand. Roop's toughness, too, should not be underestimated.
It definitely shows that he has incredible physical and mental fortitude to take the fight with his hand essentially mangled. The Team Mir plan going in to the fight against John was to try and preserve the hand and only use it if totally necessary.
Roop did a great job sticking to the plan and using his kicks to score nice points in that first round. In fact, according to the judges, he did better in the opening frame without the hand than using it in the second round.
Injury or not it was a close fight and more than likely should have gone to sudden victory. But it didn't and Roop got the decision. That injury was by no means a "parachute" or a built-in excuse if he lost. It was legit and he is unbelievably tough for throwing his right hand the way he did to get the win.
The semifinal match up between George and Phillipe Nover, which was determined shortly after the bout, will be interesting because his hand is more messed up then the last fight.
He also took a little bit of a beating courtesy of John in the fight. He's certainly banged up, which is not how you want to be heading into a fight against a guy like Phillipe.
The other semifinal pairings are also pretty intriguing.
Ryan Bader and Eliot Marshall are scheduled to collide in a light heavyweight showdown. Both fighters are ground guys -- Bader is a wrestler and Marshall is a jiu-jitsu guy. The funny thing is they talked about keeping the fight standing and having a standup war.
Let's see how that turns out.
In a great lightweight match up, Junie Browning and Efrain Escudero will finally get to settle their score. This is a great grudge match -- it's time to let their fists do the talking. I really can't wait for this one.
And finally, former Team Quest training partners Krzysztof Soszynski and Vinny Magalhaes will battle for the final spot in the 205-pound final. It's a bit strange, considering Krzysztof and Vinny used to train at the same camp and are both on Team Mir.
But the truth is they have only trained with each other a hand full of times so they don't know each others games very well. It wouldn't matter much anyway because both guys do two very different things -- Krzysztof is a stand up guy and Vinny is a ground guy.
Not much to figure out there.
Anyway, at the end of the day Team Mir ends with a solid record (5-3) over Team Nogueira. It was a great battle, but now it's time to get down to the serious business as we get closer to crowning two new TUF champions.
May the best men win.