Caution: This post contains spoilers from the eighth episode of The Ultimate Fighter 6: Team Hughes vs. Team Serra
This week’s episode of The Ultimate Fighter marks as the final round of the preliminaries. The show opens with Matt Serra boasting about his team being up on Team Hughes, 6-1. Serra looking to insult Hughes at every opportunity possible takes a shot at Hughes’ coaching abilities by saying, “I wonder if there’s a Coaching for Dummies book on the market. I’m gonna get that for Hughes. When’s his birthday again?”
The focus this week is on the two remaining fighters who have yet to fight, Team Hughes’ Tommy Speer and Team Serra’s Jon “War Machine” Koppenhaver. In the opinion of Mac Danzig, after him, Tommy and Jon are probably the best fighters on the show. We are first treated with a look at Speer’s training session. With his team down 6-1, Hughes admits that as their coach he should take responsibility for most of the blame. But, Hughes does see a glimmer of hope in Tommy Speer to pull out one more victory for his team. While Hughes has a lot of praise for Speer, he does admit that Tommy lacks emotion which in Hughes’ opinion is vital to win fights. The first training session we witness portrays Speer as a person who simply fights and doesn’t respond nor show any signs of emotion. We’re particularly given this impression as drill after drill, a frustrated Matt Hughes pleads with Speer to show some emotion to no avail. Instead, speechless, Tommy blankly stares back at his coach with eyes that reveal nothing.
We’re then taken to the Serra camp where Jon Koppenhaver is preparing for his fight. Serra does acknowledge that Jon is a very strong fighter physically; however he’s not so sure that Koppenhaver has it altogether up in the brain department. When asked to describe Jon, Serra is lost for words and finally fumbles out, “Man what a nut.” After a ground training session with teammate George Sotiropoulos, Jon voices his displeasure in Serra for giving more instructions to George when they’re supposed to be preparing him for a fight, not George. In his own defense, Serra explains that he has no favorites on the show and wants all his guys to advance.
Next up, getting to know Tommy Speer. The producers of the show finally decide to portray Tommy as a human being for the first time during this episode. Speer is shown talking, voicing his thoughts, and even smiling at certain points. We learn that Tommy is a Midwestern farmboy from Minnesota. Not surprisingly, Speer fits the farmboy stereotype right down to a tee. Tommy is touted as being a strong, hardworking guy by his coaches and teammates. Hughes thinks that Tommy strongly resembles himself, especially back in his early days. Back at the house we’re treated a little laugh as some of the Team Hughes members describe Tommy as a fighting robot and do their best to impersonate him as a cyborg.
Now, it’s time to get up close and personal with Jon Koppenhaver. Jon feels as though fighting is the only way he can survive in the modern world. With no family for support and very few friends, Jon is a hard nosed person who has learned to depend on himself. We learn that he once tried to save his father by performing CPR, only find out the following day that his efforts were in vain as his father had passed away. With the passing of his father, Jon is convinced that throughout his entire life, the odds are always stacked against him. His upbringing has forced him to be tough, particularly on himself. Even Jon admits that most of the time, his toughest opponent is himself.
Fight day arrives and Jon is feeling extremely nervous as a result of all the pressure he has put on himself. In Jon’s opinion, if Tommy losses he has something to fall back on. Tommy can simply go back to his farm where he’ll have a loving and caring family to support him. Jon on the other hand, has no support team. In Jon’s view, his entire life revolves around this fight. Eventually he manages to suck it up and heads to the arena.
The first round opens with Jon landing a decent low right kick. Shortly after, Jon lands a straight right and immediately takes Speer down to the matt. It becomes apparent that the straight right had opened up a cut as blood begins to drip from the left side of Tommy’s nose. Wasting no time, Jon gets Tommy’s back and quickly goes for a rear naked choke. The choke looks deep, but time and time again, Speer manages to out-power himself free. Any regular human being would have probably tapped under such circumstances but Team Hughes was right on the mark when they referred to Tommy as a ‘fighting robot’. Just when things begin to look extremely bleak for Tommy who’s bleeding substantially from the open cut, Speer manages to reverse Jon and gains the mount at the 2:38 mark. On top, Tommy rains down his fury of punches, not showing any signs of effect from the cut. For the remainder of the round Speer continues to throw a combination of punches and elbows from the mount with Jon doing very little in return other than covering up and throwing a few punches from the bottom. With about 30s remaining in the first round, Speer contemplates on attempting an armbar but quickly changes his mind after Hughes yells, “No, no, no, no.” Round one ends as “War Machine” groggily makes it back to his corner and tells his coach, “That dude (Tommy) is strong.”
The second frame opens with an exhausted Jon throwing a weak low right kick that misses its mark. Shortly after, Jon attempts another low kick only to have it caught by Tommy who then manages to take Koppenhaver down in the process. Inside of Jon’s guard, Speer also showing signs of fatigue himself, throws a number of punches from up top. As “War Machine” opens his guard, Tommy quickly prances on the opportunity and gains side mount. While in side mount, Tommy attempts several kimura attempts only to have Jon escape them all. With just under 2 minutes remaining, Tommy manages to gain full mount and throws a series of small elbows that appear to inflict minimal damage. Tommy attempts another kimura on Jon but he fails to find sufficient leverage to complete the submission. With less that a minute remaining in the fight, Tommy opts to let go of the kimura and the fight ends with Speer raining down a series of punches to Jon’s face. Great fight and show of heart by both warriors.
The fight ends and there is little question on who won. The judges hand in their scorecards and Tommy Speer is declared the winner by unanimous decision. With the victory, the preliminary round ends with a score of 6-2 in favor of Team Serra.
Here’s a look at the teams after week 8:
- Matt Arroyo (1-0)
- John Kolosci (1-0)
- George Sotiropoulos (1-0)
- Ben Saunders (1-0)
- Troy Mandaloniz (1-0)
- Richie Hightower (1-0)
Jon Koppenhaver(Eliminated by Tommy Speer – Week 8) Joe Scarola(Eliminated by Mac Danzig – Week 1)
Roman Mitichyan(Injured – Week 1)
- Mac Danzig (1-0)
- Tommy Speer (1-0)
Jared Rollins(Eliminated by George Sotiropoulos – Week 7)
Dan Barrera(Eliminated by Ben Saunders – Week 6)
Paul Georgieff(Eliminated by Troy Mandaloniz – Week 5)
Blake Bowman(Eliminated by Richie Hightower – Week 4)
Dorian Price(Eliminated by Matt Arroyo – Week 2)
Billy Miles(Eliminated John Kolosci – Week 3)
Next week on The Ultimate Fighter:
It’s the quarter finals and Team Serra is in control. Also, Mac Danzig has turned a new leaf and has decided to become best friends with Blake Bowman.
Missed an episode? For more on this season, check our previous recaps: