The Ultimate Fighter 21: ATT vs. Blackzilians: Episode 5 Review


Last week, the Blackzilians extended their unbeaten streak to 4-0 and their points lead to 100-0 when Carrington Banks won the fourth and final 25-point match-up of the season.

The fifth episode opens with Blackzilian standout and light heavyweight contender Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson paying a visit to the house. ‘Rumble’ – who faces Daniel Cormier this coming weekend for the vacant 205-pound belt – offers his congratulations to Banks and urges him to take confidence from the victory. Banks appears buoyed by Johnson’s encouragement, and the Blackzilians’ moral is understandably soaring.

By contrast, the outlook remains bleak for American Top Team, who are yet to achieve a win or host a fight at their gym. They take solace in the fact the next four fights are worth 50 points apiece, so if they can get a win on the board they can level the scores relatively quickly. Desperate for a win, they choose Hayder Hassan to represent them for the first 50-point fight. Hassan, perhaps the most vocal member of ATT, is a 32-year-old striker with a record of 6-1. Dan Lambert believes Hassan has the self-belief to get the job done and help turn ATT’s disastrous season around.

To try to push their winning streak to 5-0, the Blackzilians select Andrews Nakahara. Nakahara is a world champion Kyokushin Karate fighter from Sao Paulo, Brazil. The Japanese-Brazilian and his opponent, Hassan, are evenly matched in terms of age and experience. Nakahara holds a four-inch reach advantage over Hassan and is the more technical striker of the two. Hassan is known for his power and will likely have the edge in that department.

Ahead of the weigh-in, Hassan confronts Jason Jackson over whether the Blackzilian has been spreading rumours that he is a ‘dirty fighter’. Jackson doesn’t deny the accusations and claims that the deciding factor in Hassan’s victory over him when they fought in 2013 was that Hassan pulled his hair. The hostile exchange comes to an end when the fighters agree to settle their differences in the cage.

As the episode develops, Michael Graves’ drinking habits surface once more. Following a late night of boozing, Graves decides to stay in bed rather than join his teammates as they depart for the weigh-in. Dan Lambert cannot hide his disappointment in Graves and states that he’d rather not see him fight again unless his behaviour changes. Team captain Nathan Coy, who is also visibly frustrated, even raises the possibility of kicking him out of the house. Graves, however, doesn’t seem to view his drinking habits as a serious concern.

“Last night I had some wine. I just need a little bit of relaxation time, a little bit of me time”, Graves explains.

Dana White sees the matter differently and feels that Graves is risking a lot for himself and his team.

“Michael Graves can really turn this thing into a huge problem for the American Top Team”, White warned. “There’s $500,000 on the line, their careers, their pride. Michael Graves lost one fight. Losses happen. People are gonna lose in this sport. He’s bringing the moral of the entire team down. You have to bounce back, you’ve gotta snap out of it. You’ve gotta look at the things you did wrong and try to fix them. If you’re not mentally there for this competition, how are you ever going to fight in the UFC?”.

Graves eventually arrives late to the weigh-in and is met with a frosty reception from his team. Hassan and Nakahara make the 170-pound limit, and the stage is set for a fight that is likely to prove pivotal in the overall outcome of season.

Andrews Nakahara vs. Hayder Hassan
The fight opens with Hassan pressing forward and Nakahara landing kicks from the outside. Nakara is circling and switching stances, trying to evade the winging punches of Hassan. Hassan is probing with the jab, trying to set up his power shots. Roughly 40-seconds in, Hassan steps in and lands a big overhand right, swiftly followed by a left hook that has Nakahara in trouble. Nakahara crumples to the mat beside the cage, and Hassan drops a barrage of right hands to the stunned Blackzilian before the referee intervenes at 0:48 of the first round.

For the first time in the season, Dana White appears animated for the right reasons.

“Boom! Here we go!”, says an elated White. “[Hayder] goes in, delivers the fastest finish of the season – 48 seconds – and now he has put them on the board and absolutely, positively changes momentum for the American Top Team”.

ATT half the deficit to just 50 points and will have the opportunity to draw level next week. Perhaps more importantly – and for the first time all season – they will have the chance to do so on their home turf.

Tune in to next week to see whether ATT level the scores, or the Blackzilians shift the momentum back in their favour.

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