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TV Review: The Ultimate Fighter 4 – Episode 5

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For some fighters a comeback is more meaningful than others.

Last week we saw Jeremy Jackson blow his title shot when he broke the rules and left the confines of the house to meet the lifeguard of his dreams.

Some of this season’s fighters are trying to come back to the big leagues after having dropped off the UFC radar screen, while others are fighting a bigger fight than the one in the Octagon. Oh yeah, and then there’s Shonie, who’s just trying to stay afloat.

Shonie’s antics this week were focused on myth busting in the pool, or as Shonie would put it, dealing with the “mystical stereotype that black people can’t swim.” His extracurricular activities this week revolved around devising a floatation device using empty water bottles from around the house. Needless to say, as the empty water bottles collected in the pool, the other fighters’ level of agitation increased. They were not too impressed with Shonie’s aspirations to conquer water. He finally managed to fill a green garbage bag full of the empty water bottles and float around the pool to his heart’s content.

The week’s episode actually began with speculation that Matt Serra masterminded the match-up between Scott Smith and Travis Lutter to save his student and fellow Long Islander Pete Sell from having to fight. Could have Matt have planned this? Possibly. But I think it more strategic than malicious. This is still a competition after all.

Meanwhile, Rich Clementi and Matt were both ready to throw down this week. And given Jeremy’s early departure last week from the Team No Love welterweight ranks, the possibility of Rich fighting could have happened. At a fighters’ meeting, Randy Couture announced that Team No Love would be allowed to bring back either Rich or Pete Spratt into the competition.

How would they decide? It came down to the flip of a coin. Jorge Rivera tossed the coin, it turned up heads, and Pete won. But would he fight?

That was the question after the coin toss. The coaches seemed to think that Rich would have been the better choice. Randy questioned Pete’s desire to fight. And even Pete questioned his own desire, saying that he was considering bowing out to Rich.

But in the end we would not see Pete blow his chance at a staying in the competition. He chose to exercise his coin toss-winning rights and rejoin the Team No Love welterweights.

“Now, I got to pick myself back up and do what I got to do,” said Pete.

At the fight announcement, Pete declared that Matt Serra would fight “next week” and this week the fighters would be Team Mojo’s Din Thomas against Mikey Burnett.

It turns out that Team No Love’s picking Din was strategic because they knew he was still suffering from the staph infection which was making the rounds of the house last week. They thought that he would be at his weakest come fight time.

Din is a fighter who has shown a lot of promise, working up the lightweight ranks, only to suffer losses as he approached the top. But he is a strong TUF candidate. In fact, Din is Dana White’s pick to win the welterweight division.

He has two notable losses against BJ Penn and Caol Uno that set him back. He dropped out of the UFC scene after a controversial win against none other than Matt Serra at UFC 41.

In Mikey Burnett, Team No Love chose a true veteran from the “no holds barred” days of the Octagon, a stand-up fighter with boxing experience and an association with Ken Shamrock’s Lion’s Den, but who is also attempting comeback from addiction to get his life back on track.

“Sometimes there’s different fights in life,” said Mikey. “‘I’m trying to create a future in the UFC now.”

As for the elimination bout, it was a quick on again this week. It essentially could summarized in this way. Din pulled guard once, tried for the triangle choke, failed; he tried again, and locked it in for the tap out from Mikey.

The loss was a disappointment for Mikey, and a brief chat with Randy after the fight suggests that he has more thinking to do about his comeback. Sometimes making things new again is harder than it seems at the outset.

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