It's about getting the title shot. That's what The Comeback is all about.
The young fighters from previous seasons were looking for a chance to break into the big leagues. The veterans in UTF 4, who have already been on the show, want a shot at the title. And never has that been more apparent than in episode eight.
From Shonie's eccentric antics to the determination of the two credible middleweights who fought in this week's middleweight elimination bout, these guys want to win. This could be their last chance. They need to win.
After the review of last week's win by Matt Serra, this week's show opens with that strange riff on the xylophone, which could only mean Shonie's in the house. Housemates beware.
Shonie notes the Team Mojo welterweights have all won their elimination matches and will now have to face each other in the semi-finals; a teammate versus teammate match. And so Shonie, in his singular way, concludes "this ain't no team sport," and sets out on his own path.
"Guys," he announces, "I'm going with the other workout."
And when Team No Love objects to Shonie getting into their van heading off to the training center, Shonie tells it like it is. Jorge Rivera, sitting next to him, takes the brunt of it, and isn't too impressed. Shonie's attitude about defecting from his teammates can be summed up in one thought: "I don't give a f***."
He continued his rant about why he had decided to switch workouts all the way to the training center, but it came down to this: "I'm just generally stating, I don't give a f***."
Shonie wants to break away from his team mates because, well… he's Shonie. But also, when you get right down to it, he breaks away because he wants to win. He wants to disassociate himself from a potential opponent. Nobody likes the idea, but whether they admit it or not, everybody intuitively understands it.
On the surface though, people are upset. When Team Mojo arrives at the training center, Matt Serra reminds Shonie of the agreement the team members had of working together to make the semi-finals.
Shonie acquiesces. "It's just a one-time thing," he says. But the point has been made. Although the fighters were broken up in teams, put artificially into camps to train, when they face each other in the Octagon, it's each man for himself.
Matt Serra comments that "the real Shonie is yet to be seen. We're starting to see his true colors here, and I'm not to crazy about it." The image of his loss to Shonie, that highlight reel spinning back fist that knocked Matt out, must surely be swimming at the back of his mind when he says these words. Fighters never forget a loss.
At the fighter meeting, Dana White introduces Chuck Liddell as the resident coach for the week. The fighters seemed more receptive to Chuck than Rich.
Also, the fighters this week, Patrick Cote and Jorge Rivera, seemed to be training with greater intensity than we've seen before, at least for the middleweights.
In reviewing the fighters' backgrounds, Dana White starts off by noting all three of Patrick Cote's losses in his 8-3-0 record came in the UFC. All tough losses, but losses nonetheless. He debuted against Tito Ortiz, as a light heavyweight. In fact, he rocked Tito in the first round of that fight and made an impression by going the full three rounds, only to lose the decision.
"Tito might have won a unanimous decision that night, but Cote proved to us that he was one tough kid," Dana White says. "So we felt that this kid definitely deserved another chance."
Patrick himself puts it this way: "The thing is that I think I'm the best UFC fighter with the worst record." He adds, "I want my picture on this wall," referring to the larger-than-life pictures of UFC champions hanging on the walls of the training center.
"I came here to win this show and fight Rich Franklin," said Patrick. "I want this title."
As for Jorge, Dana saw him winning in the smaller shows so he was given a shot in the UFC. He has a notable win against David Loiseau and a notable loss against Rich Franklin, a fight where Jorge held his own but in the end got submitted with an arm bar. Later, he got knocked out by Chris Leben at UFN 3.
"Hopefully, the opportunity this show provides me is the opportunity to continue fighting in the UFC, to make good money," Jorge said. "I know I can beat Rich Franklin. I know I can."
The elimination fight matched up well. Patrick would prefer to brawl, while Jorge would prefer to take it to the ground. It was one of the better fights so far this season, and one of the most evenly matched in both skill and desire.
Round one started with Jorge getting his wish to go to the ground. Patrick defended this well from his back and turned the tables on Jorge when he connected with a massive up-kick to Jorge's chin when Jorge tried stand up from his mount. The kick rocked Jorge and won the round for Patrick.
In the second round, both fighters came out slugging but end up on the ground, with Patrick on top. He dominated for most of the early part of the round, they flipped around, but a takedown by Patrick with about a minute and a half to go sealed Jorge's fate.
Patrick won by unanimous decision.
"It's my first victory in the UFC," said Patrick. "It's a happy moment for me." A win for the "best" fighter to improve his "worst" record.
On the other side of the Octagon, Jorge summed up his loss in this way, "I don't fight to fight. I fight to put food on the table. And I know I'm not going to go any further in this tournament here, and that hurts."
You think a title shot doesn't mean anything to these guys? Think again.