You can put on a show, you can be in a show, or you can steal a show. And this week, before the big show – the semi-final bout – we saw glimpses of all of these aspects of drama in what was one of the better episodes this season.
This week featured the long-awaited rematch between Matt Serra and Shonie Carter. We’d see who would win the final welterweight semi-final bout and qualify for the November 11 finale.
But first, guest trainer Matt Hughes was trying to put on a production of his own, starring Matt Serra and Marc Laimon. Playing on the bad blood between Matt and Marc, Matt Hughes tried to instigate a grappling match between the two jiu-jitsu experts.
Matt admitted his plan to the camera. “Well I was trying to stir the pot a bit. I knew Serra was a Gracie jiu-jitsu guy, and Laimon’s not a Gracie fan at all.”
“You’re not dodging him, are you?” asked Matt Hughes of Matt Serra.
“What are you getting at, Hughes?” replied Serra.
“I’d just like to see you guys roll,” revealed Hughes.
Motivation established by the director, the tension in the scene mounted as Marc Laimon praised Matt Hughes for his “utter decimation of Royce Gracie.” And then, the show was on.
Matt needed to respond to the provocative statement.
“A guy on a bar stool, or a guy behind a keyboard I can understand,” said Matt. “You know why? Because they never fought.” He elaborated further. “You should have a little more respect for the guy because he gets in there and puts it on the line.”
“Fighting’s not for everybody,” said Marc coolly.
“It’s all safe where you’re sitting,” said Matt. “You’re like an expert swimmer who never got in a pool.”
Scintillating dialogue. Cut to the interior of the Ultimate Fighter house, upstairs bedroom, where Shonie is in the midst of some spray-painting madness that’s creating fumes that are choking out his housemates.
Meanwhile, downstairs in the living room, Jorge Rivera and Rich Clementi are plotting out another scene.
Jorge would be in charge of costuming details: “I’m getting Bozo shoes, Bozo hair, Bozo nose.”
Rich Clementi drew out the themes of their little scene: “Let’s let him see how he’s perceived,” said Rich. “And that’s how the Phony Carter show has been created.”
“Shonie’s a clown,” added Jorge. “And we’re going to let people see how Shonie Carter’s viewed in our world.”
And so it was conceived, and so it was done. Cut to Jorge at the UFC training center wearing a rainbow Afro wig, clown shoes, a clown nose, and oh yes, a red Speedo-style bathing suit. Meet Phony Carter.
The scene also co-starred Mark DellaGrotte as the fight announcer, Din Thomas as the color commentator, with cameo appearances by Mikey Burnett as Mikey “The Terror” Serra, in a jiu-jitsu uniform, and Charles McCarthy as the referee, all re-enacting a famous Octagon encounter.
In the scene, Phony Carter executes a devastating spinning backfist, which sends poor Mikey “The Terror” to the canvas, and prompts a swaying of Phony’s bathing suit-clad hips in a dance of celebration. Enough said. End of scene.
Cut to the UFC training center on fight day.
Six years later… in a training center far, far away, a rematch off rivals takes place.
The rematch pits our hero, Matt “The Terror” Serra, who’s desperately trying to turn off, once and for all, the nightmarish highlight reel of a spinning backfist striking him square in the jaw, against Shonie “Mr. International” Carter, the said perpetrator of the backfist who has plans of his own, most likely having to do with getting his own spin-off series.
Round one Matt dominates right from the start, then Shonie gets a huge takedown, then Matt gets a takedown, the fighters struggle with Matt mostly coming out on top, but with 30 seconds left in the round, wait… could it be? You guessed it, a spinning backfist comes out of nowhere, connects with Matt’s face, and stuns him. Matt’s shaky for a moment, but he doesn’t go down. Shonie can only manage another takedown before the horn sounds. He couldn’t knock Matt out. Shonie stole the round, but he didn’t win the fight.
What Matt feared most showed up in the very first, and he survived. Our hero, tentative about his performance as he talks to his corner men, is now filled with courage.
He comes out for the second round and clearly dominates his opponent. Same in the third. Although Shonie put on a strong performance of his own, in the end, only one man can go to the show, and that would be Matt Serra.
His nemesis has been vanquished, and his evil nightmare has been erased. Matt raises his arms in victory. Well done, Matt. Take a bow.