Following each episode of The Ultimate Fighter Heavyweights, Team Rashad member Matt Mitrione will share his thoughts on what happened on camera and behind the scenes.
After the reaction on the first episode people might be surprised that there was no drama in the house with Kimbo. He was liked. He is a good dude. You have to understand he was just a guy who fought. A year after he was done fighting they put his videos up on the Internet. He went from being nobody to being really popular. He’s guarded because he’s always around people who are trying to get into brand new money. He was still cool and polite but people gave him his space. The socialization part with a bunch of people he didn’t know is something that he wasn’t overly cool with.
In the beginning the coaches asked us who we wanted to fight and I think there were four of us who wanted to fight Kimbo. Roy didn’t want to fight Kimbo, he wanted the easiest road to the finals, which is smart. But the coaches thought it was the best match up.
No one on our team thought Kimbo had a real chance of winning. The scene by the pool where Roy is talking strategy is a pretty accurate representation of his role on the team. He’s a vet, he’s been around. When it comes to Jits, there’s not too many people who have better MMA Jits than Panda (we called Roy Jiu Jitsu Panda because of his belly).
We had Mike Pyle come in and work ground stuff with us and he’d show stuff that works really well for small guys but not so much for big bodies. So I’d always try to partner with Roy because he was by far the best ground guy there. Panda would show me stuff that he thought would work better and most of the time he’d be right.
A lot of us felt comfortable asking Roy questions and it probably made Roy feel like the elder statesman. After all, he’s had the biggest fights out of anyone on the show. He fought Arlovski, he fought Ben Rothwell. We’d ask him advice and he’d oblige. He might seem arrogant but he’s not putting on an act. Whatever Roy says is what Roy firmly believes. Maybe there’s sometimes when he’s angling but for the most part, if he says it, it’s Roy’s gospel.
Getting ready for the fight, Roy definitely worked on his hands. He took it seriously. He didn’t take Kimbo lightly at all. He was working his hands, making sure that he was tucking his chin, making sure he didn’t move straight back. Roy took it serious for sure. He may be a jokester but when it came down to the fight, he’s legit.
I wasn’t in the gym for Marcus’ blow-up but we all knew that Marcus was really sensitive from the get go and he was really easy to manipulate because he was so conflicted about being there. He missed everything. He missed going to the beach, he missed flowers, he missed cooking, being able to sit in his Lazy Boy and chill, and he talked about it openly. Being in the house was a grind for him. Plus Marcus has kids. It’s much more difficult to be away from home for that long when you’ve got kids.
When it came time to fight I thought Roy did his job but I think Roy played it safe. Once he got him to the ground in the first round he did a very passive pass and put him in a varied crucifix and banged on him. I don’t know why in the hell Herb Dean let 40 unanswered punches go in the first round and 30-something in the second. They should have stopped it in the first round. Granted, they weren’t damaging Kimbo because they were hitting him on the crown of the head but forty-one unanswered punches? That’s a lot.
Dana’s the guy who signs the checks so I’m not going to disagree with him but my opinion is that when guys get on top and they get in crucifix or knee on belly against the cage and start punching their opponent in the face, even if it’s not hard, the ref stops the fight. I’ve seen it happen a lot. I don’t think the force of the punch is relevant, it’s whether the guy is trying to defend himself and Kimbo didn’t buck, he didn’t bridge, he didn’t do anything.
You feel completely helpless in a crucifix especially when you’ve got a guy as big as Panda on top of you. His belly is ginormous. As soon as he gets in crucifix on you, his belly is on your chin and throat and you’re not breathing to easily and you’ve got this hunka hunka love on top of your punching you on the crown of your head.
I don’t think many of us noticed how hard Kimbo hit Roy in the second round but watching it afterwards you see that Kimbo stung him up a little bit. That’s when Roy latched onto Kimbo and took Kimbo down. He didn’t want to take too many more of those punches. After the fight, I can’t remember if it was right after or a couple days later, Roy said that every time Kimbo hit you it felt like you got hit with a baseball bat.
I think a lot of us were surprised by his antics after the fight, the Whopper with this and that and coaches pouring water in his mouth. I think most of us were like, really guy? But Roy just banged it out with Kimbo and won. And he got robbed that first round. Maybe he was doing that to be like, ‘look, you tried to take it from me and I still got it.’ I probably would have been pissed, too, if I were Panda.