The Ultimate Fighter
The ninth episode of TUF Brazil featured a battle between two world champions of jiu-jitsu: Sergio Moraes and Delson Pe de Chumbo. In this battle, Serginho got the better of his opponent, finishing him with a rear naked choke in the first round. As a result, Team Vitor extended its lead to 7-1 over Team Wanderlei. This advantage forced an exchange of team members between the two groups and, therefore, more controversy in the fighter house.
Serginho and Pé de Chumbo both had a poor childhood in common, and they found a way for a better future in fighting. Through martial arts, they found out the world of jiu-jitsu competitions, and eventually, fate wanted them to meet in a MMA fight.
"I have great respect for Pé de Chumbo; he has been in the fighting world for a long time and, more than that, he represents jiu-jitsu just like me. I think it counts in this fight that I believed a lot in my jiu-jitsu. I entered the TUF house in Brazil without training my striking, as I was only training my ground game. I was well trained in this aspect and I always believe that is what will define the fight," says Moraes.
"I tend not to lose the positions, and the moment I took Pé de Chumbo down and left him in a situation that he is not used to, I took advantage of that," he adds.
The result ensured Serginho a spot in the middleweight semifinal. The four representing this category in the reality show came from Team Belfort, with three of the four featherweights coming from the same team. This discrepancy made Dana White, the UFC president, intervene. Dana suggested an exchange of fighters between the teams. In the middleweight division, Moraes and Thiago Bodão were transferred to Team Wanderlei. But it seemed that before the final resolution, both had predicted this outcome.
"I had a conversation with Bodão that happened because people in the house came to tell me things. I said if it was a house with only women, it still wouldn't have that much gossip! I was told that even before I fight with Pé de Chumbo, that Daniel Sarafian and Cezar Mutante talked with Vitor and told him who they would like to fight with. They thought I was going to lose to Pé de Chumbo. I did not know if it was true or monkey business, but it seemed as if they were planning something," says Sergio, who continues:
"I was really upset with the exchange of teams, mostly because I lost Luiz Dorea as a coach, a guy who I really like. Also I was having a great affinity with Francisco Filho. That is the hardest. Inside the house, we have to work on the psychological part of the game all the time. It's strange trusting in a coach, and suddenly, we have to believe in what was on the other side."
In the end, Belfort ended up with Daniel Sarafian and Cezar Mutante. Mutante that was already trained by Vitor before entering the house, which caused a lot of comments from the other fighters in the TUF house.
"Many people debate if Mutante should be there, being a pupil of Vitor. Honestly, I think he's deserving of being there, for sure. However, it is a determinant factor if you have a corner you know for a long time and he has that while other athletes don't. Vitor knew how to work with him, while the rest had to adapt to the training", says Moraes.
But there's more to do. Serginho will now have to adapt to the work style of the blue team, led by Wanderlei Silva.
"When I was about to enter the house, many people advised me to train with Wanderlei, except my mother, who is a fan of Vitor! So it’s crazy to also have an opportunity with Wand. I felt the loss of the coaches of Team Vitor, who are great, a lot but I also think that Wanderlei has a lot to add."