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Following the first win of the season by Team Edgar thanks to Dhiego Lima's miraculous comeback victory over Tim Williams, the approach to how the teams will get ready for fights takes a big shift on the next episode of The Ultimate Fighter.
Dozens upon dozens of fighters from the history of the show will tell you that when living in the TUF house there's only so much to do. The main thing the fighters are busy with day to day is training. Most of the days there are two full-on training sessions in The Ultimate Fighter gym, and as witnessed two weeks ago, some of the competitors are even bringing mats into the house to help work out and prepare when at home.
The problem is that Tim Williams was Team Penn's cardio and conditioning king, yet he still managed to run out of gas after five full minutes with Lima in their bout last week. There's no way to predict how exhaustion or an adrenaline dump could affect a fighter, but given Williams' experience and workout routine there was only one culprit at hand when he was sucking wind following the first round of his fight - over training.
This week, former UFC welterweight and lightweight champion BJ Penn addresses those issues with his team. Not training enough is obviously an easy way to lose a fight, but giving every ounce of sweat, blood and tears before actually stepping into the cage to compete can easily backfire as well. Penn will instill some new ideals with his guys as he gets ready to coach Josh Clark in his fight against Team Edgar's top pick at light heavyweight, Corey Anderson.
While Penn is pulling back the reins on his fighters, Edgar decides to take another approach for training while introducing a different idea for keeping his guys in shape. Looking ahead at the next episode, it's these slight changes that the coaches make that really defines their style and adaptations to ensure their fighters have the best chance to win.
Who will end up with the more effective style of coaching - Edgar or Penn?
In addition to the coaching changes this week, the fighters celebrate Halloween on the show for the first time in TUF history. Without giving away any spoilers, there are pumpkins, candy and costumes involved. To say the outfits might be a little bit disturbing could be a slight understatement, but it's worth watching, that's for sure.
From there we move into the fight this week and that pits Team Penn's Josh Clark against Team Edgar's Corey Anderson.
Anderson is a former wrestling standout who actually had no intention of fighting until one of his coaches during his senior year of college offered him some additional assistance in training as he was preparing for a potential run at the Olympics. That person just happened to be former NCAA champion, Olympian and welterweight contender Ben Askren.
It was Askren who told Anderson to give MMA a shot, and even when he declined, the former Missouri wrestler didn't give up. Eventually, Anderson succumbed to the pressure and gave fighting a shot and it didn’t take him long to realize two very important things needed in MMA - he loved fighting and he was pretty good at it.
As for Clark, he comes from a more blue collar background after falling in love with MMA through training while also constantly working 10 hour days, he tried to find time to enjoy his true passion in fighting. He also shares a nickname (The Hillbilly Heartthrob) with TUF 2 finalist Brad Imes.
Inside the Octagon, Clark is more of a striker who likes to use his boxing to set up other moves inside the cage, while admitting that wrestling isn't his strongest area. That doesn't help him much going against a fighter like Anderson, who has lived and breathed wrestling since he was a toddler.
Now, Clark's big advantage in this fight is experience. With seven professional fights and a history in MMA reaching back to 2009, Clark has been around the sport, competing actively for five years. At the time the show taped last year, Anderson had been working out and training MMA for a whole seven months. During those seven months, Anderson was very successful, racking up a 2-0 record, but it still can't amount to the same level of experience as his opponent.
Like many fights, however, this one really comes down to who controls where the bout takes place. Anderson's wrestling and mat work should get the job done against Clark, who seemed somewhat timid about this matchup when it was first announced last week. Allowing doubt to creep into your mind, even for a moment, can be devastating to a fighter, and despite Chris Fields’ best efforts to pump him up, Clark seemed to be a man fearing the inevitable in this matchup, which was him on the ground with Anderson taking him down at will.
If the fight plays out to their strengths, Anderson's wrestling should trump Clark's toughness and that will mean another win for Team Edgar, making it two in a row in the competition.
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