The Ultimate Fighter: American Top Team vs. Blackzilians airs Wednesday at 10pm ET / 7pm PT on FOX Sports 1.
One and done.
With only three fights left to go in this season of The Ultimate Fighter, the Blackzilians are up 7-2 in the overall competition while opening up a commanding lead in the team scores, and with a single win this week they will close out the show and put American Top Team away for good.
The Blackzilians were put into the advantageous position after Kamaru Usman came out and put the clamp down on American Top Team's chances of coming back with a dominant victory over veteran fighter Steve Carl a week ago.
Just when it looked like American Top Team was getting some much-needed momentum going with a win by Hayder Hassan, the Blackzilians sent Usman out for the ninth fight after he won his debut bout against Mike Graves, and he put on an even better performance for his second go-round. Usman cracked Carl on the feet with a stiff jab and good striking and mixed in his powerful wrestling game to negate the veteran fighter at every turn to pull out a unanimous decision victory.
The win will have Blackzilians team owner Glenn Robinson feeling ultra confident going into the latest episode because he knows his fighters only need one win in the next three fights to shut the door on American Top Team and walk out with the grand prize money and ultimate bragging rights for winning The Ultimate Fighter this season.
Outside of Hayder Hassan's two wins, no one from American Top Team has been able to pull out a victory, so it's no wonder Robinson is on top of the world during this latest episode, where he re-ignites his rivalry with Dan Lambert.
In the first few episodes of the season, Robinson and Lambert went after each other almost as much as the fighters on the show, and these two owners expressed in no uncertain terms that they absolutely despised each other. While tempers have cooled down a little bit in recent weeks, Robinson and Lambert go for the throat this week as they both launch into a verbal tirade that will certainly be the talk of this episode when it's over.
Once the team owners nearly come to blows, the focus then shifts to the real matter at hand and that's figuring out who will compete this week with everything on the line. The Blackzilians can essentially end the show with a win this week, while American Top Team has to find a way to pull out a victory or they are done. It's going to take three wins for American Top Team to take out the Blackzilians, but they have to look at the competition as one week at a time right now so this week is all that matters, because losing means there is no next week.
As excited as the Blackzilians are about their pending season win, the coaches remind the fighters that it's not over until it's over. There are dozens upon dozens of fights throughout history where one person was up by two rounds or sometimes even more and an opponent finds a way to gut out a victory and snatch a win from the jaws of defeat. As far ahead as they may seem to be right now, the Blackzilians can't lose sight of the ultimate prize or they will look up and see the fighters from American Top Team bearing down on their rearview mirror.
When it comes down to the bout selection, the Blackzilians have a ton of options on the table, with several of their fighters still fresh from the opening few fights of the tournament. They have Luis “Buscape” Firmino, who is a true veteran of the sport that could step in after a big win in his first fight earlier this season. There's also Valdir “BB Monster” Araujo, who pulled off arguably the biggest upset this year when he tapped out Steve Carl in a fight American Top Team believed they would absolutely win.
The Blackzilians could also go back to a young gun like Carrington Banks, who had a close fight earlier this season, but he's been champing at the bit to get back in the Octagon ever since.
For American Top Team, they have a much more limited selection to choose from, especially with the season on the line. It's probably not going to be fair to put the onus back on one of the youngest guys to come out and pull off a win in a crucial situation like this, but could they turn to someone like Mike Graves, who lost early but now seems to have found his hunger to compete again? Sabah Homasi has been very vocal ever since losing a very close decision in his fight. There's also a veteran like Nathan Coy, who put on a real battle in his first fight but still may be feeling the effects of a three-round war that might prevent him from stepping into the Octagon this week.
Whoever gets picked will have the weight of the entire season on their shoulders because if American Top Team can't get a win, The Ultimate Fighter, for all intents and purposes, will be over for the season and the Blackzilians can ride off into the sunset with the championship and a lifetime of bragging rights.
Can American Top Team find a way to get it done or have they already conceded the competition to the Blackzilians? Find out this week on the newest episode of The Ultimate Fighter: American Top Team vs. Blackzilians.