There was never a doubt going into this season of The Ultimate Fighter that American Top Team had an experience edge over the Blackzilians, if for no other reason than their team had been together for over a decade and many of the fighters represented on the show had been at the gym for several years.
Despite the teamwork and brotherhood experienced at American Top Team, they are finding out the hard way that putting the right matchups together can still cost them, while the Blackzilians prove that they may be young but they are a family and, as of right now, they are up 50 points after another win on Wednesday night's episode.
> Check out the Luiz "Buscape" Firmino fighter bio at FOX Sports
Before the fight started, the fallout from last week was still being felt as Mike Graves was in the dumps after feeling he let his team down with his loss against Kamaru Usman in the opening bout of the show. Graves actually wasn't very well aware of the rivalry American Top Team had with the Blackzilians before the show because he arrived at the Coconut Creek, Florida gym just after Jorge Santiago and three others defected to start their own camp with owner Glenn Robinson.
Following his initiation on the show and after experiencing a raucous crowd at the rival gym, Graves certainly understands the full depth of the disdain American Top Team feels for the Blackzilians. It appears he shares that distaste after his loss to Usman.
> WATCH: Episde 2 Weigh-in - Lambert & Robinbson exchange words
"Basically, I have a real sour taste for the Blackzilians after today," Graves said.
Graves' teammate Hayder Hassan is just as amped up to punch a Blackzilian in the face this season, especially after he got right up to the cage a week ago and personally challenged Usman following his win. This week, Hassan decided to turn things into a cerebral war as he complemented Usman on his performance and told the former Olympic hopeful how much fun it would be for them to face off in the Octagon later this season.
Hassan's tricks worked because just after he praised Usman, the former Nebraska wrestler admitted that he was confused on whether or not to accept the compliment or if the American Top Team fighter was trying to play him. There were no mixed feelings in the other van riding across South Florida, as Hassan expressed rather loudly how much he wants to destroy Usman when they finally face each other.
Usman had his own problems outside of Hassan this week after having a falling out with teammate Jason Jackson at a training session inside the house.
The Blackzilians are up one fight to none thus far and the last thing they need are teammates going after teammates. Thankfully, Usman and Jackson squash things before leaving the room, but it's a situation to watch as the season progresses.
As for the fight this week, as much as Hassan wants to get in the Octagon, he's dealing with a slight hand injury and the coaches at American Top Team want to give him as much time as possible to recover before putting him inside the cage.
Hassan is just champing at the bit to fight, but if he gets in there and reinjures his hand, he may be out of the competition for the whole season, so fighting smart trumps all for now.
So with Hassan on the sidelines, American Top Team goes with young European fighter Uros Jurisic for the second fight of the season. He's young and inexperienced, but according to his coaches, Jurisic is hungry, a quick learner and a very good striker on the feet. Once again, without knowing who they are fighting, the Blackzilians play the fight selection perfectly by countering the young Jurisic with one of their most experienced veterans in Luis “Buscape” Firmino.
Buscape is a veteran of more than 20 fights, with a large part of his career being spent in Japan, where he fought for PRIDE Fighting Championships. He's a world-class submission specialist, and with his wrestling, the Brazilian is the perfect counter to the long, rangy striking of Jurisic.
"They call Buscape the flea in the gym because once he's on you, you can't get him off," Blackzilians owner Glenn Robinson said about his fighter.
Before the fight stars, the weigh-ins once again prove to be one of the highlights of the episode as American Top Team owner Dan Lambert decides to take another stab at Robinson while their fighters are staring each other down after hitting the scale. Lambert makes no secret that he despises Robinson, and the feeling is mutual from the other side as well.
"What's with the tough guy look? The make-up artist would kick your ass," Lambert said to Robinson. "You're the most unathletic guy in the room. You know the least about this business yet you're standing here like Godzilla ready to eat (expletive) Tokyo."
It appeared for a moment like the next fight on the show would be Lambert against Robinson, but cooler heads prevailed.
The fight between Buscape and Jurisic went down pretty much as predicted, with the veteran Brazilian putting his much younger and inexperienced opponent down on the mat over and over and over again. Jurisic managed to clip Buscape early with a quick left hand, but outside of that lone moment, he spent the majority of the next 10 minutes on his back just gasping for air.
UFC President Dana White was none too pleased with another wrestling-heavy performance from the Blackzilians, but at the same time it's up to the fighters from American Top Team to stop them and thus far they haven't been able to do it. The Blackzilians are now up two fights to none, which means they have 50 points and American Top Team still has zero.
As we head into week three, the Blackzilians are riding high through the first two fights and now the strategy for the third bout gets even more important as they look to put their boot down on American Top Team and begin to squeeze to find out what this gym is really made of.
Don't miss the next episode of The Ultimate Fighter next Wednesday night at 10pm ET on FOX Sports 1.