The Ultimate Fighter: American Top Team vs. Blackzilians airs Wednesday at 10pm/7pm ETPT on FOX Sports 1.
The first three weeks of The Ultimate Fighter have been anything but fun for American Top Team, as they watched two of their young guns get taken out by members of the Blackzilians before putting up a tried and true veteran in Steve Carl last week, only to see him fall to defeat as well.
Carl seemed to be as much as a sure thing as American Top Team had on their squad of welterweights, but he came up short and fell by submission to Brazilian Valdir “Baby Monster” Araujo. American Top Team is now down 75-0 in the overall scoring with one more fight to go in the 25-point opening round and the latest bout will once again land in enemy territory at the Blackzilians gym.
Right now it feels like trying to ice skate uphill for American Top Team, and owner Dan Lambert is just as downtrodden as you could imagine going into the latest episode this week. The game plan hasn't worked with any of the fighters they've chosen, and the Blackzilians have had the perfect counter for every potential matchup that's been made.
The heart-wrenching feeling of watching one of their top dogs lose will kick off this week's episode as Carl tries to wrap his head around what went wrong and why he wasn't able to pull the trigger against Araujo and get the win for his team. While it's not that hard to come back with the point structure setup, where the second four fights are worth 50 points each and the final four fights 100 points each, but it's still demoralizing to go out and drop fight after fight every week.
As the fourth fight approaches, American Top Team goes back to the drawing board again to try and figure out an answer to whatever the Blackzilians throw at them. Thus far, the upstart team from Boca Raton has used a wrestling and jiu-jitsu heavy attack to ground their foes. From Kamaru Usman, who is a former Division II National champion, to Araujo and Luis “Buscape” Firmino, who are both well-known ground technicians, the Blackzilians have been able to expose a weakness in ATT thus far by putting ground fighters against strikers who struggle to stop the takedown.
American Top Team will look at a few possibilities for matchups this week before finally settling on the person they believe gives them the best chance at victory.
Over on the Blackzilians side, they are working with the mentality that if it's not broke, why fix it? They've been dominant in almost every minute of every round of the first three fights, so it's hard to imagine they're going to let up on the gas pedal at this point in the competition. Coaches such as Jorge Santiago and Rashad Evans have been crucial in making the fight selections, along with team owner Glenn Robinson to constantly give them a leg up in the competition before the fights ever start.
Evans will also get some extra screen time this week as his coaching abilities continue to come to the forefront at the Blackzilians gym.
The former UFC light heavyweight champion remains a student at heart, but it's been nearly 10 years now since he was a part of the second season of The Ultimate Fighter as a competitor himself. Evans faced the rigors of living through the seclusion of being in the house for six weeks as well as training away from home, and now he gets to pass on that knowledge to the next crop of TUF hopefuls.
While the focus for the episode remains mostly on the fight at hand, where American Top Team tries to get in the win column following three straight losses, there is undoubtedly one of the scariest moments in the history of the show this week as one fighter falls ill and it ends with a call to 911.
Fighters have been forced into ambulances before on the show as a result of a bad knockout or injury, but what happens this week to one of the fighters is one of the most harrowing moments that's ever taken place in the 20-plus seasons the show has been on the air. One fighter says it so well when explaining just how scary things got at one point and it might be a rare moment this season when the teams came together to root for the guy who falls.
"When you put things in perspective, it makes what we're going through in the house seem like nothing," one fighter comments after the altercation.
It's a frightening moment for sure, but, like always, the show must go on and the fighters on both teams have to regain their focus and get ready for the task at hand - winning the next bout and adding 25 points to their team total before the next round of the tournament begins a week from now.
Will American Top Team finally erase that zero from their record this season or have the Blackzilians really started to break them in mind, body and spirit? Find out what happens on this week's episode of The Ultimate Fighter.