It's been a rough road for Team Nogueira all season long on The Ultimate Fighter Brazil 4, ever since former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva was forced to leave the show due to looming allegations that he used performance enhancing drugs prior to his fight against Nick Diaz in January.
His team entered the competition minus a head coach before former heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira came on board to try and steady the ship, but despite his best efforts, the guys still continued to struggle through several fights and even the team competitions, which week after week were won by Team Shogun.
As it turns out, Team Nogueira didn't even get a fighter into the semifinals until Giovanni “Soldado” Santos from Team Shogun suffered an injury and was forced to withdraw from the competition, which opened up a slot for Reginaldo Vieira to return to the show and defeat his own teammate Matheus Mattos to punch his ticket to the next round.
So imagine how big of a morale boost it was for all of the fighters from Team Nogueira to finally get a member through to the next round built on the merits of his own performance? Fernando Bruno got the job done this week by defeating the final member of Team Shogun with a victory over Adilson “Jack Godzilla” Fernandes to officially move into the semifinals, which kick off next week.
Prior to the fight taking place this week, Jack Godzilla talked to Bruno about the two fighters going out and putting on the best show possible to end the preliminary round with a bang while leaving everything they had in the cage.
"Let's put on a show," Fernandes tells his next opponent. "You're a (expletive) great fighter. So am I. Let's risk it all. Do what we've been trained to do and what we came here to do."
Team Nogueira had a chance before Bruno's win to get back on the board during the team competition, but once again it was Team Shogun that came out on top there as well.
The competition this week saw the lightweight fighters from each team carry a log over some rough terrain until they made it to a designated station. There, all four fighters would take a saw and cut the log into pieces. The fighters would then pick up the four pieces of the log, run it down to another station, where the next stage of the competition would begin. Here's where the teamwork aspect really came into play because the four pieces had to be reassembled in order and then a special set of plates and screws were inserted to essentially put the log back together. At that point, the four fighters would carry the log back to the starting point and the team that got there first would win.
While it was neck and neck early, Team Nogueira struggled with the final piece of their log when it came to sawing into the wood and they fell apart again when it came time to put the log back together. Team Shogun acted as one cohesive unit during the entire competition and they easily cut the log apart, reassembled it and crossed the finish line with plenty of time to spare.
The victory earned Team Shogun some much needed relaxation time at the house, where they had personal masseuses come over and give them all massages. After several weeks in the competition, the fighters surely needed this kind of therapy and Team Shogun certainly enjoyed the spoils of their latest win.
When it came down to the fight, Jack Godzilla and his coaches acknowledged right away that the best chance he had to win was to keep the fight standing and avoid Bruno's excellent Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and wrestling. Unfortunately, the plan all fell apart when he failed to keep Bruno at bay with his strikes early and that allowed the grappler to quickly rush inside and work for the clinch against the cage.
While the first round wasn't exactly filled with exciting moments, it was Bruno who controlled the pace of the fight as he constantly searched for takedowns and controlled where the fight took place as he punished his foe with short punches and knees while trapping him against the cage.
The second round was much more definitive as Bruno was able to toss Jack Godzilla to the ground with a slick whizzer, and while his Team Shogun counterpart threatened briefly with an armbar from the bottom, he was stuck out of place on the ground for the remainder of the fight. Bruno executed a spot-on game plan to take Jack Godzilla out of his element and the end result was a clear win for Team Nogueira as he moves on to the next round of the tournament.
Following the fight, coaches “Shogun” Rua and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira get together to decide the semifinal matchups that will kick off on next week's episode.
In order of how they will take place, here are the fights for the semifinals of The Ultimate Fighter Brazil 4:
Joaquim "Netto BJJ" Silva vs. Glaico Franca (both fighters from Team Shogun)
Dileno Lopes vs. Matheus Nicolau (both fighters from Team Shogun)
Reginaldo Vieira (Team Nogueira) vs. Bruno “Korea” Mesquita (Team Shogun)
Fernando Bruno (Team Nogueira) vs. Nazareno Malegarie (Team Shogun)
Next week will kick off the semifinal matchups as Team Shogun sees four of their fighters face off against each other. The positive is that both fights guarantee victory for Team Shogun, but it also means these teammates are going to have to battle and only two of them will make it to the finals on June 27 in Miami.
Will these fights tear Team Shogun apart or can their unity bring them through these matchups and maybe even bring them closer together when it's all said and done? Tune into The Ultimate Fighter Brazil 4 next week to find out what happens.