Team Nogueira put their first fighter into the next round of the tournament for The Ultimate Fighter Brazil 4 this week, as returning competitor Reginaldo Vieira put on a masterful performance to eliminate highly-touted prospect Matheus Mattos to close out the bantamweight opening round.
It was a tough fight for both men, considering Vieira and Mattos had become such close friends all season long, but they put it all aside to step into the Octagon so one of them could punch a ticket to the semifinals, where a member of Team Shogun would be waiting for the winner.
Prior to the fight kicking off this week, Team Shogun largely had an off day, considering none of their fighters were competing, but that didn't come without a cost. Giovanni “Soldado” Santos was forced to leave the show a week ago due to several lingering injuries that cost him the chance to compete. His exit was tough on the guys from Team Shogun considering how close they had gotten with Soldado and the leadership he brought to the team throughout his time on the show.
When the fighters returned home from the gym just hours after Soldado was told to pack his bags and get ready to go back to Brazil, the members of Team Shogun found his room emptied out, his belongings all packed up and gone, and all that was left was a letter and a picture of the former member of the team. Soldado left his friends and teammates a final goodbye before he exited and the Team Shogun fighters shared a moment of solitude as they got ready to move on in the show without one of their brothers.
The downtrodden moment nearly carried into the training session the next day, but thankfully head coach Mauricio “Shogun” Rua was there to lift their spirits and remind all of them what they are fighting for on the show. He also gave them an extra reason to honor Soldado after he's gone.
"I told them ‘you now have to fight for Soldado,’” Shogun said to his team.
The motivational speech seemed to turn things around as the fighters from Team Shogun focused their attention back on training while also helping Adilson “Jack Godzilla” Fernandes get ready for his matchup a week from now as the final member to compete against Fernando Bruno from Team Nogueira.
Over at Team Nogueira, the blue team held a meeting before practice to help divvy up the coaches and training partners to begin preparation for the matchup between Vieira and Mattos this week. Head coach Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira made sure that everyone was on the same page while handing out assignments to each of the coaches that would corner the respective fighters while he stayed on the sideline as a fan who would just watch Vieira and Mattos go to war.
As awkward as things could have been for Team Nogueira, Vieira and Mattos made everything really easy because they already discussed and decided that they would remain friends throughout this entire process and that this fight didn't have to be personal in any way, shape or form. While there's always a kinship shared between the fighters on a team during every season, Vieira and Mattos took it one step further by helping each other cut weight just 24 hours away from facing off in the Octagon. Even the next day, with the fight bearing down on them, Vieira offered to cut Mattos' hair because that was the agreement they had before they were ever forced to fight each other.
While Vieira and Mattos took camaraderie to a new level before they actually fought each other, Team Nogueira still somehow found a way to get fractured this week as Bruno “Bulldog” Silva ended up defecting to Team Shogun for the sake of a night out in Las Vegas with the Octagon Girl hopefuls and a trip to the top of the Stratosphere hotel for a ride on a rollercoaster.
It all went down after Soldado was forced to leave the show and Team Shogun had an open slot for an eighth man to join them on the adventure they won by defeating Bulldog and the rest of Team Nogueira a few weeks back. Silva desperately wanted to check out the Stratosphere hotel and the rollercoaster that sat atop the building, so he earned an invitation from Team Shogun and went along for the ride despite the fact that the rest of his teammates from the blue side where none too happy about his decision.
The adventure in Las Vegas was fun for everybody involved, but when Silva returned home he found his bed in the middle of the living room floor as his teammates called him traitor and turncoat for joining Team Shogun for the night. The next day, Team Nogueira called Silva out on his betrayal and how much it hurt them as a team that he would just abandon them for the sake of a spin on a rollercoaster. Silva apologized profusely for his error in judgment and the fighters from Team Nogueira opted to allow him to earn his way back into their good graces with some good-natured hazing that included a spanking and tossing him naked into the pool. It's unclear how that showed that he was loyal to the team, but it seemed to make everybody happy.
Following that bit of business, everyone's attention turned to the fight between Vieira and Mattos.
The matchup put a fierce knockout striker in Mattos against a well-rounded competitor in Vieira, but as the fight wore on it was clear which one of these fighters was hungrier for a win.
The first round saw Vieira control the distance and work for his takedowns against the cage as he found range and began to pop Mattos with a series of inside leg kicks to soften him up without getting into any big exchanges with the powerful striker. The second round started much the same, but now Vieira began to see his confidence grow when he realized that Mattos was getting gun shy and not unloading with his best punches.
Vieira unleashed a hellish combination that ended with a quick left hook that dropped Mattos to the ground. Vieira followed to for the finish, but couldn't quite put Mattos away. Vieira ended up putting Mattos on the mat two more times during the round to secure the decision in his favor after only 10 minutes this time. Vieira pulls off the upset to not only earn a spot back in the tournament, but move onto the next round.
Team Nogueira celebrated the win while also consoling Mattos after a tough loss although, just as promised, he congratulated his friend Reginaldo Vieira on a job well done. Despite the defeat, Mattos will still do everything in his power to help Vieira move on to the next round of the tournament because that's what he said he would do.
Next week on The Ultimate Fighter Brazil 4, the final matchup of the opening round takes place as Adilson “Jack Godzilla” Fernandes from Team Shogun looks to keep his team's undefeated record alive as he faces Fernando Bruno from Team Nogueira. Can Team Shogun put seven fighters into the second round of the tournament or can Team Nogueira find a way to pull off the upset and keep the momentum going after seeing Vieira's success this week?
The only way to know for sure is to tune into The Ultimate Fighter Brazil 4 next week, exclusively on UFC FIGHT PASS.