The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America 2 airs on UFC FIGHT PASS on Wednesday, October 7
It was another rough week for Team Escudero, as Alvaro Herrera's conditioning faded as the minutes ticked away and he ultimately lost a decision to Team Gastelum fighter Hector Aldana last week on The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America 2.
It was a disappointing performance for Herrera, who truly believed he was the superior fighter, but it was clear after the first round that he didn't have nearly enough in reserve to battle back against his opponent. Herrera's performance will be the main focus point on the upcoming episode, as the fighters from coach Efrain Escudero's team begin to wonder if they are being over trained in preparation for the fights.
"I saw Alvaro was getting tired quickly," Kevin Medinilla says during the episode. "When I saw he was tired, he was in a position in which he wasn't making a big effort. I think we are a little bit over trained. We are not used to this kind of training."
Over training is a common problem in MMA, where fighters will routinely push themselves through several training sessions per day to get ready for an upcoming bout, but by the time they are actually walking into the Octagon, their bodies are spent and taxed, with nothing left to give. Considering the fighters on the show are meant to perform at least two times over six weeks if they make the finals, training at such intensity two times per day could have adverse effects on some of the competitors.
While Team Escudero is dealing with some internal issues attributed to their coach's style, Team Gastelum will be in celebration mode following a win last week by Aldana, not to mention that it's Christihian Soto's birthday and his present will be fighting in just a few days.
Soto is one of the elder statesmen of the show, coming in at 32 years of age with a 3-2 record out of Nicaragua. In between the celebration for his birthday, Soto will also talk about an important change in philosophy regarding his approach to doing MMA in the first place. Like many fighters, Soto ended up on The Ultimate Fighter because he wanted to compete in the UFC, but also because he hoped to one day provide a better life for his family back home.
As Soto explains, there are dozens of fighters in the UFC today who wanted nothing more than to be able to buy things for their parents and hopefully give back to them after they gave so much to raise them. But there's a flipside to that coin as well, where fighters are required by nature to be very selfish beings who are in the fight game for their own glory and celebration. Soto's explanation should resonate with a lot of fighters, because he definitely has a way with words when talking about his mental switch from fighting for other people to fighting for himself.
This week's episode will also revive the popular coach's challenge, with Kelvin Gastelum and Efrain Escudero partaking in one of the most ancient sports still practiced today - sumo wrestling.
Yep, Gastelum and Escudero are going to suit up for some good old-fashioned sumo wrestling, with the winner getting $10,000 in prize money and his fighters getting $1,500 each. Things haven't been going too well for Team Escudero this season when it comes to challenges, so now they will turn to the coach to hopefully find a way to turn things around. Team Gastelum ruled the obstacle course to start the season and then did the same when they met Team Escudero on the soccer field.
Is it finally time for Team Escudero to turn it around with a sumo match? We’ll find out on Wednesday night.
When it comes time to fight, this lightweight matchup could be the one to steal the show for the season, considering both Soto and Marco Polo Reyes are well known for having striking as their primary weapon.
Soto is a technically sound fighter on the feet, but he often makes the critical mistake of throwing his punches and kicks without actually practicing much defense in return. Soto will sit down on his punches and land a good combination, but then forget to move his own head and feet to ensure he doesn't get slammed with a hard counter. It's a style that lends itself to an exciting fight because Soto is more apt to get drawn into a slugfest, but it can also be dangerous if he's not careful.
It will be a smart strategy to be more cautious in this fight because Reyes is an equally dangerous fighter on the feet, but packs an even bigger punch as the larger fighter stepping into the Octagon for this bout. Reyes trains out of Mexico with a more traditional boxing style, so expect his hands to be the best weapon at his disposal on the feet as he tries to use superior reach and power to tag Soto before he can come back with his own speedy combinations.
This is the last fight in the opening round for the quarterfinals in the lightweight division and will also determine if two Team Escudero fighters will have to compete against each other in the next round. Horacio Gutierrez and Enrique Barzola are already through to the next round, and a win by Reyes would force two of them to fight each other. Then again, if Soto wins, he sets up some intriguing possibilities for the next round as well, while also tightening the grip for Gastelum's overall control on the show.
Currently, Team Gastelum is ahead 4-2 overall in the competition, and if they get one more this week, they will have already punched the ticket for more fighters than their opponents could muster. Of course, a win from Team Escudero would put them one more fight away from tying things up and possibly carrying momentum even further.
Who wins in this lightweight battle on The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America? Tune in to find out.