Check out the latest episode of The Ultimate Fighter Latin America on UFC FIGHT PASS on Tuesday at 12am ET
There's been very little cause for celebration for the Latin American team so far this season on The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America. Four fights in, and Team Velasquez was up 4-0, with one of their strongest fighters in the competition up to bat looking to make it five in a row.
And then the upkick heard ‘round the world happened.
Marlon Vera slammed his heel into Enrique Briones' face and knocked him out cold, giving the team led by Fabricio Werdum their first win of the season and hopefully a shift in momentum as the season moves forward. Sometimes all it takes is one fight to make a difference, and with their next selection, Werdum chose Alexander Torres to take on Rodolfo Rubio in the featherweight division.
Finally being able to control their own fate, the Latin American team put a less experienced fighter with a serious wrestling background in Torres against Rubio, who happens to be a formidable striker with less than stellar takedown defense. Werdum hopes to shift the odds by putting a stylistic matchup together that will get them another win and keep the train rolling against Team Velasquez.
As for the Mexican competitors, after weeks of raucous celebrations after every fight going into the next episode, it seems as if their spirits have finally been dampened just a bit. Briones was a team leader and potential favorite to win the entire competition, but with his knockout it sends a definite message that nobody is safe, even the fighters who were supposed to win easily.
The sound of silence is like a parade through the streets for the Latin America team, who have dealt with late nights filled with drinking, pool parties and loud screaming until all hours of the night as the Mexicans continued to rack up victories. Now with one of their strongest fighters eliminated, Team Velasquez has been cracked for the first time. Can they recover or will this result in a collapse?
To help the team get ready for the next challenge ahead, Velasquez invites in his own wrestling coach this week to help his fighters. Daniel Cormier joins The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America as he helps drill and coach the Mexican squad, helping them add on to their own wrestling game as the competition gets closer and closer to the semifinals.
Cormier has been a coach for most of his adult life, working with kids to adults while teaching them wrestling, and he continues in that role to this day with youth programs as well as serving as the head wrestling coach at American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose. Oh yeah, Cormier also just happens to be one of the best light heavyweight fighters on the planet, so there's that as well.
Cormier's addition this week certainly adds a brand new flavor to Team Velasquez, and he bonds with the team immediately while also sharing the fact that when he first got involved in the sport, he actually trained very briefly with Fabricio Werdum.
The conversation about those particular sessions might be the highlight of The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America for the whole season. It's a can't miss scene this week.
Cormier's addition will definitely help Team Velasquez's Rodolfo Rubio as he gets ready for his next fight. While he holds a lot of experience with a 12-6 record, he doesn't have the wrestling game to grapple with Alexander Torres.
Torres just happens to be a student of Fredy Serrano, who also fights on the Latin America team and is a former Olympic wrestler. While Serrano lost in a close, hard-fought battle earlier this season, there's no doubt he's going to pour everything he's got into his fighter to ensure he makes it to the next round of the competition.
Torres only holds a 1-1 record in MMA thus far in his young career, but the pedigree is there for him to have a very bright future in the sport and it could begin with his fight on The Ultimate Fighter this week. Torres may be young, but his ground skills are certainly legit. He's got a good double leg takedown and he's tenacious when pursuing his opponent. Knowing that Rubio will probably do everything in his power to avoid the ground game also gives him a mental edge in the fight as well.
Rubio will hopefully rely on his experience to get him through. With 18 professional fights on his record, Rubio has seen all facets of the game and he’s been in deep waters long before now. The key for Rubio is to show patience in the face of a wrestling attack from Torres during the fight. If he panics after getting taken down, this might be a long fight for Team Velasquez.
It also has to be noted that like all Ultimate Fighter matchups, these bouts are only two rounds unless a sudden victory round is needed. In other words, if Rubio is going to pull out an aggressive attack to get a finish if he has an ugly first round, he will have to come out firing at Torres immediately in the second and either hope for a finish or draw the fight into the third round.
This still seems like a favorable matchup for the wrestler and it could put Team Werdum on their first two-fight win streak of the season.
The only way to know for sure is to tune into The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America on UFC FIGHT PASS.