Things have not been going very well for Team Nogueira to this point in the competition and it didn't get much better in the latest episode, as Bruno “Bulldog” Silva fell to experienced competitor Dileno Lopes to put Team Shogun up 3-0 thus far in the tournament.
Before the fight started this week, the fallout from the previous episode was still being felt as Nazareno Malegarie and Andre “Dede” Ricardo share some war stories from their two-round battle that ended with the Team Shogun fighter getting the finish in the second round by TKO on the ground. Dede was emotionally unstable after watching his mentor and coach Anderson Silva leave the show, and while he put up a valiant performance, he ultimately fell to the more experienced Nazareno in the end.
It's a nice moment shared between the two fighters, but it doesn't take the sting of defeat away from Team Nogueira, especially now that they are down 2-0 and staring down the barrel of a very difficult fight again this week.
Coach Nogueira decides to put his team through the rigors of a very high-paced, strenuous workout this week with full pads and MMA sparring on the feet and the ground. His team gets a little overheated and angry with each other as the training session gets quite intense, with the fighters lashing out after a couple of tough fights to start the season. Cooler heads eventually prevail, but the fighters from Team Nogueira are so stressed out about what's happened already through two fights that they decide to take the training home with them, as they set up a spot in one of the rooms to hit pads and work on stand-up technique.
On the other side of the house, Team Shogun is relaxed in both mind and body.
Mauricio “Shogun” Rua opts for a less intense and more technique-driven training session after telling his team that he knows they came to the show prepared, and now his job is just to make sure they are ready for the fights coming up week to week. It's a much more free-spirited attitude, but one that resonates with the fighters.
While Team Nogueira looks like they are almost at the breaking point already, the fighters from Team Shogun engage in a billiards tournament inside the house, complete with staredowns and commentary throughout the matches. The difference in emotion is incredible as Team Shogun enjoys some much-needed down time away from the gym while Team Nogueira obsesses about training and the upcoming fight.
"You have to relax and socialize," Team Shogun fighter Giovanni Soldado said. "This excessive focus is actually crippling them. They're creating that pressure and saying 'I have to win'. That's really crippling them."
If there was a tension breaker this episode it was the arrival of the Octagon Girls to the house, as they brought over a poker table and some food for a fun afternoon of games and barbecue in the backyard.
The ladies helped to keep the fighters’ mind off the upcoming fights by playing poker and grilling out some food. Last week, Bruno “Korea” Mesquita found one particular Octagon Girl that he liked quite a bit while the team spent some time in the snow, and the barbecue gives him another chance to trade a few kisses with one lucky lady. But this time Mesquita isn't alone because Andre “Dede” Ricardo cooks some steaks with Diana, and by the end of the night they were exchanging more than a few knowing looks as well.
Yet the funny thing about Diana, just like the lady who ended up with Mesquita, is that she doesn't speak Portuguese! These Brazilian guys just have the smoldering look down apparently and the Octagon Girls can't resist!
Once playtime is over, it's time to move on to the final preparations for the fight this week.
Bruno Silva tells the story of how he ended up training with the Nogueira brothers a few years ago before joining the reality show. He was part of a sales contest with a supplement company and the person who sold the most of a particular product got a paid trip to train with the Nogueira brothers at their gym in Brazil. Silva was one of the winners, but as it turns out, he was also the only one serious about taking his training to another level, and once he arrived at the team’s gym, he never left.
Meanwhile, Dileno Lopes talked about coming from the same hometown as UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo and the inspiration he's received by fighting for his people back home in Brazil. Lopes is a member of one of the Nova Uniao teams in Brazil, the same gym where Aldo and former bantamweight champion Renan Barao train as well.
Following the completion of the weigh-ins, it's time for the fight and there wasn't a lot to break down after it was over because Lopes wasted no time putting Silva away early in the first round.
Silva came out of the gate looking good as he established his leg kicks early to back Lopes off from trying any takedown attempts right away. Unfortunately, a slip from Lopes resulted in Silva rushing forward and grabbing a body lock, which ultimately led to his own demise.
Lopes circled out and sprawled, and as soon as he had Silva's head locked under his arm, he knew the fight was all but over. Lopes grabbed the guillotine choke, fell to his back and locked up the guard and Silva had no choice but to tap out or go to sleep. Lopes gets the win and Team Shogun is now 3-0 in the competition.
With another victory, Shogun Rua and his fighters maintain control, and for the next fight in the house they choose Glaico “Nego” Franca (Team Shogun) to face Nikolas Motta (Team Nogueira).
It's a pivotal moment in the show for Team Nogueira, because a loss would mean they go down 0-4 and the best they can hope for is to win the next four fights to equal the amount of fighters moving on to the semifinal round. A win would definitely turn things around, so they will look to Motta as he tries to get them on the board against Franca next week on The Ultimate Fighter Brazil.