Article By Randall Woo
This week’s episode had the fight we’ve all been waiting for: Justin Lawrence vs. Cristiano Marcello. But before that, let’s recap this week’s episode.
I like the choice of “Higher Ground” by Red Hot Chili Peppers for the intro. The old theme was getting, well, old. The new theme seems to fit the show’s new network better, as well.
Anyway, we start where we left off last week, where Cruz set up his No. 1 pick Justin Lawrence to fight and then let Faber decide who he wanted to match up with Lawrence. Team Cruz had a good laugh, since no one from Faber’s team stepped up.
John Cofer says something along the lines of “If it was to happen again, I think you’d see a lot more guys stand up.” But that’s kind of missing the point. You can’t wait for the “second time.” The whole point was that it was such an on-the-spot decision.
We’re introduced to Chris Tickle, and in this episode he’s made out to be the outspoken jokester of the house. He antagonizes Team Faber a bit about their hesitance to fight Lawrence.
It’s time for the typical TUF antics, and we see Tickle wearing a gas mask tearing down Faber’s parking sign. I’ll admit, somewhat amusing, but we’ve seen it all before.
We’re introduced to Justin Lawrence and learn that he’s pretty much been training in martial arts his whole life. Cruz describes how he really wanted to challenge Lawrence with the fight against Marcello. Coach Eric Del Fierro says Lawrence will “hopefully take him [Marcello] out with a left-hook knockout.”
Lots of camera-time for Tickle, as he seems to get on Cruz’s nerves a bit in practice.
We learn more about Marcello and find out that his BJJ skills descend from the Gracie tree. The audience gets the impression that Marcello is going to come out super-aggressive, like his former Chute Boxe teammates. The coaches want him to fake the takedown, but mostly stand up with Lawrence.
It’s time for the pranks, and Team Faber uses some tape to put a widow’s peak on Cruz’s portrait. They say he looks like Eddie Munster, or Count Dracula. Pretty funny.
Cofer and Saunders poke a little fun at Tickle, and he takes offense. Cofer and Tickle get into a confrontation. Perhaps a sign of things to come? Cofer says “I would love to have a fight with Tickle.” A little immature of me, but I laughed a little bit upon hearing the words “tickle” and “fight” in the same sentence.
Next, we see Lawrence training with a BJJ blackbelt and pretty much getting manhandled. You really get the sense that Cruz believes in Lawrence and wants to push him.
The prank wars continue, and Team Cruz adds a thong to Faber’s “butt chin” on his portrait. I love it so far. Clever, harmless fun.
Faber tells Marcello to be real aware of the left hook, and really emphasizes keeping his chin down.
It’s funny how Lawrence appears nervous in the house, and Pichel tells him “It’s all hype, man. Don’t believe the hype…Anyone could be beaten, everyone bleeds.” This is funny, because you expect that this would be the talk Marcello would be getting. Lawrence is the one with all the hype. He’s the young kid and the No. 1 pick of the whole competition.
Marcello points to his family as an advantageâ€”that extra motivation in the fight.
It’s fight night, and Faber goes over some moves with Marcello that Lawrence likes to use.
The fight starts, and Lawrence comes out exactly as Faber described. Marcello is in a traditional stance, while Lawrence looks unorthodox but very fluid. He’s constantly moving.
I like Lawrence’s style because it’s very unpredictable. His legs are like armsâ€”you never know what he’s going to throw. The kid packs a lot of power as well. It seems like everything he throws has huge power behind it.
They’re mostly feeling each other out in this round. There are a few moments where Marcello chases Lawrence down with that Chute Boxe style but doesn’t land anything significant.
Overall, Marcello looked a little tentative and didn’t land as many power shots, so I’d give that round to Lawrence.
Second round. The action picks up a bit, and Lawrence looks a bit more aggressive. Marcello gets a hold of Lawrence, and Lawrence tries desperately to escape. He gets out, and they continue on their feet.
About two minutes in, Lawrence starts repeatedly finding Marcello’s chin. With about 1:44 left, Lawrence punishes Marcello with a huge punch. Guess what? It’s a left hook. Fight is over.
Winner by KO: Justin Lawrence.
Lawrence looked really impressive. I’m curious to see how he would do against a fighter that is able to cut off the cage or get him to the ground. Easier said than done, of course.
It’s time for the fight announcement, and the cameraman slips (probably in the trail of sweat left behind by Marcello). Gotta love live TV!
Cruz calls up Myles Jury, and his opponent will be:
Wow, another aggressive fight pick. This is another fight that we very well could have seen towards the end of the competition.
Iaquinta was Faber’s No. 1 pick, and he trains with Matt Serra. His record is 5-1-1. Jury was on season 13 of TUF before a knee injury forced him out. His record is 9-0.
It’ll be very impressive if Team Cruz can pull this off. If they win next week, they will have removed Faber’s top three guys.