‘TUF 24’ Recap: Episode 2

By Mike Sloan Sep 8, 2016
After the obligatory highlights from Episode 1, it’s time to kick right into tonight’s show, which begins with the fighters piling back into the house after the pair of fights from last week. Team Cejudo is up to a quick 2-0 lead and initially everybody is still getting along at home but that doesn’t last too long.

Jaime Alvarez and a few others are perplexed that Nkazimulo Zulu, who is from South Africa, apparently stashes his cooked food in the cupboards. Eric Shelton is miffed that Zulu is disrespectful in that he doesn’t appear too eager to make friends. Damacio Page and Zulu quickly have an argument over water at the sink and the guys in the house are already fed up with the dude’s behavior.

After the early turmoil, the show shifts to clips of Zulu training and then of him tearing it up on the African circuit and he looks legit. Ultimate Fighting Championship President Dana White claims that he’s been compared to a young Anderson Silva because of his brilliant striking and Henry Cejudo raves about Zulu’s wicked knees. From there, Cejudo explains to Zulu that he not only needs to work on takedown defense but also off the mat and the former flyweight title challenger is working overtime in refining his ground game.

When the show returns from commercial, the viewing audience is taken to Osaka, where Hiromasa Ogikubo is walking his baby in a stroller and detailing his home life. He’s lamenting the fact that because his family’s schedules are always clashing, he never gets to really see them. From there, the scene shifts to him teaching jui-jitsu to the kids in his school before him training hard to get on the show.

Joseph Benavidez is enthused about working with another Japanese fighter because of the positive history he’s had with them over the years. Some highlights show him tearing people to shreds in Shooto and White is also raving about him. Benavidez reveals that while there is a language barrier between him and Ogikubo, they understand each other well enough through broken English and hand gestures to get by.

Ronaldo Candido and Ogikubo are back the house sharing family photos and getting along swimmingly, even though they can’t speak the same language yet. They are becoming great friends. Zulu is doing the same with some of the guys and for now, at least, it seems like the tension between Zulu and the guys has subsided.

At the weigh-ins, the two coaches start some trash talk between each other. Well, Cejudo initiates it because his team is 2-0 and he’s rubbing it in, but Benavidez immediately becomes unglued and criticizes his upcoming foe for being a phony. Benavidez lambastes him for not showing up to a couple fights and the two fighters, who seemed to not have as much genuine beef with each other in the public before the show started, are ready to come to blows.

After the typical pre-fight hype at the house and in the training rooms, it’s time to get the action started. Round one begins Zulu tossing out a few rangy kicks to the chest and head but nothing lands cleanly. Ogikubo is patient as he blocks and avoids the strikes but after about 90 seconds, the Japanese fighter shoots in and drags his foe to the canvas and into half guard. Ogikubo is not wasting his energy and instead opts to slowly break the South African down with punches and elbows. Zulu is able to recover to full guard but he’s more or less hanging on for dear life, possibly waiting for the ref to stand them up.

Ogikubo, meanwhile, is peppering him with elbows to the head and fists to the ribs. Zulu is cut over his right eye with about two minutes remaining but he’s not laying down; he’s tossing elbows from his back. With just over a minute left, Ogikubo scoots to full mount and when Zulu spins over, Hiromasa seizes his back and locks in a rear-naked choke. Zulu is fending it off brilliantly, though the choke looks locked in. Somehow, Zulu is able to survive until the horn but he loses the opening frame easily 10-9.

Zulu is much more assertive to start the second, flicking punches at Ogikubo’s head early and often, though not many are connecting cleanly. After Zulu tags his adversary with a short left to the jaw, Ogikubo scoops him up and slams him down hard, landing in half guard. Just like in the previous stanza, Ogikubo slowly rains down elbows and punches to the noggin before being sucked into full guard. At the midway point, Zulu needs to do something soon or else he’ll lose this battle two rounds to zilch. Ogikubo eventually moves to mount, which forces Zulu to roll over and give up his back again. Ogikubo searches for the rear-naked choke once more, but unlike last time, he forces the tap with just over a minute remaining in the round.

Up next will be a showdown between Damacio Page (4) and Adam Antolin (13), which is announced shortly after Ogikubo’s triumph gives Team Benavidez its first win of the season.

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