Fans were taken to the center of the Octagon to start the eighth episode of TUF 16. Team Carwin’s Matt Secor had just taken Team Nelson’s Michael Hill the distance, and was about to learn the result of his efforts. Unfortunately for Secor, the judges ruled the fight in Hill’s favor, though not everyone agreed with the decision.

One person who wasn’t impressed with the fight, regardless of the winner, was UFC President Dana White, who called the contest “an absolutely horrifying, boring decision.”

“You should be doing everything you can possibly do to win every second of every f**king round,” White said, reacting to the contentious judging.

White went on to lament the lack of finishes this season, saying he’s going to end up saving a lot of money by not having to dole out the $5,000 bonuses fighters typically earn for finishing their opponents.

Hill recognized the need to give fans an entertaining contest, but at the same time took the long view of things.

“I’m not just here for five grand and a broken hand and a broken foot,” he said, referencing his desire to remain healthy en route to a $100,000 tournament win.

Hill’s coach, Roy Nelson, took a similar stance, opining that Dana White’s main interest in exciting fights is being able to make more money for the UFC. Nelson supported Hill’s position regarding the potential payoff that comes from winning the TUF season.

“Who’s here to win 15 grand?” he said.

White wished to impress his position further upon the TUF 16 contestants, so he dropped by the house after the fight.

“The fights this season have been less than what we expected,” he scolded, reminding the fighters that they need to not only win, but do so in an exciting fashion.

“The judges aren’t doing you any f**king favors,” referencing the contentious decision that was just handed down for Michael Hill and next straight-up telling Hill he thought Secor won their fight.

“Everybody better wake the f**k up and start acting like you wanna win some fights and be here, or you won’t be,” White concluded.

His harsh words definitely rubbed some fighters the wrong way, but Team Carwin’s James Chaney found it motivating, though he said he doesn’t really need to worry about putting on a good show.

“I don’t fight boring, so I have no concerns,” he noted.

Hill, despite his win, said he was very disappointed in himself after White’s visit, so he took to the sweet release of the bottle to ease his pain. What soon followed was classic Ultimate Fighter fare.

After a drinking montage featuring Hill taking many shots, drinking many glasses of beer and taking more than a few pulls from booze bottles, the tension created by White’s visit began to show.

First, Hill started talking trash with Neil Magny, drunkenly posturing about the potential for the two to fight each other in the next rounds of the tournament. It didn’t escalate much beyond harsh words until Julian Lane, also having put down a few beverages, approached Dom Waters and got right in his face.

Waters didn’t seem to take kindly to Lane’s aggression, and went into fight mode, removing his microphone and preparing mentally and physically for combat. This action only exacerbated Lane’s own blind, drunken rage and it seemed the two were ready to go.

After a tension-building commercial break, we return to the Waters/Lane confrontation, at which point several of the other TUF 16 contestants did their best to keep the two hot-headed men apart. The two responded by punching, kicking and slamming every inanimate in their immediate reach.

Eventually, the focus shifts primarily to Lane, who has launched into a full-blown tantrum at this point.

“I’m ashamed to be associated with this sport when it comes to guys like that,” Team Carwin’s Mike Ricci said in reaction to Lane’s theatrics. “They make us all look bad.”

In the cold light of day, Lane realized his error in judgement, saying that he felt like a jackass for his behavior.

Waters, similarly calm after a night of sleep, said he didn’t harbor any ill will against Lane.

“He snaps on everybody,” Waters said, dismissively.

After all that drama, it was time for the week’s fight announcement. Since Michael Hill won the last fight, Team Nelson had control of the fight pick. With it, they selected Jon Manley to fight Team Carwin’s James Chaney. Some predicted the fight would be a grappling match, since both fighters were jiu-jitsu practitioners.

“We call James “the Snake” because he’s the guy who slithers up behind you and chokes you when you’re not looking,” Carwin said of his fighter.

During Team Nelson’s training session, viewers learned that Jon Manley became a fighter because he didn’t want to look back on his life five or ten years from now with regrets about not pursuing his dreams. He’s had to live through some financial hardships as a result of his chosen path, but is content with his decisions.

“If you don’t give [MMA] 100 percent you’re not going to make it, so you have to,” he said.

Nelson seemed confident in his fighter’s abilities on the ground, but warned the Massachusetts native against getting stuck in silly submissions.

“I’m just gonna use my never-quit attitude and just keep coming at him,” Manley strategized before the fight. “Me and Chaney are gonna kick the crap out of each other, but I’m ready to get in there and I’m ready for war.”

James Chaney’s unique look was the central topic of Team Carwin’s training session.

“James isn’t a guy you wanna f**k with, dude,” said teammate Matt Secor. “He’s borderline serial killer.”

“I get the ‘crazy’ thing a lot,” Chaney said, chalking it up to his somewhat off-putting demeanor. “I have murder all over my face.”

The Oregonian revealed that he spent his nights before this season sleeping on a mattress in his best friend’s garage, so he was more than happy with the accommodations at Casa TUF.

Chaney’s coach, Shane Carwin, seemed very impressed with his progress as the season went on.

“This kid, in the time that we’ve had with him, has probably made one of the greatest amounts of improvement [on the team],” Carwin said, complimenting Chaney’s high aptitude for learning. Carwin also noted, however, that Chaney’s striking still left something to be desired.

Nevertheless, Chaney said the enhancements he’s made to his MMA game are a credit to his work ethic.

“I don’t relax. That’s not my way,” he said of his attitude toward fighting. “I’m like a shark—if I quit moving, I die.”

After each team’s training sessions, viewers were whisked away to a Las Vegas-area high school where Dana White revealed this season’s coaches’ challenge. Surely capitalizing on the entertainment that comes from watching big men run, White announced that the coaches’ challenge for TUF 16 would be a track and field pentathlon. Each coach would participate in shot put, javelin, discus and long jump before determining the ultimate victor in a 400-meter dash.

For each of the first four challenges won, the victorious coach would receive a three-meter advantage for the final sprint, and the person who crossed the 400-meter finish line first would win $20,000 for himself along with $1,500 for each member of his team.

The challenge was less than competitive, with Carwin winning all four of the preliminary events before maintaining his 12-meter advantage and winning the final footrace.

After the events were complete, some of Team Nelson’s fighters bemoaned what they perceived as their coach’s lack of effort, but Nelson himself didn’t seem phased by the results.

“[Carwin] can beat me in track and field, he can beat me in bumper cars, he can beat me in golf,” he said, “but he’s not gonna beat me in MMA.”

On fight day, Chaney dressed in what viewers learned was a ritualistic wardrobe of all black, including a black leather jacket.

“Regardless of whether it’s 120 degrees or if it’s actually cold, I’m gonna wear the black leather jacket,” he explained.

Chaney said before fights he tries to focus on thinking about nothing to help him clear his mind.

“I enter a state where I don’t think with words. I only think with images,” he said.

Jon Manley had nothing but good things to say about his opponent, but made sure his priorities were in line as well.

“I’d much rather fight someone I don’t like,” he said of Chaney, “but when they lock that cage, you’re my enemy and we’re going to go at it.”

Jon Manley vs. James Chaney

Both fighters came out exchanging strikes, with Manley landing on Chaney’s head. With 4:20 left in the round, Chaney initiated a clinch before pulling guard.

Manley, from the top position inside Chaney’s guard, began dropping some short elbows on his opponent’s head. Soon, though, Chaney positioned himself for a triangle choke and locked his legs around Manley’s head.

Manley briefly showed glimpses of “Rampage” Jackson as he picked Chaney up in a power-bomb—something Manley later said he’d never done before—but quickly opted to move Chaney against the cage rather than go for the less-likely slam knockout.

As Manley lowered Chaney to the canvas, it appeared that Chaney had locked the triangle in even tighter. They remained in this position for a short while before Manley adjusted his position and began landing blows to Chaney’s exposed face with about 2:50 left in the round.

The punches were effective in loosening Chaney’s triangle, as Manley was able to break free from the submission attempt with 2:15 to go. Almost immediately, Manley sunk in a guillotine choke from the full mount and began to squeeze.

Chaney, struggling from an extraordinarily difficult position, fought to break free as his face quickly began to turn purple. Eventually, though, he succumbed to his fate and tapped out, giving Manley the victory with about 1:35 left in the first round.

Jon Manley defeats James Chaney by submission (guillotine choke). Round 1

Coach Carwin compared the early part of the fight to “Rock Em, Sock Em Robots” in reference to the two fighters’ wild swinging to open the fight. Perhaps more importantly, however, Dana White seemed to be satisfied with the effort produced by each of the two combatants.

“Manley did a great job winning this fight,” White said, in praise of Manley’s come-from-behind victory.

Later, it was revealed that Chaney actually bit Manley in a moment of desperation during the last moments of the fight. To his credit, perhaps, Chaney immediately owned up to the dastardly deed.

“I bit him. I bit him on purpose,” Chaney said. “Maybe I’m kind of a piece of s**t, but I did not want to lose that fight.”

Manley seemed put off by Chaney’s actions, but had a plan to restore the competitive balance.

“I figured ‘Fine, bite me, but I’m gonna choke you the f**k out.”

Photo: TUF 16 logo (UFC)