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TUF 21 - Episode 5 Preview

The Ultimate Fighter: American Top Team vs. Blackzilians airs Wednesday at 10pm/7pm ETPT on FOX Sports 1.
It's beginning to sound like a bit of a broken record at this point, but the Blackzilians won again last week on The Ultimate Fighter, and American Top Team is left reeling in the wake of another defeat.
 
Through four fights thus far this season, the Blackzilians have found nothing but success while their counterparts at American Top Team have faced nothing but misery. Last week's episode may have been the real tipping point for American Top Team after Steve Montgomery suffered a seizure while cutting weight for his fight scheduled against Carrington Banks, which not only landed the other fighters in a very stressful situation but it also meant somebody else had to step up at the last minute to compete.
 
Sabah Homasi stood up to the challenge and took Banks to a hard-fought, three-round decision that the judges scored in favor of the Blackzilians. It was a razor-close fight that could have gone either way, but as we pick up things in episode five, it's clear that American Top Team is beginning to live by the way of Murphy's Law - whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.
 
If there is a positive to take away from the lopsided competition thus far, it's the fact that the first four fights only count for 25 points each in the total scores that will be tallied at the end of the season to determine a winner. It certainly doesn't help matters that the Blackzilians went up 4-0 and 100 points in the competition, but in the next round that begins with this episode, the fights are worth 50 points each.  So American Top Team is only two wins away from tying things up while a couple more wins from the Blackzilians will certainly crush whatever spirit is left from their rivals across town in South Florida.
 
American Top Team starts out already fighting an uphill battle, but it doesn't help matters much this week after losing Montgomery for the season due to his seizure that Mike Graves is still living in a perpetual funk following his loss to Kamaru Usman to start the season.
 
American Top Team owner Dan Lambert had a lot of faith in Graves to go out and get the job done against Usman and start the season the right way, but instead the Ohio native put on a fairly lackluster performance and now he's still mired in the loss several days later. Graves was already pounding wine a week ago and you have to wonder if he believes he's already out of the competition and now he's just living in the house to be there or if there's a way to shake him loose so he can still come back and be an asset to American Top Team this season?
 
The team's reaction to Graves might surprise more than a few people this week.
 
Another altercation to watch for this week happens inside the house between American Top Team fighter Hayder Hassan and his Blackzilian counterpart Jason Jackson.  
 
Hassan has been one of the loudest and most outspoken fighters from American Top Team, as he's stated week after week that when he finally gets into the Octagon, he's going to change the course of this entire show with his performance. Unfortunately, Hassan has been sidelined by a lingering hand injury that happened before the show started filming, so Lambert and the other coaches at American Top Team have been unable to call his name for the fights.
 
Hassan might be the answer American Top Team is looking for because he's not only a vicious knockout striker but he already gets under the Blackzilians' skin, considering that he has wins over two of the fighters from the other team before the show even came together.  One of those wins was over Jackson, where Hassan knocked him out in the third round, and the two fighters are still feeling some bad blood from that matchup and it's going to boil over this week, so watch out.
 
On the other side of the house, as fight selections draw near, the Blackzilians coaches are putting forth the message that despite four wins in a row and a shutout in the overall competition, they really haven't won anything yet.  Four fights and four wins means 100 points, but there's still 600 more points to be decided between now and the end of the series, so those victories might seem rather shallow if they allow American Top Team to get back into the swing of things with a win or two.
 
Instead, striking coach Tyrone Spong will instill a message of determination in his fighters this week to make sure they keep their eyes on the prize, which means getting another win this week and next week and the week after that as well.  As happy as they are to be up 4-0, the tide can turn in a hurry and the last thing they want to do this week is give American Top Team any kind of breathing room.
 
The Blackzilians have found the perfect combination to match up their fighters against the welterweights from American Top Team all season long.  Can they keep that streak alive this week with another top-notch selection or will American Top Team finally select the perfect counter to get a much-needed win?  
 
Tune into The Ultimate Fighter this Wednesday night at 10pm ET on FOX Sports 1 to find out what happens.

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