(Props: The Ultimate Fighter on Hulu)
Last night’s installment of The Ultimate Fighter: Team Jones vs. Team Sonnen featured the season’s first two quarterfinal matchups along with some celebrity guest-appearances. Check out the complete video above, or read our recap below if you don’t have the patience for that sort of thing…
- After making into the quarterfinals with his wild card win over Kevin Casey, Bubba McDaniel admits that he doesn’t want to face Uriah Hall because he’s still haunted by Hall’s incredible knockout of Adam Cella. He’ll have to get comfortable with the matchup real quick, since they’re facing each other in the next episode. Coach Jones does his best to build up McDaniel’s confidence, but Bubba looks like a man facing the firing squad. I’ll go out on a limb and say that this little storyline ends with a nervous breakdown and a trip to the hospital.
- The first quarterfinal match will be Kelvin Gastelum (Team Sonnen) vs. Collin Hart (Team Jones). Jones thinks Hart’s jiu-jitsu is “extraordinary,” which will be their key to victory. Though Gastelum has a reputation as a wrestler, Sonnen sees him more as a brawler. But in a good way.
- Coach Sonnen makes good on his promise to give Kelvin seven minutes alone in a closet with Ronda Rousey. Nah. Actually, the UFC women’s bantamweight champ drops by to shake Kelvin’s hand and teach the boys some judo. “It was pretty awesome, you know, getting handled by her [nervous laughter],” Kelvin says. Ronda also drops some nuggets from her own fighting philosophy: “Fighting is about respect, and having respect for your opponent, but at the same time you have to have no respect for your opponent, ’cause you’re the one that’s supposed to walk out of there. They don’t have the right to beat you.”
Quarterfinal #1: Gastelum vs. Hart
Hart is four inches taller and has a six-inch reach advantage. Hart is the aggressor early, pushing forward and throwing punches continuously, but Gastelum manages to land some clean counters. One of those counters — a left hook — flashes Hart and send him to the canvas. A couple heavy punches from above turn Hart’s lights out, and Steve Mazzagatti jumps in to stop the fight. Kelvin Gastelum wins by TKO, 0:32 of round 1, and punches his ticket to the semifinals.
- Which brings us to the next quarterfinal, between Luke Barnatt (Team Sonnen) and Dylan Andrews (Team Jones), a Smashes-esque battle between a lanky Brit and a lanky Aussie. [Correction: Though Andrews currently lives in Australia, he's originally from New Zealand.] Andrews was this season’s last pick overall; Sonnen says he misjudged him, but that Dylan will still have a problem with Barnatt’s height.
- We meet Stonehorse, Jon Jones’s original Muay Thai coach from Buffalo. ‘Horse and Andrews are on the same spiritual wavelength, and build a strong bond. Andrews sees him as a father figure, and appreciates the positive reinforcement that he gets from their relationship.
- Coach Jones makes good on his promise to give Dylan seven minutes alone in a closet with Mike Tyson. Nah. Iron Mike walks in to shake some hands and watch the next fight, and the fighters are appropriately star-struck.
- Dylan with a prediction for the fight: “It’s gonna end when he makes a mistake. It’s just a matter of time before that happens.”
Quarterfinal #2: Barnatt vs. Andrews
Barnatt is five inches taller, but only has a 2.5-inch reach advantage. Andrews is far more experienced, with 21 professional fights compared to just five for Barnatt. Round 1 opens up with Andrews getting inside Barnatt’s range, landing some good uppercuts and hooks, and putting the taller man on his back. Barnatt stays busy, throwing strikes from the bottom and working his way to his feet. Andrews drags Barnatt back down, and Barnatt tries to tie Andrews up with his jiu-jitsu. He pushes Andrews off of him, but the Aussie dives back on. Barnatt escapes to his feet and Andrews grabs a guillotine choke and rolls Barnatt to the mat once again. Andrews loses the hold and transitions to Barnatt’s back. Barnatt escapes to his feet, lands a knee to the body, and then another knee and kick when they separate. Andrews grabs a hold of Barnatt and spins him to the mat. Andrews with a punch from the top. Stonehorse looks on, stoically. Andrews on top, but not doing a whole lot. Barnatt with an elbow from the bottom. And that’s the round. Kind of a hard one to score…Andrews certainly had “control” for the majority of the round, but many times it seemed like Barnatt was doing more. Between rounds, Jones reminds Andrews that he needs to actually score some points after he gets those takedowns.
Round 2: Barnatt lands first with some straight punches; Andrews wakes up and returns fire even harder, landing a pair of sharp body shots and an overhand right. Andrews clinches. Barnatt shakes him off and starts throwing again. Andrews gets the clinch again. Barnatt turns him against the cage, sticks a knee to the body, and takes Andrews to the mat. Barnatt throws down shots from the top. Andrews reverses brilliantly, and puts Barnatt down on his back. Barnatt tries to kick Andrews off, but Andrews literally jumps back on top. Now we return to the steady top-control of Andrews for a moment before Barnatt escapes. Andrews clinches, Barnatt looks for a kimura, Andrews takes Barnatt down once again. Jon Jones accidentally tells Luke to keep scoring, then corrects himself. Barnatt kicks Andrews off and rolls but Andrews is on his back before he can escape. Andrews looks for a choke but the round ends before he can secure it. The judges call it a draw after two rounds, and we’re going to Sudden Victory. “Great judging,” Dana White says, genuinely surprised that the judges were paying attention to Luke’s action from the bottom. Between rounds, Andrews’s corner shows him a picture of his family for some added motivation.
Round 3: Andrews ducks an elbow and grabs Barnatt, pushing him against the cage. Barnatt spins him around and throws some knees from the clinch. They separate and Andrews marches forward throwing punches. Barnatt looks like he’s fading, and Andrews is taking advantage. A knee from Barnatt is met with a looping punch from Andrews. They tie up, briefly. Barnatt throws a hopping knee. Andrews continues to operate in zombie-mode, relentlessly walking forward and attacking. He scores big on a flurry of punches that rock Barnatt against the fence. Smelling blood, Andrews fires another hard right, right, left, and Andrews is falling like the big-ass tree he is. And just like in the previous quarterfinal match, a few follow-up punches from the top seal the deal. Dylan Andrews wins in a major upset, defeating Luke Barnatt by third-round TKO.
After the fight, Barnatt says that his plan was to take Andrews down, and Andrews beat him to it. Barnatt is disappointed with taking the first loss of his fight career, and Mike Tyson tells him that it’ll be a learning experience. Dylan and Stonehorse share a triumphant embrace. Next week, it’ll be the aforementioned Hall vs. McDaniel massacre, as well as Jimmy Quinlan vs. Josh Samman.
Fun fact: Both Kelvin Gastelum and Dylan Andrews were picked last for their respective teams, but managed to battle their way into the semis. Andrews even managed to bump off Team Sonnen’s #1 pick in Luke Barnatt, making him the closest thing MMA has to Florida Gulf Coast University right now. The current list of remaining fighters is as follows…
Uriah Hall – quarterfinalist, defeated Adam Cella
Jimmy Quinlan – quarterfinalist, defeated Clint Hester
Kelvin Gastelum – semifinalist, defeated Robert “Bubba” McDaniel and Collin Hart
Josh Samman — quarterfinalist, defeated Tor Troeng
Robert “Bubba” McDaniel — quarterfinalist, defeated Kevin Casey in wild card match
Dylan Andrews — semifinalist, defeated Zak Cummings and Luke Barnatt