(Screenshot via CageWall.com)
It couldn’t have worked out better, really. Last night’s semifinals episode of The Ultimate Fighter: Team Jones vs. Sonnen left us with two fantastic middleweight prospects: A ferociously powerful striker who’s been the show’s front-runner since his first knockout in the house, and a 21-year-old rookie who kicks ass like a seasoned pro and harbors a not-so-secret crush on Ronda Rousey. In the interest of spoiler-sensitivity, we won’t post their names right here, but come on, you all know who we’re talking about.
Follow us after the jump as we recap the two fights from TUF 17 episode 12, which both ended in stoppages. Plus: The complete fight lineup for this Saturday’s TUF 17 Finale in Las Vegas, which includes one surprising (i.e., indefensibly terrible) matchup on the main card.
Though he’s always up for a good brawl, Kelvin Gastelum brought out his wrestling chops early to clinch with Josh Samman and take the fight to the mat. Samman was active off his back, attempting an armbar then a kimura before getting back to his feet. But Gastelum was on him like a bad smell, clinching with Samman against the fence and depositing him back on the canvas. The ground-and-pound came swiftly and with brutal force. Gastelum battered Samman with elbows and punches until Samman exposed his back while attempting to escape. Gastelum immediately sunk a rear-naked choke, picking up his third win by stoppage in the TUF house, and punching his ticket to the finals. Gastelum def. Samman via submission (RNC), round 1. [GIF HERE VIA ZOMBIE PROPHET]
Two weeks ago, we compared Dylan Andrews to Florida Gulf Coast University, which would make Uriah Hall the Florida Gators — the odds-on favorite putting an abrupt end to Dylan’s Cinderella story. Hall’s performance in the first round wasn’t a violent blitzkrieg, but a calm, controlled showcase of his precision. As Andrews took the center of the cage and tried to push the action, Hall hung back and landed a variety of strikes, landing at will as the round drew to a close. After five minutes, it was clear that Andrews was outmatched.
Hall stepped on the gas in round two, landing on Andrews from all angles and knocking down the New Zealand native with a front push kick. Andrews scored a takedown in an attempt to change the tenor of the fight, and it turned out to be his undoing. Hall spent some time chasing a kimura attempt, but when it didn’t pan out he decided to just tee off on Andrews with punches from the bottom. When was the last time you saw an MMA fighter turtle up on top of his opponent? Because that’s what happened last night, and it was kind of incredible. Hall flipped over the wounded Andrews and smashed him with more punches to end the fight. Hall def. Andrews via TKO, round 2. [GIF HERE VIA ZOMBIE PROPHET]
With both of his fighters in the finals, Chael Sonnen wins that Harley Davidson motorcycle that he was hawking on episode 1. And with the TUF 17 middleweight final in place, the full lineup for the TUF 17 Finale was announced…
Main card (FX at 9 p.m. ET)
Urijah Faber vs. Scott Jorgensen
Uriah Hall vs. Kelvin Gastelum
Miesha Tate vs. Cat Zingano
Travis Browne vs. Gabriel Gonzaga
Robert “Bubba” McDaniel vs. Gilbert Smith
Undercard (FUEL at 7 p.m. ET)
Josh Samman vs. Kevin Casey
Luke Barnatt vs. Collin Hart
Dylan Andrews vs. Jimmy Quinlan
Clint Hester vs. Bristol Marunde
Cole Miller vs. Bart Palaszewski
Sam Sicilia vs. Maximo Blanco
Justin Lawrence vs. Daniel Pineda
There is nothing wrong with your computer screen. Bubba McDaniel — who went 1-2 in the house and suffered a minor nervous breakdown — is actually on the main card, by virtue of being the most annoying person on the show. (I guess his relationship with Jon Jones doesn’t hurt either.) Ugh. At least Junie Browning was an entertaining mess. And since he needs an opponent, Gilbert Smith — the constantly-naked fireplug who was eliminated on episode 2 — will also be on the main card. Meanwhile, semifinalists Josh Samman and Dylan Andrews are buried on FUEL. Get the fuck out of here. And yes, two guys named Urijah/Uriah are on the main card. How long before Hall is the more popular one?
For your records, here’s the TUF 17 middleweight bracket, courtesy of Wikipedia (click image for larger version):
Note: To get into the house, Uriah Hall defeated Andy Enz by decision and Kelvin Gastelum defeated Kito Andrews by decision.