By Elias Cepeda
We’ve got two quarter final match ups today so let’s jump right in. From Coach Dominick Cruz’ team we have Vinc Pichel taking on Coach Urijah Faber’s Chris Saunders. After that, Team Faber teammates Al Iaquinta and Andy Ogle lock up. At the end of the episode, injured Cruz’ replacement to face Faber at UFC 148 for the interim bantamweight title will also be announced.
Vinc Pichel vs. Chris Saunders
Both men exchange leg kicks, no major punches landed. Pichel presses in on Saunders and looks for a double leg takedown against the cage. Saunders reverses position and looks for his own takedown against the fence.
Saunders gets the takedown and ends up in Pichel’s full guard. Both men throw strikes at one another from there for about a minute before Pichel is able to get back to his feet and in a free standing range.
Pichel finds his range with a jab and a cross, moving forward, and shoots in for another double leg attempt against the cage. He doesn’t get it and the two stay against the fence for a few moments, exchanging knees and elbows.
Pichel goes for another takedown, appears to get it but Saunders hits a switch and momentarily lands on the side of a turtle up Pichel, raining down punches. Pichel gets up to his feet. Pichel lands another jab-cross combination and Saunders returns fire with a left hook.
With ten seconds left, Saunders presses Pichel against the cage and works for another takedown. Pichel defends and lands an elbow to the head from the clinch right before the horn sounds.
Pichel follows up another straight right with by pushing Saunders against the cage and looking for a double leg. They fight there for some time before Pichel pulls Saunders down to the ground. Saunders pops back up immediately and gets, first, to the side and then to the back of Pichel but Pichel stands back up.
Saunders keeps his grip around the waist of Pichel while they are on their feet as Pichel tries to break free. Pichel’s nose is bloodied. Saunders attempts a suplex but Pichel lands on his feet.
Saunders gives up on the grip and they are back to a free standing position. Saunders shoots for a single leg takedown and does not get it. They break and Pichel goes on the attack.
He lands a right cross then left knee to the head. Pichel has Saunders reeling, but still composed, as he works knee after knee into his gut. Pichel changes levels and gets a double leg takedown with a minute and a half left in the round. Saunders gets back to his feet thirty seconds later but is immediately pulled back down.
Saunders reverses position and gets on top of Pichel, then jumps to his back. Pichel is on his feet but bent over, defending chokes from Saunders. Eventually Pichel is able to turn in to Saunders and begin work from inside his full guard. Saunders gets back up to his feet.
Pichel doesn’t slow his attack at all and he ends the round landing a cross, left hook and knees to the body.
Pichel wins by majority decision. Two judges saw it his way and one judge scored it a draw.
An elated Pichel gives Saunders credit in his post-fight interview with Jon Anik. “You go in here thinking, ‘I’m just going to whoop his ass,’…but it was definitely a battle.”
Back to the tape, we see how Coach Faber dealt with having two of his teammates prepare to fight one another. He tells All Iaqunita that on the day of the fight he will randomly assign assistant coaches to his corner to avoid it being “weird.” Faber also announces that he is going to stay out of the coaching.
Ogle’s plan against Al is to stick and move and Iaquinta is confident that he is the hardest working guy on the show, and that will make the difference. Time to get it on.
Al Iaquinta vs. Andy Ogle
Both men cautiously measure each other out, with spurts of glancing punch combinations and low kicks for about a minute and a half. Iaquinta then lands a high kick and follows up with a punch combo to the head of Ogle.
Ogle becomes more aggressive but Al finds a regular mark with rear leg low kicks. Ogle lands an overhand right. Al stalks Ogle around the cage.
Al lands an uppercut and then a rear push kick. In another exchange, Al lands a right uppercut followed by a left hook to the head. Ogle gets back at All with a left upper cut, overhand right combination.
Ogle gets dropped hard by a punch with under a minute left but survives the follow-up ground striking and gets back to his feet. Its clear he doesn’t have his legs under him yet, though, and when Al hits him again, this time with a nasty elbow, he drops even harder. Al follows up with a couple ground strikes before Referee Steve Mazzagatti can get to him to stop the fight with just seconds left in the round.
Al moves on to the semi-finals. The usual outburst of cheering is absent out of respect and worry for Ogle’s safety from he and Al’s Team Faber teammates.
Next week’s matchups plus the announcement of Faber’s opponent are next!
The first semi-final matchup will be James Vick vs. Mike ChiesaAl and Pichel will also square up.
And for the interim bantamweight title belt, Urijah Faber will face…cut to highlight film of Renan Barao. The highlight is scary, showing Barao knocking out and submitting fools, but when they cut back to Faber he is laughing.
I doubt it’s at Barao, but that was just good timing. Dana White apologizes to Faber, presumably for not telling him earlier who he would be fighting, saying that they didn’t want the news to leak out. Barao enters the gym.
The two square up and the injured Cruz has to watch all this shit, inches away. He can’t be happy. Dana asks him if he’s alright as the show fades out.