By Elias Cepeda
This final episode of the TUF 15 season included perhaps more out-of-the-ring action than any prior episode. We got more of Cruz and Faber cracking wise at each other, but also legit blows thrown inside of the house and a surprise announcement or two.
The winning fighter and coach will each win a Harley Davidson motorcycle and so the guys are taken to a Harley super store to try bikes on and leather for size. They are hosted by Theo “Juice” Rossi, who has inexplicably still managed to survive cooperation with the government (Watch Sons of Anarchy to get the reference. And yes, I have trouble telling the difference between quality screenplay and reality.)
Back in the house, Tickle decides to throw a water bottle on the balls of a sleeping Daron. Daron, with weeks of pent up aggression from being eliminated, wakes up into a sprint like a Navy Seal or something, finds Tickle and fires off a punch and kick combination on the goofball.
Tickle acts outraged, like he doesn’t understand that getting awoken from slumber by getting hit in the balls absolutely deserves an ass-kicking. Daron worries that he might get kicked off of the show for fighting in the house because that’s what has happened in past seasons.
Naw, its cool, dawg, says UFC President Dana White. Well, not really. But he does announce to the guys in the gym, later that all of them will be fighting on next week’s finale in Vegas. All, except for Mike Rio, who busted his rib, and Andy Ogle, who is on medical suspension after his last KO loss.
The passionate Ogle is distraught at the idea that he won’t get to fight after making it so far. White assures him that he will “be back.” That isn’t good for everyone’s favorite warrior-poet, who literally runs after White as the Prez is leaving the building, wraps his arm around him and asks to be put on the Nottingham card in September. White instantly grants his request.
That’s how you do it, kids. Train and fight like hell, with all your heart, and run towards fights even when you’re recovering from serious injuries. Can’t wait to see Ogle scrap again.
“I’m two fights away from fulfilling my dream and I want this thing so damn bad that when I have a bad day, everything comes piling in on me,” Chiesa says emotionally.
Faber tells Chiesa not to worry, that he has often had some of his worst training days right before fights and that they don’t affect his performances.
James Vick vs. Michael Chiesa
Both men are cautious, feel each other out with jabs, feints and leg kicks. Chiesa wanting to stay clear of Vick’s striking and Vick not wanting to give Chiesa an opportunity to close the distance and take him down.
A minute and a half in, off of a missed right cross from Vick, Chiesa does duck under slightly and close the distance, securing double under hooks and a body lock. Vick doesn’t go down easy, however, works to get his own under hook and pushes Chiesa against the cage. Vick gets a takedown!
They land in Chiesa’s open guard and Chiesa uses a left under hook to help him stand back up. Vick goes for another takedown but can’t land it cleanly. They are back up on their feet, in free standing range.
Chiesa starts coming forward more confidently and lands a left cross. Vick fires back with a three punch combo but only lands glancingly and to Chiesa’s forehead. Chiesa lands another left cross! Vick marches forward and goes to the body with punches.
Vick lands a cross, then a jab, then an uppercut a few moments later and two more straight punches. Vick lands his long jab and goes back to the body with a left hook. Chiesa lands another straight left hand. Vick throws a body kick that Chiesa catches. He tries to turn that into a takedown but Vick gets his hips out of the way and defends.
Chiesa counters a leg kick with a hook and follows up with two straights. Vick presses forward and lands a left uppercut to the head of Chiesa. Chiesa half falls, half takes a desperation takedown shot. He’s on his knees.
Vick gets side control, then is forced back into half guard and then half butterfly guard by Chiesa. Chiesa turns in to get back up and Vick grabs a front headlock with arm in. Vick goes for an arm-in guillotine and reverses Chiesa into mount. Vick has the choke in tight with seconds left. Chiesa holds on until the horn.
Chiesa shoots and scores the takedown early. From there, he moves into the mount with relative ease.
Looks like Coach Cruz’ worst nightmare of Vick being on his back might be coming true. Chiesa unleashes a barrage of strikes, Vick doesn’t defend and the referee steps in to call the bout.
What a comeback in this fight for Chiesa and what a season of perseverance through adversity all season long after the death of his father just weeks ago. It may be the most compelling personal narrative out of any TUF season. And it isn’t over. In just one week, Chiesa will fight again, for the title of The Ultimate Fighter.
Al Iaquinta vs. Vinc Pichel
Al comes out firing and moving very aggressively. He follows that up by shooting for a single from very far away. Vinc defends well but then Al switches to a double leg and scores the takedown.
Vinc stands up but gives his back. Al gets one hook in and drags Vinc back to the ground while taking his back. Vinc defends Al’s rear naked choke attempts and stands up.
Al looks to be the much quicker fighter, with better footwork, effectively staying away from most of Vinc’s power strikes. Al also is throwing more combinations with the hands and finishing them off with low kicks.
Al shoots in and hits another double leg. Vinc controls Al’s posture with a high full guard before standing back up with seconds left in the round. The horn sounds with Al pressing in for another takedown.
Al lands a left jab followed by a high kick. Vinc wades in, moving his head and feinting, and walks in to an uppercut. Al’s combinations continue to come fast but his finishing leg kicks are starting to land more solidly, with Vinc not checking most of them.
Al starts to move side to side in an even more slick fashion and is making Vinc miss big with punches, by slipping and weaving well. Al fakes a leg kick, throws a super-man punch and then shoots for a takedown. He’s stuffed by Vinc.
Vinc lands a low kick, followed by a right hand. Al shoots in for a takedown, presses Vinc against the cage. Vinc defends, circles away from the cage, to his right, and lands a solid knee to Al’s mid section. The round ends with Al makind Pincel miss with his punches more, by bobbing.
Al gets the decision nod and is in the finals against Chiesa!
As the episode ends, Al and Mike square off. Nuts that they will be fighting one another in just one week at the Palms in the finale. Cruz gets a water bucket thrown on him by his team.
Slips, falls and injures his other acl.
That’s the season, folks! Please join us here next week for our live play by play blog of The Ultimate Fighter 15 Live Finale from The Palms in Las Vegas, Nevada.