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“The Ultimate Fighter 11: Team Liddell vs. Team Ortiz″ – Episode 11 recap

After the customary recap of the previous episode, Rich Franklin enters the building and gets a walk through of the training center with UFC president Dana White, which has changed by leaps and bounds since Franklin was last on the show.

Team Ortiz is then brought in to meet the assistant coaches, which consist of a bearded Forrest Griffin, Gray Maynard, and Tyson Griffin.  The coaches waste little time in preparing Kris McCray for his semi-final bout with Josh Bryant.

Team Liddell arrives next at the training center, and to the surprise of John Hackleman, Tito’s poster has already been replaced by a huge image of Rich Franklin.

Franklin is widely known as one of the nicest guys in the UFC, but Liddell is adamant that he will be focused on handling his business once the door on the Octagon closes.

“It’s kind of a hard thing you know, I go from fighting a guy I hate, to one of the nicest guys in MMA,” said Liddell.  “But, when it gets time to get up for the fight, trust me, I’ll be up for it, and I’ll be coming after him and trying to hurt him too.”

Generally during most seasons of TUF, teammates end up having to fight in the later rounds of the competition, and this season is no different, as Team Liddell will have Brad Tavares and Court McGee facing off in tonight’s semis.

“Brad and Court are going to have to fight, it’s not as weird as it is just, it’s really awkward, and uncomfortable,” said Hackleman.  “They are so close, and we’re all so close, and it’s going to be really hard.”

Back at the house, a group of the guys decide to bust out the silly string and air horns to get Yager and McCray, due to the fact that those two are notorious for staying up all night, being loud, and disrupting the sleep of the other fighters.

McCray was unfazed by the pranks, but Tavares was having none of the fun, taking out his anger on the chess board.  After throwing the chess set off of the stairs, smashing it into a 100 pieces, it is time to weigh in for the first bout of the episode.

Both guys make weight, then weigh in on their thoughts about the bout.

“I haven’t fought anybody that I’ve trained with, but it’s not a big deal already,” said Tavares.  “So, put all that aside, and go in there and bang.”

“I’m afraid of stabbing a needle in my arm and overdosing on heroin, but when I step into the cage you know, there is no fear of my opponent at all,” said McGee.  “If anything, I’m here to put fear in your eyes.”

Round 1 -

McGee starts with a leg kick, then both guys exchange right hands.  McGee steps in with the left to the body and an overhand right, and is now doubling up with his jab.  McGee scores with another inside leg kick.

Tavares fires back with an inside leg kick of his own.  McGee goes upstairs but is out of range with the head kick.  McGee closes and throws an overhand right but gets countered by Tavares, then goes to the bodylock.  McGee looking for the takedown and gets it, and is in the half guard of Tavares.

Back to the feet with both guys exchanging punches.  McGee uses his strikes to close the distance and clinch, looking for another bodylock.  Tavares defends better this time and pushes off to make space and work his stand up.

Tavares is starting to find his range now, catching McGee coming in looking for the takedown.  McGee still doubling up the jab, but Tavares steps in and engages.

McGee with a wild left hand that misses, but does what it was designed to do, getting him inside to the clinch.  McGee gets another nice takedown from the body lock but Tavares is quickly back to his feet.  End of Round 1.

Round 2 -

Tavares scores first with a stiff jab, then follows up with another that lands flush.  Tavares is consistently landing his jab now.  Another jab from Tavares.

McGee counters with a right hand to the body that scores, but he is being beaten to the punch so far this round.  McGee’s corner is calling for leg kicks, and he listens, landing a nice leg kick on cue.  McGee then lands a nice right hand that stops Tavares in his tracks for a second.

McGee closes the distance, clinches and is looking for a single leg takedown against the cage.  McGee changes levels and briefly goes for a double, but it’s defended nicely.

They disengage and take the center of the Octagon.  McGee goes back to the body, then to a leg kick, but Tavares is still landing stiff jabs.  McGee comes forward and lands a big left hand, then follows up with the right.

Both guys exchange jabs, then McGee changes levels and shoots, but is stuffed.

Tavares lands a stiff 1-2 combo, and McGee counters with a kick to the leg with about :35 to go in Round 2.  Tavares throws a kick to the body that is caught by McGee.

McGee drives Tavares backwards and into the cage, but is unable to execute a takedown before the bell sounds on the bout.

Round 3 -

Both guys come out swinging with everything on the line, and then Tavares lands a kick to the pills.  McGee takes a brief break but is ready to go within seconds.

After the restart, both guys stay in the pocket and throw big combos before disengaging.  Tavares lands a double left hook, then re-establishes his jab.

McGee tries to close the distance and eats an uppercut and left hand for his efforts.  McGee goes back to the kick, then misses with a 1-2 combo.

McGee lands a left hand backing up Tavares, but Tavares comes right back with that strong jab.  Tavares is mixing it up now, with a 3 punch combo, then a leg kick.

McGee shoots in for the takedown, steps back and fires off a shot to the body and a right to the head.

Tavares with the jab again, but McGee steps forward and lands a right hand that staggers Tavares.  McGee looks to take the fight to the ground, but cannot.

McGee stays relentless, and works Tavares to the ground, but only for a moment.  After they separate, McGee lands a knee to the privates, and the fight is stopped for Tavares to recover.

After the restart, McGee lands a big low kick, then a right hand.  Tavares comes back with his jab, but McGee is letting go with big overhand punches.

McGee goes to the inside leg kick and catches Tavares again in the pills, and is warned that he will be deducted a point if it happens again.

McGee comes forward and lands a huge left hook that drops Tavares.  McGee looks for the kill, staggering Tavares again, then slamming him to the mat with :20 seconds to go.  McGee locks up a rear naked choke, and true to Brad’s reputation, he refuses to tap, instead choosing to nap.  McGee advances to the Ultimate Finale via submission (rear naked choke).

Following the best fight of the season, both teams are called to the training center, to meet some special guests.

The Marines have landed!!  The training session for both teams is to work with the Marines to get a glimpse and taste of what combat ready Marines do to stay into shape.  The Marines introduced the fighters to USMC style circuit training, weapons defense, and the greatest of all… pugil sticks.

After a brief introduction to the “Devil Dog” way of life, the fighters get some time to train the Marines in their form of MMA combat and techniques.

After the training, the Marines arrive at the house for a BBQ, and some cornhole competition.  McCray knows firsthand the sacrifices that military members make, with various family members that have served our country, himself included.

It is great to see these guys honor and commend the Marines for their service, as sometimes in everyday life, it seems to be forgotten just what these men and women do for this country.

At the training center, Coach Franklin and Coach Maynard tighten up the focus on McCray’s training.  McCray admits that he underestimated Bryant in their first fight, but will not make that mistake again this time around.

The small changes that the coaching staff have made to McCray’s game, is designed to make him more efficient, and to waste less energy in this bout.  This was an issue in the first fight with Bryant, and could likely make the difference in the fight.

What would an episode of TUF be without Yager?  Yager decides to re-prank the guys by taking the left shoe of  some of the guys, and hiding them throughout the house.

Tavares counters with a bag of bean and rice, throwing it out of the window where Hammortree is laying out by the pool.  Hammortree makes his way to the house and nearly eats a bag of flour that Yager had thrown out.

Hammortree responds with a trash can full of waste to the bed of Yager.  Yager comes back with a bottle of water, then has words with Hammortree before coming into some conflict with Uscola.

After some talking, Uscola and Yager heat up their argument, then head outside for a face off, well Uscola does anyway.  Yager resorts to looking out the window to fight his battle with Uscola.

Yager concedes that things have went too far, and gives back the hidden shoes to each of the guys.

McCray and Bryant weigh in for their semi-final bout, and Dana White gives his pick for the bout, picking Bryant to go 2-0 against McCray.

Round 1 -

A hug to start for the guys, then McCray shoots in wildly for a takedown but is not even close.  McCray immediately reshoots and is nearly caught with a big punch at the feet of Bryant.  McCray again goes for the takedown, and he gets it working Bryant to the ground.

Bryant gets back to his feet, but then is slammed down to the mat again.  Bryant is immediately back up again, and is then driven into the cage, trying to defend yet another takedown.

Bryant defending but is taken down again.  Bryant makes his way to his feet once again, then gets caught with a knee to the body in the clinch.

It is all McCray so far, but signs of fatigue are showing already.  McCray with the 1-2 combo, and Bryant looks a bit hesitant with his own striking.

Bryant fires off a left hook, but is countered by McCray, who comes forward landing strikes, and finishes with a leg kick.

Bryant lands a double jab, but McCray comes back with a right hand.  McCray with a 3 punch combo to close the gap, then clinches.

Bryant pushes him off, then comes forward and clinches with McCray, putting his back against the cage.  Bryant scores with punches to the body before pushing off.  Bryant lands a big left hand with :20 to go, then scores with an uppercut, but it is too little too late.  McCray easily takes Round 1 in the eyes of ProMMAnow.com.

Round 2 -

McCray with a wild overhand right, then to the clinch.  McCray is working for the single, but Bryant fights it off.

They separate, then McCray puts his jab into full effect, landing solidly to the chin of Bryant.  McCray comes forward landing a flurry of right hands to the body.  Bryant counters but McCray is getting the best of the echange.

Bryant clinches and is now going for his own single leg attempt.  McCray controls his head, forcing Bryant to give up the attempt, but he is right back to the clinch, pushing McCray against the cage.

Bryant scores with a knee, but the referee resets the fighters after a lull in the action.

Big exchange in the center of the Octagon, with McCray being the more aggressive of the two.  Back to  the clinch with Bryant looking for a takedown.

McCray pushes off and takes control with his jab, but is visibly tired now.  Bryant looks pretty gassed as well, and is hesitating.

Both guys clinch and Bryant scores with a knee to the body.  Bryant drives McCray into the cage again but cannot finish the takedown attempt.

McCray locks up the plum clinch and lands some big knees before pushing off.  McCray then shoots for a takedown but is stuffed, then eats a couple of right hands with :15 to go in the bout.  Bryant to the clinch against the cage and that is how it ends.

Round 3 -

Coach Franklin tells McCray that he cannot stay with his back against the cage this round if he wants to win.  Both guys exchange early, as MCray looks to establish his jab.

Bryant is much more aggressive and busy this round landing some big left hands.  Bryant lands some inside leg kicks, then another big left hand.

McCray comes back and uses his striking to set up a takedown.  McCray has Bryant’s back on the cage now.  Bryant is defending well and pushes off.

McCray lands 2 jabs, and is beating Bryant to the punch.  Bryant counters but eats a right hand, then goes for a superman punch, giving McCray an opportunity for a takedown.  McCray takes him down for a moment, but Bryant is quickly back up to his feet.

Inside leg kick scores for Bryant, and McCray comes back with his jab, then an uppercut-right hook combo that lands.

Back to the clinch now with McCray landing a big knee to the body.  More knees from McCray from the plum clinch before Bryant pushes off.

More jabs from McCray, and both guys are gassed.  Exchange of knees in the center of the Octagon and it looks like a battle for survival against fatigue for both guys.

After another exchange, Bryant lands a huge left hook that barely fazes McCray.  McCray takes the back of Bryant looking for a possible fight winning takedown.

Bryant works free with :27 to go.  Both guys throwing everything at each other now, and McCray drops for a single leg takedown, but does not get it before the bell sounds on a very close round.

The decision is in, and Kris McCray is announced the victor (30-27, 29-28, 30-27), and will be facing Court McGee at the Ultimate Finale to decide who will be the latest TUF champion.

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