The eighth episode of “The Ultimate Fighter: Live” begins with a quick recap of this past week’s show, which saw Vinc Pichel finish John Cofer via arm-triangle in the sudden victory third round. The win gave Team Cruz control of the fight pick in addition to tying up the competition 3-3.
In the locker room, a fired up Pichel celebrates his victory with his team, while a dejected John Cofer replays the last minute of the fight which cost him from advancing in the competition.
At the training center the attention shifts to Sam Sicilia of Team Cruz as he prepares for his bout with Chris Saunders. Just as quickly as Sicilia gets the spotlight, the arrival of Ronda Rousey garners the attention of the entire team. Coach Cruz explains that Rousey is a guest coach, and will be instructing the guys on some Olympic-caliber judo. Within a couple of minutes, she manages to gain the respect of all of the fighters, executing picture-perfect throws during the training session.
At the house, UFC 145 is the focus of the night as both coaches and their teams meet up watch Jon Jones vs. Rashad Evans and enjoy some barbecue. Rousey arrives with Cruz and it’s apparent once she steps into the house that the guys are a bit intimidated to have a female in their midst. The awkward silence between the fighters and Rousey continues until it’s time to call it a night and she gets up to leave.
The following day, Chris Saunders shows that he’s a little starstruck at his training session, admitting that Coach Faber is his idol and that he can’t believe that he’s actually sparring with him. Saunders feels that he truly has something to prove being the last pick of the competition and believes that he can finish Sicilia and make a statement with a big win.
Chris Tickle breaks the boredom at the house by starting a rash of pranks from freezing boxer briefs to gluing chapstick to nightstands. At this point in the competition the pranks have remained mostly innocent and have yet to spark any major confrontations in the fighter house.
In his fighter profile, Chris Saunders reflects on his childhood, telling his story of being raised in foster homes and having no family to fallback on. He becomes emotional recounting his past and believes that MMA is his opportunity to prove that he belongs.
Sam Sicilia on the other hand, talks about his journey in MMA, from his departing the sport after a few fights, to racking up an incredible 11 fights in a single year. Cruz believes that Sicilia’s toughness and conditioning will be the key to victory.
At the training center, Faber gets in on the pranking, having his guys get down to their underwear and working up some good old sweat all over the locker room of Team Cruz. As Cruz’s team begins to arrive, Faber and his crew are 45 minutes into a sweat inducing workout. Cruz thinks that it’s a bit immature and that Faber will do anything to be in front of a camera with his shirt off.
At the weigh-ins, both fighters make weight and with that, it’s fight time.
TEAM CRUZ – Sam Sicilia vs. TEAM FABER – Chris Saunders
Round 1 – Sam takes the center of the cage. He gets busy with a big right hand and then clinches. Sam delivers a couple of knees up the middle as he presses Chris into the cage. Chris locks up the plum clinch and scores with a couple of knees of his own. Both guys are fighting for underhooks but it’s Sam that breaks away, swingng on his way out. Sam comes forward and lands a short flurry but slips, giving up top position to Chris. He scrambles to his feet however, and puts Chris’s back on the cage. After another scramble, Chris puts Sam on the cage and scores with several knees. Sam turns Chris into the cage, then they break. To the center of the Octagon. Chris lands a huge kick to the head that drops Sam. Sam responds by looking for a leg trying to recover. Chris is pouring it on, landing big right hands as Sam looks to survive. He looks ok, because he’s urging Chris to keep it coming. Sam with a big left hook. Wow, the pace is crazy in this one. Back to the clinch, and it’s Chris that’s staying busier with knees in close. Sam gets a takedown for a brief moment, as Chris scrambles back to his feet. Under a minute to go now. Chris throws a kick to the leg, but it’s Sam that lands a monster right hand. He goes for a guillotine but Chris pulls out and throws a series of jabs near the end of the round. Sam lands another big right hand at the bell. ProMMAnow scores the first for Saunders.
Round 2 – Sam starts quick to begin the second, landing another right hand. He’s stalking Chris. Nice exchange as both guys fire off power shots that land. Sam is throwing nothing but power shots but isn’t putting together combinations. It looks like he’s trying for a homerun shot. Big knee to the face by Sam as he puts Chris on the cage. More knees from Chris. He’s doing good work in close. Jab by Chris is countered by an uppercut by Sam. Sam is winging his punches. Chris gets a takedown but it’s Sam that scrambles up and scores with powerful knees. Sam looks for a single and gets the takedown but is reversed quickly. Now it’s Chris that is pouring it on from the top. He softens Sam up with punches and then takes his back. Sam reverses and gets back to his feet. These guys are battling. Big lead uppercut by Chris, but then Sam lands a thunderous right hand that drops Chris. Sam goes to the guillotine but Chris pulls free and takes top control. Chris looks to pass, and ends up on the back of Sam. Sicilia reverses and gets to his feet. Lead left hook for Sam. Kick by Chris. 10 seconds to go. Crhis locks up the clinch and lands three knees. I have to give the second to Sam, and we may go sudden victory.
OFFICIAL RESULT: Chris Saunders def. Sam Sicilia by split decision
With the win, control goes back to Urijah Faber, but with only two guys remaining, there is no pick to make. The final match up will feature Andy Ogle from Team Faber vs. Mike Rio of Team Cruz.
See you next week!