With 11 episodes in the books, it all comes down to tonight. Two semifinal matches remain to decide who will fight live in next week’s TUF finale. Team Cruz’s James Vick vs. Team Faber’s Mike Chiesa will be the first bout while Team Cruz’s Vinc Pichel and Team Faber’s Al Iaquinta will finish up the episode as the final semifinal fight.
The episode begins with both coaches and the semifinalists heading over to Red Rock Harley-Davidson in Las Vegas to get a close-up look at some bikes. With a Harley on the line for both the winning coach and winning cast member, all of the guys get a feel for what kind of customization is available should they win one of the pricey bikes.
At the house, Chris Tickle decides it’s prank time as Cruickshank is found sleeping. Tickle launches a water bottle at the groin of Cruickshank, and his reaction is a bit unexpected as he launches into a full-on assault of Tickle, complete with punch-kick combinations. Things calm down, but it’s not yet known whether there will be any repercussions from the physical altercation.
Back at the training center, UFC president Dana White assembles the fighters and announces that everyone will be fighting in the TUF finale except for Rio and Ogle. Rio reacts as expected, but Ogle nearly breaks down at the news. A teary-eyed Ogle catches up to Dana White as he leaves the training center and asks for a spot on the next UK card. White immediately agrees, giving Ogle an excellent opportunity to perform on his home turf this fall.
The show quickly shifts to the preparation of James Vick, as Coach Cruz has serious concerns about the fight hitting the mat. After Vick gets caught in submissions several times during the session, Cruz tells Coach Del Fierro about his concerns and they both try to shore up Vick’s ground game with little to no time left before his fight with Chiesa.
On the Team Faber side, Chiesa is having his own problems. After struggling during his own session, an emotional Chiesa breaks down and walks out of practice. A teary-eyed Chiesa explains that all of the emotions he’s been holding in are finally hitting home and flooding out. Faber follows him into the restroom and spends some time talking his fighter down.
With both fighters having issues coming into the semifinals, time has run out. It’s fight time!
TEAM CRUZ – James Vick vs. TEAM FABER – Michael Chiesa
Round 1 – Vick takes the center of the cage and flashes his jab. Chiesa fires off a kick that misses. Chiesa working on closing distance while Vick circles out and tries to maintain space. Leg kicks traded now. Vick to the body. Chiesa closes, throwing a short flurry but isn’t very effective. He then ducks under a right hand and clinches, which is where he wants to be. Vick fighting off the takedown. Knees inside from Chiesa. He has his hands locked, but it’s Vick that gets the takedown. Chiesa gets back to his feet immediately. They break and reset. Vick comes forward with a kick and double jab that scores. He is starting to put his combinations together. Nice counter right from Chiesa but he’s backing up a lot. Under two to go. One-two from Vick as his corner calls for him to follow up with the uppercut. He listens landing one up the middle. Vick to the body, now he’s scoring at will. Kick to the body from Vick. Chiesa catches his leg but can’t capitalize. Chiesa with two left hands. Vick comes forward and lands a flurry and Chiesa flops to the ground. Not sure if he’s hurt or just doesn’t want to stand. Vick follows to the mat and goes for a guillotine from the top. Time runs out. Round 1 goes to Vick.
Round 2 – Touch of gloves. Chiesa coming forward with a sense of urgency. He’s throwing his jab and landing. Inside leg kick by Vick. Back to the body. He’s been effective to the body. Chiesa looking better on the feet this round. One-two from Chiesa straight down the middle. Winging uppercut from Vick just misses. Chiesa is pressuring this round and backing Vick up. Leg kick Vick. Superman punch misses, but Chiesa keeps coming and lands a right hand. Takedown Chiesa. He moves to full mount almost immediately and starts raining down strikes. It’s over. Vick wilted on the ground, and Chiesa is in the finals.
OFFICIAL RESULT: Michael Chiesa def. James Vick by KO (strikes) Rd 2 (1:55)
With the first semifinal bout in the books, it’s time to have a look at Al Iaquinta. Faber believes that both Iaquinta and Team Cruz’s Pichel are tough guys, but that Iaquinta’s technical advantages will be the difference.
Vinc Pichel gets in his final training session and Coach Cruz agrees with Faber that the fight will be close and that both guys match up very well. Cruz believes that Pinchel’s ability to stop takedowns will send him to the finals.
TEAM CRUZ – Vinc Pichel vs. TEAM FABER – Al Iaquinta
Round 1 – Here we go. Iaquinta goes upstairs with a kick that Pichel ducks. Faber tells him to relax and not take too many risks. Iaquinta shoots in and snatches a leg in the center of the cage. Pichel fights off the attempt, but gets driven into the cage. Iaquinta is on his back and gets one hook in. He’s fighting for the second hook, but Pichel manages to defend and get back to his feet. Pichel now coming forward with his punches. Iaquinta catches him leaning and fires off a kick to the body that grazes Pichel’s head. Leg kick Iaquinta. He’s doing a good job on the feet at picking his spots. Right hand-kick combo from Iaquinta. Big lead right hand from Pichel backs Iaquinta up. More kicks from Iaquinta. He’s countering the power shots of Pichel nicely so far. Right hand Pichel, counter right for Iaquinta. Iaquinta has his timing down. Jab-kick combo from Pichel, but he’s losing the round and needs to get busy. Iaquinta is bouncing on his feet and looks really comfortable out there. Under a minute to go. Iaquinta, shoots and gets an easy takedown. Big left hands from the top. Pichel tries to use the cage to stand and does. He comes forward but doesn’t land before the bell as Iaquinta closes and clinches. Easy round for Iaquinta.
Round 2 – Iaquinta jabbing to start. Nice three-punch combo from Pichel as his corner urges him to throw first. Iaquinta feints and then launches a monster uppercut. Pichel shakes it off. This kid is tough for sure. Iaquinta is dictating the pace. Pichel throws and scores, but again gets countered. He’s getting zeroed out by the countershots when he manages to land most times. He lands a knee and dislodges the mouthpiece of Iaquinta. The ref sees it and stops the bout to put the mouthpiece back in. Back at it. Punch-kick combo from Iaquinta. Again. Pichel fires back with a five-strike combo. Another leg kick from Iaquinta. Pichel double jabs but misses. Iaquinta fakes a superman punch and drives for a leg. Pichel shrugs him off and takes the center of the cage. More kicks from Iaquinta as Cruz screams for Pichel to come forward. May be too little, too late for Team Cruz. A bloodied Pichel is still game however, but only has a little over a minute to turn this around. He needs a finish to win. Iaquinta changes levels and goes for another single on the cage. Pichel fights him off and they reset. Jabs from both guys now. Big kick from Iaquinta. Pichel fires back and rattles the head of Iaquinta. Time has run out. PMN scores that round for Iaquinta also, and the bout overall to him, 20-18.
OFFICIAL RESULT: Al Iaquinta def. Vinc Pichel by unanimous decision