As the 12th and final taped episode of “The Ultimate Fighter 17? opens, the coaches and semifinalists head to a Las Vegas Harley-Davidson dealer to check out their potential bonus prize, as both the winning fighter and coach will get a custom bike.
The fighters also cash in on a bit of free clothes while they’re in the story, as UFC President Dana White decides to hook them up with a little surprise. While it’s a fun trip, it’s time to get to get to work.
The first fight is Team Sonnen underdog Kelvin Gastelum against Team Jones’ Josh Samman. Both teams are confident in their fighter. Jon Jones believes his fighter has the size and power to win, while Chael Sonnen believes Kelvin makes up for his lack of excellence in any one particular area with an amazing ability to simply win.
Only one will fight for the “TUF 17? tournament title.
Round 1 – Referee Herb Dean in the cage. Kelvin looks to jab from distance early and use his length to establish an advantage. Instead, Kelvin pushes insides and into a clinch, and Josh falls to his back. Josh quickly gains a full guard before turning for the armbar. Kelvin keeps his arms locked and defends the hold, eventually forcing Josh to give up on the attempt. Kelvin stays on top, and he’s forced to defend again when Josh turns for a kimura. He keeps his limb safe again, and Josh turns to his knees and scrambles up to the feet. They jockey for position against the cage, and Kelvin eventually locks the body and looks for a takedown. Instead, Kelvin deftly reverses and winds up on top. Elbows come down from the top, and Josh turns to his knees as he looks to escape. He settles back on the canvas, and Kelvin keeps the pressure high. Josh tries to bring his legs high, but Kelvin remains safe and pounds away when he can. Kelvin passes to side control, and when Josh tries to sit up, he winds up exposing his back. Kelvin immediately jumps on it and latches in the rear-naked choke. The finish comes quick when Josh is forced to tap.
It’s an upset win for Kelvin, who says he’s “on top of the world” after the win.
With that fight in the books, it’s time for the season’s second semifinal. Team Sonnen’s Uriah Hall is the favorite, and coach Chael Sonnen tells him he’s good enough to beat anybody in the division, including champion Anderson Silva.
Meanwhile, Team Jones’ Dylan Andrews was the last pick on the case, but he’s one fight away from the finals. Coming from a small town in New Zealand, he knows the odds were always stacked against him. Still, he’s here, and his coaches believe he has the skills it takes to make it to the finals. It’s his chance at a “Rocky” moment.
Round 1 – Referee Steve Mazzagatti oversees the fight. Dylan takes the center, and the pair look to engage right away. Hall is the quicker fighter in the early going, and he flashes a few high kicks as the pair trades punches in the pockets. Uriah gives different looks in his stances. Dylan’s coaches call for the takedown as Uriah slows his offense a bit. Uriah circles on the outside and looks extremely comfortable and patient as he strikes. Dylan is standing in the center and pressing, but he’s having trouble finding any real openings. Uriah mixes up his strikes well in the latter stages as he starts to pick up the volume. Punches and kicks score at all levels. Dylan isn’t hurt, but he’s behind as the round ends.
Round 2 – Uriah presses forward to open, and it looks like he’s ready to pick up the pace. Dylan does take the center again, but he’s struggling to be first to the punch. Uriah flashes a crisp jab and impressive kicks at all levels. A front kick pushes Dylan to the floor, and he’s slow to rise. Uriah’s work seems to be adding up. Jon Jones begs for Dylan to explode, but he’s bleeding from the power of Uriah’s stiff jab. Halfway into the round, Dylan finally gets inside and scores a takedown. Uriah immediately turns to the side and tries to work in a kimura. Dylan defends well as Uriah stays latched to the arm. Uriah finally gets the limb out and extended as Dylan punches away with his other hand. Dylan gets his arm back inside briefly, and Uriah finally lets it go. Working from his back, Uriah tees off with punches. Dylan is hurt, and even though he’s on top, he basically covers up. Uriah feels it and rolls him over, unleashing a barrage of punches that ends the fight.
UFC President Dana White believes Uriah’s performance proves him as the “meanest, nastiest” guy in the history of the show. Uriah is overcome with emotion, as is Dylan’s whose right eye is an absolute mess.
With the season over, Jon admits he and Chael actually got along a bit. He stops short of saying he respects Chael but does say he doesn’t dislike him.
With the results, the all-Team Sonnen finals are set.
The face-off isn’t exactly spirited, but Dana says he’s really looking forward to the fight. It goes down Saturday.
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