In last week’s episode of The Ultimate Fighter 17: Team Jones vs. Team Sonnen, the quarterfinal match-ups were revealed. This week’s segment featured two quarterfinal bouts and a visit from UFC women’s bantamweight titleholder Ronda Rousey.
Team Sonnen’s Kelvin Gastelum is a big fan of Ronda Rousey. Prior to his match-up with Bubba McDaniel in episode 5, Rousey promised that if he won, she’d come out and teach a training session for Team Sonnen. She made good on that promise.
Rousey taught Judo techniques and spoke with the team about mind sets and mental preparation for fights.
The first of the two quarterfinal fights featured Gastelum against Team Sonnen’s Collin Hart. Stylistically, the two come from grappling backgrounds.
“He’s a great wrestler, great jiu-jitsu, but I’m going to be looking to use my wrestling to stop his takedowns. And I’m going to do what I’m here to do, which is win the fight,” said Gastelum.
“I think Kelvin is going to give me a good fight. He’s a scrappy guy on the ground, so I’m pretty excited about it,” said Hart.
“I think Kelvin is okay at everything, and I think Collin is okay at everything except for jiu-jitsu. I think Collin is extraordinary at jiu-jitsu, and that’s going to be our key to victory,” said Coach Jon Jones.
Typically when two wrestlers face each other, the fight plays out like a kickboxing match, and that’s exactly what happened when the two fought in the first quarterfinal bout.
Kelvin Gastelum vs. Collin Hart
Hart presses forward behind his punches. The two stood toe-to-toe and fired off punches. 30 seconds into the round, Gastelum clipped Hart with a left hook. Hart’s legs gave out and he landed face first on the canvas. Gastelum followed hard to the mat and finished with two more left hands before the referee stopped the fight.
“I don’t know, I just got caught,” said Hart following the loss. “I was banging and the next thing I know the referee was stopping it, and I guess I got TKO’d. It’s an ugly part of the sport, but it happened. Congrats to Kelvin, and I hope he wins the whole thing.”
“Being the youngest guy in the semis, of course, it’s a blessing. I’m honored. I’m excited. Now it’s time to get ready for the next one,” said Gastelum.
The next quarterfinal match-up pitted Team Jones’ Dylan Andrews against Team Sonnen’s Luke Barnatt.
“Everyone sees me as a standup fighter. I actually love going to the ground,” said Barnett leading up to the fight. “I’m going to just tear the guy up on the feet, and then if I see an opportunity I’m going to take him down and get on top and wear him out. That’s as far as we’ve got with the plan, just to go in there and punch the guy and beat him.”
“The keys to win this fight is just to stay low in the clinch, make sure we’re on top, keep the pressure high, and not allow Luke to exploit his reach difference,” assessed Coach Jones.
Dylan Andrews vs. Luke Barnatt
Andrews quickly scored a takedown in the opening seconds of the first round. He spent most of the round in top position landing shots to the body and head while Barnatt worked to find a submission. Barnett fought his way back to his feet and landed strikes only to be taken down again. Andrews clearly won the round.
The second round didn’t look anything like the first. They exchanged early with Andrews landing right hands while Barnatt worked knees to the body and utilized his jab. Barnatt secured a takedown and landed in the mount position midway through the round. Andrews reversed the position and was met with submission attempts. The round ended with Andrews taking Barnatt’s back and looking for a choke. It was a close round, but the judges would need a “sudden death” round to determine a winner.
Andrews’ corner showed him a photo of his family as motivation between rounds and it worked. He pressed forward landing his right hand. He turned up the pressure with combinations. He backed Barnatt against the cage and unloaded three right hands that sent the taller fighter crashing to the canvas. He followed up with a hammer fist that forced the referee to stop the action.
“I said it was going to be a war and it was a war. I just ended up losing it,” said Barnatt after the fight. “It’s the first time I’ve ever lost. They say a loss brings you back stronger. Hopefully it does.”
Next week’s episode will showcase the two remaining quarterfinal bouts: Jimmy Quinlan vs. Josh Samman and Uriah Hall vs. Bubba McDaniel, but one may be in jeopardy.
Team Jones’ McDaniel expressed concerns about having to face Hall.
“You can just see the anguish and pressure about fighting Uriah on his face,” said Coach Jones. “The biggest thing we need to do as coaches for Bubba is just really get him believing in his ability.”
Coach Jones told Clint Hester to be ready to fight.
“Mentally, whether Bubba will be able to continue moving forward, at this point I don’t know,” said Jones.
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