Episode nine of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 14 "Get me to the finals," featuring middleweight coaches Michael Bisping and Jason Miller, gets underway and right out of the gate both teams are focusing on the bantamweight showdown between Dustin Pague and T.J. Dillashaw.
Dustin is the underdog but warns he was also the dawg against Louis Gaudinot and we all know how that turned out. If you don't, hide your head in shame and then check out my recap of episode four.
Coach Miller swings by the TUF house for an impromptu barbecue and naturally it turns into a cockroach-eating contest. The roaches weren't cooperating so they scooped up a helpless beetle instead. Take that, Starship Troopers!
Pague ingests one and makes it rain with $60.
Time for the coaches challenge and it's air hockey. Both Miller and Bisping see the table and have that deer-in-the-headlights look. UFC President Dana White promises $10,000 to the winning coach and $1,500 to each of his team members.
Bisping wins by a landslide, but pulls a Mark Coleman in PRIDE and falls on his ass while celebrating.
Since Dillashaw and Pague respect each other and seem to be pretty wholesome chaps, there isn't much in the way of trash talking or pre-fight hype and I'm sure you don't need another few paragraphs of "he trained hard and talked about God's will" type of filler.
Let's get to it.
135 lbs.: Dustin Pague (10-4) vs. T.J. Dillashaw (4-0)
Round 1: Both guys open up with the hands but neither lands anything of merit. Dillashaw with the hard takedown and Pague threatens with an arm-lock. TJ having none of it and works from guard. Pague stingy at first but Dillashaw breaking through and landing elbows. "Defend your face," shouts Mayhem, to an incidental chuckle. TJ with elbows. He postures and Pague tries to scramble but abandons ship and goes back to guard. He also goes back to eating elbows. 30 seconds left and Pags gets to his feet, lands a decent knee and then shucks a takedown but can't land the big punch. Nostradumbass has it 10-9 Team Bisping.
Round 2: Round two opens much like round one. Flying fists of fury and Dills takes it to the floor. Pags pushed up against the fence and Dills moves to half guard. TJ not as busy in this round but with a little oomph gets into side control. Dills working elbows and Pague looks lost. Bisping calling for the crucifix which is appropriate because I don't think Pags will be able to do much without divine intervention. They shake, rattle and roll back to the center of the cage but not much has changed. Dills working from guard with intermittent elbows. Bisping yells, "This is good!" Try being in our shoes, Mr. Count. 30 seconds left and Pags gets mugged. Yawn. 10-9 Dillashaw.
Round 3: Gloves touch and OMG! Dillashaw with a takedown! Well, to his credit he did manage to open Pags up prior to the shot. Dillashaw smells blood, literally, and tries to seal the deal. Pags with slap-fight defense. Dills struggles his way into half guard but then loses it. Pags doing nothing to improve position save for a few flailing limbs. Dills into side control, tries for the mount but ends up back in half guard. Bisping tells him he'll get 5k if he finishes which seems to create some urgency but his ground and pound isn't accurate enough to get it done. Round ends just like the first two. 10-9 Dills.
T.J. Dillashaw def. Dustin Pague via unanimous decision
After the fight, Dillashaw gets his share of man-love from Coach Bisping and Pague gets choked up. Stay tuned next week for the last two semifinal fights and the announcement of who moves on to the live finale on Dec. 3.
See you in seven!