We're in the home stretch.
Ultimate Fighting Championship's (UFC) reality television baby The Ultimate Fighter (TUF), has nearly completed season 15 with 10 episodes in the books and and the semifinals almost set.
Last week's broadcast showcased the first two quarterfinal fights with Team Urijah Faber's Michael Chiesa overcoming the odds to vanquish Team Dominick Cruz's number one pick, Justin Lawrence in the first bout and Team Cruz's James Vick advancing to the final four with a hard fought victory over Joe Proctor.
Tonight's show will feature the final two quarterfinal fights, as Vinc Pichel will take on an emotionally drained Chris Saunders and teammates Andy Ogle and Al Iaquinta put allegiances aside for a chance at UFC stardom.
Oh, and don't forget UFC President Dana White will officially announce Urijah Faber's new opponent at UFC 148 on July 7 in Las Vegas, Nevada, as a replacement for an injured Dominick Cruz.
MMAmania.com has a live blog of all the night's action, starting at 10 p.m. ET, after the jump.
ULTIMATE FIGHTER 15 EPISODE 11 LIVE BLOG
The broadcast goes live and we're already just 13 minutes away from live fight number one. Can't argue with that.
Usual recap from last week.
Right into the training montages. Faber talks up Saunders and says he's not worried at all about his mental game. He also believes Saunders has the skill to take Pichel completely out of the fight.
We get more back story on Saunders from the man himself, who had a tough upbringing but his family got him through. Now that he's made it to this spot, he wants to be an inspiration for younger kids.
They really tug on our heartstrings now by showing a conversation between Saunders, who has become extremely emotional, and Andy Ogle. Saunders pours his heart out and Ogle tries to talk him up by telling him how big his heart is and how his childhood helped shape him into the man he is today.
Cut back to the gym for Team Cruz's training session with "The Dominator" telling us they hope to have Pichel take Saunders down before beating him up on top and working towards a submission. If the tap isn't there, then they grind, grind, grind, and take Saunders to hell.
Time for some fisticuffs.
Chris Saunders vs. Vinc Pichel (155-pound limit)
Round one: Pichel works a jab early and then lands a nice outside leg kick. Saunders answers with a head kick but he's on his heels. The aggressiveness Cruz wanted to see out of his boy is exactly what he's getting. Pichel shoots in for a takedown but Saunders uses the cage to defend and reverse him. They get tangled up and have an awesome battle for position as they both fall to the floor but it's Saunders on top in full guard when all is said and done. It's an open guard, though, as Pichel scoots his way to the fence. They get back up and it's not long before they once again end up with Pichel working for a takedown but Saunders using the fence to stop it. Battle of attrition so far. They go to a stalemate and end up reset on their feet. Pichel pushing forward strong with punches but he's missing on too many of them. Cruz recognizes this and calls for a takedown. Instead, it's Saunders working for one as the round ends. Didn't get it, though. Not even going to try to score that.
Round two: Saunders starts with an inside leg kick that lands flush but Pichel immediately reacts by pressing in for another clinch against the fence. This continues for some time before Saunders starts landing knees. Pichel pulls him out and gets a takedown but they pop back up and Saunders works a guillotine into back control. He inexplicably lets it go to reset back in the center of the cage. He proceeds to look terrible striking, with Pichel walking him down with shots. So Saunders clinches again and now has Pichel pressed against the cage. How is this better? Pichel gets out and rushes him, dragging him to the fence again with punches and knees from the Thai Plum. Dude gets vicious and we know this because he's loudly grunting and looking extremely determined. To put an exclamation point on his dominance here, Pichel gets a pick up and drop down takedown. But wait, Saunders reverses and takes Pichel's back. He's got both hooks in but Pichel gets out of that, too. Saunders works a single leg but it's a no go and Pichel goes back to just destroying him standing as the bell sounds. Pichel is just a beast in there. So relentless. That was his round.
Final result: Vinc Pichel def. Chris Saunders via majority decision
They continue teasing that Faber's opponent will be revealed later tonight. Word around the water cooler is that it's Renan Barao. We shall see.
Now we get to the next fight set up, which is just around seven minutes long, thankfully. Once again, they push the angle that this is two teammates fighting, as if that's some sort of big deal considering how the show is set up.
It's really not.
Faber says they'll let the guys know at the last minute who is cornering who. Ogle gets the montage treatment first. He says no one can take away his heart and spirit and that's what makes him dangerous. He even went out on a limb and said he "fucking wants this more than anyone."
Iaquinta's turn and he says Ogle is decent everywhere but not great anywhere. Faber talks about him with a sort of distant respect for his attitude. He calls Iaquinta stone faced and based on his stoic demeanor at all times, no one can argue with that.
Barely any set up for this one but really, who needs it?
Andy Ogle vs. Al Iaquinta (155-pound limit)
Round one: Iaquinta leads with an overhand right. It's deadly quiet in there thanks to the lack of coaching for either side. Each punch sounds more like a slap. Plenty of activity with both guys winging shots but it's Iaquinta who looks to be getting the better of it here early. A nice head kick sends Ogle staggering back for a second. The Brit stays aggressive, though, pushing forward with punches, none of which land. Ogle's circling a lot and making Iaquinta chase him, which appears to be frustrating Al. Beautiful uppercut from Iaquinta lands and Ogle gets back on his bicycle. He misses badly with an overhand right. Lands a nice right straight. Oh, shit, Iaquinta lands a big shot and down goes Ogle. He's trying hard to recover and the referee lets him do so but Iaquinta is all over him. Iaquinta lets him back to his feet and drills him with a hard elbow that sends him off to La La Land. That was brutal.
Final result: Al Iaquinta def. Andy Ogle via knockout in round one
Iaquinta shouted "FUCK" right after the ref stopped it. He looks pretty pissed off.
Jon Anik talks to Iaquinta and he keeps the Fedor Emelianenko death stare the whole way. Dude is cold blooded. Ogle is emotional when getting interviewed and says every dog has his day and he'll get back up from this. He's gutted he won't be winning, but what else can he say.
Up next, we get the semifinal match-ups and Urijah Faber's new opponent.
Dana White is up and at 'em just two days after his surgery for his ear disease. I had been under the impression folks who have that surgery can't even walk for a week. What a tough cookie, right?
Time for the match-up announcements.
James Vick vs. Michael Chiesa
Vinc Pichel vs. Al Iaquinta
That's the semifinals for TUF 15. Now time to hear who Faber's new opponent will be.
Yes, it's Renan Barao.
Next week is the final episode before the Finale on June 1. See you in seven, Maniacs.