It's the last one, folks.
Ultimate Fighting Championship's (UFC) reality television baby The Ultimate Fighter (TUF), has nearly completed season 15 with 11 episodes in the books and just one more left to go.
Last week's broadcast showcased the final two quarterfinal fights with Team Urijah Faber's Al Iaquinta knocking out teammate Andy Ogle in the first bout and Team Cruz's Vinc Pichel advancing to the final four with a hard fought victory over Chris Saunders.
Tonight's show will feature the final two fights before the TUF 15 Finale next Fri., June 1, 2012, at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada. James Vick and Vinc Pichel of Team Cruz will take on Michael Chiesa and Al Iaquinta of Team Faber, respectively. Winners meet in the finals.
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 12 LIVE BLOG
Time to do this thing, one last time ... for this season, at least.
UFC President Dana White says the TUF season winning coach and fighter wins a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. So the possibles show up at a shop with some dude from Sons of Anarchy and check out the bikes.
The boys are told they can get everything custom made on their bikes, from the seat to the handlebars to the friggin kickstand. They even have gear like jackets and boots.
Al Iaquinta admits that bikes scare him. Still, he had fun. They all did, really. And good for them.
Back at the house and Chris Tickle decides to mess with Daron Cruickshank by tossing a water bottle at him while he was sleeping. So Cruickshank hops out of bed, corners Tickle and fires off a few punches and a leg kick. They don't end up fighting, as Tickle handles himself well, but a meeting is called at the TUF gym.
Cruickshank is sweating bullets.
White says everyone has done a great job by living in the house for 13 straight weeks and handling themselves well. Ironically, he doesn't say a word about the fight we were just shown and actually says everyone from the house is fighting at the Finale. Except for Mike Rio and Andy Ogle, who are both on medical suspension.
Ogle is super broken up about this and he chases Dana down before he can leave and asks to fight on the September card in Nottingham, England. White says yes.
Time for training montages and they show Vick's obvious shortcomings on the ground. Cruz calls it out by saying it's absolutely embarrassing and outright admitting that Vick has zero chance if the fight goes to the floor. He has to keep it standing and make Chiesa uncomfortable.
Cut to the Faber team training montage and Chiesa is saying the plan is to use his wrestling against Vick because that's where the advantage will be.
But they start sparring and Chiesa has a terrible session, where he gets completely outclassed. He quits out and heads for the bathroom where Faber follows and tries to console an emotional Chiesa. He says he's sick of crying on camera and everyone is sick of hearing about this but he hasn't finished dealing with the death of his father, which happened immediately after he made the show.
Faber tells him to keep his head up and they can shadow box when he's ready.
Time for the first fight.
Michael Chiesa vs. James Vick (155-pound limit)
Round one: Vick comes out and takes the center while Chiesa fires off a low kick. For some reason, Vick isn't wading in with his usual aggression, which would seem to be the one thing that would make Chiesa fold up like a cheap lawn chair. They exchange kicks. Chiesa finally gets a clinch and they trade reversals against the cage. The takedown comes off a trip and it's not Chiesa getting it, it's Vick. He gets a second trip takedown before they reset on the feet. Vick starts chaining punches together and unsurprisingly, he finds success. Chiesa's weapon of choice is a low leg kick that is doing no damage. He also looks worn. Vick comes in with punches and Chiesa just backs up while covering his head. Finally, he lands a straight left hand but Vick continues the assault. He gets another takedown and this time locks in a front headlock. Chiesa manages to survive to the end of the round, though, but Vick just absolutely dominated him. 10-9 Vick
Round two: Chiesa decides to fire off some punches off his own this time and he lands a few to start the round. Still, Vick changes all that by banging with him and chasing him down. Chiesa gets a takedown and before long gets on top of Vick in full mount and rains down punches. Unbelievably enough, this gets the stoppage and Chiesa advances to the finals. That was one hell of a swing.
Final result: Michael Chiesa def. James Vick via TKO in round two
Vick says he's humiliated by his loss after the way the first round went and really, he should feel that way. This is mixed martial arts and his abilities seem to disappear once he gets taken down. If that's costing him at this level, he's got nowhere to go but down.
Back to the training montage crap and Faber is gushing over Iaquinta. He was "The California Kid's" first pick and he's lived up to that by not complaining and only working his ass off to get to this point. He's a beast.
The game plan is to get Pichel backing up and make him realize he's not the tougher of the two. That's what Faber says, at least. Iaquinta remarks simply that Pichel is just a guy who is in the way and he'll get him out of the way.
Cut to Pichel and he's training hard and talking about how he's training hard. Because of that, he wants to make sure he makes the finale after how hard he's worked. Cruz steps in and says the winner will be whoever lands more strikes. Pichel is worse in the wrestling, so he'll need to stuff Iaquinta's takedowns.
But if he can do that, it's going to be a dogfight. And there will be blood.
"Hope you got your metal chin on, Al, cause I'm going to break that thing," says Pichel. That was probably the weakest trash talk in history.
Al Iaquinta vs. Vinc Pichel (155-pound limit)
Round one: Iaquinta is out fast and reckless and Faber is already chastising him for it. He shoots for a single leg, turns it into a double and gets the takedown. He also gets Pichel's back and gets one hook in. This just one minute into the fight. He fails to get the second hook and Pichel gets back to his feet where they reset. A nice body kick from Iaquinta has Pichel backing up. Jab lands from Pichel. Iaquinta breaking out the leg kicks and they're landing. Pichel is having success when he's throwing, though. It's even here save for Iaquinta getting the takedown and advancing position. Cruz is begging for an uppercut as Iaquinta is ducking down underneath each shot. Iaquinta lands the better punches and this leads to Pichel shooting in for a takedown that fails. Iaquinta comes back with another takedown and he's on top with under one minute left in the round. He postures up and lands a few shots. Pichel tries to stand up and Iaquinta grabs a headlock. Pichel gets up anyway and fires off a few shots to close the round. He's over-committing, though, and nearly gets taken down for his efforts. The horn sounds and it was a 10-9 for Iaquinta.
Round two: Pichel, known for his relentless pressure, brings it hard early in the second. Iaquinta answers with shots that give him some breathing room. Low kick lands with a sickening thud. Nice jab from Pichel. Cruz calls for more. A mouthpiece drops out and it's Iaquinta's. They reset and go back to the same pattern. Pichel is pushing so hard but he's not landing nearly enough. Iaquinta with a big uppercut. Connects on another outside leg kick. Faber calls for the takedown, which would go a long way in helping steal the round. Iaquinta shoots in but easily gets stuffed. This one's close. Another outside leg kick. And another. Pichel misses on a combination. They clinch briefly but break apart. More outside leg kicks from Iaquinta. Straight right glances off Iaquinta, but he grabs a single leg shortly after. He works for it while Pichel lands punches. He drops down for a double but Pichel defends perfectly. Iaquinta lands a solid punch on his way out and they reset with 30 seconds to go. They start slugging it out and this one is so very close. I'd go 10-9 Iaquinta to give him the decision.
Final result: Al Iaquinta def. Vinc Pichel via unanimous decision
Team Faber sweeps and the finalists are Michael Chiesa and Al Iaquinta.
Iaquinta is a man of few words, as usual in the post-fight interview. He shouts out the Serra-Longo fight team, as well as mom and dad.
Pichel was hoping for one more round but recognized he was hit with far too many leg kicks.
Jon Anik and Dana White break down the two finalists. Chiesa got through the entire house after his father passed while Iaquinta just did his thing with a cold, cool precision.
He moves over and addresses the cast one last time. They do the staredown between Chiesa and Iaquinta.
That's all she wrote, ladies and sirs.
The Ultimate Fighter Live Finale next Friday night will crown the next Ultimate Fighter, as well as showcase an entire night of fights with everyone from the house as well as a welterweight showdown pitting Martin Kampmann vs. Jake Ellenberger.
See you in seven for that one, Maniacs.