Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) was back on cable television last night (Fri., May 26, 2012) with episode 12 of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 15 "Live" on FX.
And after episode 11 produced the lowest ratings in the history of the show, they needed to close this season out with a bang.
They did so by putting on two more live fights, the semifinals of the tournament to crown the next Ultimate Fighter. Michael Chiesa took on James Vick while Al Iaquinta went head on against Vinc Pichel.
In the opening bout of the evening, Chiesa once again showed he's all heart and grappling, as he survived a slow start in the first round to take Vick to the floor in the second where he utterly destroyed him by moving to mount and raining down punches. Two things made this fulfilling for viewers who have bothered to tune in throughout the season: 1) Chiesa has battled to get this far despite the death of his father just as he made it into the house and 2) Dominick Cruz basically said this was exactly what would happen if the fight hit the mat.
And it did. And now one half of the finals consists of a fighter with perhaps the best story of anyone in the house all season.
The other match-up saw Al Iaquinta use his brains and superior range to outpoint the aggressive Vinc Pichel. He was smart in his attack, choosing to work Pichel's legs with kicks while also mixing in a few takedowns.
It wasn't exactly pretty, nor altogether impressive, but it got the job done.
Now, Chiesa and Iaquinta will meet at the live Finale next week at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada, the third time each man will have fought in as many weeks. Interestingly enough, no one seems to be taking any issue with this.
Sure, it seems like a futile task to even bring up the fact that these men are being asked to compete so much in such a short amount of time. But why isn't anyone asking questions? Chiesa, in particular, has taken quite a bit of damage in his last few fights. Some commissions require athletes to take a mandatory 30-45 days off after one contest.
Yet these two will fight three times within that time span. Hey, all in the pursuit of glory, right?
Another interesting aspect of last night's show was when Chris Tickle decided to play a prank on Daron Cruickshank in the form of tossing a water bottle onto him while he slept. This led an enraged Cruickshank to jump out of his bed and literally attack Tickle.
And I don't mean pushing and shoving. I mean a straight right hand and a hard kick to the body.
One would think this would lead to Cruickshank being sent home. After all, the fighting is to be done inside the Octagon, not outside of it. But no, not only did UFC President Dana White let this infraction go, he even gave Cruickshank a fight at the live Finale.
Naturally, it's against Tickle.
The only thing that will make this worse is if they play up the incident in the hype just before the fight, something you can surely bet they'll do. It provides quite the insight into how the UFC likes to operate.
Nevertheless, it was a mostly solid end to what's been an extremely disappointing season. The fights were decent to good, but the show dragged and there were very few compelling personalities. The talent pool also looks fairly thin.
Can you imagine anyone from this season becoming a contender at 155-pounds? Even in Strikeforce?
But it's over now and thanks for taking this journey with me through this latest season of TUF. Maybe we'll do it again for the next one. Or maybe we'll live blog paint drying. It would probably be just as compelling.
For complete results and the running live blog of TUF 15, episode 12 click here.