This is the end ... beautiful friend.
Episode 12 of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 17: "Team Jones vs. Team Sonnen" was back on the airwaves on Tuesday evening (April 9, 2013) via FX Channel, featuring the final show before Saturday night's grand finale in Las Vegas (live results here).
The action gets underway with a trip through the Harley Davidson showroom in Las Vegas, as the season winner and his coach get their hands on two wheels of awesomeness. That means there are four people in attendance who will go home empty handed.
Back at the TUF gym, Josh Samman is talking up his fight against Kelvin Gastelum and thinks that it's all mental when you get this deep into the tournament. Kelvin Gastelum, just 21 years old and Coach Chael Sonnen's last pick, is not getting picked to win the semifinals by anyone.
Not even his own teammates.
Semifinal fight #1: Josh Samman vs. Kelvin Gastelum
Round 1: Touch of gloves and Samman feeling him out with kicks. Then a weak punch. He rushes in and tries to clinch but Kelvin takes him down. Josh working from bottom. Kelvin tries to push him into the fence and briefly postures; however, Samman stifles him with a stingy guard. Josh gets back to his feet but Kelvin muscles him against the fence. Josh with a takedown, but Kelvin reverses and lands on top. Kelvin dropping bombs as Josh is pinned against the cage. Kelvin tries to improve position and Josh gets a breather. Kelvin gets his bearings and starts unloading. Samman getting beat up here and gives up his back. Kelvin sinks in the choke and it's tapsville. Wow.
Kelvin Gastelum def. Josh Samman via submission (rear naked choke)
Samman says he's "in shock" following the outcome and Gastelum is "excited." We'll see how excited he is after the second semifinal fight is decided. We move right into the hype for the next bout and Sonnen tells Hall he can beat any top 10 middleweight in the world.
Even that "puke" he refuses to name.
Chael starts pouring it on, trying to boost his pupil's confidence, comparing him to a video game character and the kind of fighter kids will dream of becoming. Hall has a history of self-doubt interfering with his success and all the pressure is on him to win.
Even so ... "The American Gangster" is laying it on kinda thick.
Andrews also gets a pep talk from his coach, but it's a little more down-to-earth. Like Kelvin, the New Zealander was also his team's last pick, which would make his win that much more hilarious. Even "The Villain" acknowledges it would be "crazy," but promises "he's coming."
We shall see.
Round 1: Dylan gets a pic of his kids flashed in his face right before the touch of gloves. Brittney sighting! They bump mitts and Uriah starts working the hands. Now the feet. 30 seconds go by and no punches are thrown. Andrews runs in with a sloppy shoot but gets stuffed. Hall whiffs on a high kick. Uriah scoring points with strikes. Andrews doing nothing but getting lit up. Hall finding his rhythm now. Team Jones calling for the takedown but Andrews ignores the advice and eats a punishing leg kick. Oblique kick lands for Hall. Andrews gameplan, if you can call it that, is puzzling. He's a walking heavy bag. The last minute expires with Uriah striking and landing at will. Someone cageside snarls in delight every time he lands a kick 10-9 Hall.
Round 2: Jones blasts Dylan in between rounds for his inactivity. Hall comes out and walks him down and picks up right where he left off, landing at will. Andrews runs in with desperation but Hall tosses him aside like yesterday's garbage. Hall jabbing him, Mousasi vs. Latifi style. Team Jones screaming for offense and gets none. Dylan is a bloody mess and rushes in, finally getting his hands on Hall against the fence. Andrews picks him up and slams him down -- right into a Kimura. Andrews tries to elbow the thigh then punch the ribs, but Hall has it DEEP. Dylan is able to adjust and Uriah lets go of the submission, only to resort to a brutal onslaught of punches from his back. Andrews crumples over and Hall reverses, dropping bombs from the top until referee Steve Mazzagatti is forced to intervene. Wow.
Uriah Hall def. Dylan Andrews via technical knockout (strikes)
After the fight, UFC President Dana White gushes over Hall's performance. Jones looks crushed and Dylan is on his way to the hospital. Bubba McDaniel says Uriah is 4-4 in wins and hospital visits. Andrews says his heart hurts more than his face.
The show wraps and everyone slaps hands and gives bro hugs. "Bones" won't go as far to say he respects Sonnen, but also admits he doesn't hate him. That has long since changed. Hall and Gastelum give a goofy staredown (someone shouts HA-DO-KEN) and White calls this THE BEST SEASON OF TUF EVA!
Until season 18, of course. See you then!