Episode six of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 19, coached by featherweight rivals Frankie Edgar and BJ Penn, gets underway at the TUF gym and we're already talking about the next fight between Ian Stephens (Team Edgar) and Roger Zapata (Team Penn).
Then we kick it back to the TUF house and Stephens talks about the death of his father, which happened when the poor guy was trying to fix an air conditioning unit and got electrocuted to death. Yikes. Stephens was just six years old but says the incident made him a strong person because of what he had to overcome.
Well, that was uplifting.
Coach Edgar says the gameplan is to get Zapata down and take his back, since Stephens is a wrestler, but the young buck thinks he can instead surprise his opponent with a head kick or overhand right when the hands instinctively go low to stuff the takedown.
We shall see.
Now it's time to focus on Zapata, who had to walk out on his newborn baby to "chase his dream." He's trying to forget about his family to make the absence easier, but as expected, it's not working. They do a long shot of the Las Vegas strip and it looks like they've done a great job of rebuilding it since the MUTO attack.
Holy smokes, it's Matt Hughes!
Mr. "Country Breakfast" is there to teach the new recruits Naturally, he's helping Zapata work on his wrestling as fellow mat rat Mark Coleman cheers them on. Hughes thinks Roger is a pretty good wrestler for someone with no experience and could be a "natural."
Penn looks like he's sleepwalking his way through this.
They skip the weigh in formalities and instead fast-forward to fight day. Since we're only 15 minutes into the episode, something really bizarre must be in store. I guess we'll find out after the commercial break. As Zapata said, "It's time to go! It's game time!"
Middleweight elimination fight #3: Ian Stephens (Team Edgar) vs. Roger Zapata (Team Penn)
Round 1: Referee Steve Mazzagatti gets them started and a touch of gloves leads to a feeling out process on the feet. Lots of bobbing and weaving. Doesn't take long for Stephens to shoot but Zapata takes a knee at the fence to defend. Stephens circles and takes his back, standing, and pulls off an atomic drop with Zapata landing hard on his ass. Ouch! He scrambles back up and Stephens jumps on his back again but can't finish. Zapata getting warned for fence grabbing then gets yelled at for illegal elbows. Zapata back up and gets another elbow warning before hunting for a standing kimura. Stephens drags him down again and still has his back. Zapata throwing elbows from behind and little punches. Stephens gets the neck but Zapata won't go quietly and gets back to his feet during a scramble. At the end of the round, Mazzagatti tells him to "watch the angle" of his downward elbows. I scored it 10-9 Stephens based on takedowns and control.
Round 2: Glove tap and Stephens with a long-distance takedown that is easily stuffed. The problem is Zapata doesn't change his position, allowing Zapata to cling to him and wrestle him to the ground. Stephens muscles him to the ground and takes his back, much like the opening frame. Coach Penn yelling at Zapata to get up. Stephens has the arm across the jaw but not much else. Two minutes left in the round and not much is happening. Lots of rolling around on the ground with Stephens clinging to him. Wait! 60 seconds left and Zapata spins clear and gets to his feet! Unfortunately, Stephens won't let him go and sticks to him for the rest of the round. I have it 10-9 Stephens but judges disagree. We're going for three. Sudden victory!
Round 3: Touch of gloves and Stephens is exhausted. After a sloppy exchange, he lazily shoots from a mile out but Zapata has no takedown defense and tumbles over. After some struggling, Zapata gets back to his feet and Stephens goes for the legs. Zapata dropping hammer fists, then grabs the fence a few times, then gets warned for elbows. Zapata continues on undeterred and then lands another downward elbow and Mazzagatti docks him one point. Dana White says Stephens is milking it and complains that you're supposed to issue a warning THEN deduct a point. Maybe White missed all those previous warnings? Fight resumes and Stephens goes right back to the takedown. Zapata is put on his ass and Stephens is landing intermittent punches. Final minute and Stephens is working for the choke, the same one he couldn't get the previous 14 minutes. Stephens throwing punches and Mazzagatti yells at Zapata for something. That's a wrap. With the point lost, I have it 10-8 Stephens.
After the fight, White slams Stephens for being a "human blanket." Then he buries Mazzagatti for calling the elbow. Then they show Dana backstage screaming about the elbows. Holy shit sit down and STFU already. Carrying on like a toddler.
Judges render their decision and "Ian Zapata" is the winner. Hahahaha poor Mazz. Then he has to re-announce the winner as Roger Zapata. Now White is going crazy again because it's impossible to win the third round -- and the fight -- if you lose a point, so somebody fucked up.
Zapata jumping up and down yelling that he won because he was freestyle striking. Lots of confusion. White tells everyone to go back to the locker room.
Final result: Roger Zapata def. Ian Stephens via decision
Here's where we stand after six episodes:
Matt Van Buren
Todd Monaghan Ian Stephens
Team Penn up 3-2.
White gives his "don't leave it in the hands of the judges" speech and it's time for the fight pick for episode seven. Anton Berzin (Team Penn) will fight Patrick Walsh (Team Edgar) in light heavyweight action. White says "Walsh is in trouble" in this fight.
See you in seven!