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The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) ‘Redemption’ results, recap, and discussion (Ep. 7)

Episode seven is titled “Dark Horse.”


Episode seven of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): “Redemption” was back on FOX Sports 1 last night (Weds., May 31, 2017), featuring a cast of ex-TUF guys trying to redeem themselves and earn another crack at UFC superstardom under the tutelage of head coaches Cody Garbrandt and TJ Dillashaw.

If you missed last week’s episode click here for our complete recap.

We kick things off with a preview of the next welterweight elimination fight sending Team Garbrandt’s Justin Edwards (TUF 13) into battle against Team Dillashaw’s Joe Stevenson (TUF 2). Down 0-6, “Fast Eddy” is charged with keeping his team from a season sweep.

Battle of the nice guys!

Our first close up features Stevenson, who talks about the bygone era of mixed martial arts (MMA), which for him began in the late nineties. First pick on TUF 2, the now-bearded brawler won the entire season and enjoyed a lengthy UFC career.

But nothing lasts forever.

Stevenson, 34, was cut after losing four straight fights and became what he calls a “functioning alcoholic.” His “redemption” will be to show himself and his family what he can accomplish when sober and is grateful to get yet another opportunity at UFC superstardom.

Dillashaw likes coaching the gritty veteran — who is a treasure trove of inspirational advice — because he can learn as much as he can teach. Stevenson, also a technical advisor on the MMA show “Kingdom,” has four sons that are proud of their father’s decision to re-enter the UFC proving ground.

We switch gears and shine a few lights on Edwards, also 34, who coach Garbrandt refers to as his “Dark Horse.” Since that’s the name of this episode, we pretty much know he’s going to win. Edwards is convinced Stevenson is too old (“lost a step”) to avoid his speedy attack.

Edwards has the “not-so-glamorous” job of HVAC (heating, ventilation, cooling) technician outside of his fighting career because “it’s a paycheck” and the man needs to put food on the table and competing outside UFC is not the most lucrative option.

Training comes after a full eight-hour shift which sometimes takes him well past midnight.

“Fast Eddy” was a replacement fighter on TUF 13 and faced Tony Ferguson — now a top contender at 155 pounds — where he got kicked into the loss column after a back-and-forth war. That performance earned him a seven-fight run inside the Octagon that ended at just 2-5.

Both fighters make weight without incident.

Team Dillashaw’s Joe Stevenson (33-16) vs. Team Garbrandt’s Justin Edwards (9-5)

Round 1: The action begins on the feet and both fighters seem content to punch each other in the face without any regard for defense. Stevenson appears to be getting the worse of the exchanges and rushes in for the clinch. Edwards shucks him off and goes back to head hunting. “Daddy” looks slow and sluggish on the feet and coach Dillashaw is screaming for feints. Stevenson has zero head movement and waits to get slugged so he can use his opponent’s forward momentum to try for the clinch and ultimately, a takedown. He gets it only to land in a guillotine but is too experienced to panic. He worms his way out and works from half guard. Edwards muscles his way up and out and is not only the bigger fighter, but also the fresher one, walking “Daddy” down and striking at will. Stevenson firing off an array of leg and body kicks but Edwards walks right through them and continues his striking assault. 60 seconds left in the opening frame and Stevenson mounts a comeback, backing Edwards into the fence and scoring a takedown. He can’t keep the action south for more than a few seconds and “Fast Eddy” gets back to his feet. The round ends with a bangfest in which Stevenson appears to be the aggressor. I had it 10-9 Edwards.

Round 2: Touch of gloves and it’s right back to the fisticuffs. Dillashaw screaming for Stevenson to “be first” shortly before “Daddy” clinches and works for a body-lock takedown. Edwards gets backed into the cage but stymies the takedown attempt and breaks free. They reset and start banging it out in the center of the cage. Edwards lands a couple of big punches and Stevenson is in retreat. “Fast Eddy” can’t capitalize and “Daddy” starts returning fire. Stevenson eats a few too many punches and drives for the takedown. They hit the fence but once again Edwards won’t budge. “Fast Eddy” flips the script and shoots for a takedown of his own and lands it, which Stevenson converts to an unsuccessful guillotine attempt. It affords him the opportunity to escape and get back to his feet, which in turn leads to his own takedown. Edwards follows suit and slaps on a guillotine of his own but can’t seal the deal. Stevenson pops free and tries to work the ground-and-pound but Edwards too big and strong to stay grounded. Time expires with “Daddy” shooting for the takedown. Both sides preparing for a third round but alas, the judges did not see it close enough for sudden victory. I concur and had it 10-9 Edwards.

Final result: Edwards def. Stevenson by unanimous decision

Here’s where we stand after episode seven:

Team Garbrandt

Seth Baczynski
Mehdi Baghdad
Eddie Gordon
Hayder Hassan
Julian Lane
Justin Edwards
Johnny Nunez

Team Dillashaw

James Krause
Jesse Taylor
Ramsey Nijem
Dhiego Lima
Joe Stevenson
Tom Gallicchio
Gilbert Smith

Team Dillashaw leads Team Garbrandt 6-1.

Following the final elimination bout, promotion president Dana White drops by — via satellite — to pick the wildcard fight. White instructs his coaches (by way of private meeting) to vote for the most qualified combatant. Not just for the remainder of TUF 25, but for the opportunities post-reality show, as well.

Coach Garbrandt likes a handful of his losing fighters, including Seth Baczynski, Haydar Hassan, and Johnny Nunez, while Coach Dillashaw wants Joe Stevenson to get another shot because he put on the best fight of the season.

White selects Hassan and Stevenson, much to the chagrin of “No Love,” who thinks Stevenson “got his ass beat” and was picked for nostalgia over merit. Eddie Gordon thinks “Daddy” is going to “get hurt.”

Stay tuned next week to find out!

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