The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) returned to FOX Sports 1 last night (Weds., June 27, 2018) for episode 11 of its first-ever “Undefeated” season. Coaching the cast of 16 mixed martial arts (MMA) hopefuls — split between the featherweight and lightweight divisions — are UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic and UFC 205-pound kingpin Daniel Cormier.
“DC” is jumping up in weight to challenge Miocic at UFC 226 in July.
We kick things off with a preview of the lightweight semifinal fight pitting Joe Giannetti (Team Cormier) against Allan Zuniga (Team Miocic). The former advanced to the second round by choking out John Gunther while the latter got a bye courtesy of Richie Smullen’s wonky calves.
With that in mind, we don’t yet know what to expect from Zuniga, though “DC,” not surprisingly, is expecting a blowout against the Costa Rican. It should be noted that Giannetti has a massive height and reach advantage, to the tune of 6’0” to 5’6” and 74” to 70”, though Zuniga is built a bit thicker and could be heavy on top if the fight sees the floor.
We start gearing up for the coaches challenge and Cormier promises to match his squad’s earnings if he’s able to pull out the victory. Whether or not he knew the challenge would be ice hockey prior to making that oh-so-generous offer is unknown, but the Olympian does not look overtly pleased to be lacing up the skates. I believe his exact words were, “This is a nightmare.” The good news is, Miocic isn’t that experienced either, so their showdown at the City National Arena (practice facility for the Vegas Golden Knights) may be more evenly matched than it appears.
The coaches will take turns as goalie and shooter, each getting 10 shots to score as many goals as possible. Miocic wins the coin toss and picks goalie first to put the pressure on Cormier. Both fighters look silly lumbering around the ice in their hockey get-ups and “DC” skates like a newborn calf, also known as “spaghetti legs.” He looks to the sidelines for support and his younglings are laughing their asses off. Hey, at least they gave him a helmet. On his first shot, Cormier scores a goal — then falls backward and lands flat on his back. Two shots later and Miocic does a belly flop. Suddenly this doesn’t seem like a smart move when they have a major title fight coming up in July.
Cormier finishes with four goals and they switch places. Miocic scores right off the bat, then follows that up with a second. Then a third. Team Cormier is dead silent. All Miocic needs is one more goal to tie and two more to win the challenge and he has seven shots to get it done. Suddenly, Cormier becomes the great wall of China and the puck can’t seem to find a way through. “DC” stonewalls him on the next seven attempts and incredibly, wins the damn thing. His team rushes the ice and tackles him. Screams of joy and elation erupt for what is being called a “miracle on ice.” Miocic is completely dejected because he wanted to win for his team and get them some extra dough. The sentimental Cormier has the episode saved on his DVR and promises to keep it forever.
Now that we managed to kill some time, which leads me to believe we aren’t going to a decision, it’s time to focus on the Giannetti-Zuniga fight. Giannetti is motivated by the passing of his friend, who was also an MMA fighter, and has a banner created to honor his memory. In addition, he wants to make his friends and family proud by advancing to the live finale in July. Zuniga, on the other hand, is eager to show the rest of the house what they’ve been missing and expects to win the contest standing, though he’s not opposed to taking the fight to the floor and working some ground-and-pound. Later in the day, coach Cormier shows up at the house with an Xbox 360 to hold a video game tournament featuring EA Sports UFC 3. It appears to be a rip-roaring good time. Giannetti fell to Luis “Violent Bob Ross” Pena in the house finals, who then did a mock post-fight interview with Cormier.
Enough with the shenanigans, let’s get to the fight.
155 lbs.: Joe Giannetti (6-0) vs. Allan Zuniga (13-0)
Round 1: Quick touch of gloves and Giannetti is moving forward with punches and kicks. He’s quickly warned about extended fingers and he tightens the gloves up. He lands a kick and some close punches, then locks up the Thai plum. Zuniga counters with a shot to the pills and Giannetti doubles over in pain. Fight is halted for a bit, then they restart with a glove touch. Giannetti stalking and gets warned for fingers. Zuniga with a low kick. Then another. Head kick by Giannetti. Zuniga roasts the ribs then lands a low kick, then another. Where is Giannetti’s jab? More kicks from Zuniga. Giannetti using that Nate Diaz-style of slappy punches and like Diaz, continues to eat unanswered leg kicks. He starts using his reach more effectively and lands a barrage of punches, then connects on the Costa Rican’s nutsack. Fight halted for a second time. They restart and touch gloves and Giannetti opens with a nice head kick-to-punch combination. He’s stalking now and Zuniga is in retreat. Now Zuniga is on the offensive and lands some solid kicks before charging in for a takedown, which just so happens to land him in a tight choke. Zuniga rolls and rolls but can’t escape and has no choice but to tap.
Final result: Giannetti def. Zuniga by submission
Here’s where we stand heading into episode 12:
155 lbs.: Mike Trizano vs.
145 lbs.: Brad Katona vs.
155 lbs.: Joe Giannetti vs.
145 lbs.: Tyler Diamond vs. Jay Cucciniello
After the fight, it’s high fives and butt slaps for Giannetti versus apologies and bro hugs for Zuniga. Stay tuned next week for the final episode as Tyler Diamond faces Jay Cucciniello in the remaining featherweight semifinal.
See you in seven!