The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) returned to FOX Sports 1 (FS1) last night (Weds., June 6, 2018) for episode eight 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.
The show opens at the TUF house and Richie Smullen — on crutches — is trying to explain to the rest of his teammates how cramped legs sent him to the hospital in episode seven, advancing Allan Zuniga to the semifinals by way of forfeit. Speaking of the next round of fights, it’s time to prepare for the final featherweight elimination bout pitting Team Miocic loudmouth Dulani Perry opposite Team Cormier No. 1 pick Tyler Diamond.
We start with Diamond (9-0), who is incredibly anxious to get into the cage and admits he’s seen nothing from Dulani over the past few weeks to make him concerned about fight night. We get a few clips of the former King of the Cage (KOTC) standout smashing warm bodies on the regional circuit. Coach Cormier calls the match up “fun” and reminds his star pupil that Kelvin Gastelum was also picked last (like Dulani) for TUF 17 and went on to win the whole damn show. Diamond brushes off any warnings and promises to destroy his opponent en route to a finale win in July. Cue the slow piano music and Diamond is missing his family and friends back home, especially his soon-to-be-fiance and his autistic brother. We also get a look at the crew of Ultimate Fitness in Sacramento, Calif., where Diamond trains under the tutelage of former World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) featherweight champion Urijah Faber.
After the commercial break, we turn our attention to Dulani (4-0), who brags that he’s also undefeated on the amateur scene, as well as the kickboxing circuit. Add to that the countless gold medals he’s won in jiu-jitsu tournaments and alas, we understand why he calls himself “The Fight God.” Coach Miocic expects a “great night” for his squad if Dulani uses his striking intelligently. The gameplan is to repel any and all takedowns while putting Diamond out of his misery. Dulani is from Queens, New York, but resides in Houston, Texas. Even though he flashes his Rolex watch and $100,000 car, he’s still gangster because he wears a do-rag on his head. Now he starts ragging on Conor McGregor and says “Notorious” is nowhere near his level in terms of talent and marketability and if the trash-talking irishman can make $100 million, then Dulani can make $100 billion.
With two fighters removed due to injuries — Luis Pena and Ricky Steele -- a pair of open slots are available to existing combatants who lost their elimination fights. Elsewhere on the show, Suman Mokhtarian has nothing to do these days after getting eliminated, so he dresses up like Dulani and clomps around the house doing shtick. Mokhtarian says the costume party was one of the highlights of his TUF experience, which is disconcerting on multiple levels.
Both Dulani and Diamond make weight without incident, then get physical during the staredown. Not surprisingly, Coach Cormier heckles the shit out of Dulani while he’s trying handle his business, then admits his efforts were fruitless.
Let’s do this.
145 lbs.: Team Miocic’s Dulani Perry (4-0) vs. Team Cormier’s Tyler Diamond (9-0)
Round 1: No touch of gloves and Diamond rushes forward, then gets stuffed with a push kick. More kicks from Dulani and Diamond shoots, but shoots from too far away. Dulani tries to use the advantage to execute a jumping guillotine, but instead lands on his back with Diamond on top. Probably not the best strategy considering Diamond’s entire game is built on top control. To his credit, Dulani stays busy with submission attempts but Diamond shrugs them off with ease. That said, the constant defending keeps Diamond from unloading any serious offense and the referee is already calling for action. Diamond working from side control. Dulani starting to wilt under the constant pressure and now Diamond is able to score some offense. Diamond now in side control and doing more suffocating than fighting, but he’s cleaning up on the scorecards. 10-9 Diamond.
Round 2: Diamond working from range and Dulani tries a jumping knee, only to get stuffed and bumped to the floor. It only takes a few seconds for Diamond to follow him to the ground and it’s a repeat of round one, though Diamond appears to be fighting more aggressively. Dulani allows him to get side control and Diamond works for a crucifix. Referee calling for action. Dulani rolls out and tries to get back to his feet, but instead gets locked in a tight guillotine choke. The tap comes soon thereafter.
Final result: Tyler Diamond def. Dulani Perry by submission (guillotine choke)
Here’s where we stand after episode eight:
Suman Mokhtarian Jay Cucciniello Kyler Phillips Dulani Perry
Joe Martinez John Gunther
Ricky Steele (Injury)
Luis Pena (Injury) Richie Smullen Thailand Clark
After the fight, Diamond celebrates his win and looks forward to the next challenge. Meanwhile, Dulani — who got cut by an elbow during the bout — reflects on his loss in the Team Miocic locker room and takes it like a man, admitting he is not as good as he thought he was when it comes to the ground game.
Meanwhile, Coach Cormier and Coach Miocic meet up with Dana White to discuss the semifinals, just as we learn that Suman Mokhtarian suffered a torn ACL and will not be allowed to return as an alternate. White has no interest in bringing back the obnoxious Thailand Clark or the cramping Richie Smullen, so the alternates will come from Team Miocic.
Here are the semifinal match ups:
155 lbs.: Mike Trizano vs. John Gunther
145 lbs.: Brad Katona vs. Bryce Mitchell
155 lbs.: Joe Giannetti vs. Allan Zuniga
145 lbs.: Tyler Diamond vs. Jay Cucciniello
We get started next week. See you in seven!