The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 29 has gone from a one-sided rout into a legitimate contest, which continues tonight (Tues., July 13, 2021) as Alexander Volkanovski tries to keep his team’s newfound momentum going against Brian Ortega and his squad on ESPN+.
Team Volkanovski continued down the comeback trail last week thanks to Bantamweight Ricky Turcios, who used relentless pressure to wear down Team Ortega’s top pick in Dan Argueta. Brady Hiestand now has the chance to make it 3-4, but he’ll have to get through a friend in Josh Rettinghouse.
The current lineups:
Mitch Raposo, Dustin Lampros, Ricky Turcios, Brady Hiestand
Ryder Newman, Gilbert Urbina, Aaron Phillips, Bryan Battle
Dan Argueta, Liudvik Sholinian, Josh Rettinghouse, Vince Murdock,
Middleweights: Andre Petroski, Tresean Gore, Miles Hunsinger,
We start in the house, where Turcios and Argueta celebrate their fight by going “Ninja Turtle” on some pizza. Both are in great spirits, though Argueta does sarcastically thank Turcios for the stitches.
Outside, roommates Hiestand and Rettinghouse are cutting weight together in the hot tub. Rettinghouse admits to the camera that Hiestand was the last person he wanted to fight, but acknowledges that both of them are going to try and knock each other’s heads off. They chat about their training experience, realizing they’ve only ever sparred on the ground.
Rettinghouse gets first dibs on fight prep footage. Coach Ortega admits that he told Rettinghouse at the start that he wanted him to fight Hiestand despite Rettinghouse’s reluctance. Rettinghouse himself vows to be “better everywhere,” and Ortega compares his analytical style to playing chess. He believes he’s better than some UFC fighters and considers himself “light years” ahead of his former self.
It won’t surprise you that he’s also confident about his chances.
In the house, Hiestand tells Rettinghouse about his experience as a volunteer firefighter and paramedic. Then it’s on to Hiestand’s home video, which starts at his family’s farm. He himself lives at a fire station, and we get to see him in action during a training exercise. There’s also some footage of him rolling with his brother, plus a cameo from training partner Michael Chiesa at Sikjitsu.
Chiesa predicts that Hiestand’s going to knock someone out in the house with a lead-leg head kick, so we’ll see how prescient he is.
Volkanovski himself calls Hiestand a “strong kid,” while Hiestand himself describes his style as “well-rounded with heavy grappling.” We get to see all of that in his fight footage, which includes some violent stoppages. His gameplan here involves using pressure to set up takedowns and ultimately a submission.
Over to Rettinghouse, who admits he’s “towards the end” of his career. Then comes the home video, which starts with his very cute dog and proceeds into his full-time day job as a CPA. He trains at Warrior Camp under Pablo Alfonso, saying he got into MMA after wrestling in high school. He cites his experience against strong competition as a key advantage and calls this his “last chance.”
Weigh-in time already, which says to me that we’re in for another three-rounder. Hiestand hits the scale at 135 as does Rettinghouse. Dana White pops in to talk about how this fight between friends will prove which of them has “killer instinct.”
This week’s flashback is TUF 16’s legendary Let Me Bang, Bro moment, then it’s off to fight day. Some final worse from both men and it’s time to tussle.
Bantamweight Quarterfinal: Brady Hiestand (Team Volkanovski) vs. Josh Rettinghouse (Team Ortega)
Round one: Hiestand takes the initiative with a 1-2 and puts him on the fence. Rettinghouse looks for a trip, denied by the whizzer. After they separate, he catches a kick and latches onto a front headlock, landing a right hook on the exit. Hiestand shoots, denied. One minute in. Hiestand finally spins him down with a single-leg but can’t keep him there. Holding onto the rear body lock and hunting the back. Two minutes in. Hiestand wraps up the RNC but it’s on the chin and Rettinghouse fights out of it. Full body triangle. Two minutes to go.
Left hands from Hiestand after losing a hook. Nice scramble back to the feet by Rettinghouse, who gets caught in a front headlock and eats knees before taking Hiestand down. Hiestand back up, caught in a body lock with a minute to go. Nice high crotch takedown from Rettinghouse but Hiestand scrambles out, looking to take the back. One hook in, dropping punches. 10-9 Hiestand.
Round two: Hiestand wades his way into another takedown attempt. Hard left hand and he re-shoots. He gets Rettinghouse to a knee on the fence and tries to retake the back. Hard elbow. Rettinghouse turns and separates a minute in. Hiestand lands a looping hook and gets blasted with a knee. Landing punches, eats a sharp right cross in return. Two brutal right hands nearly knock Hiestand down. Clean uppercut, knee to the face. Another uppercut. Body kick. Two minutes in. Clean 1-2 from Hiestand and a cross counter comes back at him. He shoots, denied, walks into an uppercut. Rettinghouse really timing Hiestand’s jab. Hiestand shoots, rebuffed, then again. Nasty elbow hurts him inside but he manages to shoot again anyway and it’s back to the one knee against the fence. Good takedown with two minutes to go.
Rettinghouse tries a granby roll and ends up on the bottom, wrapping up and sqiftly losing a triangle. Hiestand’s nose is an absolute mess. Rettinghouse works his way back to his feet. One minute to go. Hiestand drags him back to his seat. Looking for the back again. Awkward position until the bell. 10-9 Rettinghouse.
Round three: Hard body shot from Rettinghouse to start. Stalking forward, putting together combinations. Nice uppercut, eats a cross in return. Back-and-forth striking. One minute in. Another clean counter uppercut lands for Rettinghouse. Hiestand with an exhausted-looking shot, shoots as Rettinghouse complains of a headbutt and gets taken down for it. Hiestand working his way back to his feet, does so, eats a right hand and shoots two minutes in. Good defense from Rettinghouse but Hiestand bulldozes him down and looks for the back. Back to the one-knee-against-the-fence position. Two minutes to go.
One hook in for Hiestand. Rettinghouse stands, gets underhooks, eats a knee and surrenders another takedown with a minute to go. Rettinghouse looks for the switch, then works his way to his feet. Another takedown by Hiestand in the center, refusing to let go of the body lock. Unsuccessful granby roll by Rettinghouse and Hiestand sets up in guard, where he has to fight off a late triangle. 10-9 Hiestand.
Final result: Hiestand def. Rettinghouse by split decision
Coach Volkanovski and his team are even more excited than Hiestand. Rettinghouse, in tears, manages to choke out that if he had to lose anyone, he’d like it to be Hiestand.
Only one matchup left in the first round: Gilbert Urbina vs. Miles Hunsinger. This one’s another roommate fight, one that both participants are excited for.
Same time next week!