After weeks of entertaining bouts and genuine bad blood, The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 29 concludes tonight (Tues., Aug. 17, 2021) on ESPN+, where Coach Brian Ortega looks to finally secure secure his team a spot in next week’s finals despite Alexander Volkanovski’s seemingly unstoppable comeback.
Brady Hiestand finalized an all-Volkanovski bantamweight final last week by mauling veteran Vince Murdock, extending his team’s winning streak to seven in the process. Tresean Gore, the last man standing on Team Ortega, now squares off against Gilbert Urbina, who looks to be the first member of the Urbina clan to reach a TUF tournament final.
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,
Andre Petroski, Tresean Gore, Micheal Gillmore, Kemran Lachinov
We start at Team Volkanovski’s place, where “The Great” is putting together an incredible-looking breakfast for his team that features unreasonably large quantities of bacon. While it’s meant to be a reprieve, they do take the chance to talk strategy a bit, though that soon gives way to chilling by the pool.
Back at the house, Ortega brings his family by to meet the crew. Everyone seems to have a great time, and “T-City’s” father chips in with a swath of grilled meat. Despite this, Gore admits that he’s deeply homesick, but Ortega’s there to help talk him through it.
Off to Urbina’s fight prep. He claims that he’s improved his standup to the point where he can trade on the feet with “anyone,” but that he’ll keep taking the takedown opportunities he’s given. Volkanovski admits he’s “comfortable” with Urbina striking with Gore, though they do intend to finish on the ground. Urbina makes sure the camera catches the moment he makes Craig Jones tap.
That evening, Gore hangs out with Team Volkanovski for a singing jam session. He’s got some strong improv skills, explaining that he loves singing, fishing, and motivating people.
Then comes the actual fight prep. Ortega calls this fight the “main event,” and Gore talks up his versatility as a key to victory. He plans to stay in Urbina’s face and keep him “uncomfortable.” We get to see him and Ortega do some hard sparring, and afterwards, Ortega explains that he’s trying to help his mental game catch up with his considerable abilities.
Urbina and Gore have a bit of a bonding session over the grill later that day, complimenting one another and vowing to keep things respectful. Neither has anything bad to say in the one-on-one interviews, either, though Gore does emphasize the importance of winning this fight for his legacy.
Weigh-in time. Both men hit the scale at 185.5 and look plenty fit.
The final flashback goes all the way back to season two, recapping Rashad Evans’ impressive run through the show and ultimate upset of Forrest Griffin for the UFC Light Heavyweight Title.
As has been the case throughout the semifinals, the two fighters get to call home. Gore talks to his wife and “chunky” newborn son, admitting that he’s anxious about the fight but leaning on his faith. He lavishes praise on his wife, who he says changed his life and made him a better person. Urbina calls his family, and while he’s stoic in the one-on-one interview, their care for him has him in tears almost immediately. His mother tells him, and his father confirms, that she somehow knew when he had his first fight.
Nothing left but the soundbites and the fighting.
Middleweight Semifinal: Gilbert Urbina (Team Volkanovski) vs. Tresean Gore (Team Ortega)
Round one: Gore takes the front foot immediately. Urbina picking away with kicks, Gore looking to work behind the jab. Gore tries a head kick. Brutal counter left drops Urbina, but Gore doesn’t jump on him. One minute in. Low kick from Urbina, then a front kick downstairs. Low-high 3-2. Two minutes in. Gore lands a jab, then a body shot soon after. Urbina comes back with a leg kick, then tries a flying knee. A stiff jab drops Urbina again and Gore looks to stalk when he pops back up. Urbina stings him with a right hand in return. Two minutes to go.
Urbina lands a low kick, tries a front kick. Hard jab knocks him back. Gore continuing to stalk, answers a low kick with a cross. Cracking jab with a minute to go. Urbina lands a right hook on the break. Counter two-piece drops Urbina a third time, again he pops back up. Leg kick from Urbina and a flurry at the bell. 10-9 Gore, borderline 10-8.
Round two: Urbina with an aggressive flurry to start. Gore pops him with an upprecut on the fence. Again behind a right cross a minute in. Urbina tries to press the advantage and gets absolutely crumpled by a check hook.
Final result: Gore def. Urbina by KO (punch)
The pair embrace after the fight and Gore calls for a round of applause for Urbina’s efforts. Gore vows to be “levels above” where he is right now by the time the Finale rolls around, while Urbina keeps his chin admirably high in defeat.
Once the Octagon’s been cleared, White brings in the finalists for some staredowns. Gore and Bryan Battle are absolutely pumped, while Brady Hiestand and Ricky Turcios have a more low-key, silent confrontation. Then come the coaches, who are quite a bit less enthused than their charges.
And that’s the season! Hope you all had fun.