Season 31 of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) was back on the air earlier tonight (Tues., July 11, 2023) on ESPN for Ep. 7 of the long-running combat sports reality show, featuring head coaches Conor McGregor and Michael Chandler leading respective squads of lightweight and bantamweight contestants. Remember, immediate replays of TUF 31 are available on ESPN+ (sign up here) following each episode, or you can save yourself an hour and just read our complete recap below.
Missed last week’s episode? No problem! Get full results and recap videos right here.
We kick things off at the TUF house and everyone is still talking about Conor McGregor shoving Michael Chandler to close out last week’s episode (watch it again here). Some of the fighters on Team Chandler are upset because the shenanigans took away from Kurt Holobaugh’s comeback win over Lee Hammond. Over at the APEX center, McGregor pulls up in his rented Lamborghini and fails to park it, he simply stops and gets out at the door. “Notorious” is there to actually train with his squad after several weeks of complaints about his constant disappearing act. Better late than never, I suppose. He spars with former Titan FC lightweight champion Landon Quinones Stewart (7-1-1), who will fight Team Chandler’s Jason Knight and attempt to get Team McGregor into the win column for the first time this season. McGregor drops him with a liver kick then casually tells Stewart to “fight through it.”
Knight (23-7) is convinced Team McGregor lost all its confidence and expects the semifinals to be comprised of only Chandler-coached veterans. “The Kid” joined UFC in late 2015, stepping up on short notice to battle Tatsuya Kawajiri. Knight dropped a decision but then fired off four straight wins — followed by four straight losses — before getting released in late 2018. A 3-1 record on the regional circuit was enough to get him called back for TUF 31. Chandler calls him the “scariest” veteran on TUF’s lightweight roster and expects “panic to set in,” and it does, but not in the fight. Knight takes an errant headbutt and it splits him open. Uh oh. The doctor glues it closed and warns Knight to keep it free from contact or it will be need to be stitched up. The good news is the fight is still moving forward. The bad news is Team Chandler’s Cody Gibson suffered a Grade 2 MCL tear and will have to fight injured when he competes in the semifinals.
We’ll worry about that later in the season, it’s time to fight.
155 lbs.: Landon Quinones Stewart (Team McGregor) vs. Jason Knight (Team Chandler)
Round 1: No touch of gloves as both fighters paw the jab. Stewart uncorks a push kick right down the middle. Knight returns fire with punches and bunches, backing Stewart into the fence. Stewart powers his way out and reverses position, then works for a takedown. Knight briefly defends but then gets picked up and dumped on his back. Stewart gets a little too aggressive upon entry and Knight locks in the triangle choke. It’s tight. Stewart has nowhere to go but Tapsville.
Final result: Knight def. Stewart by submission (triangle choke)
Here’s where we stand after Episode 7:
135 lbs.: Mando Gutierrez (No. 1) 135 lbs.: Trevor Wells (No. 2) 135 lbs.: Carlos Vera (No. 3)
135 lbs.: Rico DiSciullo (No. 4)
155 lbs.: Lee Hammond (No. 1) 155 lbs.: Nate Jennerman (No. 2) 155 lbs.: Aaron McKenzie (No. 3) 155 lbs.: Landon Quinones Stewart (No. 4)
135 lbs.: Hunter Azure (No. 1)
135 lbs.: Brad Katona (No. 2)
135 lbs.: Timur Valiev (No. 3)
135 lbs.: Cody Gibson (No. 4)
155 lbs.: Jason Knight (No. 1)
155 lbs.: Austin Hubbard (No. 2)
155 lbs.: Roosevelt Roberts (No. 3)
155 lbs.: Kurt Holobaugh (No. 4)
Coach Chandler and his team of UFC veterans are up seven fights to zero.
After the fight, Coach McGregor says “we dust it off, we take our lessons, and we go again.” They will go again, but Team McGregor has just one more fight to avoid a shutout. It will be up to Rico DiSciullo to defeat Team Chandler bantamweight Hunter Azure next week (July 18) on Episode 8.
See you then!