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By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER: LIVE
MAY 18, 2012
LIVE FROM LAS VEGAS, NEVADA
-Jon Anik's narration opened up the broadcast as always, showing all four of tonight's fighters backstage.
-In the recap of last week's fights, Cruz praised James Vick for his win last week, saying he listens more than anyone on his team. Dana White was also impressed. On the Michael Chiesa-Justin Lawrence fight, White discussed how Lawrence didn't listen to stand in the third round, leading to Chiesa sweeping and finishing with ground and pound.
-First up in the training session profile tonight is Chris Saunders, the last pick of this competition. Faber said he used to question Saunders' mental game, but not anymore. Saunders talked up his bad upbringing. Back in the house, an emotional Saunders recapped rough times in his childhood with teammate Andy Ogle. These fighters having nothing but time with their thoughts can definitely have a massive effect on their psyche, and Saunders was having some issues there.
-On the Cruz side, he wants Pichel to grind Saunders down if he can't find the submission in this fight. He wants nothing but pressure from Pichel, and thinks that will be the key in this matchup.
FIGHT ONE: CHRIS SAUNDERS VS. VINC PICHEL
ROUND ONE: Pichel pressed in quickly and drove Saunders to the cage. He landed a leg kick and a quick combo. Saunders threw a slow high kick that was blocked. Pichel punched in to grab a clinch, and he tried to secure a takedown. Saunders held him off and turned him around on the cage. Saunders then scored a takedown. Pichel nearly swept, but Saunders drove through and remained on top. He landed an elbow. Pichel landed a couple of strikes from his back. Saunders tried to press him to the cage to land a few strikes, but Pichel defended well on the bottom. Pichel scrambled to his feet and Saunders took his back standing. He landed some strikes to the thighs, then separated. Pichel pressed in and backed Saunders up. Saunders landed a nice two punch combo. Pichel connected on a jab. They traded strikes. Saunders held off a single leg attempt and landed a nice jumping knee in the process. They traded knees to the body in the clinch. Pichel scored a takedown, but Saunders reversed it and took his back as they stood up again. They went back to the clinch, trading knees again. Saunders separated with an elbow. Pichel tried to rush in and Saunders avoided the attack. Pichel landed a right. Saunders connected on a nice punch of his own. They clinched and traded knees again. Saunders dropped for a single leg and Pichel held it off to the horn.
Penick's Scorecard: 10-9 Saunders. Really close round, but he scored a takedown, landed some good strikes, and reversed Pichel's takedown immediately.
ROUND TWO: Pichel pressed in again, and Saunders landed a leg kick. Pichel landed a nice right and shot in, but got stuffed once again. They battled in the clinch with neither doing much. Saunders got in a couple knees as Pichel tried to go for a single leg. He briefly scored a takedown but Saunders got up. Saunders grabbed a headlock and busted Pichel's nose with a knee. He got his back standing in a scramble, then separated after he couldn't get it down. They clinched again, Saunders separated with an elbow. Pichel rushed in with a nice combination, then shot in for a takedown. This time he finished it. Saunders then got it turned around and scored a takedown. He took Pichel's back and Pichel tried to stand up. He lost position and then scrambled back to a takedown attempt. He then stood and separated. Pichel landed a strike and they clinched again. Pichel landed a few more hard strikes before the horn.
Penick's Scorecard: 10-9 Pichel. Another close round, with a lot more offense from each, but Pichel had the better of all the exchanges.
WINNER: Pichel via majority decision (20-18, 20-18, 19-19)
-Tough loss for Saunders. One judge agreed with me on the first round, and I thought for sure we'd be getting a third round, but the first round was really close, so it's hard to be upset about that decision.
-Saunders thought he had the first round for sure, and though Pichel had the second round clearly, so he thought he should have gotten a third round.
-Back to training, as Urijah Faber lays out how his two team members will train for their fight against one another tonight. He's going to stay out of it and let his assistants split up duties.
-Ogle and Iaquinta break down their stories ahead of this final quarterfinal matchup. Regardless, there will be two members of each team in the semifinals next week.
FIGHT TWO: ANDY OGLE VS. AL IAQUINTA
ROUND ONE: Iaquinta landed a couple of leg kicks early. Ogle fired back with a couple of punches. Ogle landed a leg kick. They traded strikes with both landing. Ogle popped in with a nice left. Iaquinta tried to stalk but Ogle evaded his attack well. Ogle popped in with a couple of strikes. They traded strikes again. Then leg kicks. Ogle landed a nice left as Iaquinta stepped in. Iaquinta landed a head kick and a couple of punches but Ogle took them fairly well. He tried to fire back but Iaquinta avoided the strikes. Iaquinta landed a hard leg kick. Ogle connected on an overhand right. He ate a kick, then landed a few punches. He took a hard leg kick and a nice right from Iaquinta, then circled away. He popped in with a couple of strikes, then they traded punches again. Ogle's right eye was bugging him. Ogle went high with a kick. Iaquinta connected on a couple of strikes. He landed a hard uppercut. Iaquinta landed another hard leg kick. Ogle landed a hard two punch combo. Iaquinta dropped Ogle with a nice right, then tried to follow up. Ogle recovered well, and tried to scramble. He eventually worked to his feet, but then got dropped again with a huge elbow to the face. Iaquinta landed a couple of hammer fists and the ref stepped in. That was a really weird fight to watch live with how quiet is was, considering both came from Team Faber.
WINNER: Iaquinta via TKO at 4:44 of the first round
-That was a solid fight. Ogle was connecting on some strikes in the round, but Iaquinta had much more power and wasn't affected by much of anything Ogle threw at him. Iaquinta said the fight was weird after training with Ogle throughout. He said he's ready to fight again next week.
-Ogle said everyone loses, and it's what you do after the loss. He said there was only ever going to be one winner in the competition anyway.
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Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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