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By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER: LIVE
MAY 25, 2012
LIVE FROM LAS VEGAS, NEVADA
-The final episode of "The Ultimate Fighter: Live" comes tonight, with two semifinal bouts to determine next week's finalists.
-Jon Anik opens the broadcast discussing James Vick "taking the season by storm" with two upsets. He's got Michael Chiesa tonight. Vince Pichel has Al Iaquinta.
-After the credits, the semifinalists and coaches go to motorcycle boot camp. The season's winner and their coach will each win a Harley Davidson as well.
-Back in the house, Darren Cruickshank was woken up with a hit to the balls, and he exploded out of bed and fired off several strikes at Chris Tickle, who delivered the joking blow. The fighters are all brought in and told by Dana White that they are fighting at the Finale (as was announced earlier this week). Mike Rio and Andy Ogle are not happy with their medical suspensions by the commission, meaning they can't fight on the finale event. Ogle went to Dana and asked for a fight in England at the event expected for September, and White obliged.
-In training for Vick, Cruz comes to the realization that the fight's over when it hits the ground, as he does not show any ground acumen. He said the key will be to keep the fight standing.
-Chiesa feels comfortable in the matchup, but then he had a really poor day in camp that nearly broke him. He broke down in the back at the poor day of training, and the pressure's mounting on him. He's still struggling, trying to deal with his father's death at the beginning of the season while away from his family and support system.
FIGHT ONE: JAMES VICK VS. MICHAEL CHIESA
ROUND ONE: Both fighters started tentatively, not wanting to over-engage. They traded kicks that were partially blocked. They traded another set of kicks. Chiesa landed a left. VIck pressed in, Chiesa ducked under a strike and grabbed a body lock. He landed a hard knee to the body. They traded body strikes in the clinch. Chiesa went for a trip but Vick dropped him. He popped up, then almost got dropped again and they separated. Chiesa landed a hard straight left. He landed it again. He got an inside leg kick and Vick moved forward. Vick landed a left. He got in a punch to the body. Vick landed a couple of punches. Chiesa landed a right hook. He landed the straight left again. Vick landed a few punches. He hit Chiesa with a hard combination and continued in. Chiesa landed a straight left. Chiesa caught a leg but his takedown attempt was stuffed. Vick continued pressing Chiesa back with short strikes. Vick landed a hard combine and Chiesa dove for a leg. Vick put him on his back and landed some strikes on the ground. Vick set up a choke but Chiesa held on to the bell.
Penick's Scorecard: 10-9 Vick. Chiesa has not looked good in his last two fights. His win over Justin Lawrence came when Lawrence exhausted himself, and this round was not good for him either.
ROUND TWO: Chiesa tried to press the pace early in the round, landing a few strikes. Vick pressed back with a hard left. Chiesa landed a hard body kick and a right behind it. He connected on a short combo. Vick landed a leg kick. They traded strikes in the center. Chiesa tripped after blocking a punch but popped up. Chiesa scored with a couple strikes. He landed a hard body kick again. Chiesa then shot in and scored a takedown. He immediately passed to mount and started throwing strikes. Vick turtled up and got blasted by a big string of strikes, prompting the ref to step in. Cruz's earlier assessment was correct. Much different round for Chiesa than the first. Replays showed Vick went out from some shots to the jaw.
WINNER: Chiesa via KO at 1:55 of the second round
-He had about as bad a round as we've seen this season in the first, then turned it around in the second frame. He's now the first fighter into the finals. He's got a good story, but him being one of the two best in the competition this year isn't saying much for the overall quality of the field.
-Vick said he felt humiliated after the loss. Anik said he looked forward to seeing him at the Finale, but that's not likely happening. He went out cold there from the strikes in mount, and will likely be medically suspended by the commission.
-Iaquinta's training session is up. Both he and Pichel fought last week, meaning the winner will be fighting three straight weeks when they get to the Finale next week. Faber said the gameplan is to pressure Pichel. Faber said he's "expecting one for the history books."
-Pichel said he feels like he's been working as hard as he can throughout the competition. Cruz thinks the fight is evenly matched, and thinks it will come down to who lands their strong strikes first.
FIGHT TWO: AL IAQUINTA VS. VINC PICHEL
ROUND ONE: Iaquinta circled and threw a few strikes that were blocked. They traded punches in the center. Iaquinta shot in for a single leg. Pichel held it off initially, but Iaquinta stayed on him with a double and took him down. Pichel tried to get up and Iaquinta took his back. He got one hook in and dragged him to the ground. Pichel worked to his feet. Iaqinta landed a punch on separation. Iaquinta landed a nice body kick. Iaquinta landed a jab. Pichel landed an inside leg kick, Iaquinta rushed in with one on the outside. Iaquinta landed a few solid strikes in combination. Pichel connected on a few good strikes of his own.He countered a big overhand right with a good short combo and a cut opened on Iaquinta's cheek. Pichel got in a good knee to the body. He landed a few kicks and a strike. Iaquinta landed a jab. He shot in and scored another takedown with a minute left. Pichel landed an elbow from the bottom. Iaquinta landed some strikes in the guard. He postured up with some good strikes, then tried to set up a choke as Pichel scrambled. Pichel got to his feet and rushed in, but got caught in a clinch at round's end.
Penick's Scorecard: 10-9 Iaquinta. A couple of takedowns made up for a poor minute long stretch in the middle where he allowed Pichel to control the striking. Solid work in the other four minutes though.
ROUND TWO: Iaquinta landed a hard left and a high kick early. Pichel walked in and landed a couple of solid punches. Iaquinta landed a solid uppercut and a couple of punches behind it. Pichel missed a couple. Iaquinta landed a couple of hard leg kicks. Pichel landed a hard right and Iaquinta countered. Iaquinta ate a couple of punches and the bridge of his nose appeared to be cut. They traded strikes.They continued trading strikes. If Iaquinta wins that cut could be bad for next week. Pichel pressed in with a few more strikes. He landed a hard body kick. Iaquinta landed a hard uppercut. He got in a good leg kick. Pichel's nose began bleeding. Iaquinta tried to shoot in but was stuffed. They traded punches in the center. They exchanged strikes again. Iaquinta caught a kick. Pichel landed a left. Iaquinta went for a single leg, but Pichel stuffed it, landing a series of strikes. They traded strikes again. Iaquinta landed a solid combination.
Penick's Scorecard: 10-9 Iaquinta. Close round, really could go either way, but Iaquinta landed a lot of solid power strikes.
WINNER: Iaquinta via unanimous decision
-That means Urijah Faber's just won a motorcycle. Finalists both from Team Faber. Iaquinta's cut on the bridge of his nose could be an issue to fight next week, though.
-Pichel said he thought he'd get the second round, forcing a third, but he said Iaquinta was the better man tonight. I can't imagine Pichel getting cleared to fight next week, either.
-Dana White commented on Michael Chiesa and Al Iaquinta's victories, then addressed the fighters one final time.
-Thanks for sticking with us throughout this season of TUF. Next week we'll be back with full round by round coverage of the Finale event, headlined by the welterweight bout between Martin Kampmann and Jake Ellenberger.
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Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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