THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER REPORT 10/5 – Benavidez vs. Cejudo, episode 6: Schnell vs. Rizzo

By Jared Dodds, MMATorch contributor

Note: Jared Dodds is filling in again for Bryan Kern this week. We expect him back covering next week’s show.

Time for The Ultimate Fighter Episode 6, and this time we have Matt Schnell from Team Cejudo vs. Matt Rizzo from Team Benavidez.

The episode starts out with some debate over who has the best looking belt. Not relevant to the episode, but it should be said that Titan FC definitely had the best-looking belt. Schnell is the interim flyweight champion in Legacy FC (same organization as Damacio Page), with a 10-2 record, and is on a 7-fight win streak with 5 of those being first round stoppages.

Schnell only started fighting to stay in shape after high school, and seems to be extremely well-rounded. Henry Cejudo is extremely confidant in his fighter. Schnell seems very aware of his skill set and all and all very knowledgeable in MMA. Intrigued to see how he competes inside the octagon.

Flash to Team Benavidez, who is taking his team to Lake Las Vegas for a break from training and some paddle boarding. Good break from the monotony of training, both for the fighters and the viewers.

Matt Rizzo for Team Benavidez started with wrestling from a young age, and then moved into Jiu-Jitsu after college. He is the Ring of Combat Flyweight champ, and has held that belt for two years. Wrestling game plan for Rizzo here, both teams seem to know how the fight should go. If it stays standing then Schnell will have the advantage, goes to the ground then Rizzo will be favored.

Schnell says that he has been fighting his whole life, even when he was a kid. Learned from his brother not to take flack from anyone. He trains out of Coconut Creek, Florida and his gym is American Top Team. He actually lives out of the ATT gym, which is pretty cool. We see some footage of him in St. Louis visiting his girlfriend, classic family video for each fighter.

Flash to Matt Rizzo’s family. He and his fiancé are currently living with his parents and working a full time job so that he can afford to train. Always appreciate hearing what guys have to give up to pursue their passion, means they want it more. He has trained at his small gym in Pennsylvania for 10 years, which is incredible for a champion to still be at their small gym to this day.

Weigh-ins go off with no problems, Dana classifies the fight as a classic striker vs. grappler matchup, and were on to fight day. Both men go through their own pre fight rituals and warm ups, and its time to step in the cage.

Matt Schnell vs. Matt Rizzo

Round 1

Slight reach advantage for Schnell but nothing drastic. Guys touch gloves and Schnell leads off with a high kick that misses. Rizzo catches a kick of Schnell and trys for a throw from the back, but Schnell defends well. Rizzo transitions into a double on the cage, but Schnell still shows great takedown defense. Schnell gets a warning for strikes to the back of the head from Herb Dean, good to keep in mind. Dirty boxing on the cage; weird transition that leads to a takedown from Rizzo, but Schnell gets him in a deep guillotine. Great coaching from the master of the guillotine, Joseph Benavidez, on how to defend and Rizzo pops his head out. Rizzo transitions to the back, but as Schnell is getting up Rizzo falls and Schnell gets right into his guard and starts to work from top position. Some good shots on the top from Schnell and Rizzo takes the punishment to get back to his feet. Good left hand from Rizzo. He fakes the strike to drop for another low ankle pick, Schnell can’t pull out in time and Rizzo transitions it into an over under on the cage. Great turn from Schnell followed by a knee on separation from Rizzo. Some light punches and knees from Rizzo followed by a hard knee to the body from Schnell. Great level change from Rizzo and he secures another takedown in the closing minute of the round. Schnell jumps for an armbar from the bottom and transitions it into a triangle. Doesn’t look tight though, and both men just exchange strikes until the end of the round. Close round, I think Schnell did more but wouldn’t be surprised if Rizzo wins for the takedowns

Schnell leading 10-9

Round 2

Blocked head kick from Rizzo to start round two. Couple good leg kicks from Schnell as he figures out the distance. Great sprawl from Schnell and Rizzo pulls guard. Rizzo is trying to sweep but good hips from Schnell are preventing him. Schnell’s corner is yelling at him to stand it up. Great explosion from Rizzo and he secures the double leg into Schnell’s guard. Strikes from the top for Rizzo but Schnell throws up another triangle with a lot more time on the clock. He is doing everything right, pulling down on the head, and Rizzo is forced to tap. That kid has some talent.

Schnell def. Rizzo by Submission (Arm Triangle Choke)

Coaches and Dana all praised the pace of the fight, but thought that Rizzo just made a few to many mistakes defending the triangle.

Next week is the final fight of round 1, with Charlie Alaniz from Team Cejudo fighting Tim Elliott from Team Benavidez. Should be an exciting fight, apparently this Alaniz kid is aggressive and looks for the knockout, but Tim Elliott is an absolute mad man and huge for 125 (seriously, I don’t know how he makes weight). I had Elliott winning the whole thing when the cast was announced, and I think he wins by first round submission.

That’s all for me, tune in next week for another Ultimate Fighter recap, and see if we get yet another finish! This is currently my favorite season of TUF, and I know I won’t miss it!

CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S REPORT: THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER REPORT 9/28 – Candindo vs. Alverez, episode 5: “If I had only just walked off after I dropped him”

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