Episode 12 of The Ultimate Fighter 17: Team Jones vs. Team Sonnen featured the two semifinal match-ups, a visit to the Harley Davidson dealership and a faceoff between the two finalists.
The four semifinal fighters and coaches Jon Jones and Chael Sonnen were taken to be fitted for the custom Harley Davidson motorcycle that will be presented to the winning fighter and coach at the Finale on April 13.
“When we walked in here to the Harley store, it got even more real, realizing one of us is going to be going home with one of these Harley Davidson’s in April,” said Team Jones’ Josh Samman.
The first semifinal bout was between Team Jones’ Samman and Team Sonnen’s Kelvin Gastelum.
During the fight selection deliberations on last week’s episode, Samman said, “I think everyone here knows the finals were meant for me and Uriah [Hall].”
“Let me take Kelvin out in the semis and set the stage for the biggest finale in TUF history,” he added.
Josh Samman vs. Kelvin Gastelum
Samman was keeping his distance in the opening seconds of the first round, but when he moved in to throw a combination, Gastelum quickly took him to the ground.
Samman was active from the bottom. He worked for an arm bar, but Gastelum defended. He looked for a kimura, but it wasn’t there. He then scrambled back to his feet. As the two battled for position inside the clinch, Samman went for a takedown but ended up on the bottom.
Gastelum landed right hands and elbows. He advanced his position to side control and as Samman worked to get to his feet, Gastelum took his back. From there it was just a matter of time. Gastelum got his arm under the chin of Samman and locked on a rear naked choke. Samman was forced to tap out.
The 21-year-old Gastelum was picked last, but become the first to advance to the finals.
“I’m just in shock right now, just in shock, surprised. That’s all I can say. It’s just hard to deal with right now,” said Samman in defeat. “I’ve beaten plenty of people and hurt lots of guys in my career. Every now and then it has got to come back. Unfortunately, it happened to me this fight.”
“I’m pumped man. I’m going to the finale,” said Gastelum after the win. “I’m excited. It’s just the beginning. I’ve got a long career ahead of me and a lot more to learn and that’s what is exciting.”
Uriah Hall and Dylan Andrews were up next to determine who would face Gastelum in the finals.
“I’m really starting the fathom just how far I’ve come and what’s on the line for this next fight. The nerves are definitely there,” said Andrews prior to the bout.
“You’re getting close to that finish line. You don’t want to choke,” said Hall.
Uriah Hall vs. Dylan Andrews
Hall established his jab early, but Andrews kept moving forward and pressing. Hall worked on the outside, picking Andrews apart. Andrews’ offensive output was next to nothing as he focused on defense against Hall’s quick jab and kicks.
Hall picked up the pace in the second round, pursing Andrews. The damage from Hall’s persistent jab began to show on Andrews’ face. Midway through the round, Andrews closed the distance and got the fight to the ground.
Hall immediately isolated an arm and worked for a kimura, but Andrews defended the submission attempt while peppering Hall’s body with right hands. Hall gave up on the kimura and unleashed an onslaught of strikes from the bottom that hurt Andrews. Hall rolled him over, mounted him and finished with a series of punches.
“I feel good. I can’t even express what I’m feeling right now. It’s overwhelming. It’s joy. It’s pain. I can’t even talk right now,” said Hall following the win.
“My heart hurts more than my face does, more than my body,” said Andrews after the loss.
Uriah Hall faces Kelvin Gastelum in an all Team Sonnen final.
“I can’t tell you the last time I’ve been this excited for the finale,” said UFC president Dana White.