On the tenth episode of The Ultimate Fighter: Live, two fighters advanced to the semifinals and the teams were informed of Dominick Cruz’ knee injury that will prevent him from facing rival Urijah Faber as scheduled.
With two fights showcased on the episode, there wasn’t much room for recorded content. The bulk of it focused around UFC president Dana White visiting the gym to inform the teams of Cruz’ knee injury, a torn ACL. White estimated that Cruz will be sidelined for up to nine months. Cruz expects a quicker recovery and return.
Faber was disappointed when told the news. “It sucks,” he said. Faber’s new opponent is expected to be announced in the coming days.
Team Cruz’ James Vick and Team Faber’s Joe Proctor were the first quarterfinal fight of the episode. The two prepared. Vick’s game plan was to keep it standing and strike from the outside. Proctor wanted to close the distance and land strikes and set up a takedown.
In the opening round, Vick moved forward utilizing his jab. He stuffed a takedown attempt and the entire round played out standing. In the middle stages of the round, Proctor began to find his range. It was a very closely contested five minutes of action.
Proctor came out aggressive in the second round. He briefly took Vick’s back standing and went for a choke. Vick defended the submission and found himself in top position on the ground. He decided to stand and let Proctor back to his feet. They slugged it out for the remainder of the round with Vick moving forward and Proctor landing some solid counters late in the round.
The judges rendered their decision, declaring Vick the winner with all three judges scoring the fight 20-18. James Vick is the first semifinalist of the season.
Vick was asked about the choke attempt by Proctor following the fight.
“It was tight, but I would have went to sleep before I tapped,” he said. “It was deep but I knew if I kept fighting that I was going to get out of it.”
Team Cruz’ Justin Lawrence and Team Faber’s Mike Chiesa faced off in the second quarterfinal match of the week. It was the classic striker against grappler match up. Lawrence wanted to keep the fight standing while Chiesa planned to get the fight to the ground and finish with a submission.
Early in the first round, Lawrence slipped while attempting a kick and Chiesa seized the opportunity to get the fight to the canvas where he wanted it. On the ground, Chiesa went from a few kimura’s and a triangle choke. Lawrence wasn’t able to do much on the ground. Chiesa landed elbows and punches form the bottom. The first round clearly went to Chiesa.
The second round went more Lawrence’s way. He began to land strikes regularly. Lawrence landed a body shot that hurt Chiesa and another that dropped him. Lawrence followed him to the ground looking to finish. Chiesa recovered but Lawrence won the round sending the fight into a “sudden victory” round.
Lawrence looked fatigued at the end of the second round. He caught a knee by Chiesa early in the third round and took the fight to the ground. It was his undoing. Chiesa revered him into the mount position and unleashed a flurry of strikes. The referee stepped in at the 1:02 mark of the round stopping the action.
Chiesa called the fight with Lawrence the hardest fight of his career after the win.
“He pushed me too my limits, man. He hurt me real bad in the second (round). I had to dig deep in my heart to get myself back up and fight that third round,” he said. “That was the toughest fight I’ve ever had in my life.”
Next week’s episode will feature the two remaining quarterfinal bouts. Team Cruz’ Vinc Pichel will take on Team Faber’s Chris Saunders and teammates Andy Ogle and Al Iaquinta will fight to determine the final semifinalist.