Team Cruz celebrated Vinc Pichel’s submission win from last week. The team had dropped three fights in a row heading into bout.
“We needed that more than ever,” said Coach Cruz about Pichel’s victory.
Cruz brought in Strikeforce women’s champion Ronda Rousey to work with his team. The Olympic Judo practitioner showed Team Cruz some techniques to execute throws. She later visited the fighter house to watch UFC 145: Jones vs. Evans. The atmosphere was awkward to say the least.
Team Cruz’ Sam Sicilia faced off with Team Faber’s Chris Saunders with the teams tied at 3-3 and only two spots left in the quarterfinals.
Saunders was picked last by Coach Faber while Cruz selected Sicilia as his second choice during team picks. Saunders was the underdog heading into the fight.
Sicilia’s game plan was to set a relentless pace, throw knockout punches while looking for takedowns. Saunders wanted to utilize footwork and work angles to out strike Sicilia.
Both fighters weighed in at 155-pounds.
Sicilia came out aggressive, taking the center of the Octagon to start the fight. He moved in with punches before clinching Saunders against the cage. They exchanged knees to the body and worked for position before separating. Sicilia loaded up on punches but the most significant strike landed in the round was a high kick by Saunders that knocked Sicilia down. Outside of the head kick, it was a competitive round.
Sicilia set the pace early in the second round, moving forward and unloading power punches. Saunders tied him up when he needed to and secured a takedown but was unable to keep Sicilia on his back. In a scramble, Saunders obtained top position briefly. Sicilia got back to his feet and landed a left hand that dropped Saunders. As he dove in trying to finish, Saunders worked to get on top and took Sicilia’s back. In the closing seconds, Sicilia appeared fatigued and Saunders landed a couple of solid shots at the bell.
The judges scored Saunders the winner by split decision.
“It went exactly as I thought,” said Saunders following the win. “I thought it would go just like this. Sam was the second pick. He’s a tough individual, but I’ve got a great team behind me. They help me out, and I have confidence, so that’s all you need.”
Sicilia wished he would have utilized his wrestling more.
“I didn’t believe in my wrestling as much as I could, but other than that, I made it a fight and lost a close decision to a tough guy,” said Sicilia after the loss.
Team Faber breaks the tie with the win. Next week’s match up to determine the last spot in the quarterfinals will be Team Faber’s Andy Ogle against Team Cruz’ Mike Rio.