by Jeff Cain – MMAWeekly.com
“The Ultimate Fighter 11: Team Liddell vs. Team Ortiz” Episode 8 saw another fighter forced out of the competition due to injury, a fighter become a father, the wild-card match-up, and the first quarterfinal bout of the season.
Team Ortiz member Kyacey Uscola, who received a wild-card slot along with teammate Kris McCray in the previous episode, sacrificed missing the birth of his son for the opportunity to compete on the reality show. The day before his bout with McCray, Uscola got the call that Charles Champ Uscola was born.
“I just found out my son was born. Everything is good man. I’m elated,” said the proud father. “I’ve still got to go out and do what I need to do.”
Both expected a tough fight heading into the wild-card match-up. McCray knew he was the underdog, while Uscola predicted victory.
KYACEY USCOLA VS. KRIS MCCRAY
The first round was even through the first minute when Uscola seemed to hurt McCray’s knee with a kick, but when he rushed in looking to maybe finish, McCray tied him up and secured a takedown. Uscola worked his way back to his feet, but McCray was able to control him against the fence and land knees to Uscola’s thighs.
With 2:02 on the clock, McCray landed a knee to his teammate’s groin and action was briefly halted for Uscola to recover. A few seconds later, the contest was restarted.
They stood and exchanged before McCray elevated his opponent and slammed him to the canvas with nearly a minute remaining in the round. He was able to momentarily advance to the mount position and spent the last 30 seconds on Uscola’s back landing shots to the body and looking for a choke. MMAWeekly.com scored the round 10-9 for McCray.
Uscola needed to do something in the second round. “Do it for the boy,” was shouted from his corner in encouragement as the round begun.
Uscola came out aggressive, throwing a right hand and pressing McCray against the cage, but McCray was able to take the fight to the ground where he ended up in side control. From there he landed a few punches and elbows before locking on an Americana that Uscola could not escape. Uscola tapped and McCray’s chances at winning The Ultimate Fighter 11 were reborn.
Now that the wild-card position was decided, it was time to pick the quarterfinal match-ups.
Coaches Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz met with UFC president Dana White to discuss the pairings. White tells them that teams are out the window and it’s an individual competition from this point forward.
White asks, “Who are the best four fighters here?” Liddell answered, “I don’t know.” Ortiz felt Kyle Noke, Brad Tavares, Nick Ring, and Jamie Yager were the four top fighters. White agreed with Ortiz, which is quite rare.
Liddell suddenly had an opinion which conflicted with Ortiz’ pick of Nick Ring as one of the top four. “I think Court (McGee) beat Ring, and if they gave him another round he would have beat him for sure.”
White agreed there should have been a third round in that fight. That’s why he decided to bring McGee back to replace the injured Rich Attonito.
Ortiz suggests they do the rematch between McGee and Ring to settle the controversial majority decision for Ring in the sixth episode. “You guys will get your third round,” said Oritz.
Liddell comments, “I like McGee against Yager better.”
Ortiz shakes his head in disagreement and pushes for the McGee vs. Ring rematch.
“You guys are crying so much about the third round that should have happened. Here’s your chance. The opportunity is right in front of you,” stated Ortiz.
White agrees to the bout, but Liddell wasn’t happy.
“So he gets what he wants because he wants to yell about that fight?” questioned Liddell.
The bickering between the rivals continued until White dismissed the two to figure it out on his own.
White gathers the coaches and teams in the gym to announce the quarterfinal bouts.
– Nick Ring (Team Ortiz) vs. Court McGee (Team Liddell)
– Kyle Noke (Team Liddell) vs. Kris McCray (Team Ortiz)
– Brad Tavares (Team Liddell) vs. Seth Kaczynski (Team Ortiz)
– Jamie Yager (Team Ortiz) vs. Josh Bryant (Team Liddell)
Ortiz got the rematch he wanted and the match-ups fell down team lines.
“For once Dana agreed with me. Once, which put a smile on my face,” said Ortiz after the announcement of Ring and McGee.
Liddell said, “It is what it is. I didn’t really care. I just didn’t want Tito feeling like he won anything. That’s the only thing that pissed me off. I don’t like Tito feeling like he won something.”
“I was just having fun with it. I didn’t really care,” added Liddell.
While Dana agreed to put the rematch together, fate had another course for Nick Ring. After seeing a specialist, Ring found out that he will need a third ACL reconstruction surgery on his left knee.
An MRI revealed the damage. The doctor told Ring he could fight, saying, “The best case scenario is you kind of put up with a little bit of ache. You put up with a little bit of swelling and when things are all done you go about doing what we’ve already talked about, a third-time reconstruction.
“The worst case scenarios are, yes, you could tear the meniscus. You could potentially damage the surface of the bone,” the doctor added.
Having had two surgeries on the knee before, Ring opted to bow out of the competition and seek the procedure required to get him combat ready again.
Dana White showed up at the fighter house to hear Ring’s decision.
White asked Ring, “Are you thinking about quitting?”
Ring responded, “Quitting? I can’t do this.”
“You know you’re like possibly the favorite to win this thing,” commented White.
But Ring had made up his mind. “I don’t have any other options but going in there and pulling guard at this point. I want to be able to my full potential,” said Team Ortiz’ first pick.
“I don’t think it’s smart. I don’t think I can win a fight right now,” continued Ring. “It feels really bad to pull out of this, but I think long-term it’s just a smart decision.”
White gathered the fighters in the house and immediately informed them of the developments. One of them would be returning.
White said he would meet with the coaches and decide who would replace the injured Ring.
Joe Henle believes he’ll be the one called upon citing the epidemic of injuries that’s inflicted this season.
But before White could get off the property James Hammortree took matters into his own hands and decided to make a bold move for another opportunity to fight, chasing the UFC president down in the driveway to tell him he wanted the replacement position.
“Dana started walking out and I was just sitting there still trying to pull my thoughts together and Dana closed the door behind him. Something said get out of that seat and go tell him that that’s your spot,” Hammortree said later. “You want that fight.”
White was impressed with the maneuver and immediately made his decision on Ring’s replacement.
“Hammortree was the guy that stepped up to the plate,” said White. “This guy chases me out the door to tell me he wants the fight. You’re getting the (expletive) fight.”
He re-entered the house and told the fighters his decision.
Henle was stunned by the developments. He goes to Dana and pleads his case, but the opportunity was sealed on the driveway pavement.
“If I thought me running out there and telling him would have made a difference, I would have been the first one out there. Hell, I would have tripped Hammortree on the way,” said the disappointed Henle.
It was time for the first quarterfinal match up between Court McGee and the recently returned Hammortree in a sort of second wild-card bout with both losing on the show and brought back to replace injured teammates.
COURT MCGEE VS. JAMES HAMMORTREE
The first 90 seconds of the first round played out standing with neither having a clear edge. Hammortree seemed to be finding his range before McGee clinched and secured a single-leg takedown. Hammortree gives up his back, but was able to get back to his feet where he won the exchanges.
With 60 second remaining, McGee clinches and slams his opponent to the ground, but Hammortree immediately works his way back standing and with less than a minute on the clock Hammortree secures a takedown of his own and takes McGee’s back, but the Team Liddell member spins and scrambles to top position in the final seconds. MMAWeekly.com scores the round 10-9 for McGee.
The second round begins with both fighters touching gloves. They meet and exchange in the middle of the Octagon and Hammortree shoots in for a takedown. McGee seized the open opportunity for a standing guillotine choke. He applies it deep forcing Hammortree to tap out.
Court McGee advances for Team Liddell.
Next week we get two more quarterfinal fights and the animosity between the coaches comes to life following a controversial decision.