A knee injury forces a fighter out of the competition allowing one contestant to return in the fifth episode of The Ultimate Fighter: A Champion will be Crowned. Also, Felice Herrig and Heather Jo Clark settle their differences inside the cage.
Justine Kish Forced Out with Knee Injury
Kish entered the season having only fought at 115-pounds once in her four-year mixed martial arts career. She was concerned whether or not she’d be able to make weight on the show, but that concern fell to the wayside when an old knee injury flared up.
In the fourth episode, Kish complained that her right knee was bothering her, but hoped it would turn out to be simply soreness. Unfortunately, it was much more than soreness.
A doctor was called in to evaluate her knee. An MRI was done and the news was not good. “You’re ACL ligament is not there,” explained the doctor. “There’s a tear of your ACL ligament. The recommendation is to consider surgery to have it reconstructed because you want to continue to protect all the rest of your knee.”
“I’m not going to be able to continue this tournament,” said an emotional Kish. “I’m really disappointed that I don’t get to compete for the title. If I’m going to go out, I’d almost rather it be losing and not having to walk out like this.”
Tecia Torres Gets a Second Chance
With Kish being forced out of the competition, UFC president Dana White announced that Tecia Torres would be returning to the tournament, but she would move from Team Melendez to Team Pettis.
“Justine Kish is out because of her knee, so I had to make a decision on how this thing was going to work,” said White. “The way I figured this thing out is I want to bring you (Torres) back because you’re the number three ranked fighter here.”
“I didn’t know exactly what Dana had in mind, but for him to allow me this second opportunity, I want to make sure when I get in the ring again against Bec (Rawlings) that I’m coming in there with a vengeance,” said Torres about the development.
Gilbert Melendez, coach of Team Melendez, wasn’t happy with the way things turned out.
“I was a little upset with that,” said Coach Melendez. “I invested a lot of time in Tecia. I think Justine Kish being injured is a forfeit and a loss and Team Melendez should advance for that.
The Rivalry Between Felice Herrig and Heather Jo Clark
To say Herrig and Clark do not like each other would be an understatement. They can’t stand one another. According to Clark, Herrig was offered a fight against her and didn’t want to take it, and that’s when the rivalry and trash talk began. The two previously fought at Bellator 94 in March 2013 with Herrig winning by split decision, but the close fight did nothing to settle their differences.
“I don’t particularly care for her antics and how she carries herself,” explained Clark. “I don’t agree with how she carries herself. I don’t think it’s good for the sport. I don’t think it’s good as a role model for kids.”
“One thing led to the next and I just started explaining how I thought she was trashy and obnoxious, and it kind of crossed the line between not just trying to be sexy but being tasteless and trashy,” added Clark.
“I don’t really know where the bad blood stemmed with Heather. I didn’t know who Heather Clark was. I’ve never had beef with her. I do now,” said Herrig about the rivalry with Clark. “She would go on her little Twitter rampages, and she would try to call me out.
“I like to think that I’m pretty respected in the MMA community. Anybody that has ever met Heather says that I’m the first thing that comes out of her mouth. That I’m all she can talk about. I don’t know why I’m on her mind so much,” added Herrig. “She’s creating a lot of bad energy and a lot of bad attention for herself, and she kind of deserves it.”
The Fight: Felice Herrig vs. Heather Jo Clark
Herrig delivered leg kicks in the early going of the opening round, but got caught in a guillotine choke while attempting a takedown. Clark cranked and squeezed, but Herrig fought her way out of the submission attempt. They battled inside the clinch before Herrig tripped Clark to the ground with three minutes remaining in the round. Clark reversed the position, and Herrig worked for a triangle choke before transitioning to an armbar. Clark freed her arm and delivered punches to the body and legs of her rival. Herrig scrambled to gain top position and ended the round landing punches. It was a back and forth round that had no clear winner.
“The first round was tough to score,” said UFC president Dana White. “The first round there was some back and forth, some up and down.”
Herrig went back to landing leg kicks in the second stanza. Clark overcommitted on a punch and Herrig tied her up and landed knees to the body. She tossed Clark to the canvas and took her back. Clark eventually reversed the position, but the referee quickly stood them up. Herrig exploded forward in the closing moments and secured a takedown. She mounted Clark and delivered hammer fists.
“The second round was all Felice,” said White. “She pretty much dominated that second round.”
All three judges scored both rounds for Herrig. It was the fifth consecutive win for Team Pettis.
“This is the best feeling in the world. It’s just the best damn feeling ever,” said Herrig following the win. “There was so much bad blood and so much beef going into this fight against Heather, and she has no excuses now.”
“Well, I lost. I had that knee injury. As you noticed, I didn’t throw any kicks. And every time that she went for the takedown it buckled,” said the defeated Clark. “I don’t’ want to make excuses. I know she’s always like I made an excuse for the last one because I broke my arm, but it’s real. It was definitely in my head, and I’m better than that.”
Team Pettis retained matchmaking control with Herrig’s unanimous decision win. Coach Anthony Pettis chose to go with the No. 5 seeded Aisling Daly. She’ll take on the No. 12 seed Angela Magana from Team Melendez.