by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
The latest edition of The Ultimate Fighter picked up with the remaining contestants still reeling at the news of Noah Inhofer’s decision to leave the show.
While the controversy surrounding Noah’s exit due to his profound love for his girlfriend of six months may astound many, the fighters who were left behind continued to train and struggle to earn their shot in the UFC.
Former housemate Jesse Forbes was announced as Noah’s replacement and was given a bye into the semi-finals. Team Ortiz semi-finalist Michael Bisping was quick to tell Forbes that he had “a week to learn how to grapple.” Forbes was previously eliminated from the show when he lost to Inhofer via an armbar submission a few weeks ago.
It was announced on last week’s show that Josh Haynes from Team Ortiz would be facing Tait Fletcher from Team Shamrock in the latest fight at light-heavyweight, and that fight took place on this week’s episode.
Haynes, who trains with Team Quest in Oregon, spoke candidly about the fact that he weighed 330 pounds when he first started fighting and is now down to 205 pounds. Fletcher told stories about growing up in New Mexico and then moving to Los Angeles to become a professional bodyguard, before transitioning into mixed martial arts.
As the fighters headed back to the house before the big showdown, Fletcher and Haynes had an unfortunate incident that could very well have stopped their fight before it ever happened.
As Fletcher played pool with another of his team members, Haynes playfully tossed a plastic bottle at them from the second floor. Fletcher responded by throwing the bottle back at Haynes and accidentally struck him in the face, causing a slight laceration over his eyebrow.
As seen in many different UFC fights, a cut above the eye can easily stop a fight, but fortunately Haynes’ cut closed up thanks to some medical care from Rory Singer.
Later in the episode, in one of the most candid and emotional interviews to ever take place on The Ultimate Fighter show, Josh Haynes opened up about the love that he has for his family, talking mostly about the battle his son had with cancer early in his life.
Haynes talked about how his son fought so hard to live and how he carries a picture of his son with the words “never quit” inscribed, in order to inspire him to keep going and succeed in the sport that he loves. As he broke down in tears, Haynes showed a more emotional side than most fighters are willing to show, while also giving more of a human element to a sport that is often dominated by testosterone and trash talk.
When the fight between Haynes and Fletcher started, it was quite obvious from the beginning that Haynes really wanted to keep the fight in the stand-up position, while Fletcher was determined to take the fight to the ground. In the first round, Fletcher’s takedown attempts were feeble at best, and Haynes looked like he was trying for a knockout with every punch as he swung wildly.
When the fight did hit the ground, Fletcher looked good going for a couple of submissions, but Haynes definitely looked to be the stronger of the two fighters in the stand-up.
The second round brought much of the same. Haynes connected with more power shots, while Fletcher went for the clinch and tried to take the fight to the ground. Both fighters were obviously winded, but they both continued to give everything they could to win the fight.
Haynes landed more punches, and he popped Fletcher flush towards the end of the round, sending Fletcher down to the canvas. Haynes jumped into Fletcher’s guard, but before he had a chance to launch any kind of ground-and-pound offense, Fletcher transitioned into a triangle choke and pulled Haynes head-deep into it. It looked like Fletcher might have a chance to finish the fight, but unfortunately for him, time ran out.
Just about everyone, including Dana White, thought that the judges would rule the fight a draw, thus forcing a third and final round, but instead it was announced that the judges had decided a winner.
Josh Haynes was announced as the winner via split decision. Here is how the three judges scored the fight. Nelson Hamilton had it 20-18 for Fletcher, Tony Weeks had it 20-18 for Haynes, and Dalby Shirley also had it 20-18 for Haynes.
Haynes now advances to the light-heavyweight semi-finals along with Michael Bisping and Jesse Forbes, and the win also gave Team Ortiz an overall record of 5-1 on the show.
While the judges’ decision could have gone either way, it is definitely disheartening to see a fighter put all of his effort into a fight, lose a close split decision, and get sent home, while a fighter who was tapped out in the first round of his fight (Jesse Forbes) gets a bye into the semi-finals.
It was announced that next week’s episode will feature the last of the middleweight opening bouts, as the always outspoken Ed Herman will finally get a chance to put his money where his mouth is when he takes on Team Ortiz member Danny Abaddi for the final slot in the middleweight semi-finals.