Host Jon Anik welcomes us to the final episode of “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 15, reminding viewers that tonight’s installment of the series will showcase a pair of semifinal confrontations: Vinc Pichel vs. Al Iaquinta and Mike Chiesa vs. James Vick.
Then it’s time for the customary flashback of the week’s activities. UFC President Dana White takes the four semifinalists to Red Rock Harley-Davidson to check out the type of bikes the winning fighter and coach will take home this season. The boys go through a “motorcycle boot camp,” which seems to consist of the four fighters sitting on the expensive hardware while wearing black leather.
Back at the house, Chris Tickle is once again stirring the prank pot by lobbing a full water bottle at the unprotected crotch of a sleeping Daron Cruickshank, who proceeds to bolt out of bed and begin throwing punches and kicks at Tickle’s torso. “Something hit me in the groin area, and I wasn’t thinking,” said Cruickshank of the confrontation.
We have all been there, my friend.
White calls the fighters to the gym for a pep talk, informing them that they will all fight at the finale on June 1st. Cruickshank is relieved to learn that he will not be punished for his outburst, but White quickly delivers some bad news to Mike Rio and Andy Ogle, telling them that they have not been medically cleared to compete at the finale. Rio, who suffered a broken rib earlier in the week, knows the news is coming. By contrast, Ogle, who was diagnosed with a concussion after his technical knockout defeat to Iaquinta, is visibly upset.
Ogle chases after White as the UFC president is exiting the training center and asks him to be included in the UFC’s Sept. 29th event in Nottingham, England. White immediately grants his wish, providing the Brit with a silver lining.
Vick’s training montage is up next. The lanky lightweight works the pads before drilling his takedown defense and his escapes off his back. Coach Dominick Cruz privately expresses concern over Vick’s seemingly nonexistent bottom game, stating that his fighter must avoid being taken down at all costs.
Later on, Chiesa is welling up with tears after having a rough day at practice. He admits that the death of his father is still troubling him, but coach Urijah Faber consoles him while providing assurance that a bad practice does not necessarily equate to a bad fight performance.
Just before the bout begins, Brittney Palmer reassures us for the last time this season that UFC Octagon girls can indeed blow kisses and operate an Apple iPad, simultaneously.
Referee Herb Dean starts the action. Vick takes center cage and sets the pace before he overextends and allows Chiesa to clinch with him against the cage. Faber’s fighter tries a trip, but Vick reverses and returns to his feet. Chiesa lands a solid pair of left straights, but Vick retaliates with a right hand upstairs and a left hook to the liver. Vick lands a body kick that appears to hurt Chiesa, but the grappler will not go away, diving for a single-leg. Cruz’s man stuffs the attempt, however, snatching a guillotine that he uses to mount Chiesa, causing Faber’s fighter to cringe and fight for air as the round expires.
Chiesa comes out aggressively to start the second stanza but is quickly backed up by the length of his opponent, and slips onto his backside after cracking Vick with a body kick. Chiesa pops right back up and presses the attack, hitting a smooth double-leg slam before transitioning effortlessly into mount. The long-haired combatant begins pounding away and does not stop until Dean waves the bout off. The official end comes at 1:55 of round two.
Back in the land of prerecorded content, Iaquinta is preparing diligently to battle Pichel. Faber says that Iaquinta is the more technical fighter, and instructs him to keep Pichel moving backward. During Pichel’s training session, Cruz works with the lightweight on his takedown defense in order to free up his ability to throw bombs.
Both fighters are now in the cage, and referee Steve Mazzagatti begins the bout. After a feeling-out process, Iaquinta closes the distance and takes a waist-cinch on Cruz’s fighter, taking him to the mat briefly before allowing him to escape. Pichel is trying to land heavy shots, but he gets cracked on the inside with a one-two and then a leg kick. Cruz’s man retaliates with a sharp right hand, but continues to eat the leg kicks nonetheless. With one minute to go, Iaquinta snatches a single-leg and transitions to a double, driving Pichel to the canvas. Cruz’s man again escapes to his feet and launches a leg kick of his own to end the round.
Iaquinta lands a jab and slaps Pichel with a head kick to start round two. Unfazed, Pichel continues to move forward, but he absorbs several more kicks downstairs as the New Yorker launches combinations. Iaquinta may be the more active man, but he is also the one who is bleeding more significantly, until he cracks Cruz’s representative with an uppercut that causes some red to flow from his nose. Pichel can’t stop sniffing, and he is now whiffing with his punches. Iaquinta drives hard for a takedown, but Pichel’s defense is stout, peppering Faber’s fighter with short shots as he prevents the takedown before the frame comes to a close.
White informs us that Iaquinta has won a unanimous decision. He will now face teammate Chiesa in one week at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas to decide who will take home the title of “The Ultimate Fighter.”