‘TUF 15’ Recap: Episode 8

By Mike Whitman Apr 28, 2012

Week eight opens with a typical recap of the previous episode. We are reminded that the latest installment will feature Team Cruz’s Sam Sicilia facing Team Faber’s Chris Saunders in a bout that will break the 3-3 tie.

Vinc Pichel roars in the Team Cruz locker room after earning a third-round submission over John Cofer, who is predictably dejected after giving his all and coming up short in the back-and-forth contest.

The morning after, Sicilia begins his fight preparation. Dominick Cruz, the UFC bantamweight champion, presents his men with a surprise in the form of Strikeforce women’s 135-pound titlist and Olympic judo bronze medalist Ronda Rousey, who expresses her gratitude at being the first female guest coach in “Ultimate Fighter” history. “Rowdy” Ronda proceeds to toss around the boys, demonstrating a variety of throws and positions. The fighters all comment on Rousey’s technique and balance, openly impressed with her abilities.

Back at the house, Chris Tickle has prepared another feast for the troops, as Urijah Faber, Cruz and Rousey join them to watch UFC 145.

“I feel like the goat in ‘Jurassic Park,’” Rousey quips, remarking that she might be the first woman to ever enter the infamous “TUF” mansion. It turns out the judoka has little to worry about, however, as the men act like perfect gentlemen, even going so far as to essentially ignore their guest our of nervousness.

The next morning, Saunders spars boxing with Faber before discussing strategy. “The California Kid” instructs his pupil to use his speed and dexterity to avoid Sicilia’s dangerous power punching. Sicilia, the last overall pick, confides to the camera that he intends to pull an upset over Cruz’s second selection come fight night.

It’s prank time back at the house, where the old “boxer briefs in the freezer” gag is good for a laugh. The classics never die. Mike Rio and Al Iaquinta are less amused by the shenanigans, and Rio confesses that he will fight anyone who attempts to alter the state of his masculine mane.

Saunders takes a walk with Andy Ogle that night and offers a brief history of his childhood. A product of a broken home, the mohawked lightweight confesses that his struggles as a youth have made him stronger as an adult.

A resident of Washington State, Sicilia reveals the next day in training that he has upped his intensity since turning pro and committing himself fully to the sport. Cruz notes that Sicilia is still quite green but praises his athleticism and conditioning. The 135-pound champ wants his fighter to push the pace in round one and move inside of Saunders’ varied striking attack in order to uses his power and wrestling most effectively.

Later, Faber and his cohorts at Team Alpha Male decide to sully Team Cruz’s locker room by moving all of the gym equipment into the tiny space, stripping down to their underwear and getting physical like Olivia Newton John. As the mostly naked men squirt each other with water bottles and grunt loudly during their workout, it becomes apparent that the semi-self-deprecating stunt will be remembered long after all the stains are scrubbed off of the carpet.

Both fighters make weight, and it is fighting time. Sicilia takes center-cage and starts throwing bombs. The two clinch against the fence, where they exchange knees before breaking. Sicilia lands an off-balance combination before briefly giving up a takedown. He escapes to his feet immediately and returns the favor, but Saunders also arises quickly.

Midway through round one, Saunders lands a chopping low kick and then goes upstairs, wrapping his shin around the back of Sicilia’s dome. Cruz’s man takes a nosedive onto the canvas but miraculously recovers as Saunders searches for the finish. Unbelievably, Sicilia begins to fire back and drops Saunders with a right straight. Faber’s fighter regains his vertical base, but he appears a bit unsteady as the round ends.

Sicilia swings wildly as round two begins, and Saunders counters with an uppercut and a low kick. Sicilia lands a beautiful combination and backs Saunders against the cage before connecting with a hard left hook in the center of the cage. Saunders hoists Cruz’s protégé with a waist cinch, but Sicilia makes him pay after escaping to his feet. Sicilia scores a takedown, but Saunders hits a switch and briefly takes his back before Sicilia wiggles his way out of yet another jam.

Once again standing, Saunders lands a sharp left hook, but Sicilia tops him with a left of his own that sends Faber’s rep crashing to the canvas. Somehow, Saunders pops back up and shoots for a double-leg, squirming out of a Sicilia guillotine to land in his opponent’s guard. Saunders tries to take the back, but Sicilia again uses his considerable perspiration to escape. Both men land hard shots as round two winds to a close.

UFC President Dana White informs us that Saunders has won a split decision.

“It went exactly like I thought it would,” Saunders tells host Jon Anik. “Sam is a tough individual, but I have a great team behind me, and I have confidence. That’s all you need.”

Now holding a 4-3 lead, Faber states that next week’s episode will see Ogle take on Team Cruz’s Rio. Faber then unknowingly invalidates his previous greatness in the locker room by misquoting “The Karate Kid.” The blasphemy goes unnoticed, and everyone smiles and hugs as we fade to black.
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