This week features two semifinal bouts, deciding who makes the live finale at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas on July 6. Roger Zapata will take on Dhiego Lima in the middleweight division, while Daniel Spohn will fight Matt Van Buren at light heavyweight.
Zapata and his camp are focusing on turning the fight into a kickboxing match, while Lima has been concentrating on his grappling, preparing to take the fight to the mat. Lima has noticed glaring issues in his opponent’s ground game throughout the season and will look to exploit them.
Up first is the middleweight fight, with referee Herb Dean presiding over the bout. Zapata lands a left hand to open things up, rocking Lima and assuming top control. As he attempts to ground-and-pound, Lima moves for a triangle, but then quickly transitions to an armbar. Zapata’s elbow pops, Dean steps right in and it’s all over. Finally, a finish, as Lima moves onto “The Ultimate Fighter 19” finale.
Frankie Edgar is proud to say that, thus far, his team has three fighters in the finale. Meanwhile, B.J. Penn brings a special guest to his training session, former UFC 205-pound champ Chuck Liddell. Spohn gets some work in on the mat with “The Iceman,” and they focus on takedown defense.
Van Buren speaks about how he actually likes his opponent as a person this time around. He blames his poor performance in the first bout on emotions running high, claiming he won’t let it happen again. Van Buren is focused on avoiding the right hook of Spohn, as he has seen “The Dragon” use it multiple times this season.
Van Buren opens up the festivities with a significant body kick, and Spohn returns fire with a combination of punches. The pace slows. Van Buren throws another body kick, but Spohn catches it this time around and scores a takedown. The two are wedged against the cage, Van Buren remaining calm from the bottom while Spohn attempts minimal strikes. Van Buren makes a move to stand and Spohn takes his back.
Spohn is too high on Van Buren’s back but starts landing punches. Spohn lets go, and the two return to the center of the cage. Spohn lands a big sequence of punches that has Van Buren hurt. Spohn follows up with a takedown, but they don’t stay on the ground for long. Van Buren manages to press his opponent against the cage and score some knees to the body. The round ends with the two trading shots from the clinch.
The second frame opens with Spohn catching Van Buren right on the chin; then, out of nowhere, Van Buren lands five or six punches square. Spohn is visibly rocked, holding onto Van Buren’s leg for dear life. Van Buren drops 10 to 15 elbows to the side of Spohn’s head, opening a huge cut. Spohn is practically out on his feet. Van Buren smells blood -- literally -- then lands another huge right hand that finally breaks Spohn. Referee Dean steps in and stops the violence.
Team Penn has no representatives in the finale. The finale matchups on July 6 will feature Van Buren versus Corey Anderson at 205 pounds and Lima versus Eddie Gordon at 185 pounds. The two fights will serve as support for the main event of Edgar-Penn 3.