The final preliminary matchup of the season is the focal point of Wednesday’s episode, as Matt Van Buren takes on Chris Fields.
B.J. Penn says that he has been working with Fields on his dirty boxing; usually he would tell a fighter with his length to use his size, but not against Van Buren. Fields doesn’t feel like his opponent brings anything to the table that he hasn’t yet seen or is more skilled at than him.
Both teams take a trip to Harley-Davidson Las Vegas and are met by “TUF 15” winner Michael Chiesa. The guys got to explore the store and check out bikes that they could potentially win by becoming the next Ultimate Fighter. Side note: Penn wearing leather and sitting on a motorcycle never gets old.
Van Buren detailed his adolescence and the rampant drug use that he has been exposed to throughout his upbringing. By searching for new friends and healthier people to be around, he was flung into the world of MMA. He credited Alliance MMA in San Diego as one of the reasons he has made it this far on the show.
The weigh-ins went off without a hitch: both men have their home country’s flags draped over themselves during the staredown.
The scrap opened with Van Buren walking Fields down, as he threw a punch and proceeded to push his opponent against the cage with ease. Penn and the coaches shouted for Fields to lock in underhooks. He did so but Van Buren successfully scored with knees to the body. Fields seemed to be unable to separate thus far and two minutes in he took a lot of shots to the body.
With three minutes left in the frame they finally got some space; this was brief, as Van Buren took the fight to the steel mesh again. Fields wasn’t having it this time and pushed him off, but Van Buren refused to allow space between the two. Referee Kim Winslow stepped in with a little over a minute left in the round to restart the fight in the center of the Octagon. Van Buren imposed his will again, and then followed up with a takedown to end the period. This one was all for the Frankie Edgar team member.
The second round opened with more pressing against the fencing. Fields was able to gain some space, as he threw wild spinning back kick and dropped levels for a takedown. It wasn’t pretty, but Van Buren seemed to be getting tired and Fields ended up on top. Suddenly Van Buren popped upright, threw a decent one-two punch combination and scored the takedown. After some punches from the top position, Fields stood and landed a big punch that rocked Van Buren.
The emotion in the building was really picking up: there was a sequence where Van Buren landed crisp knees to the head but Fields weathered the storm. Van Buren took the fight to the mat again and scored knees to the liver and punches to the temple of Fields. The Irishman did not go out without a fight and managed to stand one final time but Van Buren immediately took his legs out from under him and scored what seemed to be a decisive takedown.
White entered the cage to read the decision, but prior to that we heard some more comments that completely panned the effort from the competitors. In the end, Van Buren won the fight with two scores of 20-18 and a single 19-19.
The coaches sat down with White to discuss the matchups for the semifinals. All agree that the contestants on this show “do not give a f---.” Penn is especially vocal, saying when he loses he likes to go all out.
This season, White will be picking the semifinal fights. Penn and Edgar get no say. The semifinal pairings are as follows:
Eddie Gordon vs. Cathal Pendred
Corey Anderson vs. Patrick Walsh
Dhiego Lima vs. Roger Zapata
Matt Van Buren vs. Dan Spohn
Episode number 10 will feature Gordon against Pendred.