‘TUF 24’ Recap: Episode 10

By Mike Sloan Nov 16, 2016
This week’s episode explodes with highlights of Ronaldo Candido’s first-round win over Jaime Alvarez and Eric Shelton’s dominance over Yoni Sherbatov before quickly shifting gears to Team Benavidez’s training camp, which both fighters are a part of. Former bantamweight champ T.J. Dillashaw pops into the gym to help the cast out and the guys seem pretty excited to have him there.

Joseph Benavidez tells his men that he will step aside and not coach either fighter during the duel and is allowing Dillashaw to kind of take over the session. The scenes shift between Candido and Shelton’s pre-fight prep and both men are hungry and confident. Dillashaw is going over basic techniques and theories/approaches with each man and by all accounts, everything is as smooth as silk. From there, they hit the scales and, as expected, they make weight and Ultimate Fighting Championship President Dana White is thrilled to his gills about the matchup.

The editing team wastes no time as it’s already the moment when the two combatants enter the cage, which they do just before the first commercial break. Once the ads are finished, the bout begins and Candido pushes the action immediately, though Shelton is the first to strike with a kick to the body. Candido ties him up and presses Shelton into the cage and eventually drags him down. Shelton is working like mad to get back to his feet, but the Brazilian is on him like a boa constrictor. Shelton unfurls a few back elbows to Candido’s head but he gives up his back for a few seconds in the process. The American scrambles out and though he can’t stand back up, he is in top position in half guard. Candido is very relaxed and fishes for a possible triangle, but Shelton is wise and explodes back to his feet. From there, Candido eats a nice straight right before shooting in and scoring a brief takedown. With a minute left, the two flyweights exchange some good leather in the center of the cage, though neither man is hurt. A hard right to the jaw, followed by a left hook upstairs by Shelton late, which might have stolen him the ground considering how clean they are. It’s a toss-up but Shelton gets it 10-9, barely.

Round two begins with both men swinging wildly and finding mostly air. Candido shoots in and is stuffed and when Shelton backs off to make him stand up, the Brazilian’s breathing is labored and he takes some time getting to his feet. Moments later, Shelton has to thwart another shot and is making Candido work overtime in trying to take the bout to the canvas. On the separation, Shelton digs a left hook to the body but misses his follow-up overhand right. After Shelton misses a spinning backfist, Candido shoots in and drags the American down, but he can only keep him there a few seconds. Shelton stuffs another shot and then unloads a series of punches to the ribs just before the Brazilian backs off to rest. Candido is gassing badly and misses a single-leg by a mile, only to allow Shelton to pick him apart on the feet. A nasty kick to the ribs from Shelton and Candido now needs a stoppage in order to win this. Shelton looks as fresh as he did in the first as he rips his counterpart with punches to the head and body. With 20 seconds remaining, it’s Shelton who scores the takedown and closes out the round with punches from on top. 10-9 Shelton.

As expected, Shelton wins the unanimous nod when all three judges favor him 20-18, moving him one step closer to flyweight champ Demetrious Johnson.

Up next is the second fight of the episode, which is between Matt Schnell and UFC veteran Tim Elliott. Like the first bout of the night, the typical highlights from round one are shown as well as the fighters’ training sessions and weigh-ins, but it’s not long before their actual fight is underway.

The brawl begins on a sour note as Schnell cracks Elliott with an inadvertent kick to the groin, and it nearly ends the fight. Luckily, Elliott is able to recover and from there, he’s a man possessed. Elliott comes right at Schnell and takes him down, but the grizzled vet can’t keep him there. Elliott is relentless and winds up pressing his opponent into the cage, but his over-zealousness leads to him getting caught in a quick brabo. Elliott powers out of it and falls into a triangle, but he’s safe. Schnell isn’t bailing on the subs as he latches onto his arm and the only escape for Elliott is to scoop him up and drop him on his head a few times. “Danger” recovers his guard, but Tim is raining down a torrent of punches, though not many are landing cleanly. Elliott stands up and locks in a front-naked choke and then drops down slightly. Schnell is stuck deep and in serious trouble and just before he goes to sleep, he taps out.

The stage is now set for next week, where the final four begins. Up first will be No. 1 seed Alexandre Pantoja taking on No. 5 seed Hiromasa Ogikubo. The other side of the bracket will see No. 15 seed Shelton taking on No. 3 seed Elliott and just like today’s episode, there will be two fights next Wednesday, which will set the stage for the finals.

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