‘TUF 25’ Recap: Episode 9

By Mike Sloan Jun 14, 2017
Wednesday’s episode begins with Gilbert Smith going over his potential gameplan with coach T.J. Dillashaw because he’s going to be facing his teammate, Dhiego Lima, by show’s end. Dillashaw says that he will tell both fighters what the best strategy is, but he wants to step aside as the coach as to not favor one over the other.

Without wasting any time, all sorts of footage of Smith’s fight prep rolls. The veteran of Season 17 is confident about being the better fighter, claiming that he knows some of his opponent’s weaknesses though he admits that Lima is probably a bit better on the feet.

The editing team quickly shifts over to Team Garbrandt and the head coach is pulling some harmless pranks inside the TUF gym by putting tape on the giant posters of Dillashaw. “No Love” puts tape on Dillashaw’s mouth to make him look like a snake, covers up his nipples and a few other things before calling him an unpleasant name. Dillashaw walks into the gym later on and he laughs it off, though he says the snake thing has gotten old. Of course, the blue coach says that he has to return the favor with pranks of his own.

When nightfall arrives, both coaching staffs arrive at the TUF house and take the fighters out for a night of fun in Las Vegas. A party bus is rented and the guys are already drinking and having a blast. Jesse Taylor swings on the stripper pole and falls off and everybody is ripping it up. Smith, meanwhile, is not having a good time and refuses to partake in the fun because he’s focused on his upcoming fight. Of course, he’s considered a bump on a log. Dillashaw is enjoying himself as well, especially when they are eating at a hibachi restaurant. While everybody is feasting on the food, Smith’s grumpy butt leaves the table and decides to go to the bathroom, of all places, to run. He’s literally in a stall running in place to get his cardio up. Naturally, everybody is laughing at him.

The following day, Dillashaw is at the gym and he’s passing out “Killashaw” T-shirts with a snake on it. Not exactly the best return prank of all time…

Lima’s training footage comes next and, like his upcoming foe, he’s in hyper mode and pushing himself to the extreme. Dillashaw is confident with his pupil and the Season 19 vet says that he is ready to make it a dog fight, that he’ll do whatever it takes to win.

Not even halfway through the episode, it’s already time to fight, which means either it’ll be a long one or all sorts of drama breaks loose after the fight. “Big” John McCarthy is the referee for this bout and the two welterweights exchange low kicks as soon as it begins. Lima paws with his left jab repeatedly, keeping the shorter Smith at bay. It’s a measured pace early, as they take turns landing scattered low kicks and jabs. Smith misses with a wild right uppercut from too far on the outside, but Lima is out of position to counter. After Dhiego slams a kick to Smith’s thigh, Gilbert shoots in and eventually scores a single-leg takedown. Lima is trying to wall walk back to his feet, but Smith is all over him. Finally, Lima is back up but he’s being pressed into the cage as the stockier Season 17 vet tries his damnedest to bring him back down. Lima reverses position and quickly seizes his foe’s back, but Smith covers up and thwarts the rear-naked choke attempt. Lima softens him up with some punches before Smith explodes out of it, spins around and scores another takedown with about 70 seconds remaining. Aside from scattered punches to the body from both men, not much happens before they spring back up to their feet and the round ends. It’s a super close frame that could easily go to either man, but the two takedowns are the difference, giving Smith the edge 10-9.

Lima opens round two with a blocked right head kick before jabbing a few times to the body. Smith ducks in for a takedown but he swallows a short left hook. The welterweights exchange some decent leather in the center of the Octagon before Smith shoots in again, but Lima stuffs him. The Brazilian reverses position briefly, but they quickly split up and reset in the center of the cage. After trading jabs and low kicks, Smith walks into a glancing left hook to the head, which prompts the American to charge in with a multi-punch combo. Lima thwarts another takedown attempt and with two minutes left, fatigue is starting to creep in for them both. With 95 second left, Smith scores a desperate takedown, but Lima quickly rolls out and stands back up. Once they do, Dhiego cracks his counterpart with a right knee to the head and then a left hook upstairs, buzzing Smith in the process. Lima eventually changes levels and presses Gilbert into the cage, but nothing comes from it before they separate again. Both 170-pounders land a few decent punches but Lima wins it 10-9.

As expected, a third round is upon us and it’s for all the marbles. Lima drills Smith with a right kick to the ribs as soon as the third begins. Smith’s return kick misses, allowing Lima to pop him with a fist to the head. A nice left hook to the body backs Smith up but Lima stays away to keep a distance. The pair land right hooks to the jaw at the exact same time, forcing each to take a step back. It’s a boxing match now and Lima’s longer reach is the difference. Smith is really slowing down now and Lima scores a powerful double-leg takedown. Smith is gassing out with three minutes left and Lima is all over him. Gilbert rolls over and gives up his back, forcing him to defend the rear-naked choke. Lima is relentless but when he goes to soften his foe up with punches, Smith explodes out and rolls over into the lankier man’s guard. From there, though, Lima is quick and latches on a triangle from his back. It appears to be tight and Smith still has two minutes to free himself and turn the tables. Lima eventually relinquishes the submission and closes his guard, all the while Smith is flailing away with punches. When Lima opens his guard, Smith tries to pass to his left, but the Brazilian threatens with a kimura. Gilbert powers out of it and quickly tries a rear-naked choke of his own, but he misses. Lima leaps back to his feet and the two swing for the fences until the end. It’s a great round but Lima definitely wins it 10-9.

It's not a shocker when Lima is announced as the winner and everybody involved is pumped up about how solid the action was. Smith is devastated and crying to the cameras and reveals that he doesn’t have the same passion anymore and retires on the spot. Moments later, an emotional Gilbert tells both teams that he is retiring from MMA. All the guys love him and celebrate his decision as he places the gloves onto the canvas of the Octagon.

Next week we will all see Garbrandt and Dillashaw exchanging unpleasantries again but, more importantly, the other two quarterfinal bouts will unfold, though somebody gets injured and has to be replaced.

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