‘TUF 24’ Recap: Episode 4

By Mike Sloan Sep 21, 2016
Tonight’s episode begins with Team Cejudo’s Yoni Sherbatov in fight prep as he will be one half of the show’s focus. The Russian admits that he feels a little bit of pressure going into his fight because he is the No. 2 seed. He is telling the viewing audience about his upbringing and his boxing skills and it’s not long before Ultimate Fighting Championship President Dana White is gushing over his wicked punching power.

Henry Cejudo and Sherbatov are doing some sparring behind the Olympic gold medalist’s commentary that raves about Yoni’s agility and athleticism. Adam Antolin quickly steps in and calls him a beast and admits that Sherbatov is the best fighter in the house. Cejudo agrees and thinks he can win the whole show.

Back at the house, Eric Shelton is explaining how it’s been hard raising four kids and only being 25 years old, but he loves being a dad. He’s lamenting the fact that he hasn’t been able to support his family enough financially and that this opportunity on TUF is a blessing. From there, the scene shifts to Shelton’s home video and his hometown about three hours from Chicago. Footage of him in church with friends and family is shown briefly before the editing staff switches gears to him training hard.

Shelton chronicles bits and pieces about his life and how he was doing things he shouldn’t have back in the day but he eventually woke up and became a man. He made the move to Pat Miletich’s gym in the Quad Cities and before you know it, Shelton is packing his bags and his belt as he makes his way to the airplane for TUF 24.

After the first commercial break, it’s back at the house and Sherbatov is telling a few of his housemates about Russian culture before the show switches gears to his home video. He owns his own gym in Canada -- where he moved from Russia when he was 4 -- and it’s a beautiful 12,000-foot facility. He’s at home with his wife and kids and, like Shelton, he clearly loves his family deeply. It’s not long before Sherbatov is heading toward the airport at night and bids farewell to his two kids and pregnant wife.

Joseph Benavidez is now shown instructing Shelton about how to deal with a southpaw and it’s a concern for the American. He reveals that he has never faced a southpaw before but the No. 15 seed is doing OK in training. Benavidez doesn’t seem too worried about his pupil fighting a southpaw, but he’s showing him some things that he’s picked up along the way and by the time the segment concludes, “Showtime” looks fantastic and his team is thrilled.

White decides to bring both teams into the gym so they can watch video of reigning UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson. Up first, Benavidez is walking his crew through footage of his two fights with “Mighty Mouse” and is critiquing his performances. He’s explaining all the mistakes he made against the champ and Tim Elliott is vocal about his displeasure for Johnson’s fighting style. When it’s Cejudo’s turn to show his team footage of his battle with the pound-for-pound king, he essentially does the same as Benavidez and echoes his rival’s desire to become better, to somehow avenge the loss.

After the weigh-in and the usual pre-fight prep footage, it’s time to fight. “Big” John McCarthy is the referee for the battle, which begins with Sherbatov missing a head kick. Shelton takes a little longer to strike and he follows suit; a blocked head kick. Shelton begins chopping away at his foe’s legs now and avoids another high kick from Sherbatov. Shelton catches the Russian with a short right to the side of the face as he comes in, but it’s more of a glancing blow than anything. There’s an abrasion under Sherbatov’s left eye two minutes in but he’s not bothered by it as he connects with a shin to the ribs. Sherbatov shoots in and scores a takedown after eating a few jabs and presses the American into the cage.

Shelton scrambles out and explodes to his feet and then takes Sherbatov down, though he’s caught in a relatively loose guillotine. Moments later, “Showtime” pops his head out and from within his adversary’s guard, he lands some punches. Sherbatov shrimps out and explodes to his feet and quickly scores another takedown. Again, they scramble back up to their feet, Shelton stalking him around the Octagon. Shelton pops him with a straight right to the face with 15 seconds left and closes out the round by avoiding a takedown. It’s a close stanza but Shelton gets it 10-9.

The two flyweights trade pawing jabs to begin the second and when Sherbatov shoots in, but Shelton stuffs him. Sherbatov looks a little frustrated early and when he misses another shot, he has to absorb a knee to the chest. Shelton blocks a head kick a minute in but he’s out of position to counter the now-off-balance Russian. Sherbatov shoots in two times in rapid succession, but Shelton avoids them both. Sherbatov clinches his foe against the cage and finally, he drags him down to the canvas. Shelton uses his butterfly guard nicely but when he scrambles in an attempt to stand back up, Sherbatov is all over him. Finally, Shelton bursts to his feet and reverses his counterpart; with two minutes remaining, it’s Shelton on top of Sherbatov against the cage. Yoni fights his way back to his feet, but Shelton is all over him, bragging him back down again. Sherbatov gives up his back during the transition and within the blink of an eye, Shelton latches on a textbook rear-naked choke. Sherbatov is trying like mad to get free but he can’t and eventually is asleep, ending the fight and giving Team Benavidez its second win of the season.

Up next is the fight announcement. Anchoring next Wednesday’s episode will be No. 7 seed Ronaldo Candido taking on No. 10 seed Jaime Alvarez
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