TUF Recap: Chael Sonnen Says Uriah Hall Could Beat Anderson Silva — Right Now
It's down to the last episode of 'The Ultimate Fighter 17', with two final matches to determine which two fighters will advance to Saturday night's TUF finale and do battle for the season title and the six-figure UFC contract. The last two fights will be: Josh Samman vs. Kelvin Gastelum and Uriah Hall vs. Dylan Andrews.
But first, let's point out what a solid season of TUF this has been. If ever a reality show needed a reboot, it was 'The Ultimate Fighter' after its much criticized live format in its first season on FX. Just a few months ago, some people even called for the end of TUF, saying it had been played out and had nothing left to offer. You're not hearing that anymore. The show has definitely been redeemed.
There wasn't as much smack talk from Chael Sonnen as expected, but fans were able to get to know both Sonnen and Jon Jones better, as well as take in some incredible fights.
I think most observers figured that Sonnen would steal the show while creating controversy -- and a ton of laughs in the process. But instead we were introduced to a thoughtful, caring coach and a side of Sonnen that most people didn't expect.
Jones also came off as a nice guy and caring mentor, sort of reverting back to the personality he displayed when he first entered the UFC -- humble, unassuming and focused on fighting. He seemed very composed and wise for someone that is only 25-years-old.
On to the fights. Josh Samman says he's confident but knows that none of the remaining four fighters will be at their best for these last two fights before the finale. "There's no way any of us are going to be one-hundred percent in the semifinals. We've fought three times in the past five or six weeks and it takes a toll on everything," Samman said.
It's Samman vs. Gastelum in the first fight of the night. Sonnen says that Gastelum isn't a master at any one skill. "Where his biggest strength is, is he's effective. He's effective -- and he knows how to get his hand raised." Gastelum is just 21-years-old with only five professional bouts to his name. He's one fight away from being in the TUF Finale. It's crazy when you stop and think about it.
These semifinal bouts will consist of three five-minute rounds, as opposed to the two round format throughout the season. And it's time for Samman vs. Gastelum.
Samman lands first, an inside leg kick that Gastelum shakes off. Both fighters work their standup game a bit, then Gastelum scores the first takedown of the match. Samman is able to close his guard, and then opens it in hopes of latching on a triangle. Gastelum isn't having it, but Samman remains active from guard, looking for an armbar and a kimura before he gets back to this feet. He completely nullified the takedown.
Gastelum is able to get Samman down again, this time pinning Samman's left arm under his knee and raining down strikes. He's defending sub attempts from Samman and scoring in the process. He takes Samman's back with just about a minute left and sinks in a rear naked choke with little resistance from Samman, who quickly taps to it. Gastelum will fight for the season title on Saturday night.
Jon Jones said it was a tough fight to watch. Samman said he was shocked and surprised. Dana White expected be a war but didn't get one. "It was far from a war," White said. And it's on to Andrews vs. Hall.
Hall says that he knows some people will hate him and some will like him, but he's here to win. "I believe that I have the ability to do it, but it might turn out a different way, I don't know," Hall says.
Sonnen knows. He takes some time during practice to reinforce what he said last week: Hall can beat any UFC middleweight right now. He tells Hall that he can beat them all, with no exceptions. "I'm not saying that puke's name, but you can beat them all," Sonnen says while pointing to the portrait of Anderson Silva hanging from the ceiling.
Jones pumps up Andrews, too. "It's not a coincidence that you were the last pick but the last man standing. Believe in that," Jones says. Can Andrews beat Hall and shock the world?
Hall takes command early landing some jabs and some kicks. Andrews is trying to get inside to shoot on Hall, but Hall defends it well. He continues to put pressure on Andrews with his standup game.
Andrews is game but it's all Hall in the first round. Andrews looks like he's a weight class under Hall, and he cannot match the speed or power of Hall. Still, he makes it through the first without much damage.
Hall starts round two with a lot of movement, and he lands a glancing head kick. Andrews' face is starting to show the effects of Hall's strikes. He's eating a slew of jabs. Andrews tries for a single-leg takedown but Hall easily shoves him away.
But Andrews finally gets his takedown about halfway through the round. Hall immediately goes for a kimura. With about :20 left, Hall abandons the hold, opens guard and starts throwing punches from the bottom. He sweeps Andrews, takes his back and keeps throwing. Steve Mazzagatti calls the fight. Hall messed up Andrews with jabs and strikes from bottom position. He is a nasty man, and he'll fight Gastelum in the TUF finale on Saturday night.
"This kid is the nastiest, deadliest, meanest kid that we have ever seen in the history of TUF," White says. No one will disagree.
We'll have a wrap of the TUF Finale, so be sure to check back for that.