Friday’s live fight: Sam Sicilia vs. Chris Saunders
“The Ultimate Fighter LIVE” Episode 8 is set to air Friday at 10 p.m. Eastern on FX, and Heavy.com has you covered.
Tune in for a live running recap of the episode and live coverage of the seventh of eight first-round bouts in the tournament of 16 fighters coached by UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz and top contender Urijah Faber. Team Faber, after dropping its first two fights of the season, won three straight. But Team Cruz evened things back up last week when Vinc Pichel submitted John Cofer in the third sudden-victory round. Getting control of the fight picks back, Cruz went with his second overall pick, Sam Sicilia, to face Faber’s eighth and final pick, Chris Saunders, in Friday night’s live fight.
After a quick look back on last week’s terrific contest that gave Team Cruz control and evened the series up, we are set for the season’s eighth episode.
Pichel is shown reacting to his submission victory, saying he is on Mt. Everest. Cruz says that he told him to make it a street fight and that is exactly what he did. The coach also explains how badly they needed that win.
In the opposing locker room, Faber says he is proud of Cofer, but knows his fighter could have given a bit more. His teammates are trying to comfort him, but he is visibly upset by the loss. He says he knows that he will be back.
Team Cruz is shown next, getting ready to train in the gym. Cruz comments on Sicilia’s punching power and says that he is excited for the fight. From the opposite end of the gym, all the fighters turn to see Ronda Rousey enter. Cruz introduces her, and she starts giving the fighters pointers on bringing the fight to the ground. Tickle says that she has some serious strength, as does essentially every other member of Cruz’s team. They all seem very eager to learn.
Rousey says she was nervous about coming in, but thought it went very well and that the team was ready to learn from her.
In the parking lot, Faber begins talking trash to Cruz, who once again brings up the fact that he has the belt.
Back at the house, Rousey, Cruz, and company head into the house to watch UFC 145. Jeremy Larsen of Team Cruz says that everyone was a bit nervous about sitting next to her. As they watch the fights, the whole house seems a bit awkward, and Faber says, jokingly, that the guys “kind of blew it.”
Back in the gym, Team Faber gets to work. Saunders talks about his youth, his time at school, and his nickname. Called “So. Cal Kid,” he hits the cage looking to emulate his coach, “The California Kid,” who is his idol.
Faber addresses being his idol, stating that he is not on some pedestal.
The biggest WEC star of all time then begins giving more tips about striking to Saunders, stating that he has good combos and mixes kicks well. Saunders then discusses being picked last, stating that he will announce his arrival by knocking out Team Cruz’s second pick.
Back in the house, the pranks continue. Cruickshank says he hopes the pranks don’t go overboard, but he, like others in the house, think the pranks could become a bit more serious. Most fighters seem to be getting frustrated with them.
Outside on the lawn, Saunders says he wants to fight to essentially get a good life and a family, which he says he never really had before. He says he is thankful for the struggles, if only because he is where he is today because of his tumultuous past. He says he is out here to prove to everyone who told him he couldn’t, he can.
Into the gym again, Sicilia discusses his career and the inconsistency of getting fights. Cruz says he is impressed by what Sicilia has done and says that he never gets tired. The UFC bantamweight champion likens him to a Tasmanian Devil.
Sicilia works in the cage, as Cruz attempts to teach him to “fight his fight.” Sicilia says he has to go for it and “be brutal and relentless.”
Back in the gym for Faber and his coaches, who hit the weights, bikes, and other machines in their briefs and boxers. They get in a 40 minute workout in an effort to essentially ruin the machines for Cruz, who, in a video post, simply shakes his head without saying a word.
The episode moves to Thursday at 4 p.m. for the weigh-ins. Sicilia hits the scale, making weight. Team Faber’s Saunders hits the scales at 155 lbs. as well. Both guys come in on weight and stare down in front of the cage. They each give their respective opinions of the fight, neither displaying any fear. Both think they have what it takes to earn the victory tonight.
Live from the locker rooms, Saunders and Sicilia are shown getting last-minute advice from Faber and Cruz, respectively. The live fight is about to get underway. Sicilia walks out first, followed shortly thereafter by Saunders.
Sam Sicilia vs. Chris Saunders
Round 1: Saunders fakes a front-kick. Sicilia lunges forward with heavy shots, but misses. He clinches instead, and Saunders comes back with knees. Sicilia pressing his opponent against the cage, keeping the pressure on nicely. Saunders turns him, but Sicilia immediately turns back. Knees from Saunders. They separate, and Sicilia misses with a right hook. Big shots from Sicilia after a kick from Saunders. Saunders ducks under and takes him down. Sicilia back to the feet almost immediately. He looks for the trip and gets it. Saunders pops back up nicely. Still in the clinch, Saunders turns his opponent against the cage and works knees. Sicilia turns him around. Back-and-forth action, as neither fighter seems to be gaining the upper hand. Nice leg kick from Saunders. Midpoint of the round. Saunders with a nice punch, and Sicilia looks for the takedown. Saunders stuffs it. Sicilia may be a bit hurt, as Saunders lands a few more shots. Sicilia clinches up against the cage with 90 seconds remaining in the round. Knees from Saunders. And more knees. Sicilia looks for a trip, but fails. Saunders now presses him up against the cage. They separate, and Saunders misses with a head kick. 30 seconds left in the round, and Saunders misses with another front-kick. Sicilia looks to land, and Saunders trips to the ground. Sicilia looks for a choke, but lets it go. Nice right hand by Sicilia as the round comes to a close. Heavy.com scores the round 10-9 for Saunders.
Round 2: No touch of gloves to begin the second frame. Sicilia looks locked and loaded for a big shot, but Saunders moves in-and-out nicely. Sicilia comes up short on a hook and presses forward. He fails to land again. He may be getting frustrated here. Saunders moves forward with a combination and walks right into his opponent’s counter. Sicilia with another couple of shots, but he clinches. Cruz yells out for him to drop to a single, but he doesn’t. Kick glances for Saunders. Nice right hand lands for Sicilia, followed by a left. They clinch, and Saunders takes the back, but Sicilia reverses after getting slammed to the mat. They separate and are back to the feet. Sicilia now presses forward in the clinch. He is looking for a single, but Saunders reverses it. Sicilia on his back, taking knees from his opponent. Saunders transitions to the back, but Sicilia reverses him. Scramble from Saunders lets him back to the feet. Sicilia sends Saunders to the floor and looks for a guillotine choke. Saunders reverses and is now on top. Crazy back-and-forth action. Saunders working his ground and pound with one minute remaining in the round. Sicilia now reverses, but Saunders gets back to the feet. 30 seconds in the round. They separate, and Sicilia misses with a big hook. He presses forward, and Saunders misses with a spinning back fist. Nice combination from Saunders to end the round. Very good action from both fighters. Heavy.com scores the round 10-9 for Sicilia.
Dana White in the cage to announce the winner.
Official Decision: Saunders def. Sicilia via split-decision
Dana White says that he thought there should have been a third, but said it was a great fight, nevertheless.
Next week, we will see Andy Ogle against Mike Rio, the final two first round fighters.
Thanks for tuning in to Heavy.com. Join us again next week for more of “The Ultimate Fighter: Live.”