Semifinals set for next week in Las Vegas
The second pair of quarterfinals of “The Ultimate Fighter LIVE” on FX took place Friday night, setting the semifinals for next week’s regular season finale.
Dominick Cruz‘s No. 6 pick, Vinc Pichel, beat fellow California native Chris Saunders, Urijah Faber‘s eighth pick, by majority decision in the night’s first live fight. And Al Iaquinta, Faber’s top pick, stopped teammate Andy Ogle, Faber’s seventh pick, with a first-round TKO. After a pair of upsets in last week’s quarterfinals, both Pichel and Iaquinta were favored by oddsmakers.
Pichel and Iaquinta join Team Faber’s Mike Chiesa and and Team Cruz’s James Vick in the semifinals. On next week’s show, the two live semifinal fights take place, which will set up the finals matchup for the TUF Live Finale on June 1. UFC president Dana White set the pairings for next week’s semifinals. Vick will face Chiesa and Pichel will face Iaquinta, who is the highest pick left in the competition.
Here’s a look at what the major players in Friday’s 11th episode had to say after the show.
UFC president Dana White
“Pichel vs. Saunders was a grinder match. It was a close first round. It could have gone either way. Then in the second round, Pichel just took over. There was no doubt he won that round and deserved the win. I didn’t know what to expect of Iaquinta vs. Ogle. There’s no doubt Ogle came to fight. He’s got a great chin and a big heart. But Iaquinta looked good. He looked as good as anyone has ever looked on ‘The Ultimate Fighter.’ So now we’re going into the semifinals and it’s dead-even. I have to tell you, I think Pichel’s a tough guy – but we just saw what Iaquinta can do. And then there’s Vick, the incredible underdog, and Chiesa, the guy who has gone through more than anyone in this house. You won’t want to miss these fights.”
“I knew to expect a lot of hard leg kicks, just thinking ‘Check that s**t and fire!’ I practiced a lot of movement in this week’s training to keep him on his heels so he couldn’t throw them as often. Certain combinations worked really well for me, and I was able to take him out of his comfort zone.”
“Pichel listened perfectly to the game plan, which was to keep Saunders on his heels, throwing heavy shots, which takes away Saunders’ kicking ability and forces him to box. This allowed Pichel to dirty box and clinch and grind out the win.”
Dominick Cruz on Renan Barao fighting Urijah Faber for the interim bantamweight title
“It’s a tough thing to chew on to pass up a spot I’ve worked so, so hard for. It’s testing my heart and determination in this situation. This will prove and (be a) test to myself (on) the integrity I have and make me a stronger champion.”
“I fought smart. I knew if I fought smart, I could beat just about anybody.”
“I’m not surprised by the outcomes. Things went as predicted. Saunders losing the first round was a big surprise. I thought he won hands down. Al looked awesome – he stalked Ogle down.”
Urijah Faber on fighting Renan Barao
“I’m just excited to have a new opponent. Now that I have someone to focus on and game plan for, it gets me motivated. (My training) will definitely change. (Cruz and Barao) are polar opposites. Barao is a guy that starts hard and looks for the finish right away – but seems to fade a little bit as the fight goes on. Dominick is really tricky, has great conditioning and is always looking to outpoint in a long fight. I’m a good combination of those two put together – I’m dangerous and I thrive in long fights.”