After a debut a week ago featuring sixteen live contests the Ultimate Fighter 15 was back last night with an episode full of highlights from the period since as well as the initial match-up. By all accounts the program was one of the finest in the series’ storied history, featuring an excellent mixture of drama, heartbreak, and MMA action.
Things started out with the fighters’ reactions to moving into the house, celebrating with a handful of adult beverages before settling in for the night. Teams were picked shortly thereafter with Urijah Faber winning the coin toss and opting to make the first fight rather than have the #1 pick out of the group. Dominick Cruz took advantage of the opportunity, going with Justin Lawrence in the top spot who fans likely remember based on his Team Blackhouse roots and sensational strike-based stoppage in the qualifying round.
After selecting their squads the evening’s bout was made between Daron Cruickshank and James Vick with Faber expecting Cruickshank’s overall ability to overcome Vick’s “one-dimensional” stand-up. Both men got into the house winning via decision.
Come fight-time the two 155ers looked sharp with some solid exchanges to open things up. However, a few minutes in Vick caught Cruickshank with a perfectly placed knee and laid him out cold to give Team Cruz a 1-0 lead in the competition. Truly, the finish was so beautiful it will be difficult to beat in terms of the season’s top knockout.
“I don’t remember too much so I’m gonna have to watch it,” replied Cruickshank when asked about the loss minutes after sustaining it.
Afterwards Cruz called out Lawrence to represent his group on next week’s episode and then deferred to Faber for an opponent. The decision to do so left Faber stunned, and when he went to his team to step up nobody answered the call. In the end Cruz decided to go with Cristiano Marcello, the BJJ expert with Chute Boxe roots.
In terms of non-fight highlights, the episode also featured Faber calling Cruz out over comments made about his parents supposedly setting him up with ownership of Team Alpha Male. Cruz apologized for offending Faber’s “pops” while “The California Kid” warned him about bringing up family in the future.
Also, as expected, the episode captured Michael Chiesa’s reaction to learning his father had passed away from cancer. Chiesa was understandably upset, though found strength in his dad having seen him win to get into the house in some of what would be his final moments. Dana White showed up and let Chiesa go home for a day to spend time with his family before flying back to the Ultimate Fighter set. Chiesa has now dedicated winning this season to the departed’s memory.
Cruz’s Team: Justin Lawrence, Sam Sicilia, Myles Jury, Mike Rio, James Vick, Vinc Pichel, Chris Tickle, Jeremy Larsen
Faber’s Team: Al Iaquinta, Cristiano Marcello, Daron Cruickshank, Joe Proctor, Michael Chiesa, John Cofer, Andy Ogle, Chris Saunders
Team Records: Cruz 1, Faber 0
Advancing to Semifinal: James Vick
Eliminated: Daron Cruickshank
Next Week’s Fight: Cristiano Marcello vs. Justin Lawrence