The next two fighters scheduled to scrap for the right be called an Ultimate Fighter champion are officially in place after last night’s episode of TUF 15 featured both semi-final fights. Though the bulk of the show focused on the fights it was also revealed the last man standing, as well as his respective coach, would receive a customized Harley-Davidson.
Also, on an unrelated note, contestants Chris Tickle and Daron Cruickshank nearly came to blows in the house when the former threw a water bottle at the latter’s groin while he was trying to sleep. Cruickshank responded by getting up, rushing Tickle, and dishing out a number of punches/kicks. In a surprising show of maturity, Tickle laughed the incident off and said he wasn’t looking to get tossed out of the house with only a week to go. The two of them have been matched up to fight at the Ultimate Fighter 15 Finale.
Joining them on the card will be the bulk of the other contestants though Mike Rio and Andy Ogle were not booked for health-related reasons. An emotional Ogle approached UFC President Dana White after the announcement, pleading for a shot on the company’s September show in England and receiving it.
In terms of the semifinals, Al Iaquinta put together a convincing albeit not aesthetically pleasing performance against Vinc Pichel to come away with a decision, while Michael Chiesa gutted out a late submission attempt in the opening round of his fight with James Vick before scoring a takedown in the second, advancing into mount, and landing enough shots from above to merit a TKO stoppage.
“I feel great. It has been quite a journey. A lot of ups and downs but I feel like I’ve earned my spot in the finale and I’m very excited to seize the moment,” said Chiesa after the win. Throughout the season the bearded brawler dealt with the death of his father who passed away shortly after Chiesa qualified for the TUF 15 house.
Chiesa-Iaquinta will settle their score next Friday night at the finale alongside a bout between welterweight contenders Jake Ellenberger-Martin Kampmann.
TUF 15 Season Summary:
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: Faber 9, Cruz 5
Advancing to Final: Michael Chiesa, Al Iaquinta
Eliminated: Daron Cruickshank, Cristiano Marcello, Myles Jury, Jeremy Larsen, Chris Tickle, John Cofer, Sam Sicilia, Mike Rio, Justin Lawrence, Joe Proctor, Chris Saunders, Andy Ogle, Vinc Pichel, James Vick
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC