By Thomas Gerbasi
CAUTION: SPOILERS INCLUDED – Two quarterfinal matches are set to take place this week on The Ultimate Fighter: Team Liddell vs Team Ortiz, but some shocking news ultimately takes center stage on the Spike TV reality series.
As the show opens, Team Ortiz’ Kris McCray and Team Liddell’s Kyle Noke weigh in for their quarterfinal bout, and the two buddies are ready for battle.
One fighter who isn’t going to be ready for an upcoming fight though is coach Tito Ortiz, whose recurring spine injury has his doctor recommending surgery.
“I’ll find out in the next couple weeks if I’m able to fight,” said the former light heavyweight champion.
In the meantime, Ortiz has to resume coaching duties for his fighter, and McCray starts out his quarterfinal bout strong with a takedown of Noke. The Australian is able to work back to his feet and he scores with a nice right hand before getting locked up and taken down again. The fighters rise briefly, but soon go back to the mat. Noke looks for a guillotine choke and then a kimura; McCray eludes trouble though. The final minute sees Noke active from the bottom position, with only sporadic action coming back from McCray.
McCray puts Noke on the mat twice to begin round two, and he continues to control the pace and location of the fight. With 2:25 left, Noke finally gets loose, and on a return trip to the canvas he gets McCray’s back and looks for a rear naked choke. McCray avoids the finish and works his way into his opponent’s guard. As the second round ends, McCray is in control, but not doing much offensively.
After two stanzas, the judges have it even, sending it to a third sudden victory round.
McCray’s strategy is obvious, to get the fight to the canvas, and he succeeds in the first 30 seconds. McCray follows up with sporadic strikes to the head, and Noke has no answer for him. Eventually, referee Steve Mazzagatti stands the fighters, but McCray closes the distance and locks Noke up against the fence to seal his unanimous decision victory.
Back in the house, coach Chuck Liddell isn’t happy with the news that Ortiz may be injured and unable to fight him after the show ends.
“If I have to put up with him for six weeks, he’d better let me go in there and fight him,” said ‘The Iceman.’
In this week’s second bout, Team Liddell’s Brad Tavares takes on Team Ortiz’ Seth Baczynski.
The two immediately trade punches and then lock up against the fence before Baczynski scores the takedown. Baczynski scores with some strikes and then takes his opponent’s back. Tavares shows poise under pressure and eventually escapes his foe’s grip with 1:40 to go, but not before Baczynski scored valuable points on the scorecards with his strikes and a rear naked choke attempt. Now free, Tavares tries to make up for lost time with ground strikes and two slams, and he looks to be finishing strong, but after he slipped to the mat, Baczynski cracks him with a kick to the head while the Hawaiian was still down, sending him face first into the canvas. Tavares quickly rises, but is still on wobbly legs, and the Octagonside physician deems him unable to continue, and Baczynski is disqualified.
“It was a bad way to end a good fight,” said Tavares.
Ortiz, upset at the result, believed the kick landed on Tavares’ chest, and his assistant coach, Saul Soliz, agreed, kicking off an angry verbal exchange with Team Liddell’s Rich Attonito. Ortiz soon got into the act, and Liddell quickly hopped into action and went at Ortiz. Both coaches were restrained and cooler heads prevailed…at least until UFC President Dana White told Liddell that Ortiz had pulled out of their fight.
“I’m gonna go punch him,” said Liddell as the show ended…
Here’s how the teams look:
• Nick Ring 1-0 – Eliminated due to injury
• Kyacey Uscola – 0-2 - Eliminated on episode four by Rich Attonito. Defeated in Wild Card fight by Kris McCray
• Kris McCray – 2-1 - Eliminated on episode five by Josh Bryant. Defeated Kyacey Uscola in Wild Card fight. Defeated Noke in quarterfinals (episode nine).
• Jamie Yager 1-0
• James Hammortree 0-2 – Eliminated on episode three by Brad Tavares. Brought back on episode eight after injury to Ring. Eliminated in quarterfinals (episode eight) by Court McGee.
• Clayton McKinney – Eliminated on episode two by Kyle Noke
• Chris Camozzi – Eliminated from competition due to injury
• Seth Baczynski – 1-1 - Brought back on episode three after injury to Camozzi – Defeated in quarterfinals by Tavares (episode nine).
• Kyle Noke 1-1 – Eliminated in quarterfinals (episode nine) by Kris McCray
• Rich Attonito 1-0 – Eliminated due to injury
• Charles Blanchard – Eliminated on episode four by Jamie Yager
• Josh Bryant 1-0
• Brad Tavares 2-0 - Defeated Baczynski in quarterfinals (episode nine).
• Court McGee – 1-1 - Eliminated on episode six by Nick Ring; returning to replace Attonito. Defeated Hammortree in quarterfinals (episode eight).
• Joseph Henle – Eliminated on episode seven by Seth Baczynski
For weekly recaps of The Ultimate Fighter, as well as fighter profiles, stay tuned to UFC.com.