By Thomas Gerbasi
CAUTION: SPOILERS INCLUDED – Brendan Schaub and Roy Nelson have fought their way into the semifinals of The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights. Only two spots remain in the semis, and then the final four will square off for the right to battle it out at The Pearl at The Palms in Las Vegas on December 5th for a UFC contract. Sounds like a lot of fighting is gonna be goin’ on.
The question is, who will be fighting in the quarterfinals against James McSweeney? Will it be his scheduled opponent, Matt Mitrione, or will Kimbo Slice return to take on the British fighter from Team Rashad?
As the show opens, UFC President Dana White is surprised that no one has come to him looking to take Mitrione’s spot in the quarters. White talks to Kimbo, whose knee is still giving him problems. A knee specialist confirmed that Kimbo is dealing with arthritis, but that it is treatable with a cortisone shot, something the Florida fighter doesn’t want to take, so a return is unlikely at this point.
“I respect him that he took the challenge and came in here,” said White. “But I never expected him to turn down a fight in here.”
“In my fight career, I never turned down a fight, so I guess that’s why this decision was really difficult for me. But at this level of the game, this is mixed martial arts, you’ve gotta be smart. I’m in no condition to be fighting a kickboxer like James McSweeney at this point right now.”
In the end, everything remains the same though, as Mitrione is feeling better, and with medical clearance in hand, he’s ready to take on McSweeney.
“I’m really happy right now,” said McSweeney.
Not sharing the same sunny outlook is Team Rampage’s Scott Junk who was told by a doctor that his fighting career may be over after he suffered two tears in his retina during his fight with Mitrione.
“All I’ve been doing is fighting for the last six years,” said Junk, who got laser surgery on the eye. “For a doctor to say that I’m never gonna fight again, in my brain, I’m saying ‘screw him. I want a second opinion.’ If he says the same thing, screw him too, I want a third opinion.”
On the way to the gym, the members of Team Rampage discuss Junk’s injury, and his friend Marcus Jones is particularly upset at the news, leading the former NFL player to go after Mitrione at the gym. Mitrione keeps his cool as Jones gets in his face, and Jones is inconsolable.
“Big Baby looked like he was going to kill Matt,” said coach Rashad Evans. “But he needs to understand that this is what it means to be a fighter. You go into a fight and you hope that you come out the way you went in, but there are no guarantees.”
Jones calms down with the help of his coach, Rampage Jackson, but the only thought on his mind is beating Mitrione.
The next day, Junk is greeted warmly in the gym, and while the doctor doesn’t recommend that he continues to fight, he says that he can, with training to begin in two months.
“That was music to my ears,” said Junk.
Meanwhile, Mitrione has someone else looking to do some damage to him in McSweeney, and the two almost get into it at the weigh-in for their fight before Evans intervenes. Once the actual fight begins the next day, the two feel each other out early on, with McSweeney the busier of the two. With a little over two minutes gone, Mitrione begins to land with some hard shots, and McSweeney responds with a takedown. While on the mat, Mitrione tries for a submission, but McSweeney escapes and looks to get his offense in gear. With 90 seconds left, McSweeney sinks in a guillotine choke, and the tap comes seconds later. James McSweeney is in the semifinals.
In the final quarterfinal bout, Jones squares off against US Army vet Darrill Schoonover, and Jones goes right to work at the sound of the bell, quickly taking his opponent down to the mat. In seconds, Jones is in control and looking to finish, and though Schoonover tries his best to survive, Jones will not be denied, and midway through the round he finishes Schoonover off with strikes.
So now the semifinals are set. Here are the matchups:
Roy Nelson vs James McSweeney
Brendan Schaub vs Marcus Jones
Of course, it wouldn’t be an episode of TUF10 without a little unfriendly banter between the coaches, and once again, Jackson and Evans have to be separated before things escalate.
But there are more important matters to tend to, and that’s determining who will emerge victorious from the semifinals and fight for a UFC contract on December 5th. There is some time for more inter-team antics though, which in this case means Team Rampage is redecorating Team Rashad’s locker room in pink, complete with plenty of pink stuffed animals and other objects.
Back at the house, Zak Jensen is back in the spotlight as the butt of his castmates’ jokes, and after getting locked in the bathroom, he erupts, throwing punches at McSweeney. McSweeney locks him up until things cool down, but there is still a lot of tension in the air.
That has to be put to the side though, because there’s a fight scheduled to take place in the Octagon, and the first two semifinalists to get down to business are McSweeney and Nelson.
Referee Steve Mazzagatti kicks things off, and the two combatants engage. McSweeney scores well early, and is effectively using the Octagon to his advantage. In the second minute, Nelson looks for the takedown, but McSweeney fights him off and continues to land with his strikes from long range. Midway through the round though, Nelson jars McSweeney with a right hand and then follows up with a takedown. Nelson soon moves into side control and he locks McSweeney up for a series of unanswered strikes that force Mazzagatti to stop the fight with under a minute left. Roy Nelson wins by first round TKO and moves into the TUF10 finals.
Joining Nelson will either be his teammate, Brendan Schaub, or Team Rampage’s Marcus Jones, and early on, it looks like Jones will be heading to Vegas for the final, as he takes Schaub down and gets into the mount position. But the resilient Schaub refuses to go away that easily, and he fights his way back to his feet. A big right hand follows, and Jones is down. Schaub pounces on him, and after a series of unanswered blows, referee Josh Rosenthal halts the bout.
The finals are set, as Team Rashad’s Roy Nelson and Brendan Schaub will square off this Saturday night.
Here’s the final look at the teams:
James McSweeney 2-1 - Eliminated in the semifinals (episode 12) by Roy Nelson
Brendan Schaub 3-0
Justin Wren 1-1 – Eliminated in the quarterfinals (episode nine) by Roy Nelson
Jon Madsen 1-1 – Eliminated in the quarterfinals (episode ten) by Brendan Schaub
Roy Nelson 3-0
Darrill Schoonover 1-1 - Eliminated in the quarterfinals (episode 11) by Marcus Jones
Matt Mitrione 1-1 – Eliminated in the quarterfinals (episode 11) by James McSweeney
Mike Wessel – Eliminated on episode eight by Marcus Jones
Kimbo Slice – Eliminated on episode three by Roy Nelson
Abe Wagner – Eliminated on episode one by Jon Madsen
Demico Rogers – Eliminated on episode four by Brendan Schaub
Wes Sims – Eliminated on episode five by Justin Wren
Scott Junk – Eliminated on episode seven by Matt Mitrione
Wes Shivers – Eliminated on episode two by James McSweeney
Marcus Jones 2-1 - Eliminated in the semifinals (episode 12) by Brendan Schaub
Zak Jensen – Eliminated on episode six by Darrill Schoonover
Tune in to Spike TV at 9pm ET / PT on Saturday, December 5th for The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights Finale.