The Ultimate Fighter 16, Episode 11: Blame Canada!

Time for the showdown of friends and teammates — Jon Manley and Joey Rivera. They praise each other and hug. And Team Carwin thinks Team Nelson hasn’t bonded …

Colton Smith is cornering Manley. Cameron Diffley is cornering Rivera. Dana White is giddy. Denny’s is the sponsor. Herb Dean is the ref. They’re both 7-1. We haven’t heard anything from Julian Lane yet. This is exciting stuff.

After some standing exchanges, Manley rushes into Rivera and pushes him to the cage. Smith and Diffley keep up steady streams of positive reinforcement, like coaches who just walked out of a Positive Coaching Alliance workshop. (Hey, it’s a good program. Based on John Wooden’s ideals, so you can’t say it’s not old-school.)

Rivera reverses and gets a grip on a guillotine, but Manley reverses and finally gets the takedown. But somehow, he ends up in awful positions. The momentum swings back and forth like a table tennis referee’s eyes following the ball. (Sorry — I’ve seen that “bad high school analogies” meme maybe 10 times this week on Facebook.) Rivera gets Manley’s back and goes for the choke. Manley slips out and gets back on top. Rivera gets a triangle attempt. Manley escapes. Rivera goes for an armbar. Manley gets side control. That’s where Round 1 ends, and that probably means Manley took it 10-9.

In Round 2, Rivera spends the first 3:30 showing off his outstanding takedown defense. Manley finally gets the takedown and gets in side control. Somehow Rivera gets a triangle attempt. But Manley slips out.

Dana White recap: Rivera looked like he was on Xanax.

Jarman had it 19-19, but the other two judges correctly scored it 20-18 for Manley. Not a great fight — the friendship certainly played a factor. Manley, who has THE ONLY FINISH SO FAR THIS SEASON, is disappointed in his performance despite the win.

Then we go to the former best buds from Canada, Mike Ricci and Michael Hill, who start arguing in the house over something having to do with sauce being sabotaged. This leads to one of the dumbest trash-talk exchanges in TUF history.

Ricci: “You’ll get your chance.”

Hill: “You’ll get YOUR chance.”

Then we have an ad for the U.S. Marines, with Mike Ricci. Who’s Canadian. This is the most embarrassing moment for Canada since Bryan Adams released “Summer of ’69.”

Hill actually reminds us of a mulleted Bruce McCullough character from Kids in the Hall.

The fight starts with some modest fireworks, and Hill lands one or two decent shots. But when Ricci gets Hill to the ground, Hill’s defense sags. Ricci looks like he’s posturing up to try the Michael Scott “spit in Dwight’s mouth” technique, which is indeed illegal under the Unified Rules of MMA.

But instead, Ricci does a bit of damage. The horn sounds before he can do any significant work toward a submission.

In Round 2, Ricci gets it to the ground quickly and takes Hill’s back. Hill stands, but Ricci drapes himself on Hill’s back as they do the Pilobolus. They fall to the mat with Ricci punching away, and coach Roy Nelson is reduced to profanities. Hill manages to stand again, but Ricci gets a good solid grip on a rear naked choke and … loses it. Hill actually stands and lands a couple of consolation strikes before the horn sounds.

Judges couldn’t get it wrong if they tried. 20-18 x3 for Ricci.

Shane Carwin speaks for the first time in the episode. Don’t remember what he said. Dana White isn’t impressed with Hill’s ground game.

In the three remaining minutes, we get the semifinal pairings:

Jon Manley (Nelson) vs. Colton Smith (Nelson). Another buddy vs. buddy.
Mike Ricci (Carwin) vs. Neil Magny (Carwin)

On the next episode … the semifinals. And they say one thing is for sure — there will be a knockout. That means there’s another thing for sure — a semifinalist is getting the Knockout of the Season bonus, unless they give it for one of the prelims.

But before we leave, let’s forget about Ricci and Hill, remembering some of the many good things about Canada:

  • Sarah McLachlan
  • Rush
  • Whistler
  • Kids in the Hall
  • Toronto
  • Dwayne De Rosario
  • Christine Sinclair
  • Kara Lang
  • Health care
  • European candies not available in the USA
  • The CBC
  • Curling
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