Wow, this is a long Harley-Davidson ad. Oh, wait, the show started. Yeah, one of the fighters gets a motorcycle. Whee.
Chael Sonnen jokes with Kelvin Gastelum that the semifinalist fighter has upgraded his diet from Krispy Kreme to brownies. Man, I miss my 20something metabolism.
Anyway, Gastelum and Josh Sannan both want to win. That’s a relief. Looks like nothing at all happened in the house after the first week or two.
Herb Dean is our ref. We start, we trade, we clinch, and Kelvin gets him down. Josh shows off his active guard, legs fluttering around Kelvin’s torso like wounded butterflies.
Kelvin’s second takedown finds him in better position, and he’s able to land some strikes. Josh scrambles but gives up his back. Kelvin grabs his neck with stunning ease. And so Josh, for all his bluster about being better than just about everyone here, taps out to a rear naked choke in the first round.
Josh is stunned. Kelvin is incoherent.
Next up: Dylan Andrews vs. Uriah Hall. Will Dylan and set up a battle of the last two draft picks? Or Uriah win and make it an all-Sonnen final?
Before the fight, we get more Sonnen hype of Uriah Hall. Uriah Hall can beat anyone in the weight class. Kids will grow up wanting to be Uriah Hall. Dana White will rewrite his will to leave his share of the UFC to Uriah Hall. North Korea will disarm just so Kim Jong-un can get floor seats to see Uriah Hall fight.
Dylan Andrews, meanwhile, is an underdog. He works hard. He wants to win.
Jon Jones builds up Andrews: “This is the finals match. We both know it.” Yeah, let’s keep overlooking Kelvin. That’s worked so well so far.
Fight time, and it’s clear Uriah isn’t overlooking Dylan. The overwhelming favorite is showing the soft-spoken Australian a lot of respect. He tries a couple of spinning kicks but seems a little tentative. Dylan lands a couple of half-decent shots. Neither guy seems the least bit interested in going to the mat, and they both seem intent on matching Rashad Evans’s unofficial record for most feints in one round. Dylan gets through Round 1, though the judges would likely give it to Uriah.
Jones isn’t happy with Dylan. “You threw like five punches that whole round. I don’t know why.”
Round 2: Hall slowly pecks away at Dylan, bloodying his face. Dylan finally decides to get aggressive, swinging with a wild combo and then taking Hall down. Hall passes the ground-game test, grabbing an armlock that looks dangerous. But it doesn’t fluster Dylan too much, and he keeps pounding away at Hall’s ribs. Sonnen keeps yelling, “You got it!” He don’t got it.
But Hall changes position and sets up guard. And he … somehow hits Dylan hard enough that Dylan gives up position and turtles. Hall pounces on Dylan’s back and pounds his ears a bit, but even Steve Mazzagatti is stopping this one.
“From the bottom? From the bottom!” yells Dana White, who says he hasn’t seen that in 13 years.
Hall is emotional. Dylan says his heart hurts more than his face. His face might beg to differ. That, or he needs to see a cardiologist tout suite.
Jones and Sonnen cap off a season of surprising sportsmanship and lead some handshakes between the teams.
Then Sonnen says the most improbable thing in show history. He says Gastelum and Hall were even in practice. OK.
The finalists face off and basically smile at each other. Dana White has to egg them into a true staredown, but they still clown around a bit.
Dana’s very happy and looks forward to seeing most of these guys in the UFC.
So that’s it, and let’s give some awards for a season that has already seen two guys fight in the UFC and will see 11 more in the finale, with Zak Cummings apparently just waiting for an injury to heal:
The Cristiano Marcello Invisibility Cloak Award: Tor Troeng. Seemed to be one of the most intriguing guys coming into the show. Can’t recall seeing him on camera any time other than his fight.
The Tom Lawlor Award for Post-Knockout Humor: Adam Cella, knocked out with such force that the rest of the house that the rest of the house treated Uriah Hall like Ron Decline from that point forward. (Yes, that’s Sen. Al Franken in that clip.) Yet Cella came back to have the funniest conversation ever recorded in a TUF bathroom, and he was a frequent confessional subject the rest of the way.
The Junie Browning House Lunatic Award: No award this season. These guys didn’t fight in the house about much of anything except occasional misunderstandings with Hall.
The Mac Danzig “What Am I Doing Here With Such Lesser Talents?” Award: Josh Samman. But unlike Danzig, he didn’t win.
The Colin Fletcher Quipmaster Award: Gilbert Smith, who got Kevin Casey to throw down in a rap battle.
The Michael Bisping Award for International Arrogance: Luke Barnatt apparently had an opinion on everything.
The Chael Sonnen Positive Coaching Award: Debut award given to its namesake, Chael Sonnen. Who would’ve guessed he’d be the John Wooden of TUF coaches, only with funnier quotes? Can he just retire from fighting and be a permanent coach?
The Danny Downes Recap Award: Also given to its namesake, @dannyboydownes.
See you Saturday for the finale. I have a bad feeling that Miesha Tate might be looking past Cat Zingano, who would be easily be the least experienced coach in TUF history if she should win. (OK, OK — Brock Lesnar, but at least he had won a UFC belt.)