The Ultimate Fighter 17, Episode 12: Award time!

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.)

The Ultimate Fighter 17, Episode 11: Bubba bounced

Last week … a couple of quarterfinals, and Ronda Rousey turned up for some grappleflirting. I was out of town, so check with Danny Downes.

This week … Uriah Hall finally fights again? That’s so exciting, I could swear Dana blinked more than usual in the opening credits.

Bubba McDaniel is worn down. Three fights and a lot of training in a short time will do that to you. Clint Hester starts getting his weight down just in case Bubba can’t go.

Also with Team Jones, Josh Samman, is pretty sure Jimmy Quinlan isn’t going to stand with him. “Jimmy’s going to shoot all the way from the other side of the cage.”

His teammates aren’t as confident, in part because Jimmy can hold people down and in part because Josh keeps getting hurt.

It’s a Frank Mir sighting! Anyone catch what he said?

Back to the ailing Bubba. “I don’t want to quit,” Bubba says. Jones says he had been waiting to hear that. “I don’t want to quit,” he says again. OK, good. “I don’t want to quit.” OK, we got it. “I lift things up and put them down.”

(Has anyone seen the techno mix of that ad? It’s not great, but it’s worth a quick peek. Here goes:)

We go to Team Sonnen briefly to hear Mr. Positive Chael tell Jimmy he’s fighting a lot better than he was a few weeks … oh, sorry, we’re back to Bubba. He goes for a blood test.

Fight day, but it’s Samman-Quinlan. So unless they reveal the blood test results between rounds, we’ll put the Bubba saga on hold briefly.

Round 1 — Jimmy does indeed virtually shoot from across the cage. Josh fights him off briefly, but Jimmy gets underneath and picks him for a slam. Josh tilts his weight, though, so Jimmy doesn’t get good control right away. Josh lands a few good elbows from the bottom, and Jimmy drips blood. Then Josh works a submission game from his guard. Then some simultaneous ear punches. It’s rare these days to see the fighter on the bottom dominating the fight, but that’s just what Josh is doing.

I see London, I see France, I see Jimmy Quinlan’s underpants. He should pull up his shorts so that he’ll at least be doing SOMETHING from top control.

Josh finally stands up and lands three big knees to the head. Jimmy crumples and turtles. Josh lands more double ear punches, this time atop Jimmy’s back. Jimmy taps to strikes, which is somewhat unusual unless Steve Mazzagatti is reffing. Which he is.

So now we’re back to Team Jones and Bubba. The blood tests are fine. Bubba may have a pulled muscle, but he’s got some adrenaline now that he knows he’s not having kidney failure or something.

Over to Team Sonnen, Chael thinks Uriah Hall is the greatest talent in the history of talent in any sport on any planet in any universe. But he sometimes lacks confidence. Chael takes Hall aside to do a Sonnen Mind Meld.

Summing up the next segment: They make weight. Uriah’s confident. Bubba isn’t. It’s about the closest you’ll ever come to seeing a guy say “I have no chance” in pre-fight hype.

Fight starts, Herb Dean is the … it’s over. Bubba’s on the mat, asking why his eye is messed up. Sonnen tells Hall he’s a contender. Replay shows a knee to the body, a straight right to Bubba’s eye, then a couple of punches on the ground before Herb Dean wisely stepped in.

Dana White on Hall’s KOs: “You don’t even wanna clap. You feel bad clapping. … This guy is the nastiest guy in Ultimate Fighter history.”

The remaining fighters: Each team’s No. 2 pick (Samman, Hall) and … each team’s last pick (Dylan Andrews, Kelvin Gastelum). So the fairest thing would be Samman-Gastelum and Hall-Andrews. Right?

The guys come in. Samman says everyone knows the final is made for him and Hall. He wants to beat Gastelum and set up the “biggest finale in TUF history.” Andrews says nothing. Hall can’t stand Josh and wants to fight him, but he knows that’s just an emotional thing. Gastelum wants Andrews because he thinks he can beat him. When the other options are Samman and Hall, that makes sense.

But the coaches want to see their top guys fight right away. Will Dana go with his coaches or his promotional instincts telling him a Samman-Hall finale could be huge?

The answer is … promotional instincts. It’s Josh vs. Kelvin. Then Uriah vs. Dylan. That’s why Dana makes the big bucks.

He explains: “My educated guess – Josh and Uriah are probably the best. Now we’re going to find out if I’m right or I’m wrong.”

Scenes from the next episode: Only four battle-tested competitors … does anything happen in the house in the last couple of weeks?

The Ultimate Fighter 17, Episode 6: Oh, you mean this is EDITED?!

Before we begin, we’re reminded of a couple of minor issues from the season so far:

1. Josh might be speaking up a bit too much within Team Jones.

2. Uriah Hall was upset that someone corrected his word choice — cooker? Chef?

3. Dana White is blinking a lot in his closeup.

Chael Sonnen stops by to reassure Bubba McDaniel. Again, when did Sonnen become such a nice guy?

Moving ahead to the next fight, Sonnen is once again building up the other guy. He would’ve loved to have Josh on his team, but Tor Troeng is a sleeper.

No one seems to know anything about him other than he’s from Sweden and his teammates are making him a hammer. Because he’s “Thor,” right? Several roles of tape later, the hammer starts to look pretty good.

But we have discord on Team Sonnen. Hall is holding his hands low in sparring, so Luke Barnatt peppers him with a few light jabs. Hall responds by throwing hard. In confessional, Barnatt says Hall isn’t a team player, has an attitude, is an ego-driven machine, etc.

Maybe that’s what Hall means with this tweet:

Then Barnatt segues to a discussion of Americans always overlooking Europeans like Tor. The MMA scene is huge in Sweden. Also, Spinal Tap is big in Japan.

We meet Tor. He does math. He trains. Umm … can anyone say anything about him?

Sonnen to the rescue! He knows more about martial arts than anyone on Team Sonnen, but he’s unassuming and says little.

Out of nowhere, Tor lays a philosophical gem on us: “Speaking is silver and silence is gold.” Now I feel guilty about continuing this recap. Ah well — no one’s going to click on a blank blog.

After a break, we see Team Jones shadowboxing. At night. In the backyard of the house. Huh?

“Josh … thinks he’s coach,” says Dylan Andrews. Funny how each team has a complaining Englishman.

Adam Cella: “Josh is the guy I call ‘dad’ here.” We see him lecturing people on their diets. And the proper way to cut onions. Dude, everyone has a different way of cutting onions. I had a relative once tell me my girlfriend was doing it wrong.

Josh recounts his first tryout for TUF. He wound up with a blood clot and went in for surgery. Right before getting the anesthetic, the doctor tells him when he wakes up, he might feel a little dizzy. No, wait — they tell Josh might have only one leg. That’s a little more serious.

More about Josh: He was academically gifted and not allowed to do anything violent (football, playing with guns, etc.).

Oh wait, we’re not done with Hall and Barnatt. Gilbert Smith asks people who they want to fight, and Hall says “Biggs.” That’s apparently Barnatt, not the guy from Tatooine who died in the attack on the Death Star. Barnatt wonders who would say he’s ready to fight a teammate before the prelims are even done. Kevin Casey doesn’t like that.

Maybe that’s what Hall means with this tweet:

So Hall goes and hangs out with Team Jones. Smith starts recruiting him for the team, then badgering him about calling out Barnatt. Hall says he was joking. But it was the truth. But he shouldn’t have said it. Now Hall wants to talk about something else. Someone offers up a little comment about an upcoming field trip to a casino.

Then suddenly (at least according to the edit monster), Hall asks Cella if his girlfriend is a bitch like him. That requires some explaining.

Maybe that’s what Hall means with this tweet:

The next morning, Hall is reliving the conversation for Bubba McDaniel. He wants to get away from it, so he goes jogging through some leaves on a beautiful fall landscape, passing by a gazebo … wait, where the hell is he?!

Everyone goes bowling at the Red Rock. Fights are on big screens. Everyone’s having fun. Jones starts giving the usual interview about relaxing when Sonnen videobombs him, jumping into the camera frame. He challenges Jones to a three-frame bowling match in which the loser has to wear the winner’s shirt through a training session.

Sonnen: “I am not a bowler but I know HOW to bowl. … This isn’t rocket science.”

It’s far more entertaining than the Hughes-Serra coaches’ challenge, which took place at the same venue. But Jones still runs off a la Hughes after a close loss.

Fight day, and someone has drawn a “Thor Smash!” cartoon, reminding us all to pay tribute to the “Tour day schmalz,” the excellent Tour de France recaps at

Sonnen tells Tor that he’d be thrilled if this fight exposes some holes in the Swede’s game. Then they could work on them and get him back in the wild card. Um … thanks, coach?

Josh said his experience was the reason he gravitated toward a leadership role. The tale of the tape tells us Tor has 20 fights to Josh’s 11.

It’s not a bad fight. Josh, wearing shorts not quite as tight as Colton Smith’s but in the neighborhood, trades positions with Tor several times. Tor ends up on top on the ground, but with Frank Mir yelling instructions, Josh scrambles out and lands several punches while they’re at an awkward angle. They stand, and Josh lands a massive knee to the body. After another exchange, Tor starts backpedaling across the cage. Josh lands a good body kick, Tor drops his hands, and Josh lands a massive 1-2 combo to the head. Tor falls instantly, and Herb Dean races in to pull Josh away. Might be KO of the season if not for Hall’s stunner.

Jones gets to pick. His last two fighters are top pick Clint Hester and last pick Dylan Andrews. He sends out Hester vs. Jimmy Quinlan. Sonnen is surprised, hailing Quinlan’s grappling skills against Hester’s boxing.

That only leaves two more fighters. They don’t say so, but the last match of this round, barring injury, has to be Andrews vs. Zak Cummings.

Scenes from next week: Josh Sannan’s leg acts up and sends him to the hospital, and the guys get a night on the town. At Hooters. Seriously? What, they spend all the production money on the new cameras?