Team Cruz’s top pick moves on with second KO
Justin Lawrence backed up the hype behind him Friday that was only two weeks old.
The Missouri lightweight, the youngest fighter on the new season of "The Ultimate Fighter LIVE" and the No. 1 overall pick by coach Dominick Cruz, lived up to the billing by knocking out Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Cristiano Marcello in the second round of Friday's third episode of the reality competition. Marcello was the second pick by coach Urijah Faber.
Lawrence, who won his fight to get into the TUF house by knocking out WEC veteran James Krause, traded strikes with Marcello, a Pride veteran whose roots are in the famed Chute Boxe Academy in Brazil, throughout the first round. But he started to really find his range in the second and dropped Marcello with a left hook. He didn't need any follow-up shots before the fight was quickly waved off at 3:16 of the second with Marcello on his back against the cage.
The victory by Lawrence makes Team Cruz 2-0 against Team Faber, and the UFC bantamweight champion retained control over the fight selections. For next week's fight, Cruz picked Myles Jury from his squad to face Faber's top pick, Al Iaquinta. Next week's fourth episode airs Friday at 10 p.m. Eastern on FX.
Here's a look at what the major players in Friday's third episode had to say after the show:
UFC president Dana White
“Cruz’s first pick didn’t disappoint tonight. Lawrence fought a cautious, but solid fight. (He) picked Marcello apart from the outside and landed big shots. Marcello literally had no offense whatsoever tonight, and Lawrence put him away halfway through the second round. Lawrence came out with a knockout victory, no injuries and is very much one of the top contenders for the TUF Live Finale.”
“First and foremost, I want to thank the man upstairs. With that said, Dominick, (coaches) Eric (DelFierro), Phil (Davis), Shannon (Slack), Lloyd (Irvin), Doug (Balzarin), Wilson (Reis) and the entire team, I just want to say thank you for the game planning that you came up with for me. I want to thank my mom and dad back home in Missouri, and all my family and friends, thank you so much.”
“I think again Faber underestimated the way we coach and the way that we fight. Regardless of what he says or thinks about himself, he’s a cocky dude. It’s worked out so far for our team. It’s about confidence in my team, about how good they are and about how good they listen. I’ve got a good team. Lawrence fought a perfect fight. He listened to the game plan perfectly. There’s nothing I can say – everything was perfect.”
“I want to say sorry to my family and everybody who supports me. This is just one more step for something big.”
“First off, it was a great fight. I’m really proud of Marcello. It’s only two weeks we’ve been able to be part of these guys’ lives and implement what we can. But one thing you can’t teach with Marcello is his heart. Maybe Lawrence and (Episode 2 winner James) Vick can teach Dominick how to finish a fight.”
“(I) got called out tonight. Not the first time, probably won’t be the last. And I got my ass kicked early that time, then won the fight. Jury’s never been in a war like I have.”
“I feel great. I’ve been waiting for this opportunity my whole life. Al’s a tough opponent, and it will be the toughest fight of my career.”