Team Faber member takes decision to pull back to even with Team Cruz
Urijah Faber's squad drew back to even with Dominick Cruz's team Friday night on "The Ultimate Fighter LIVE" on FX. Thanks to an emotional win for Michael Chiesa, the teams now are all square at two wins a piece.
Chiesa, who earlier this season was given time to leave the house to return home to grieve the death of his father, used a takedown-based attack against Jeremy Larsen and survived a point deduction to win a two-round decision in Friday's live fight in Las Vegas.
The fight was chosen last week by Faber, who had taken back control of the fight picks after a win by his top pick, Al Iaquinta. But despite a fairly dominant first round for Chiesa, the result hung in the balance heading into the second round. With Larsen pressed against the cage, Faber shouted for Chiesa to look for knees. Larsen wisely made sure to stay partially grounded, but Chiesa threw a knee anyway, hitting Larsen in the head. Referee Steve Mazzagatti stopped the fight to give Larsen time to recover from the illegal strike, then took a point away from Chiesa. That deduction made a 10-9 round for the unbeaten Washington-based lightweight a 9-9 round.
But Chiesa was able to control the second round, as well, to take the decision and move from the round of 16 into the quarterfinals. An emotional Chiesa, after the fight, dedicated the win to his mother. Chiesa was Faber's fifth pick out of eight fighters, and the win was the first time he has gone to a decision in 18 months. In his last four fights prior to his shot at "The Ultimate Fighter," he picked up first-round submission wins on the regional scene. And in his fight to get into the TUF house, he won by rear naked choke in the first round. Larsen was Cruz's eighth and final pick.
After Chiesa's victory, Faber retained control of the fight picks and went with Joe Proctor, his fourth overall pick, to face Team Cruz's Chris Tickle – the bantamweight champion's seventh pick last month. Tickle has come under fire from Cruz for an apparent propensity for finding a way to dodge workouts and sit on the side with injuries or aches and sickness. But on Friday's taped portion of the show, Tickle told Cruz he was there to win the show and despite a nagging foot injury that a doctor said was fine to fight with, said he would be ready to fight next week. And that will prove to be the case.
Next week's sixth episode airs Friday at 10 p.m. Eastern on FX and will be followed by the second installment of "UFC Primetime: Jones vs. Evans."
Here's a look at what the major players in Friday's fifth episode had to say after the show.
UFC President Dana White
"Interesting fight tonight. Obviously the reason this fight was picked was that Chiesa was a better wrestler than Larsen, and it showed in the first round. Chiesa was controlling him. But what I saw in this fight today was that Chiesa has some real big adjustments to make. He was a 4-1 favorite in this fight and he didn’t look like a favorite tonight."
"Chiesa lost his dad while he was here, and I know the win meant a lot to him. This competition is tough mentally, physically and emotionally without having to deal with anything else like that. He has to focus and train hard over the next few (weeks) though (and) give it everything he’s got so he can move on and win this for his dad."
"This is dedicated to my mom, Teresa Chiesa. It definitely wasn’t my best performance, but I know what things I need to change and do better. Most importantly, I need to manage my weight better and be more confident in all my skills. I promise I’ll be putting someone to sleep next time."
"I feel good. We knew there was going to be a mismatch with the wrestling in that fight, and Chiesa came through with a smart win. It was a little scary with the illegal knee, but Chiesa got the job done. (I'm) looking forward to really improving on his standup in the next month. He has a ton of potential. Kind of weird that Larsen was so angry at me after the fight. He seems like an emotional guy. Not sure how that will work out in the future for him."
"(I'm) looking forward to this next week. Proctor is as solid as they get. It’s going to be a dangerous fight, but we should definitely get the win."
"Tough guys don’t win fights. I felt like it should have went to the third and could have let the fighters decide instead of the judges. Sorry about the boring fight – it wasn’t boring on my end. I was trying to make it a fight, not a wrestling match. Hopefully I get another shot to live my dream. Hopefully this isn’t it."
"Larsen went out and stuck to the game plan and listened well. We lost the takedown war, which is the type of fight we prepared him for. It was about execution, and Chiesa followed through a little better tonight."
"It’s a good fight. Tickle-Proctor is a good matchup. Tickle has got a lot of power in his hands, underrated submissions and great takedown defense, and I’m looking forward to watching and preparing him for a fun and competitive fight."
"I’m very excited. I’m ready. I think it’s a great matchup. I think my boxing is way better, my jiu-jitsu is way better. Tickle hits hard, but so does every other fighter and I’m here to get my job done and move on into the quarterfinals. I’ve learned a lot from Faber over the last couple of weeks. They’ve prepared me very well for this fight and I’m ready.”
"I knew that that was the matchup they would make, and I feel very confident in the matchup and will be victorious. For the last four weeks, Dom and the staff busted our ass to get us in shape, and I feel 100 percent confident in my coaches and my cardio for this fight. I’m ready to bang and get a W. I’m 100 percent healthy and injury free and can’t wait for next week."