Lawrence, season’s No. 1 overall pick, bounced in quarterfinals
The quarterfinals of "The Ultimate Fighter LIVE" on FX opened up with a pair of surprises on Friday night.
Mike Chiesa, coach Urijah Faber's No. 4 pick, upset Dominick Cruz's top pick – and No. 1 overall pick – Justin Lawrence with a TKO win quickly into the third sudden-victory round. And James Vick, Cruz's No. 3 fighter, upset Joe Proctor, Faber's second pick, by unanimous decision.
Chiesa and Vick became the first two fighters to move into the semifinals, giving each coach one fighter in final four. On next week's show, the second set of live quarterfinals takes place. UFC president Dana White announced the pairings on Friday. Team Cruz's Vinc Pichel (No. 6 pick) will face Team Faber's Chris Saunders (No. 8 pick). And in the first fight of the season involving teammates, Team Faber's top pick, Al Iaquinta, takes on Andy Ogle (No. 7 pick). Faber had five fighters reach the quarterfinals to three for Cruz. Faber's squad started the season down 0-2 before rallying to win five of the last six fights.
Here's a look at what the major players in Friday's 10th episode had to say after the show.
UFC president Dana White
"I expected a lot more from Lawrence and I underestimated Chiesa. It wasn’t that Chiesa’s more talented or outworked Lawrence, it was the size of his heart. Lawrence defended the takedowns for a while and did a good job, but then Chiesa finally got him down. There was no doubt and no denying that if Lawrence kept it on his feet, he would have won. Lawrence basically gave up tonight. When you go to that sudden-victory round, you see who wants this fight and who wants to continue in this competition – who really wants it. Chiesa went out there and took it."
"And Vick did a good job of fighting his fight tonight. He stayed outside, used his range and used his punches. What Proctor needed to do was get him to the ground to win that fight. He never gave himself a chance to win. He didn’t really start fighting until the last 30 seconds of the last round. I had Vick winning both rounds. There’s no doubt James Vick was an underdog in this thing when he first set foot in the gym – but now no one seems to be able to stop him."
"First off, let me say that Justin truly lives up to the hype. He’s the toughest person I’ve ever fought. I’m glad I was able to get the victory. I had to dig deep down to win that fight. Sometimes I think the heart is a lot stronger than we give it credit for."
"Sometimes you’re the bug and sometimes you’re the windshield. Tonight, I was the bug. It’s unfortunate, but I’m going to go back to training hard and hopefully the UFC will be in touch soon."
"To be honest, that wasn’t exactly how I thought the night would go. But I’m proud of both my guys, and both the guys on the other team, too. They put on great fights tonight. This sport is all about who wants it more and implementing your offense. Tonight, I felt like Chiesa won through sheer will power, and Proctor lost because he wasn’t able to put his offense first. Congrats to Vick, and I hope Justin Lawrence keeps his head up. He’s a young kid with a lot of talent."
"That was the biggest fight of my life and I’m happy that I could come out on top. Joe’s a very tough guy. I was surprised he stood up to those punches, and I wish him the best. As for me, I’m now one step closer to achieving my dream."
"I learned a lot about myself tonight. Mike Chiesa has a huge heart and is a hell of a fighter and my hat goes off to him. My adrenaline wasn’t where I wanted it to be, but that’s no excuse. I still think I’m the best fighter here, and I’m not going to quit until I get to the UFC. I think I deserve to be there."
"It’s pretty awesome to watch Vick stick to his game plan (and) stay composed. He fought an outstanding fight. He even got a takedown. But most importantly, Vick made Proctor fight his fight. Lawrence learned an important lesson tonight about why game plans are built, and it’s to force your opponent to fight your fight. He didn’t do that tonight. He fought Chiesa’s fight on the ground and lost by fighting in the area that Chiesa had the best chance to win. In my opinion, if that fight stayed standing like we game-planned, Justin wins three rounds to none."