Two welterweights advanced to the semifinals on Episode 10 of “The Ultimate Fighter 16” on Friday night, as both Neil Magny and Colton Smith punched their tickets to the round of four with unanimous decision triumphs.
At the outset of episode, Michael Hill made it clear that he was not happy about fighting fellow Canadian Mike Ricci in a quarterfinal bout set to air next week. Hill felt betrayed by his friend, as he said they made a pact at the beginning of the show to meet in the finals.
“He’s still gonna have to serve up that ass next week,” Ricci countered.
With that out of the way, Team Carwin members Magny and Marunde were set to square off in the first matchup of the night. Magny took Trevor Wittman for his corner, while Marunde chose the counsel of Leister Bowling.
“This is completely new to me. I’ve never fought anybody that I’ve trained with like this,” Marunde said.
Of chief concern for Marunde was Magny’s footwork and stiff jab, which work well in tandem with his 6-inch reach advantage. To counter Magny, the one-time Strikeforce competitor planned to take the contest to the mat and grind his foe with some ground-and-pound.
As it turned out, Marunde’s concerns were justified. Magny spent much of the opening frame on the outside, landing punches at a safe distance. However, Marunde was able to score a takedown with a little more than three minutes remaining. He was unable to capitalize on the position, however, and Magny continued to get the better of the standup, landing combinations and making it difficult for his opponent to close the distance.
Magny landed his most significant strike of the fight in round two, wobbling Marunde with a solid right hand early in the period. Marunde was able to recover when Magny failed to attack for the finish, but was ultimately unable to mount enough offense to sway the judges. Magny punctuated the victory by scoring a takedown with a little more than a minute remaining in the bout. From there, he landed short punches from half guard and briefly took his opponent’s back. After 10 minutes, all three judges saw the contest 20-18 in favor of Magny.
“He did exactly what I thought he was going to do and it worked out perfect for me,” Magny said.
Meanwhile, Marunde left the cage with no regrets.
“I feel great. I did exactly what (UFC President) Dana (White) told us to do: Come out and go for the knockout,” Marunde said. “I just went for it. I’m out of the tournament, but I’m not out of the game.”
In the second pairing, Araujo locked horns with Smith, but before the actual fight, the two combatants engaged in a time-honored tradition: a shoving match at weigh-ins. There was some confusion as to what made Araujo so upset, but it appeared the language barrier had something to do with it. While Carwin moved in to quell the conflict, Roy Nelson angered his fellow coach when he chose to yuck it up from the sidelines.
“It just fired me up,” Araujo said. “I can’t wait to get that guy.”
Smith pointed out that Araujo was lucky he didn’t have to fight him outside the confines of the cage. That would turn out to be the last of the drama, as Smith thoroughly dominated his foe for 10 minutes in their quarterfinal matchup.
The Team Nelson member landed a takedown approximately 30 seconds into the fight and imposed his will from then on. Araujo struggled to get to his feet throughout the frame, as Smith controlled positioning with a suffocating top game. When the Team Carwin fighter was able to get to his feet, Smith maintained pressure against the fence and landed a few solid knees.
Round two was more of the same. Smith struck for a takedown early in the period and went right back to work. Araujo offered little resistance as his foe pounded away with punches, elbows and knees on the ground. Despite urges from his corner to go all-in for a submission attempt in the bout’s waning moments, Araujo was never able to mount a significant threat.
“Colton put him wherever he wanted to. He was smashing him -- hitting him with punches, elbows. This was an easy, easy fight for Colton,” White said.
Added Smith: “Now I’m down to the final four. That’s amazing. It feels great being in the semifinals. My dreams are coming true right before my eyes. Whoever’s next, I’m ready to go.”
Two more quarterfinal bouts take place on next week’s show, as Jon Manley battles Joey Rivera and Ricci squares off with Hill.