In an added twist, the semifinal contests will pit teammates against each other for a shot at becoming the next “Ultimate Fighter.” The overall winner will also take home a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, which his new Zuffa contract will almost certainly forbid him from riding.
This week’s episode opens on the “TUF” house, with coach Roy Nelson’s squad questioning his methods for about the 300th time this season. Even Nelson’s boy Cameron Diffley says he has become frustrated with the lack of structure and detailed instruction coming from his rotund foreman.
Back at the gym, Nelson explains that his coaches will be there to assist Manley and Smith in their training, but will corner neither fighter when the cage door shuts. A solid wrestler, Smith vows to stay true to his base, while Manley hopes to use his reach to strike while avoiding the takedown.
In the Team Nelson locker room, Joey Rivera is taking the former IFL champ to task over what he feels was a lack of commitment from the coaching staff. Nelson counters that the best days of training from the squad came when his pupils listened to the coaches and weren’t making excuses.
Both fighters are now in the cage, scheduled for three rounds. Smith charges forward and clinches, and the men jockey for position against the fence. Smith appears to gain the advantage, but Manley shucks him off and then looks to land with a double jab. Smith again rushes ahead and gets clipped with a left hook before clinching and hitting an outside trip, landing in Manley’s guard. Manley is doing everything he can to shrimp and get to his feet, and he finally escapes the wrestler’s smothering control. Smith pins his man against the cage, and the fighters exchange short shots as round one expires.
The second frame begins much like the first, with Smith bullying his foe against the cage, securing a body lock and hitting a trip. Though Manley jumps up, he eats a knee for his efforts, unable to keep his teammate off him. He gives up another brief takedown and then kisses the canvas, courtesy of a Smith belly-to-back suplex. Manley again rises and tries a slow double-leg of his own, but Smith sprawls with little concern, kneeing Manley’s head and ultimately finishing the round in the mount after reversing another takedown attempt.
Smith appears content to keep his distance to start round three before he again mauls his way into the clinch. Manley looks exhausted but manages to shove his teammate away with two minutes to go, clipping him with a right hook. Another stiff right lands for Manley after the men accidentally clash heads. Smith is on his bicycle and trying to clinch, but Manley is coming on strong now, catching Smith with several clean shots before giving up another takedown to end the round.
UFC President Dana White announces that Smith has won a unanimous decision, and the teammates share a shot of what appears to be Jim Beam in the locker room after the bout.
Ricci and Magny are up next, and both men compliment the level of coaching and support they have received since joining the cast. Shane Carwin gives high praise to both athletes, asserting that this will be the most exciting fight of the season thus far.
Both men look tentative to begin the Team Carwin clash until Ricci asserts himself with a pair of low kicks. Magny closes the distance, but the Canadian pummels to avoid the takedown and escapes. Magny lands a solid body kick, and Ricci attempts to follow suit before dropping his taller foe with an overhand left after feinting a double-leg. Magny wall walks to his feet. Upon achieving a vertical base, he is met with one of the nastiest elbows ever caught on video, causing him to crumple to the canvas, where he eats an additional shot before referee Steve Mazzagatti can save him.
The dazed fighter finally stands once more and attempts to clinch with Mazzagatti, only to have his team inform him that the fight is over. The cageside doctor makes sure Magny is all right, and the teammates hug it out after the brutal finish. Ricci is upset, stating that he would have preferred to take a decision from his teammate instead of laying him out cold.
The “TUF 16” final is now set. Team Carwin’s Ricci will lock horns with Team Nelson’s Smith at the Dec. 15 finale from The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.