Episode 9 of “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 16 reminds us of Jon Manley’s appropriately masculine submission victory over James Chaney. In an added bonus, we get one more look at Manley’s ribcage, which looks like it was attacked by a ferocious but easily discouraged chipmunk.
After the familiar Red Hot Chili Peppers montage, we open with Chaney sitting in the principal’s office, looking to explain his cannibalistic outburst to UFC President Dana White. Chaney does the right thing and owns up to biting Manley, telling White that his intense desire to win caused him to act out of character. While White calls the action “despicable,” he nonetheless respects the welterweight for coming clean and apologizing.
“Coming onto the show, I had all these plans, and all these people I wanted to help, and all these promises I made,” Chaney soberly confesses to the camera. “I thought I was going to go so far in this thing, and to have it go the way it did, it’s brutal.”
Back at the house, Julian Lane is at it again. This time, he is threatening to fight teammate Colton Smith, arguably his only friend in this entire competition. Lane goes through his usual routine, puffing his chest out, screaming wildly and using the word “bro” at least a dozen times before ultimately ending up in tears.
This week’s episode will feature Team Nelson’s Dominic Waters taking on Team Carwin’s Mike Ricci. Waters warms up in the gym as Roy Nelson works with the fighter on his combinations. If “Big Country” has his way, Waters, a former Marine, will take advantage of his superior athleticism and steer clear of Ricci’s submission skills.
During Team Carwin’s training session, Ricci confesses that he got into a lot of fights as a kid, resulting in him buying a book written by Renzo Gracie. Some time later, Ricci’s career took off after meeting Georges St. Pierre and joining the vaunted Tristar Gym. Shane Carwin gushes over Ricci’s abilities, calling him the most technical fighter in the house.
Both Ricci and Waters make weight, and it is suddenly fight time only 20 minutes into the episode. I smell a three-rounder coming.
Referee Steve Mazzagatti starts the action, and Ricci immediately goes on the offensive with kicks to the legs and body. Waters looks to be a step behind the southpaw and takes another shin to his liver. Carwin’s man peppers Waters with straight punches and stuffs a takedown before firing another straight left to the guts of his foe. Waters wings a wild overhand and then forces Ricci into the cage. Ricci fires an elbow over the top of the clinch, but still ends the round with his back against the cage.
The fighters touch gloves to begin round two, and Ricci whips another nasty round kick to Waters’ ribs. The southpaw overextends himself on a straight left, however, and Waters slips the shot and drives forward with a double-leg. Ricci posts a hand from a seated position, but Nelson’s fighter grabs a rear waist lock and turns it into a slam, landing in Ricci’s guard. Although assistant coach Nate Marquardt urges Ricci to create space and elbow the head, he is more concerned with escaping to his feet. Carwin’s charge recovers over-under control, but Waters is quickly on his back again. With a minute left in the round, Ricci flips the script and drops for an ankle pick of his own, only to see Waters escape and take his back once again as the round expires.
White informs us that we will indeed see a third round of action. Both men appear weary, and Ricci is back on the offensive with that round kick to Waters’ lead leg and body. Nelson’s fighter dives for another takedown, but Ricci catches him in what appears to be a tight standing guillotine. Waters escapes the hold with a turning slam, but Ricci quickly reverses the position and finds himself in Waters’ guard. Waters throws up a triangle attempt, but Ricci easily escapes and passes his legs, nearly taking his back before Waters again recovers guard. The fighters jockey for position as the round wanes, and Ricci lands two nice punches from top control as the fight comes to a close.
White announces that Ricci has taken a unanimous decision, advancing to the quarterfinals. Ricci is predictably elated, while Waters is on the verge of tears.
Coaches Carwin and Nelson join White back in the principal’s office. They talk to each of the fighters, asking them whom they would next like to face. Though Canadians Ricci and Michael Hill had made a pact not to fight each other due to their mutual allegiance to the Maple Leaf, Ricci pulls a Benedict Arnold and calls out his countryman.
Nelson breaks the news to Hill, smirking deviously as he watches the Canadian’s face go from “Nice puka shell necklace, bro,” to the much more somber, “My cat was just diagnosed with feline leukemia, bro.”
White announces the semifinal pairings: Bristol Marunde vs. Neil Magny, Igor Araujo vs. Colton Smith, Joey Rivera vs. Manley and Ricci vs. Hill.