Episode 10 of “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 17 features two quarterfinal contests: Team Sonnen’s Kelvin Gastelum and Luke Barnatt square off with Team Jones’ Collin Hart and Dylan Andrews.
Following his triumph over Kevin Casey in the wildcard bout, quarterfinalist Robert McDaniel expresses his irritation over drawing Tiger Schulman product and man-eater Uriah Hall in the round of eight. Coach Jon Jones tells “Bubba” to believe in his ability to defeat his formidable foe. Whether that actually helps is pretty unclear.
During the Team Jones training session, Jones says that Gastelum is “OK” at everything, while Hart is also “OK” at everything, save for his jiu-jitsu, which is “extraordinary.” Though the UFC light heavyweight champion says that this will be the key to victory, Hart says he wants to show off his hands and put on an exciting fight to make up for an uneventful decision win over Casey in the previous round.
Coach Chael Sonnen reminds us that Gastelum was his last pick and credits the fighter for making it thus far as a dark horse. Sonnen dismisses the description of his fighter as a “wrestler,” stating that “brawler” is a more apt description of his pupil.
Suddenly, UFC women’s bantamweight champ Rousey arrives on set, much to the delight of Team Sonnen, generally, and Gastelum, specifically. The “Rowdy” one takes the boys through a mess of takedowns and schools them on maintaining position while on the mat.
The fighters make weight and then step into the cage. Hart briefly gauges distance before driving forward with a flurry of punches. Gastelum avoids the combination and circles off the cage. Suddenly, both men start winging shots with reckless abandon. Sonnen’s fighter catches his foe on the chin with a left hook, and Hart nosedives to the canvas. Semi-conscious, the middleweight flops to his back, only to be met with a brutal barrage of hammer-fists that fully turns out Hart’s lights.
Barnatt and Andrews will do battle next. As Sonnen’s fighter hits the pads, his coach admits that both he and Jones misjudged Andrews as the last overall pick. Nevertheless, Sonnen believes that Barnatt, the show’s top overall pick, will still prevail due to his great size and length advantages.
On the other side, Andrews has gravitated toward working with Stonehorse Goeman, Jones’ original muay Thai coach. Goeman takes Andrews through the paces in the standup, preparing him to face the big Brit. The New Zealand native confesses that he has not received much positive reinforcement in his life, and that Goeman has become a father figure for him during his time on the show.
The day of the fight, former undisputed heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson pops in for a visit, shaking hands with both Barnatt and Andrews prior to their combat. Both men show their excitement in the locker room and bring that energy with them into the cage, trading punches from the get-go.
Andrews secures a takedown and lands in guard, but Barnatt wall-walks to regain his vertical base. Jones’ man takes him right back down, but Barnatt counters with several armbar attempts to keep Andrews away from the ground-and-pound. The Brit also works with punches and elbows from his back before standing up. During that motion, however, Andrews catches him in a standing guillotine and uses the choke to take his man back down, where he partially takes Barnatt’s back before the Brit once again stands. Barnatt scores with a pair of sharp knees, but Andrews runs the pipe on a single-leg and dumps him to the canvas once more. Barnatt’s defense off his back is superb, but he finishes the round with Andrews in his guard.
Barnatt rifles off three jabs and a hard straight to start round two, but Andrews responds with a trio of overhand rights and a flurry of body punches before grabbing hold of a clinch. Barnatt reverses the position and scores with an outside trip, landing in mount. The New Zealander recovers half-guard and scrambles for a reversal, putting Barnatt back on his posterior. Barnatt kicks him off and stands, grabbing a kimura grip and taking Jones’ fighter to the mat, only to lose the hold and end up on bottom again. Barnatt tries to escape to his feet but can’t quite make it. Andrews nearly takes his back and fishes for a rear-naked choke as the frame expires.
Referee Herb Dean relays that there will be a third round, much to the delight of UFC President Dana White, who is complimentary of the judges and their recognition of Barnatt’s work from the bottom. Barnatt whiffs on a lead elbow strike, which Andrews slips before clinching. Barnatt finally grabs a Thai plum and unloads with a nice series of knees to the body. Andrews retaliates with power punches, however, ripping hard shots to the body and head that wobble his taller foe. Both men are exhausted, but it’s Andrews walking through Barnatt’s straight punches and knees to land a series of widowmaker hooks that finally puts the resilient Barnatt down. One hard hammer-fist seals the deal, making Andrews the show’s second semifinalist.
While Barnatt receives consolation from Tyson and his teammates, Andrews embraces Goeman, who tells the fighter that he is proud of him. In closing, White reminds us that next week will showcase the final two quarterfinal bouts, as McDaniel meets Hall and Josh Samman faces Jimmy Quinlan.