This week’s episode of “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 17 begins with the customary recap.
Some information recounted is serious -- namely, Josh Samman’s recent blood clot in his quadriceps that nearly cost him his leg. We also are reminded that Samman wrecked Team Sonnen’s Tor Troeng to close out last week’s show. This episode will see Jon Jones’ No. 1 pick, Clint Hester, take on Chael Sonnen’s Jimmy Quinlan.
Back in the Team Jones locker room, Robert McDaniel contemplates his chances of earning this season’s wild card selection. Several members of the squad recall Urijah Hall’s previously childish behavior, and Collin Hart says he is eager to fight the man most regard as Sonnen’s best talent.
In the Sonnen locker room, Quinlan, a strong grappler, says he has wanted to fight Hester from day one, in spite of his status as the season’s top pick. Hester, meanwhile, says that he will find a way to escape Quinlan’s grappling attack in order to use his excellent boxing.
Quick-cut to 14 fighters and their coaches chilling in slow motion at the local Hooters. As always, it’s not a party until Gilbert Smith takes off his shirt. While everyone poses for a group picture, Hall decides to forgo that pleasantry and actually sits at a table by himself sipping a pitcher of lemon water. No, really.
Hall says he isn’t sleeping well due to his obsession with fighting. Coach Scott McQuary tries to calm the prospect’s mind, but it is unclear whether Hall will be able to implement the soothing pep talk.
The morning after his fight, Samman feels some serious pain in his left leg. The fighter explains that he was previously forced to undergo emergency surgery to drain a blood clot in his right leg and takes a precautionary trip to the hospital. After running several tests, Samman’s doctor tells him that there are no signs of a clot in his leg, much to Samman’s relief.
Quinlan reveals in a confessional that he grew up in a cul-de-sac with a solid family unit and graduated college with a degree in criminal justice before becoming a police officer. Hall recounts an experience with the police in which he felt he was treated differently because he is a man of color. Quinlan says that his demeanor as a police officer is the same as when he is off duty but is not surprised by Hall’s story.
During Quinlan’s training session, Sonnen unfurls another of his trademark speeches, asserting that while he believes Hester can catch Quinlan on the entry, he believes his fighter will stay upright and take care of business, anyway. Sonnen also tells everyone on his team that they are awesome several times.
Somewhat similar to Quinlan, Hester says he was brought up in a stable environment, though his rearing occurred in Georgia rather than Massachusetts. Nevertheless, the middleweight still found himself in scrapes as a youth, simply because he liked to fight. Hester explains how he began as a boxer and transitioned to MMA when his gym closed, and Jones teaches his man the world-famous “Bones” sidekick to the thigh.
The fighters weigh-in and make their final preparations. Despite being mere hours away from an in-cage confrontation, Quinlan and Hester joke around with each other in the kitchen. This one is not complicated. Hester hopes to let his hands fly, while Quinlan wants to step inside and plant the striker on his back.
Quinlan walks right through a jab to start the bout and hoists Hester high in the air before slamming him into side control. Jones’ fighter shrimps out and regains his base, only to see Quinlan grab a waist lock and slam him once more. Hester again pops up and grabs a standing guillotine before unloading with knees to the body and a three-punch combo to the head. Still, Sonnen’s tenacious charge will not relent and picks Hester’s ankle. Jones’ fighter stands again, but Quinlan takes him down one more time. The police officer is struggling to control his larger opponent and finishes the round in Hester’s half-guard.
Inexplicably, Hester starts round two with a wild double-leg shot. Quinlan easily stuffs it and tries a guillotine. Though Hester escapes the hold, he gives up a takedown against the fence and then exposes his back as he tries to stand. Quinlan seizes the opportunity, taking Hester’s posterior and pummeling his ears with short shots before cinching a rear-naked choke and forcing a tap.
Despite Hester’s defeat, both coaches compliment the fighter’s ability to generate power from tight spaces. Sonnen enters the Jones locker room to collect on a previous bet, reminding Jones that since he lost to Sonnen at bowling, the UFC light heavyweight champion must now wear a Team Sonnen jersey for one practice. The last quarterfinal contest is announced for next week: Team Jones’ Dylan Andrews will face Team Sonnen’s Zak Cummings.