The eighth episode of “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 17 opens with a rehashing of last week’s bout, in which Team Sonnen’s Jimmy Quinlan submitted Team Jones’ Clint Hester.
We are reminded that tonight’s show will feature the final opening round match between Zak Cummings and Dylan Andrews. Additionally, Chael Sonnen and Jon Jones will select two wildcard entrants to fight for the last available spot in the quarterfinals.
Jones lauds Andrews’ skills, especially the southpaw’s right hook. The native New Zealander recounts his introduction to live mixed martial arts. After moving to Australia, the fighter walked into a shop to buy some UFC DVDs and inadvertently discovered a Lion’s Den facility next door. Andrews says the gym became his home for the next six years as he began his fighting career.
Andrews says his brothers were talented men and could have gone far in their respective fields but instead chose to squander their talent.
“I grew up in a hydroponic room,” Andrews recalls of his upbringing. “That means my bed was surrounded by marijuana plants.”
The fighter vowed to learn from his brothers’ mistakes and to never give up. Though Andrews says he hates the experience of fighting, he must continue doing so because he feels it is the only way he will be successful in life.
Cummings, meanwhile, says that he previously considered becoming a physical therapist or an engineer and has never been in a street fight. Sonnen’s fighter previously tried out for “TUF” on six occasions, finally making it onto the show in his seventh attempt.
Later, UFC President Dana White meets the fighters at Dig This, otherwise known as Las Vegas’ friendliest heavy machinery playground, the site of this season’s coaches’ challenge. This looks only about 10,000 times better than last season’s track and field extravaganza between Shane Carwin and Roy Nelson.
Sonnen puts a beating on Jones during the first half of the competition, operating his excavator at maximum efficiency before hitting a snag during a tire stacking obstacle. Jones mounts a miraculous comeback, but ultimately Sonnen denies him at the finish line, much to the delight of his fighters.
The day before the bout, the fighters make weight in front of Keith Kizer, executive director of the Nevada Athletic Commission. Cummings and Andrews go through their final fight preparations, and Andrews laments the difficulties he has placed on his family in order to enter this competition.
Both fighters are now in the cage and fighting from southpaw stances. Cummings rips a low kick and tries for a single-leg. The New Zealander defends the takedown but eats a hard left hand from Sonnen’s man, who proceeds to take him down and fish for a brabo choke between hard elbows to Andrews’ temple. Cummings mounts his man, only to be immediately swept by Andrews, who lands in Cummings’ guard and unloads with some nasty elbows of his own. Sonnen screams at his man to stand up for the final two minutes of the round, but his cries are in vain.
Cummings opens aggressively in the second frame, rifling off one-twos and a spinning heel kick before launching a flying knee, which results in Andrews taking him down. Jones’ fighter passes to half-guard, where he then mashes with elbows. Referee Herb Dean repeatedly warns Andrews that he will stand him up if he does not work, despite the New Zealander pounding away with lefts and rights. Cummings manages to briefly recover full guard, but Andrews once again passes over his foe’s right leg and finishes the round with more ground-and-pound. The men embrace after the final horn blows, and Andrews is awarded a majority decision victory.
After Dean raises Andrews’ hand, “The Villain” explains that he was close to tapping when caught in Cummings’ first-round brabo choke but toughed it out after hearing the vocal encouragement from his corner. Andrews says he is proud of his performance, and Cummings vows to learn from the defeat and improve himself as a fighter.
White meets with the coaches and tells them that he has decided to leave that duty of choosing the wildcard fighters completely in their hands. While Sonnen immediately chooses Kevin Casey as his wildcard, Jones has a difficult choice between Hester and Bubba McDaniel. After deliberating, “Bones” picks McDaniel, who will now face the man he called out in the second episode. Next week, the teams hold a Thanksgiving feast, and McDaniel and Casey square off in the wildcard fight.