As this week’s episode begins, Team Sonnen’s Kevin Casey and Team Jones’ Robert McDaniel privately reflect on the second opportunity granted to them.
The middleweights are set to square off in the wildcard matchup which will decide the season’s last quarterfinalist. Both men express their gratitude, and “Bubba” laments that he lacks the finances to see his daughter as much as he would like.
In the gym, McDaniel receives an in-depth pep talk from Jon Jones and assistant coach John Woods. They analyze his last bout against Kelvin Gastelum, and Jones tells his Jackson’s MMA training partner to up his aggressiveness and play the role of the pursuer rather than the pursued.
Back at the fighter house, Josh Samman calls out Jimmy Quinlan after realizing that McDaniel’s Episode 2 call-out of Casey was the only one of the season. Though Quinlan shakes hands with his potential quarterfinal opponent, he later admits that it will be up to the coaches to decide the matchups in the round of eight.
Meanwhile, Uriah Hall confesses that he is eager to face Samman, a matchup coach Chael Sonnen agrees would be favorable. Quinlan feels Samman is picking his spots and maneuvering himself into favorable matchups. Hall concurs and asks Quinlan politely for the opportunity to fight the explosive Team Jones member, and Quinlan obliges the request.
Sonnen says his goal is for Casey to fight to the best of his ability, something the coach says “King” did not do in his opening round loss to Collin Hart. Casey calls his last performance a “fluke situation,” and says his game plan is to simply overwhelm McDaniel in hopes that a quick win will afford him more time to heal a cut sustained previously in the competition.
The coaches bring a huge bird to the boys for Thanksgiving, and everyone gathers around the table for a feast. Sonnen throws down on a speech, thanking the competitors and admitting that he was disappointed to find out that Jones is actually a decent dude. Meanwhile, McDaniel is irritated as hell that he cannot partake in the dinner due to weight concerns.
Both men make weight, however, and later tend to their eleventh-hour preparations. McDaniel says the bout will come down whether he hesitates in the cage. If he does not, McDaniel believes that he will crush Casey’s “whole f---ing world.”
Both men come out southpaw, and Casey pulls guard after closing the distance. Casey snatches a solid guillotine attempt and uses it to stand before putting McDaniel on his back. Sonnen’s man uses a far-side cradle to briefly pass to side control, but McDaniel places him back in the guard, only to see Casey once again pass his legs in a sequence that repeats twice more in the next two minutes. Jones’ fighter finally stands and touches Casey with some nice knees to the body before “King” takes him down again. Casey grabs a topside guillotine and mounts his foe as the round expires.
McDaniel cracks Casey with a hard leg kick to start round two and presses Casey against the cage, where Bubba unloads with knees and uppercuts until Sonnen’s fighter tries to pull guard for another guillotine. The attempt is unsuccessful, and McDaniel rains down punches and elbows from top position for about three straight minutes as Casey does little to resist from his back.
Nevada State Athletic Commission Executive Director Keith Kizer informs referee Steve Mazzagatti that there will be a third round as assistant coach Vinny Magalhaes helps an exhausted Casey to his feet. However, it quickly becomes apparent that Kizer spoke prematurely. Casey decides to quit on his stool, even as his coaches urge him to fight on. McDaniel celebrates, and UFC President Dana White is shocked to hear that Casey has refused to come out for round three. In a confessional, Casey explains that he had previously suffered kidney failure in a 2010 bout. Casey is carried to the locker room and then taken to the hospital to get checked out.
White calls Jones, Sonnen and the remaining fighters into his office and elicits their input for making the quarterfinal matchups. The UFC boss then announces the pairings, revealing that Samman will meet Quinlan while Hall squares off with McDaniel. Hart will face Gastelum as Luke Barnatt clashes with Dylan Andrews. We also learn that next week’s episode will showcase both of the latter two fights on that list in addition to featuring a visit from UFC women’s bantamweight queen Ronda Rousey.