‘TUF 18’ Recap: Episode 7

By: Mike Whitman
Oct 16, 2013

There is no other way to put this: Jessamyn Duke looks like she got hit by an 18-wheeler.

In fact, it was just Raquel Pennington, who bested Duke in their donnybrook on the last episode. Duke handles the defeat with grace, as her teammates and coaching staff show a great deal of support for her excellent effort.

Meanwhile, Pennington receives stitches over her right eye due to the dangerous knees of Duke. UFC President Dana White talks to Pennington in private outside the training facility, encouraging Miesha Tate’s protégé to let her hands go even more in the future.

Back at the fighter house, Shayna Baszler explains that the fighters are feeling homesick, especially those who are fathers, since today is Father’s Day. Coach Ronda Rousey does her best to remedy the situation by bringing the dads in the house some presents, evening delivering one to Team Tate’s Cody Bollinger. The thoughtful gesture is appreciated by all, though it causes Bollinger to become emotional due to how much he misses his family.

The next morning, Josh Hill reveals that he poached his “Gentleman” nickname from his great uncle, John Hill, a.k.a. “Gentleman” Jerry Valiant, who held the World Wide Wrestling Federation tag team title as one half of the Valiant Brothers. Hill also divulges that he has done some modeling in the past but jokes that he ruined his shot at that profession by developing cauliflower ear. The former hockey player will be in action tonight, as he takes on Team Rousey’s Mike Wootten.

Later, Miesha Tate confesses that she and her crew watched the 2002 film “Frida” the night prior, remarking that Salma Hayek’s title character looks like a cross between Rousey and her assistant coach, Edmond Tarverdyan. This prompts the former Strikeforce queen and her coaching staff to pin up pictures of Frida Kahlo all over the gym labeled “Edmond Rousey.”

White gets to the pictures first and disposes of the evidence so that Rousey and Tarverdyan do not go nuclear. Unfortunately, one of the photos -- posted in the sauna -- escapes his perimeter check, and Anthony Gutierrez is kind enough to notify Coach Tarverdyan. The Armenian trainer disappears to cool off, and Rousey vents that Team Tate’s pranks up to this point have carried racist connotations.

Rousey takes her squad through several painful-looking core exercises on the mat. The former Olympic bronze medalist breezes through movements, but her team struggles.

Wootten reveals that he must cut 15 pounds in order to make the bantamweight limit and jumps in his plastic suit to sweat out the water weight with the help of friend and teammate Davey Grant. Though it looks to be a brutal process, the Brit nonetheless hits 136 pounds. Hill also makes weight, and the fight is on.

Hill drives forward with a right hand and initiates the clinch, grabbing a waist cinch and turning it into a power double-leg slam. Tate’s fighter steps into mount and takes the Brit’s back, but Wootten is defending well, shaking off a tight rear-naked choke attempt before regaining his vertical base. Wootten rips an elbow and knee to Hill’s mug from the clinch, but his stocky foe fires right back with two hooks over the top. Hill continues to drive for a single-leg, but Rousey’s fighter stuffs him and fires two knees into his rib cage.

Wootten immediately turns the tables in round two, catching Hill’s jaw with a gorgeous, step-through knee that forces him to drop for a takedown. Wootten stuffs the attempt and scores a double-leg of his own, dropping elbows on the powerful Hill, who looks like a fish out of water on his back. To his credit, Hill powers up to his feet but eats more hard knees from the clinch. Wootten then pushes him off, scores with a push kick to the face and the tries a double-leg, only to find himself caught in a guillotine. Rousey’s fighter defends well and pops his head out, however, passing Hill’s legs and taking his back. Hill rolls him, though, and finishes the round in Wootten’s guard.

The judges have the fight even through two rounds, meaning a sudden victory period will be required. Both men see takedowns stuffed in the frame’s opening moments. The bantamweights battle in the clinch against the cage, and Wootten lands a solid elbow to Hill’s cheek. Neither man can hit the takedowns they are desperately fighting for, but Wootten appears to be the more effective man with strikes from the clinch. The fighters separate, and Hill whiffs on a spinning back-fist that allows Wootten to score an easy double-leg. Wootten rides out the remaining 90 seconds on top, dropping punches and elbows on Hill to earn a unanimous decision victory.

The last quarterfinal pairings are then announced. As only four fighters remain, the matchups are obvious: Peggy Morgan will face Sarah Moras, and Gutierrez will lock horns with Bollinger.

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