Last night’s episode of TUF: Live on FX didn’t feature much to write home about in terms of action from inside the house in the previous week, but the live fight at the end of the show made of for that, being the most close and competitive of the season so far.
The fight, chosen by Team Cruz the previous week, put their man Myles Jury up against Team Faber’s Al Iaquinta.
Iaquinta put the pressure on Jury in the opening round, pressing forward and generally being the more aggressive in the stand-up exchanges, but Jury landed some of the most eye-catching strikes, including a couple of swift kicks to the head, though Iaquinta walked through them.
Towards the end of the round the action hit the canvas and it looked like Iaquinta was attempting to pull off some kind of leg lock, but it quickly degenerated into an awkward stalemate.
Finally Jury broke free and as they get back up he manages to take Iaquinta’s back and looks for a choke in the final seconds of the round.
Onto the second round and again it’s Iaquinta who’s pressing the action and throwing some big shots while Jury seems happier circling on the outside and being more selective about his own strikes.
Then there was a great spell of action as Iaquinta stepped forward aggressively only to be met with a spinning backfist from Jury. Luckily for him it was more of a quarter-turn rather than a full rotation, but it still connected with Iaquinta’s jaw and staggered him momentarily.
That forced him to hit reverse gear, and smelling blood, Jury pressed forward looking to capitalize only to be met by a very well timed overhand right from Iaquinta that buckles his legs.
He gets back to his feet, but now the momentum has swung back with Iaquinta and he now has Jury on the defensive. Iaquinta is clearly spurred on but he’s opting to attempt to land one big blow rather than piece together combinations and he can’t quite find it.
Realizing that the round is slipping away from him Jury cleverly swoops in and secures a takedown in the final 10 seconds, but it’s probably too little too late to steal the round and meanwhile he’s met with some vicious elbows on the mat which opens up a cut on his forehead.
Onto the judges scorecards and they see it as a draw so the fight moves on to a ‘sudden victory’ round. Jury’s corner have done a good job stemming the blood from his cut, but he’s on the back foot again for much of the round as Iaquinta picks up where he left off, stalking him and gaining Octagon control.
It’s still close, but Iaquinta’s output is greater and Jury lacks the urgency required to ensure this final round goes in his favor.
Surprisingly one judge saw that final round for Jury, but that was overruled by the other two judges who award it to Iaquinta and so it’s he who progresses to the next round of the competition.
Finally we move onto the fight pick for next week, and after losing out two weeks in a row it’s Urijah Faber’s who seizes control and gets to decide who’ll compete.
Dominick Cruz has done a good job with mind games in previous week’s at this stage, and Faber decided to rise to that challenge by stating that while the last two weeks’ fights have been very close, he thinks that the bout he has in mind is going to be much more slanted in his favor.
He then selects his fighter Mike Chiesa, or ‘Long Hair, Don’t Care’ as he likes to call him, and then, noting that Cruz had already stated during the first eliminator round that he doesn’t do well against wrestlers, he selected Jeremy Larsen from Team Cruz to fight him.
Though he said it innocently enough it’s still a little dig from Faber and it’ll be interesting to see how Larsen responds in the coming week to the knowledge that his own coach isn’t impressed with that side of his game.