As this bizarre season of The Ultimate Fighter comes to a close, it seemed only fitting that the finals would be decided by more strange circumstances. First, Matt Arroyo had to pull out of his bout with Mac Danzig due to a cracked rib, a situation which Dana White was as classy as ever about, asking him “Do you have any f-cking idea what you’re giving up?”
Oh, Dana. You scamp.
Then they interviewed the eligible Team Serra fighters to find a replacement, ultimately deciding on John Kolosci, despite the fact that Danzig had already beat him. This, after Troy felt he couldn’t make weight and Richie Hightower obviously didn’t want the fight. The latter is a real shame, since Danzig would no doubt have loved the opportunity to crack Hightower’s skull, though that also explains why Hightower shied away from it.
Danzig seemed to be the only one who realized how odd it was for him to rematch the same guy right away, though he also had absolutely no trouble defeating Kolosci for a second time, again with a choke. This didn’t exactly have the penultimate feel that a semifinal bout is supposed to have, and maybe that points to some formatting problems with the show.
In the second fight of the night, Tommy Speer (he’s a farm boy, by the way, in case you missed it) took on George Sotiropoulos, who most people agreed was a favorite to win it all. After some tentative exchanges in the early going — and after being warned about jabbing his fingers near Sotiropoulos’ eyes — Speer went ahead and thumb-gouged him directly in the left eye.
I’m not saying it was intentional. It certainly didn’t look it, but did the eye gouge have an effect on the outcome of the fight? I have to say it did.
Part of the blame falls on George, who didn’t take the full five minutes allotted to him to recover. Instead he jumped back in almost immediately, even though he seemed to have minimal to no use of his left eye. Here’s where he started eating right hands that he couldn’t see coming, and that’s where the fight turned. After a hard right to the jaw he went down, and Speer followed up to put him out cold. You hate to make excuses for a guy, but that was definitely a different fight after the thumb in the eye business.
So now it’s Mac Danzig and Tommy Speer in the finals. All right. In case you need a narrative frame for this bout, the UFC ended last night’s show by posing a question about whether or not the farm boy would eat up the vegan. I’m going to go lie down now.