This week’s episode 7 of The Ultimate Fighter kicked off with a discussion of the previous week’s fight between Chris Leben and Josh Koscheck. Feelings are split regarding the decision and the pace of the fight, but the general consensus is that Josh was able to dominate the takedowns, but he wasn’t able to do much from the ground once he got there.
Back at the house, Team Liddell has ostracized team member Sam Hoger. Accusing him of being a traitor for the other team, his teammates talk about him behind his back. Sam expresses his feelings of being an outsider in his own team.
Team Couture has to face the fact now that they have only one Middleweight left, Nate Quarry, and he is injured and in danger of being sent home. A team re-balance is organized and Chuck is forced, once again, to send one of his Middleweight team members to the other team. He reluctantly selects Josh Rafferty to join Team Couture. It is obvious to both teams that Josh has no interest in moving to Team Couture, and he does not make any attempts to bond with his new team members.
Back at the training facility, Team Couture steps up their training sessions to a higher level. Tired of losing every challenge and every fight, Team Couture is determined to turn things around this time. They focus on winning the upcoming challenge so that they are in control of selecting the two Light Heavyweights who will fight next.
Bobby Southworth and Josh Koscheck continue to discuss the mood around the house since Chris Leben was forced to leave. They feel as though a weight has been lifted from everyone’s shoulders and life in the house is easier to deal with.
Challenge day arrives, and this time the Light Heavyweights are up for elimination. Tethered to a metal ring, each fighter must pull against the force of the opposing team in order to move towards and capture a series of flags, laid out along the perimeter surrounding them, all while preventing the other team from doing the same.
Team Couture takes an early lead and maintains it easily throughout the challenge, awarding them the victory and the ability to select who will fight in the next elimination bout.
Members of Team Liddell continue to ostracize Sam, now pointing the finger of blame at him for the loss they suffered in the challenge.
Team Couture gathers after the challenge to discuss who they should select to fight. The team agrees that Sam is the weakest link on the other team, and they are well aware that the members of Team Liddell would like to see him leave. Stephan Bonnar steps up and says that he would be willing to fight Bobby Southworth, whom he thinks is the opposing team’s strongest member. He does feel, however, that he may not be able to finish him in the two rounds allotted.
The two teams reconvene and the fight between Stephan Bonnar and Bobby Southworth is announced. Stephan and Bobby immediately go to work to cut weight and prepare for their bout. As they prepare, Stephan gives the audience a glimpse into his past experiences with the law and anger management, while Bobby discusses his inspirations for doing everything he has done to get where he is.
At the weigh-ins, both fighters are able to make weight, Bobby exactly at 205lbs, and Stephan at 206lbs, one pound over, but still within the allotted weight limit.
Fight time arrives, and the two combatants enter the octagon ready for anything. Both are very respectful of the other’s talents and power. This is evident from the opening bell, as the two pace around each other, throwing a few jabs to feel each other out. Each fighter picks his shots carefully, and finally the two clinch against the fence.
Bobby has Stephan pressed against the fence, but Stephan is able to reverse the position, throw a few knees and get the takedown. He tries to lock on a guillotine choke, but Bobby is able to slip out and move to guard position. A few shots are traded from the ground before they make their way back to the feet.
Stephan is pressing the pace of the fight and lands a few solid throws in the closing minute of the first round.
The first round was a very close one, with both fighters landing solid shots, scoring takedowns and reversing positions.
The second round begins with a short exchange, where both fighters look to give and receive and equal amount of punishment. Stephan takes Bobby to the ground with a single leg takedown, from where Bobby tries to reverse and in the transition tries a triangle choke attempt. Stephan easily escapes and moves back into Bobby’s guard.
Slow action forces the ref to stand the fight back up. On their feet now, Stephan continues to push the pace of the fight, while Bobby lands a sharp knee and clinches.
Breaking the clinch, Bobby lands a few solid shots to rock Stephan on his feet. Stephan is relentless though, and he keeps on the attack, getting another takedown. Bobby reverses and moves into side control.
With only a few seconds remaining, Stephan musters up enough energy to get out of Bobby’s side control, and ends the fight with a few more hard-hitting strikes, including a late shot after the bell.
Dana White steps into the octagon and quickly announces that the judges have ruled a split decision in favor of Stephan Bonnar.
Bobby is angry with the decision, but Dana tries to explain to him that anything can happen when the decision is left in the hands of the judges. Stephan’s aggressive nature, pressing the pace of the fight, is what they believe won over the judges decision.
A very controversial decision, nonetheless, that could easily have gone either way. Perhaps, as Dana White suggested, a third round should have occurred in order to decide the winner.
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