The episode gets right down to business and sets up the all-Team Nelson quarterfinal match between Joey Rivera and Jon Manley. Normally, each fighter throws some token catchphrases out there like, “I’m ready for war,” or, “[insert name] I’m coming for you!” This time, neither fighter seems very enthusiastic about fighting. They both genuinely like one another and respect one another’s abilities. Laaaame! Joey plans on out-striking Jon to get the win while Jon believes Joey is weak on the ground and looks to exploit that. Oh, and he warns Joey that he’s coming for him.
Manley vs. Rivera
Both fighters more forward in the opening round and trade punches and low kicks. A minute in, Manley rushes Rivera and pushes him against the fence. Rivera attempts a guillotine, but doesn’t finish. Manley doesn’t earn the takedown initially, but keeps working at it and puts Rivera on his back. He soon passes to half guard and attempts some ground and pound. The two find themselves in an awkward position where Rivera is able to create a scramble and attempt a triangle choke. Jon defends and moves to side mount as the round ends.
The second round mirrors the first. The two initially trade a few low kicks, but Manley soon puts Rivera back against the fence. Rivera defends the takedown for a while, but can’t advance his position and winds up on his back again. Manley advances his position and even gets in position for a rear-naked choke, but there’s never any danger of the finish. The round ends with Manley in dominant position.
Manley wins the fight, and everyone is disappointed. Dana didn’t like fight. Roy Nelson says his guys looked like they didn’t want to be in the cage. Both fighters are unhappy with their performances, too. Jon Manley reveals “I was scared to exchange with him a lot because in practice he beats my ass.”
After seeing two guys who didn’t want to compete against one another, we shift to a pair that can’t wait to fight. Ricci probably understates things when he says, “Things have been weird in the house.” Hill makes a joke about putting ex-lax in Ricci’s pasta sauce which Ricci does not appreciate. He decides to secure his sauce by wrapping the entire pot in surgical tape. Sure, why not. The two then have a verbal confrontation. I was kind of hoping it would end like the classic 1970 film "Love Story" with one of them apologizing and the other saying, “Being bros means never having to say you’re sorry." Sadly, this was not the case.
On the bright side, Ricci/HIll gives us the trash talk we sorely missed from Manley/Rivera. Hill plans on pressuring RIcci and using his hands to dictate the fight. He also tells us, “Hard work beats talent and I’m going to prove that in the cage.” Ricci escalates things a bit more and calls Hill a “bum,” accuses him of being mentally weak and admits he’s not looking to KO or submit Hill, but to mentally break him. It’s always the accountant types who turn out to be the biggest sadists...
Ricci vs. Hill
Both fighters land some strong shots in the opening frame. Ricci’s left high kicks find their home while Hill connects with a solid low kick. At the 3:30 mark, Hill tires of this measured back-and-forth exchange and rushes Ricci. Ricci reverses and puts Hill against the cage. He finishes the takedown and starts to wing some big shots. Ricci controls Hill for the majority of the round and continues to throw punches and land elbows. Hill exposes his back with about a minute left. He avoids the submission, but he doesn’t avoid the elbows Ricci continues to drop as the round ends.
The second round opens with Ricci missing a kick. Hill tries to use this opening to blitz, but finds himself defending a takedown instead. At first, he’s successful and even gets a solid guillotine attempt. Ricci keeps pushing, though, and puts Hill on the mat again. Ricci takes the back but can’t finish since they’re both leaning against the fence. Hill stands up to try to shake Ricci off, but the banker clings to him like a baby panda. Hill gets close to escaping, but Ricci’s hooks stay firmly in place for the majority of the round. Hill finally gets to his feet with 13 seconds left, but it’s too late.
Ricci takes 20-18 across the board. Dana White doesn’t appear to be too pleased with this match either. He tells us that, “I expected it to be more of a explosive fight” and admonishes Hill for “having no ground game.” Hill says he lost because he didn’t give it 110%. Mathematical probabilities aside, what does that mean?
We cut right to the semi-final fight announcements. The first will be Jon Manley and Colton Smith. Jon gives us a brief glimpse into his strategy by saying, “I’m gonna have to hit him [expletive] hard.” The second semi fight will feature Mike Ricci and Neil Magny. While neither one of them says so, I believe that they too plan on hitting their opponents [expletive] hard.
We get a sneak peek of what will be the last regular episode of the season... which two fighters will advance to the finals? Who delivers the knockout? Will Michael Hill interrupt Ricci’s sleep by standing outside his window blasting Peter Gabriel’s, “In Your Eyes?” Find out next week!
Team Carwin (6-6)
Sam Alvey (0-1, lost to Joey Rivera by decision in episode 3)
Bristol Marunde (1-1, defeated Julian Lane by decision in episode 4, lost to Neil Magny by decision in episode 10)
Mike Ricci (2-0, defeated Dom Waters by decision in episode 9, defeated Mike Ricci by decision in episode 11)
Neil Magny (2-0, defeated Cameron Diffley by decision in episode 2, defeated Bristol Marunde by decision in episode 10)
James Chaney (0-1, submitted by Jon Manley in episode 8)
Eddy Ellis (0-1, lost to Colton Smith by majority decision in epsiode 6)
Igor Araujo (1-1, defeated Nic Herron-Webb by majority decision in episode 5, lost to Colton Smith by decision in episode 10)
Matt Secor (0-1, lost to Michael Hill by split decision in episode 7)
Team Nelson (6-6)
Dom Waters (0-1, lost to Mike Ricci by decision in episode 9)
Michael Hill (1-1, defeated Matt Secor by split decision in episode 7, lost to Mike Ricci by decision in episode 11)
Cameron Diffley (0-1, lost to Neil Magny by decision in episode 2)
Colton Smith (2-0, defeated Eddy Ellis by majority decision in episode 6, defeated Igor Araujo by decision in episode 10)
Jon Manley (2-0, submitted James Chaney is episode 8, defeated Joey Rivera by decision in episode 11)
Nic Herron-Webb (0-1, lost to Igor Araujo by majority decision in episode 5)
Joey Rivera (1-1, defeated Sam Alvey by decision in episode 3, lost to Jon Manley by decision in episode 11)
Julian Lane (0-1, lost to Bristol Marunde by decision in episode 4)