The episode opens with a group of upset Team Nelson members. Like many who've recently purchased a "cozy" starter house, they suffer from buyer’s remorse. We’ve seen this many times over the course of the season, but with everything winding down -- and the benefit of hindsight -- the underwhelming "draw straws" nature of the coaching has been put in perspective. Joey Rivera “feel[s] jaded because of Roy,” and many others agree that they were not properly trained.
We cut to Team Nelson’s training session as teammates Colton Smith and Jon Manley prepare to square off for a spot in the finals. Colton tells us that his strategy never changes and he’s going to fight the same way he has all season. Coach Nelson feels the two are fairly evenly matched and while Colton possesses the superior wrestling, Jon’s BJJ is better.
Team Disgruntled confronts Roy and let’s just say that Big Country will not be changing his nickname to “Big Empathy” any time soon. He points to the fact that two members of the team made it to the semifinals as proof of successful coaching. When Cameron Diffley tries to retort, Roy simply points to his heart and says, “I can’t give you this.” (Yes you can, Roy.)
Colton Smith vs. Jon Manley
As the opening frame of the first semifinal begins, Colton rushes Jon Manley and forces him against the fence. Jon pummels and returns to the center, but he seems tentative in the standup exchanges. Colton throws a cross, closes ground and pushes Jon back on the cage. They lay there for an extended period of time until Colton gets to top position after an inside trip. He attempts a guillotine, but Manley defends and returns to his feet. The two remain against the cage until the round ends.
The two spend the first forty seconds of round two dancing around until Colton decides to rush in once more. The two clinch up and Colton scores another trip, but Jon gets back to his feet. They break up but repeat the same interaction -- rush, tie-up, trip. Jon stands up and attempts a standing Kimura to no avail. He drops to the ground for more leverage, but Colton rips his arm free. With about a minute left, Jon goes for a desperate takedown that Colton easily defends and they’re back against the cage. Jon tries a trip takedown of his own, but Colton reverses and the round ends.
Going into the third, Manley’s corner knows he needs to finish. Pat Barry tells Manley to leave it all on the line and, “It’s better to die in this bitch than go the distance.” I assume those words of wisdom will be on a T-shirt soon. As the round begins, Jon continues to miss big while Colton starts to showboat and dance around. After a minute and a half of this, Colton ties up and pushes Manley against the fence (sound familiar?). The two break and Colton charges right back. With about two minutes left, Jon Manley finally starts to show some spark. He lands an overhand right and decides to go for broke, throwing continuous big hooks and crosses. Some of them start to finally find their mark. Colton tries to close in, but Jon brushes him off and scores an elbow. Just as the momentum builds, Colton trips him and the round ends.
Colton wins the unanimous decision then gives a victory speech about how our nation's armed forces are the real winners. Inside the locker room, Colton talks about how real men drink whiskey, but when he takes a sip it looks like it’s the first time he’s ever had alcohol. Where’s a mai tai when you really need one?
Mike Ricci vs. Neil Magny
Next it’s time for the second semifinal match, this one an all-Team Carwin affair between Mike Ricci and Neil Magny. Ricci keeps his smugness on full power when he admits, “I didn’t think I’d learn anything here.” Coach Carwin praises Ricci for being the most well-rounded fighter in the house, but also comments about how much Magny’s standup game has improved. Lost in Ricci's story is his BFF-ness with welterweight Rory MacDonald, a high-fashion bromance we had to learn about from Road to the Octagon.
The first round begins with both men fighting out of a southpaw stance. They’re reading each other and testing range. They remain on the outside where Ricci lands a solid cross to the body and a low kick. Neil closes the range and bull rushes Ricci up against the fence. The two break and work their way into the center of the cage. With two minutes left, Ricci connects with a left hand that drops Neil. Ricci pounces and winds up in full guard where Neil holds on tight and uses the lull to recover. Neil works his way to the fence, stands up, then eats a huge elbow that ends the fight. (Huge.)
Ricci is emotional after the win and starts to tear up because he feels guilt for knocking Neil out cold. Colton Smith and Mike Ricci stare each other down and we get some trash talk clips. Ricci believes that, “Colton can’t contend with me.” Colton gives us the good ol’ fashioned, “I’m gonna take his head off.” Dana tells us that the final match is truly between the best two guys in the house and we see a preview of next week’s finale as the sixteenth season of TUF comes to completion.
Who will be crowned the TUF 16 champion? Does Roy Nelson defeat his castmate Matt Mitrione in the main event? What are the odds Julian Lane gets drunk and fights someone in the stands? Find out Saturday, December 15th on The Ultimate Fighter Finale!
Team Carwin (7-7)
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 (3-0, defeated Dom Waters by decision in episode 9, defeated Mike Ricci by decision in episode 11, defeated Neil Magny by knockout in episode 12)
Neil Magny (2-1, defeated Cameron Diffley by decision in episode 2, defeated Bristol Marunde by decision in episode 10, lost via knockout to Mike Ricci in episode 12)
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 (7-7)
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 (3-0, defeated Eddy Ellis by majority decision in episode 6, defeated Igor Araujo by decision in episode 10, defeated Jon Manley by decision in episode 12)
Jon Manley (2-1, submitted James Chaney is episode 8, defeated Joey Rivera by decision in episode 11, lost to Colton Smith by decision in episode 12)
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)