In the second week of quarterfinals, two more semifinalists emerged, one from Team Cruz and one from Team Faber.
Al Iaquinta vs. Andy Ogle
In the night’s second fight, Team Faber’s first pick Al Iaquinta proved he was worth the hype, stopping teammate Andy Ogle in the last seconds of the first round.
Though Long Island’s Iaquinta had the wrestling pedigree, Brit boxer Ogle appeared nervous on the feet from the get-go – with good reason, it would turn out. Ogle was on his bicycle for most of the round, and bleeding from the first minute when both fighters connected with cracking strikes. But most of the round was Iaquinta’s, who mixed things up with high kicks, leg kicks and blistering blows, particularly from a mean right hand. Iaquinta even appeared bored at times, lowering his hands and waiting for Ogle to come forward.
In the round’s final minute, Iaquinta dropped Ogle with one big punch, then followed him to the mat for ground and pound and some messy submission attempts. Ogle survived, but as soon as he stood, Iaquinta threw a right elbow that connected right on Ogle’s temple. Ogle dropped and the ref dove in at 4:44 of the stanza.
“He looked phenomenal,” said UFC President Dana White after Iaquinta’s win. “He looked sharp, he picked him apart, hit him with big shots and then finished him. He sent a statement.”
Vinc Pichel vs. Chris Saunders
In a battle between two SoCal kickboxers, Team Faber’s Chris Saunders showed heart and resilience, but was ultimately outworked and outclassed by Team Cruz’ dark horse Vinc Pichel, who advanced to the semifinals by majority decision.
A battlefield routine played out over both rounds: Starting in the center, Pichel charged forward with strikes, crushing Saunders against the cage and working – at times for an extended period – for a takedown. Saunders bounced, scrambled or fought his way back up, a couple of times taking Pichel’s back en route, then returned things to the center where the series would start again.
Both men were bloodied by the end – Pichel scored early with big elbows from the bottom, and Saunders landed a nice one on one break, plus a few knees as Pichel worked for takedowns.
Pichel’s striking was on point in round two, and he unloaded at one point with a repeating right-left-knee combo that had Saunders in danger. He continued to score with takedowns, and again landed that combination in the last ten seconds of the bout, issuing a knee to Saunders’ gut to seal the round… and the fight on two of three judges’ scorecards (a third had it 19-19).
“It was definitely a battle,” said the 6-0 Pichel, who’s finished all of his previous fights. “I just grinded it out. It was my first decision. I was kinda hoping for that third round so I could get the finish.”
Both Iaquinta and Pichel will fight again next week in the live semifinals -- against one another -- alongside Mike Chiesa (Team Faber) vs. James Vick (Team Cruz). The winner will face a third bout in as many weeks in the main event of the TUF Live Finale, taking place June 1 in Las Vegas.