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The Ultimate Fighter

The Return Of The Ultimate Fighter | Episode 7 Recap

There Is One Spot Left In The Bantamweight Semifinals. See Which Of The Fighters Comes Out On Top On The Return Of The Ultimate Fighter.

Previously on The Return of The Ultimate Fighter…

Ricky Turcios earned a place in the bantamweight semifinals with a hard-fought victory over Team Ortega’s first pick, Dan Argueta, giving Team Volkanovski a second straight win to bring the season score to 4-2.

Now, friends and roommates Brady Hiestand and Josh Rettinghouse battle for the final spot in the bantamweight semifinals.

This is Episode 7 of The Return of The Ultimate Fighter

MORE TUF 29: How To Watch The Return Of The Ultimate Fighter | Episode 1 | Episode 2 | Episode 3 | Episode 4 | Episode 5 | Episode 6All Things TUF 

Ricky Turcios of Team Volkanovski defeated Daniel Argueta of Team Ortega on episode six of The Return of The Ultimate Fighter. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Ricky Turcios of Team Volkanovski defeated Daniel Argueta of Team Ortega on episode six of The Return of The Ultimate Fighter. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

The episode opens back at the house with Dan and Ricky sharing a hug and showing each other appreciation following their three-round battle, enjoying some well-deserved pizza together.

“A hard-fought battle with a great opponent in Dan,” begins Ricky in a confessional interview, recapping his victory. “We went to war all three rounds — toe-to-toe, blow-for-blow — and I had to really dig deep for that one.’

“It was exactly what we said it was going to be,” Dan says in his own interview. “It was a banger, we bled and we left it all out there.”

Out back, Brady and Josh hang out in the hot tub, with Brady suggesting, “This is going to be the weirdest episode ever” because he and Josh are fighting each other, cutting weight together in the hot tub, and are not only roommates in the house, but friends back home in Spokane, Washington as well.

“I’m okay with it — I’m not afraid of the matchup or anything like that,” begins Brady, speaking about his upcoming fight with Josh. “It is what it is. We gotta go out there and scrap.”

“If I had to fight anyone, he would be the last person I choose,” counters Josh in his own confessional interview. “I have to be prepared to fight anyone. At the end of the day, he’s going to be a body inside the cage. He’s going to be trying to knock my head off and I have to go out there and knock his head off.”

SEE WHAT THE COACHES OF TUF 29 HAD TO SAY: Volkanovski | Ortega

Four days before the fight, Rener Gracie and Brian Ortega speak to Josh about the status of the relationship inside the house with Brady.

Ortega explains that he told Josh that he wanted him to fight Brady from the very start, and when Josh demurred because they’re friends, the featherweight title challenger countered that it’s about figuring out who the best is and that there is no time for friends.

Josh works out with Ortega, going through some different technical work on the feet before highlights from his regional circuit days rolls.

“I’m 16-5 as a pro, had about a dozen amateur fights, fought some really high-level competition,” says Josh. “I feel like I’m better than a lot of UFC fighters right now and have a lot more experience than a lot of UFC fighters right now.

“Looking back on my former self compared to where I am now is weird to even think about because I’m light years ahead of that,” he continues, as footage of him working a heavy bag plays. “I’m faster, I’m stronger, I’m in better shape than I’ve ever been; I really feel like I’m in my physical prime.

“I’m not only a bad matchup for Brady — I’m a bad matchup for anyone in the house.”

Get To Know Brady Hiestand | The Return Of The Ultimate Fighter
Get To Know Brady Hiestand | The Return Of The Ultimate Fighter
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Back at the house, the roommates chat about Brady’s work as a volunteer firefighter in Northern Spokane and pursuit of becoming a paramedic before his home video begins with the Team Volkanovski bantamweight hopeful out on the family ranch.

He explains that he lives at the fire station and will accompany the crew on various calls, but that fighting comes first, shifting in footage of he and his brother, Bryson, rolling at the jiu jitsu studio.

“So Mike Chiesa is one of my good training partners,” explains Brady, who trains at Sikjitsu with the TUF Live winner under Rick Little. “He’s the Season 15 winner, so he’s been giving me a lot of good advice. He’s always been there, helping me with my technique, mentoring me.

“I’m the youngest person in the competition this season,” he continues. “Some people may see that as a disadvantage, but I don’t think it changes anything; I’ve been training hard since I was 14 years old. I think it’s going to be an advantage that people might underestimate me and not give me credibility where it’s due.

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“I think they’re all going to be surprised when I go out there and win this thing.”

Three days until fight day, Brady is in the UFC PI going through his fight prep, working with Alexander Volkanovski, who sings his charge’s praises as a sizzle reel of his regional efforts plays.

Get To Know Josh Rettinghouse | The Return of The Ultimate Fighter
Get To Know Josh Rettinghouse | The Return of The Ultimate Fighter
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Back at the house, Josh and Miles Hunsinger talk about their respective mixed martial arts journeys, with Josh explaining that he has worked the same day job for six years, acknowledging that he’s towards the end of his career.

“If it happens, I’m going to love it, but if it doesn’t, I have an awesome life,” he says.

Cut to his home video, which starts with him cleaning up after his dog in the backyard of his Spokane home before going into the CPA firm where he works, explaining that he trains at night at Warrior Camp MMA.

“I think my biggest strength leading into the show is my experience,” says Josh, who has shared the cage with Marlon Moraes, Josh Hill, and split a pair of bouts against current UFC bantamweight Sergey Morozov during his 21-fight career.

“Winning this show means so much to me that I really couldn’t describe it,” he adds. “I’m 31 now and this really feels like my last chance. I’ve waited 12 years for this moment and I’m not going to waste it.”

Check out every contestant's profile on The Return of The Ultimate Fighter.

Back to the UFC Performance Institute for weigh-ins, with Brady taking the scale first.

135 even for Brady, and the same for Josh.

“In order to make it to the top of this sport, at one point or another, fighters end up having to face teammates or their friends,” says UFC President Dana White. “This is one of those times in this competition where it gets really hard.

“They’re friends. They’re roommates in the house. This is a true test of who has that killer instinct? Who wants it more? Who really wants to win this thing and be a world champion? Who can flip that switch, go into this fight, and win?”

Bantamweight Brady Hiestand prepares for his fight against Josh Rettinghouse on The Return of The Ultimate Fighter. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Bantamweight Brady Hiestand prepares for his fight against Josh Rettinghouse on The Return of The Ultimate Fighter. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

It’s Fight Day for Brady and Josh, who are joined in the Octagon by veteran referee Chris Tognoni.

Round 1: Brady races to the center, connects with a right hand, and presses forward into the clinch immediately, with Josh looking for a trip takedown out of the clinch that Brady defends with a hard whizzer. As they scramble back to the feet, Brady lands a body kick that Josh catches, knocking Brady off balance, and as he looks to stand, Josh races forward, attacking a front headlock position.

Brady defends well and breaks free, swarming and driving Josh back into the fence to close out an active opening minute.

Brady continues to hunt for a takedown, but Josh initially defends. Brady drags him towards the canvas on a single leg, Josh grabs a handful of fence, but is still put on the deck, and Tognoni hollers for a third or fourth time about not grabbing the fence. Brady circles around to the back as Josh stands, looking to climb onto his back and sink his hooks, working methodically as Josh defends.

FIGHTER PROFILES: Brady Hiestand | Josh Rettinghouse

Brady clamps onto a choke attempt, but the forearm isn’t under the chin, making it more of a jaw crusher than anything else. It’s still painful, but Josh defends. Brady lets it go, locks in a body triangle, and goes back to work, forcing Josh to fight hands, maintaining control and softening him up with punches.

Josh explodes as he shifts his hips and gets out of the position, scurrying back to his feet. Brady is right there with him, chasing him into the clinch along the fence, hitting him with two or three good knees to the belly. They scramble along the wall and Josh takes Brady’s waist, scooping him high and dumping him to the canvas.

Josh gets too high trying to take the back, and Brady comes out the back door, climbing onto Josh’s back once more with 30 seconds remaining, unloading punches through to the horn.

Tognoni tells Josh not to grab the fence again or he’s going to take a point as the bantamweights head to their corners and receive instruction for their coaches.

Brady Hiestand of Team Volkanovski fights Josh Rettinghouse of Team Ortega on episode seven of The Return of The Ultimate Fighter. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Brady Hiestand of Team Volkanovski fights Josh Rettinghouse of Team Ortega on episode seven of The Return of The Ultimate Fighter. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Round 2: Brady again races to the center and connects with a right hand out of the chute, looking to initiate the clinch and work for another takedown. He dumps Josh to the canvas, circles to the back, and looks for a way to work his hooks in, digging one in as Josh tries to stand.

Josh gets to his feet and shakes Brady off and the two separate into space. Josh lands a good knee up the middle that takes Brady off his feet, following with another to the body, but he doesn’t attack behind them. Brady responds with a couple clean shots, but Josh starts marching forward, finding a home for quick, single shots as his coaches tell him Brady is hurt.

Josh lands a clean right hand in front of his corner, who suggest he needs to finish Brady, and the veteran responds by walking his roommate down and hitting him with a clean uppercut. Brady is clearly tired and missing badly on his punches, leaving Josh opportunities to counter with force.

Brady’s face is bloodied and Josh is marching him down, sticking the jab, stuffing telegraphed level changes, and showing no concern for Brady’s heavy-armed offerings. Another uppercut finds a home and stops Brady’s forward momentum, but Josh fails to follow up, looking a little gun-shy about battering his friend.

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Brady lands a right hand and chases Josh into the fence, changing levels, but Josh stuffs it, hitting him with a knee for his troubles. Brady remains undeterred and gets around Josh’s waist, dumping him to the canvas as his roommate hits a Granby roll, landing in top position inside Josh’s guard.

Josh throws up a triangle choke attempt with 100 seconds remaining in the round, but Brady slips out easily, settling into Josh’s guard. Josh attacks with elbows from bottom and creates space to scramble to his feet, but Brady locks onto his waist again, dumping him to the canvas once more, blood streaming out of his nose.

Josh gets back to his feet and Brady drags him down again, maintaining his position through to the bell.

Both men look exhausted with the potential of a third round hanging over them, listening to their coaches’ instructions and encouragements.

We’re heading to a third round, much to Volkanovski’s surprise, but he tells Brady he’s too strong still, while Ortega gives Josh some last second direction.

Round 3: Josh opens with a right hand to the body and the two trade punches, Josh landing at a slightly better clip. He’s doing a much better job at dictating the terms of engagement, maintaining position in the center of the Octagon and picking his shots, snapping Brady’s head back with jabs and uppercuts.

Brady Hiestand of Team Volkanovski fights Josh Rettinghouse of Team Ortega on episode seven of The Return of The Ultimate Fighter. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Brady Hiestand of Team Volkanovski fights Josh Rettinghouse of Team Ortega on episode seven of The Return of The Ultimate Fighter. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

There is a clash of heads as Brady looks to close the distance and it instantly opens a cut over Josh’s left eye that makes the veteran wince and paw at the cut. Josh takes advantage of Brady’s forward pressure, changing levels and dumping him to the canvas, maintaining control of his waist as he stands up.

They separate and Brady dives into a takedown attempt, forcing Josh to sprawl just ahead of the midway point of the round. Brady relentlessly continues pursuing the takedown and topples Josh to the canvas, grabbing onto his waist and looking for a way to sink in his hooks. Josh fights the hands and gets to his feet, but Brady remains sticky on his waist, driving back in after a knee to the body with a minute remaining.

Brady stays on this waist, elevating Josh before dropping him to the canvas, winning a late scramble in the center of the cage. Josh throws up a triangle choke late, but there is nothing doing and the horn sounds.

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Terrific fight from the Spokane boys.

“These guys gave it everything they had in the third round,” says Dana White, reviewing the action. “It was really close, and no matter what the decision is, these two put their friendship aside and they were all business.”

Official Result: Brady Hiestand def. Josh Rettinghouse by split decision

Alexander Volkanovski Fight Recap | The Return of The Ultimate Fighter Episode 7
Alexander Volkanovski Fight Recap | The Return of The Ultimate Fighter Episode 7
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The two coaches recap the action, unable to contain their excitement about the back-and-forth fight, with Dana White adding his thoughts as well.

Ortega acknowledges the headbutt, but says, “S*** happens,” and Volkanovski happily praises his charge for his perseverance.

“I didn’t want to fight my friend in the house, but it is what it is and we had to do business,” says a busted up Brady after the bout. “I feel like we put on a show for everybody.”

“If I was gonna lose to anyone,” begins Josh, unable to fight back the emotions, “I guess I’d like it to be him.”

Brady Hiestand Post-Fight Interview | The Return of The Ultimate Fighter
Brady Hiestand Post-Fight Interview | The Return of The Ultimate Fighter
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Back at the Performance Institute, the final fight in the middleweight competition is announced with Team Volkanovski’s Gilbert Urbina taking on Team Ortega’s Miles Hunsinger.

Once again, it’s a battle between roommates, with Team Volkanovski having the chance to earn a fourth straight win to even things up and carry all the momentum into the semifinal fights.

On the next episode of The Return of The Ultimate Fighter…

Team Volkanovski looks for their fourth straight win as Gilbert Urbina takes on Las Vegas native Miles Hunsinger before a shocking twist threatens the final preliminary card pairing of the season.