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General image of the Octagon in the UFC Apex during the filming of The Return Of The Ultimate Fighter (photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
The Ultimate Fighter

Return Of The Ultimate Fighter | Episode 8 Recap

Recap The Latest Episode Of The Return Of The Ultimate Fighter

Previously on The Return of The Ultimate Fighter…

Spokane natives, friends, and roommates Brady Hiestand and Josh Rettinghouse went toe-to-toe in the final bantamweight fight of the quarterfinals, with Brady coming away with a hard-fought victory, giving Team Volkanovski its third consecutive victory.

Coming up, Gilbert Urbina, the third Urbina brother to on The Ultimate Fighter, looks to secure the family’s first victory, as he takes on Team Ortega’s Miles Hunsinger in the final quarterfinal fight of the season before the semifinal matchups are chosen.

This is Episode 8 of The Return of The Ultimate Fighter!

At the house, Gilbert discusses his family and his upbringing, including living in a migrant camp when he was four or five years old, telling Dustin Lampros that the only constant “was always having love and food on the table” before we cut to his home video from the humid climes of Mercedes, Texas.

Interspersed with shots of his home gym setup, Gilbert explains that his brother Hector was on Season 19 of The Ultimate Fighter as a member of Team Edgar, and his brother Eli was on Season 23 as a member of Team Jedrzejczyk, and how their ups and downs have served as learning experiences for him in his own mixed martial arts journey.

He talks about growing up on Mile 12, one of the poorest neighborhoods in the country, but was bolstered by a close-knit, hard-working, supportive family, whom he’s eager to help. He FaceTimes with Hector, who is super-excited for him, detailing how he’s always looked up to his older brother and wanted to follow in his footsteps.

“I’m the third Urbina brother on The Ultimate Fighter, and like they say, third time’s the charm.”

MORE TUF 29: How To Watch The Return Of The Ultimate Fighter | Episode 1 | Episode 2 | Episode 3 | Episode 4 | Episode 5 | Episode 6 | Episode 7All Things TUF 

Four days before the fight, Miles Hunsinger and Team Ortega are at the UFC PI drilling and preparing for the fight with Gilbert.

As he works through a light sparring session with Tresean, Miles throws a switch kick and catches Tresean’s elbow with his knee, causing it to hyperextend and rotate at an odd angle, leaving him in some obvious discomfort.

After visiting a physical therapist and being advised that he may have a tear in the knee, Miles goes in for imaging to find out the full extent of his injury, tearing up as he talks about an injury potentially dashing his dreams before he even gets a chance to compete.

“It hurts to be on the cusp of everything I’ve been working for,” he says, battling back tears. “I’m just praying I can still fight.”

Gilbert Urbina of Team Volkanovski smiles inside the UFC APEX (photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Gilbert Urbina of Team Volkanovski smiles inside the UFC APEX (photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Miles gets dropped off back at the house and tries to keep a poker face, doing his best to disguise the injury.

Three days before the fight, Gilbert is going through his fight prep at the UFC PI, shadowboxing in the ring.

“He deserves to be here,” says Alexander Volkanovski, disclosing that he just found out Gilbert is the third brother to take part in a season of The Ultimate Fighter. “He’s got a lot of talent, he deserves to be here, and he’s a good kid too.

“They’re twice the size of me, but they’re all good kids.”

Highlights from Urbina’s regional fights roll, including his LFA clash with Sean Brady, the unbeaten rising welterweight standout that remains the only fighter to get the better of him thus far.

As Gilbert does a pad session with Coach Volk, jiu jitsu coach Craig Jones and strength and conditioning coach Andrew Wood discuss the Team Volkanovski fighter’s physical style and how even if Gilbert loses, Miles likely won’t walk away unscathed.


Back at the UFC PI, Miles checks in with Dr. Jeff Davidson, the UFC Chief Physician, to get the results of his imaging and go through another examination. He’s given the opportunity to have one of the Team Ortega coaches come in and be present for the examination and discussion of the imaging results, but says he’d rather it only be he and Dr. Davidson in the room.

“The MRI shows what is called a Grade 2 strain of the medial collateral ligament,” explains Dr. Davidson, showing Miles where on his knee the injury has occurred. “You’ve torn this ligament that is kind of important right here — the medial collateral ligament or MCL. The other ligaments are all intact.

“If this was a more severe tear, I would probably would recommend not to fight completely, and if this was a lesser of an injury, like Grade 1, I would say, ‘I definitely think you can get through this.’ Unfortunately, you’re right in the middle.”

“What do you think are the chances of me making it worse,” Miles asks, with Dr. Davidson explaining that it is certainly possible to make the injury worse by stepping into the cage.

“You’ve got to go make a decision with your coach and decide if you can give it 100 percent, get in there, and win the fight,” Dr. Davidson tells him before they part ways, leaving the decision in Miles’ hands.

Understandably, Miles is split on what to do.

Get To Know Miles Hunsinger | The Return of The Ultimate Fighter
Get To Know Miles Hunsinger | The Return of The Ultimate Fighter

“I worked my whole life to get to this situation — I saw The Ultimate Fighter as a kid and wanted to get on this show,” he says. “I’m just praying that I can make the right decision.”

Miles goes and meets with Team Ortega coaches Brian Ortega, Tiki Ghosn, and Rener Gracie, telling them about his diagnosis.

“When the doctor came, he didn’t want us to be in the room to hear anything,” Ortega says, speaking after the team meeting. “If I’m injured, and I have my team, we’re all sitting down.”

Rener Gracie explains it’s Miles’ call and the coaches are with him no matter what he decides, acknowledging it’s a tough decision.

“We were trying, in the best way, to push for him to want to go in there,” continues Ortega, recapping the meeting. “At this point, it’s up to him.”

Miles opts to go through a training session to test the knee.

“It’s very unstable,” Miles says in a confessional interview. “I’m trying to pivot on it, I’m trying to move, and all I can feel is my knee is wanting to slip out.

“It’s very stressful during fight week to have something like this occur. I have to be able to shoot off my left leg, I have to be able to kick with my left leg, (and) I have to be able to rotate my knee in order to punch him. It’s crucial to fighting to be fighting on stable knees.”

“You know what’s at stake here, you know why you came here,” says Gracie. “You’re a talented guy; we chose you for a reason and we believe in you.”

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“I’ve been in literally the same exact place,” adds Ortega.

“You will never enter a fight 100 percent, so you have to learn to tap in there mentally, and enter all these fights with something f***** up,” the featherweight title challenger says in a separate, individual interview.

“When he gets kicked there,” Ortega says, speaking with Gracie and Ghosn as Miles shadowboxes 20 feet away from them, getting a feel for his knee. “That thing is broken in his mind.

“Grade 2 tear — can everything else support it, can you get through it? Yeah. Will it be a bitch? Yeah.” Ortega says, again speaking with Miles.

“I don’t think I’ll be able to shoot the way I want to shoot. I don’t think I’ll be able to kick the way I want to kick,” responds Miles. “It’s hard as f*** to say, but it’s what my body is telling me.”

“We’re going to call it,” says Ortega.

Get To Know Gilbert Urbina | The Return Of The Ultimate Fighter
Get To Know Gilbert Urbina | The Return Of The Ultimate Fighter

“This ain’t the end of me,” responds Miles, the emotions starting to wash over him. “It’s unfortunate the way this happened to me. It’s heartbreaking, man.”

The coaches all hug Miles, with Ortega telling him, ‘I care about your health first,” adding later in a separate interview that “he’s got a stigma that he has to erase from his career; I hope he does.”

Two days before the fight, UFC President Dana White recaps that Ortega and the coaches called him to inform him about Miles’ MCL tear, noting that the doctor gave Miles the decision to fight or not and that he chose not to compete. He then explains that there is another middleweight, Michael Gilmore, who is still in Las Vegas and dying to compete.

“You were an alternate, they told you it probably wasn’t going to work out for you and that you could go home,” White begins, speaking with Gilmore in his office. “You decided not to go home — you decided to stay, on your own dime, and see if an opportunity came up.

“You’ve got a family,” White continues. “And your work wouldn’t give you the time off, so you had to quit?”

“I had to quit,” Gilmore confirms quickly.

“You’re my kind of f***** guy, brother,” White says after checking out the goosebumps recounting Gilmore’s decisions has given him. “I love these kind of stories. Welcome to The Ultimate Fighter.”

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

The teams are assembled at the PI, waiting for the fight announcement, and everyone is getting antsy, wondering what they’re waiting on.

Dana arrives with Michael Gilmore and asks Miles to tell everyone what is going on.

Miles, looking like a deer in the headlights, swallows hard and says, “I tore my MCL.”

“So you’re out?” asks Volkanovski.

“Yes,” Miles confirms.

He exchanges daps and hugs with all the fighters and coaches, as he’ll be leaving the house, and walks out of the PI, promising to be back in a confessional interview.

“What are you all so happy and chirpy about?” Volkanovski asks the Team Ortega coaches. “This is what we’ve been waiting on this whole time and you’ve been laughing like nothing’s going on? We heard whispers this might be what it is, but the ways you’re carrying on, we go, ‘No way someone is injured.’

“This shows again how much of a piece of s*** you are,” he tells Ortega, who calmly sips his water.

“F***** ‘Little Guy Syndrome’,” says Ortega in an individual reaction interview, addressing Volkanovski’s comments. “He wants to start talking s***, making me — basically, he’s been trying to turn me into the bad guy this whole show. It’s like, ‘Bro — we were not expecting Miles to pull out.’”

“Showing your true colors,” Volkanovski adds.

“Would a good coach let an injured fighter fight?” asks Ortega in response. “Okay, so shut the f*** up!”

“I’m not talking about that,” Volkanovski counters after agreeing with not sending an injured fighter into the Octagon.

Dana steps in to set the record straight.

“He could fight,” he begins. “The doctor gave him clearance to fight and he chose not to fight; that’s what happened.

“He could have stayed. He got clearance from the doctor today to stay. He’s got a sprain — an MCL sprain. They worked with him, he said the pain was too much, he couldn’t take it, and didn’t want to fight.”

Michael Gilmore enters the UFC APEX on The Return Of The Ultimate Fighter (photo by Chris Unger/ Zuffa LLC)
Michael Gilmore enters the UFC APEX on The Return Of The Ultimate Fighter (photo by Chris Unger/ Zuffa LLC)

Dana then introduces Michael Gilmore to the two sides and he’s welcomed onto Team Ortega.

The fight between Michael and Gilbert is announced, with the two shaking hands and facing off.

“It feels surreal,” says Michael in an individual interview following the face-off with Gilbert. “I thought my chance at this was done and I was going to have to look for a different route to get to the UFC and realize a dream.”

In a confessional interview, Gilbert admits it was unexpected seeing Miles leave, but that he’s thankful to have an opponent.

Back at the house, Ryder Newman gives Gilbert and some of the other Team Volkanovski members the skinny on Michael, explaining that he’s 6-3 overall, and that he’s a little hesitant to throw his hands and maybe doesn’t like getting hit, pumping up Gilbert.

Back at the UFC PI, Team Ortega goes over the training plan in order to get Michael up to speed and ready to compete against Gilbert, mixing in as many sessions as they can before he has to make weight and step into the cage.


“My concern was him with his submissions,” says Ortega. “No one can teach better than Rener and myself. From back defense to takedowns to guillotines — literally anything you can download into his brain in this short amount of time, he got it.”

“Being an unknown is going to work to my advantage,” Michael says in a confessional interview as highlights from his last regional fight plays. “(Gilbert) hasn’t seen anything from me. My coaches were able to see him, observe him, so I’m coming in with a little more knowledge of him than he will have of me.”

Michael drills positional jiu jitsu situations with Rener, addressing some of the areas of concern stemming from his three submission losses heading into this fight with Gilbert.

Back at the UFC PI the day before the fight, Michael and Gilbert weigh in.

Gilbert is up first and makes 185.5. Michael follows him to the scale and comes in at the same number. They face off and the fight is official, with both middleweights expressing confidence in their abilities.

Gilbert Urbina enters the Octagon ahead of his The Return Of The Ultimate Fighter quarterfinal bout with Michael Gilmore. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Gilbert Urbina enters the Octagon ahead of his The Return Of The Ultimate Fighter quarterfinal bout with Michael Gilmore. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

It’s Fight Day at the UFC APEX.

“The reason I made the choice to come here and leave my job is because I couldn’t stand the thought of being on my death bed and not have done this,” Michael says in a confessional interview as scenes of him walking into the facility roll. “I’d be watching UFC events for the rest of my life thinking, ‘I could have done that.’

“I wasn’t blessed with the height or the speed or the skill that a lot of people are blessed with,” he continues. “I’ve had to get here through working hard.”

Gilbert crosses himself before entering into the facility, looking ready to go.

“I went over almost everything and any position I can think of,” he says. “I’m getting ready and preparing myself for the worst situations.”

Marc Goddard is the third man in the Octagon.

Round 1: Gilbert catches a lazy low kick right out of the gate and knocks Michael off balance, scrambling to take his back and sink in his hooks instantly. Michael defends well, fighting the hands as Gilbert shifts his weight on his back and forces the fight to the canvas.

Michael continues to fight the hands, and Gilbert lands elbows from the back. On the ground with Gilbert on his back, Michael continues to defend and listen to his coaches, as Gilbert works patiently from the dominant position. Gilbert lands two elbows to the side of the head and is in no rush, slowly peppering Michael with punches.

As Michael starts punching and elbowing Gilbert’s shin and eating punches, he leaves his neck exposed and Gilbert quickly sinks in the choke, drawing out the tap.

Team Volkanovski explodes with excitement and Gilbert dedicates the victory to his brothers.

Official Result: Gilbert Urbina def. Michael Gilmore by submission (rear-naked choke)

Gilbert Urbina of Team Volkanovski submits Michael Gilmore in Episode 8 of The Return Of The Ultimate Figher (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Gilbert Urbina of Team Volkanovski submits Michael Gilmore in Episode 8 of The Return Of The Ultimate Figher (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

And just like that, it’s even at four wins for each team.

Dana White meets Volkanovski and Ortega to set up the semifinal pairings, which really come down to figuring out which two fighters from each side will meet, as there are two bantamweights and two middleweights from each team still alive in the competition.

Ortega suggests Bryan Battle versus Andrei Petroski and Gilbert Urbina versus Tresean Gore for the middleweight pairings, and Volkanovski says he’s comfortable with both matchups, advocating for Bryan Battle as the best middleweight in the competition, while Ortega forecasts his two charges will meet in the finals.

Gilbert Urbina Post-Fight Interview | The Return of The Ultimate Fighter Episode 8
Gilbert Urbina Post-Fight Interview | The Return of The Ultimate Fighter Episode 8

As for the bantamweights, both coaches acknowledge that Ricky Turcios and Vince Murdock are teammates at Team Alpha Male and would prefer not to fight in the semifinals, which should make things easy.

Volkanovski suggests Ricky versus Liudvik Sholinian and Brady Hiestand versus Vince, and Ortega says he’s happy with it.

Dana is surprised with how easy the deliberations went with the two coaches and is happy to make his decision.

Alexander Volkanovski Fight Recap | The Return of The Ultimate Fighter Episode 8
Alexander Volkanovski Fight Recap | The Return of The Ultimate Fighter Episode 8

When it’s time to make the announcements, he goes with pairings the coaches suggested in both weight classes, expressing excitement about all four matchups.

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

Volkanovski and his coaches get revenge on Team Ortega for their donkey prank before the semifinals kick off with a bantamweight battle between Ricky Turcios and Liudvik Sholinian.