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Time is ticking away on the final couple of episodes of The Ultimate Fighter: Team Edgar vs. Team Penn and this usually becomes the time where bad things start to happen.
Whether it's the days counting down until the fighters get to go home so the alcohol starts to flow a bit more freely or the competitors left in the tournament are trying to put in the work necessary to get them to the finale, these are always some of the most interesting times you'll witness on the reality show.
Last week's episode got the drinking out of the way, so this week the focus shifts to teammates Corey Anderson and Pat Walsh facing off in the light heavyweight division, with only one of the Team Edgar fighters moving onto the finals in Las Vegas.
The subject of teammate vs. teammate comes up often in MMA, and from an outsider's perspective it's hard to understand how two guys (or girls) who spar with each other several times a week couldn't try to get in the cage together and throw down with a lot of money or maybe even a title belt on the line. The upcoming episode of The Ultimate Fighter will give you a lot of insight into why teammates from major camps in the UFC rarely want to face each other.
Battle lines are drawn immediately as each fighter wants to get the work in necessary to prepare them while not giving away any secrets before the cage door closes. This affects the coaches as well, as they don't want to be seen choosing sides by working with one fighter over another as the fight draws near.
As teased at the tail end of last week's episode, Walsh decides to up the intensity of his workouts preparing for Anderson by defecting to Team Penn for a training session ahead of the semifinal fight. Now this may not seem like a big deal, but at the same time Walsh will be rolling with all of the fighters from Team Penn - maybe even Dan Spohn and Roger Zapata, who just happen to have fights remaining with two of his teammates from Team Edgar.
Needless to say, the coaches and fighters from Team Edgar don't take too kindly to Walsh's choice to train with Team Penn, and it's going to cause a major rift in team unity ahead of the semifinals. Can Walsh stay focused in the face of an entire team calling his loyalty into question? Do the Team Edgar fighters have a right to be upset considering the kind of knowledge Walsh can possibly hand over to Team Penn, even if it's by accident? How much do Matt Van Buren and Dhiego Lima hate hearing about this considering they have to face two Team Penn fighters in the other two fights to get to the finale?
Tensions and tempers run high, and seeing the fallout from this situation is definitely must see TV.
When it comes to the fight itself, Walsh and Anderson are two eerily similar fighters when it comes to their in-cage performances, with both hailing from a wrestling backgrounds while throwing heavy hands whenever the situation calls for it.
Walsh is a former Ohio State Buckeye, which means he's been grinding against some of the very best wrestlers in the country while competing in the Big 10 with teams like Penn State and Minnesota sending multiple wrestlers to the NCAA finals seemingly every year. While Walsh was never a finalist or even an All-American, that doesn't take away from the kind of work he put in on a daily basis going against some of the best wrestlers in the country from one of the deepest divisions in the sport.
He's also very capable ofabsorbing punishment and then doling it back out as the rounds wear on, as witnessed in his comeback performance to beat Team Penn's Anton Berzin in the quarterfinal matchups earlier this season. Walsh gave up a takedown and his back for a big chunk of the first round against a guy known for submissions, but after weathering the early storm, the New England-area fighter battled back and ended up stealing the final two rounds to get the decision win. Toughness and endurance are two of Walsh's biggest weapons, and that could bode well for him in what's already scheduled to be a three-round fight against Anderson.
Meanwhile, Anderson is still a bit of raw clay just waiting to be molded into a potential UFC champion one day. His wrestling is on point, and while he didn't compete at a Division I school like Walsh, Anderson's style of grappling may actually be better suited for the Octagon. Anderson has a powerful double leg takedown, which he combines with a slick single leg takedown as well that he uses quite often after setting up his punches. With his wrestling background it's easy to peg Anderson as a grapple-first fighter, but that's not necessarily the case.
Anderson has a stiff jab with a long reach that he can use to pot shot his opponents, and he's got a 1-2, left-right combination that is not only deceptive but sets up his wrestling perfectly when he throws everything together and stirs it up.
Based on past performances and the potential for future greatness, Anderson would seem to have a leg up on his Team Edgar teammate, but then again, Walsh is a fighter that won't go away after the first round or the second round, even if he loses both in a one-sided fashion. If Anderson keeps the pressure up and maintains good conditioning, he should punch his ticket to the finale, but leaving even the slightest opening as the rounds wear on will give Walsh the only incentive he needs to hit the afterburners and go for the finish.
It's teammate vs. teammate on The Ultimate Fighter: Team Edgar vs. Team Penn, but only one can survive and move on to the finale. Tune into FOX Sports 1 this Wednesday night at 10p ET to find out which fighter becomes the first competitor to nab a place in the light heavyweight finals in Las Vegas.