The first two finalists for The Ultimate Fighter Brazil 4 have been determined, as the latest episode featured all-Team Shogun showdowns between Glaico “Nego” Franca and Joaquim “Netto BJJ” Silva in the lightweight division and Dileno Lopes versus Matheus Nicolau in the bantamweight division.
> Watch Episode 11 of The Ultimate Fighter Brazil 4 now on UFC FIGHT PASS
It was obviously a rough week for all four fighters, considering they had to face each other after a season of helping one another get ready for matchups against Team Nogueira while bonding under coach Mauricio “Shogun” Rua.
For his part, Rua tried to keep things positive in the final days leading up to the two semifinal matchups while also informing his team that he would not participate in any way, shape or form in the training or cornering of the fighters participating in the two bouts this week. Shogun allowed the fighters to select their own corners, but he promised to just sit back and enjoy the show as a fan, as he couldn't be seen as showing favoritism to any one competitor over the other.
The first fight up was the matchup between Franca and Netto BJJ, which was particularly tough on the two fighters considering how close they got throughout the filming of the show. While it seems like teamwork and camaraderie were at an all-time high between the fighters on Team Shogun, Franca and Netto BJJ became great friends and training partners and remained so all the way up to the weigh-ins just 24 hours out from their fight.
Once the two Brazilians stepped into the Octagon, friendship went out the door and unfortunately Netto BJJ's chances of winning followed almost as fast.
It took Franca no time to rush across the Octagon, where he picked up Netto BJJ and slammed him to the mat with an emphatic takedown. As a ground specialist, Franca quickly started moving to pass his guard before looking for a D'arce choke after the two fighters got caught in a scramble. It appeared as if Franca was just baiting Netto BJJ by making him defend the front choke because he quickly jumped around to the back and locked his hooks in and dragged them both back to the ground.
Franca worked methodically to wrap his arm under Netto BJJ's chin and it wasn't long before the tap out came to officially bring the fight to a finish. Franca put on a masterful performance for his third straight submission win by rear naked choke this season.
"I'm very happy because my goal is to win TUF Brazil, sign with the UFC, have great fights, and, after I've gained experience, be the UFC lightweight champion," Franca said after the victory. "I'm almost there."
With Franca's ticket punched to the finale on June 27 in Florida, he will now await the outcome of next week's fight between Nazareno Malegarie and Fernando Bruno to see who he will face for The Ultimate Fighter Brazil 4 lightweight championship.
Before the second fight got started, it was time for Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira to square off in the traditional coaches challenge, where the winner would pocket $10,000 dollars while each of the winning team's fighters would go home with $1,500.
The competitions this season have all gone to Team Shogun and nothing much changed in the coaches challenge either.
This year, the two Brazilians were asked to operate construction equipment in an obstacle course where they had to dig out a giant truck tire, haul it to a designated spot and then switch vehicles in order to push the tire around a series of cones before reaching the finish line. Shogun must have some construction worker blood in him because he navigated the course like a seasoned pro while Nogueira struggled to even get past the first challenge.
Team Shogun gets the win and a clean sweep in the competitions held between the two squads all season long.
Following a big win in the coaches challenge, Dileno Lopes and Matheus Nicolau prepared for their showdown in the Octagon to see which of the bantamweights from Team Shogun would be moving on to the finale.
While the fight seemed like a classic striker versus grappler matchup, Lopes decided to switch things up and show his versatility by striking with Nicolau for the largest portion of the three-round fight. Early on, Lopes showed great aggression while putting together fast combinations and landing with better volume. While Nicolau was clearly the more seasoned striker, he was constantly backpedaling throughout round one as Lopes mixed up his punches and kicks throughout the five-minute session.
Round two saw Lopes employ a similar strategy, although it nearly backfired when Nicolau cracked him with a quick head kick that dropped him to a knee and could have changed the direction of the fight if not for a good recovery from the seasoned veteran. Once the fight went to round three, it was Lopes' aggression that continued to make a difference as Nicolau was forced to play counter fighter and he just couldn't land his shots as effectively.
When it was all over, the judges scored the fight unanimously for Lopes, who now moves on to The Ultimate Fighter Brazil 4 finale in two weeks.
"I hold my head up high and feel like I did my job," Lopes said. "Thank God, I'm very happy I won and I'm in the finals!"
Lopes will now watch as a spectator for the final episode next week when his teammate Bruno “Korea” Mesquita takes on Team Nogueira fighter Reginaldo Vieira for the other spot in the bantamweight final.
Two fights in one show and when it's all said and done, The Ultimate Fighter Brazil 4 finale will be set. Don't miss it.