The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America 2 airs on UFC FIGHT PASS on Wednesday, October 28
Following a week where Team Gastelum had to deal with two fighters from the same locker room battling one another, it's Team Escudero's turn on the latest episode of The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America. This week, the lightweight semifinals get underway, as Horacio Gutierrez takes on Marco Polo Reyes, with one of them moving on to the finale on November 21 in Monterrey, Mexico.
It was a very awkward situation for Enrique Marin and Hector Aldana to square off last week and it seems to be an equally strange scenario as Gutierrez and Reyes go from being bunkmates to opponents in the Octagon. These two fighters weren't just teammates for the whole season - they were actually roommates sleeping just a few feet away from each other while preparing to make it to this point in the show.
Now they have to set friendship aside to fight in the semifinals, but only one of them can move on, while the other will see his dream end at the hands of a teammate.
"When it's time to get in the Octagon, I'll do my job," Gutierrez says in preparation for his fight with Reyes.
The fight between Gutierrez and Reyes not only draws battle lines inside the house, but it also forces the same to happen in the gym, where the two fighters have been training together all season long. Last week, when it was time for Marin and Aldana to face off, the coaches struggled to figure out who would be in the corners for the fighters. Former Ultimate Fighter finalist Uriah Hall was torn because he didn't want to be perceived as picking sides by coaching one fighter against another after helping them both all season long.
Coach Efrain Escudero will try to avoid that same bad blood rising up on his team as he gets ready for Gutierrez and Reyes to train together one day before punching each other in the face the next. It's nearly impossible for coaches and teammates not to pick sides at least in some way, shape or form, but the good news is that both Gutierrez and Reyes have been good friends all season long and hopefully they can get through this fight as amicably as possible.
Before the fight starts this week, all of Team Escudero will be treated to a visit from Ultimate Fighter royalty, as season one winner Diego Sanchez stops by the gym for a training session with the guys as he imparts some knowledge from his time on the show as well as a wealth of experience inside the Octagon as one of the best lightweights and welterweights of the past decade.
Sanchez was part of the experimental season that helped revive the UFC at a time when the promotion was struggling to stay afloat, long before stars like Georges St-Pierre and Ronda Rousey were breaking attendance records with Pay-Per-Views skyrocketing like the latest Marvel movie release. He actually competed on the show at 185 pounds, which is rather crazy considering he's about to make his featherweight debut on the same show where the Ultimate Fighter: Latin America finals will take place in November, as he faces former title challenger Ricardo Lamas.
Sanchez has seen it all and done it all in this sport, but he never actually returned to coach a season of the show after appearing and winning the initial season in 2005. There are very few fighters on the UFC roster who could help these young competitors prepare for what lies ahead of them like Sanchez, and he'll look to pass along the wealth of his experience to Team Escudero before Gutierrez and Reyes go to war.
Before the two teammates step into the Octagon, Gutierrez will do his best mental preparation ahead of the fight with Reyes, and from the sound of things in the preview for the upcoming episode, he does more than enough to get ready. Earlier this season, Gutierrez was a shy, almost meek fighter who looked to former Strikeforce champion Miesha Tate for confidence when she came to the gym as a guest coach for the day. Her influence was so strong that Gutierrez actually requested for her to appear at the gym on the day he fought as well.
The good luck charm worked when Tate showed up and Gutierrez got his win, but now as he approaches the next fight with Reyes, it appears he's got all the confidence he needs and more. Actually, Gutierrez is so confident that it has some of his teammates concerned that he might be getting a little too cocky for his own good.
In their earlier fights this season, Reyes was definitely more impressive, as he scored a second-round TKO to move into the semifinals, while Gutierrez had to depend on a third and final sudden victory round to punch his ticket to the upcoming fight. Reyes is also well known for his knockout power, and he doesn't need anything other than one good punch to land and Gutierrez could wake up staring at the lights, wondering what happened.
That said, Gutierrez has a huge upside when it comes to his potential. Much like Yair Rodriguez in season one of TUF LATAM, Gutierrez is still young in the sport but has tremendous skills, and if his confidence has gotten that much better after a close win, it could serve him well going into a battle like this one.
Gutierrez is a nasty finisher when he lands his strikes, and while Reyes may actually pack the bigger punch, it's his teammate from this season of the show who has better technical striking and more weapons in his arsenal.
Who will come out on top in this battle of Team Escudero lightweights? Tune in to The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America this Wednesday on UFC FIGHT PASS to find out.