Read on for results of the preliminary bouts at the Ultimate Fighter Live Finale, held June 1 at The Pearl at the Palms in Las Vegas.
After a neck-and-neck season on The Ultimate Fighter Live, four Team
Faber vs. Team Cruz bouts continued the trend, as the coaches went 2-2
in four lightweight prelims that aired on FUEL TV.
Daron Cruickshank vs. Chris Tickle
Daron “Detroit Superstar” Cruickshank took on Chris “Bad Boy” Tickle in the featured
bout on FUEL TV. Though Cruickshank had to power through Tickle’s
tight attempts to control him, his flashes of standup showed why he warrants
the superlative moniker… and the win.
The bout’s three rounds alternated between explosive standup and
stultifying ground work. Tickle erupted forward with strikes at the
opening horn, and as Cruickshank went for the takedown, Tickle locked in
a guillotine and hit the mat. Cruickshank rolled to give his chin room
and eventually let go, stuck in Tickle’s tight guard. He worked his way
gradually to the feet and exploded, but Tickle caught him and tripped
the two back to the mat. Cruickshank worked to make room from Tickle’s
guard and landed a couple of elbows. This time it was a huge illegal
upkick from Tickle that brought the bout to the feet after a brief break
and a one-point deduction for Tickle. After more body kicks from
Cruickshank and reckless strikes from Tickle, it was another trip to the
mat and Tickle’s guard.
Cruickshank opened the second with a spinning back-kick; Tickle
responded by rushing in with a front headlock to the ground. Cruickshank
eventually yanked his way out but was stuck in guard until referee
Steve Mazzagatti stood them up. After the standup, Cruickshank threw a
huge high kick that connected. Tickle responded by yelling and daring
his foe forward, and as Cruickshank rushed in to take the bait, Tickle
dropped him with a left straight. This time it was Tickle on top, where
his ground assault was quickly smothered by Cruickshank’s own tight
The third was more of the same, the two trading body kick for wild punch until the action went to the mat. There, the two scrambled and reversed
multiple times. Tickle maintained a tight guard except for a spell in
side control; Cruickshank did more damage with elbows, spent one
sequence in mount and ended the round in top position.
All three judges gave the now 11-2 Cruickshank the bout with scores of
29-27; Tickle exits the TUF Live season with a record of 7-5 and a
noticeably improved ground game.
Myles Jury vs. Chris Saunders
Undefeated Team Cruz prospect Myles Jury bumped his record to 10-0 as he tapped out kickboxer Chris Saunders at 4:03 of the first round.
Jury controlled the first several minutes with countless one-off front and high kicks that kept Saunders at bay. Saunders struggled to find his range against the lanky Jury, who boasted a significant height and reach advantage. He managed to connect with a couple of low kicks and one eye poke, which briefly halted the action.
Jury turned it up when the bout resumed, finishing a solid combo with a hard right and cutting off Saunders’ space inside the Octagon. Jury jumped in with a flying knee, which Saunders tried to catch; Jury used the positioning to lock in a guillotine as the two fell to the mat. He stayed with it as Saunders tried to free himself on the ground, though he may have only made it worse as he tried to stand. With Jury’s corner yelling instructions for how to improve the submission, Saunders tapped out.
Jury – who trains with TUF Live coach Dominick Cruz in San Diego – has now finished all ten of his wins; Saunders’ record slips to 9-3.
Watch Jury's post-fight interview
Cristiano Marcello vs. Sam Sicilia
Team Cruz bit back in the second fight of the televised prelims as Sam Sicilia got a second-round TKO over former Chute Boxe BJJ coach Cristiano Marcello.
Round one was tense as Sicilia hunted with winging hooks and air-slicing uppercuts for another of his one-punch KOs. Marcello used head movement and kicks to create distance, and three times tried to bring the fight to the ground, but each time Sicilia backed off and forced him to stand. Each swing from the powder keg-fisted Sicilia drew gasps from the crowd, though his accuracy waned as the round wore on.
Marcello appeared more comfortable with the standup in round two, and twice he seemed to hurt Sicilia, backing him against the cage and unloading. But Sicilia escaped damage and the two again stood in the center of the cage, trading all-out blows to the cheers of the crowd. Midway through the round, a quick straight followed by a left hook rolled Marcello’s eyes back in his head. Sicilia pounced, dropping Marcello with a knee and unleashing nearly a dozen direct hammerfists before the ref waved it off at 2:53 of the second.
"This is a big, big win, but also a bittersweet one," said Sicilia. "We have really become good friends and he really looked out for me during the show. I'm always looking for the knockout. Once I land one, I hit gears I don't even know I have." Sicilia’s first official Octagon win brings his record to 11-1; Marcello departs 12-4. Watch Sicilia's post-fight interview
Joe Proctor vs. Jeremy Larsen
In the first of the prelim card’s four lightweight battles between Team Cruz and Team Faber members, Faber notched the first win of the night as Joe Proctor finished his third fight of the season, this one via TKO over Jeremy Larsen.
The lanky lightweights started out trading one and two punches at a time. Though Larsen’s seemed to land more often, his face also quickly showed proof of damage from Proctor. After about a minute and a half of feeling out his opponent’s power, Proctor came alive, opening up with more combinations.
Larsen responded by coming in wildly with strikes, Proctor clinched and threw a huge knee that toppled Larsen. Proctor dove in with hammerfists as referee Herb Dean raced to pull him off. As Larsen stood to protest, he wobbled backward again, proving just how dangerous the fists of “submission specialist” Joe Proctor truly are. "I always come out slow, which is something I need to work on," said Proctor. "But I always knew what he was doing even though I was feeling him out. Then I capitalized and got the finish."
The official time of the stoppage was 1:59 of the first round. Proctor, a longtime student and training partner of Joe Lauzon, sees his record improve to 8-1 as Larsen’s loss brings him to 8-3.
John Albert vs. Erik Perez
In the night's first bout, a bantamweight matchup broadcast on Facebook, Mexican-born Erik “Goyito” Perez made it six wins in a row as he scored another W in his UFC debut. The 22-year-old weathered a lengthy triangle choke attempt to reverse the tide and best TUF alum
John “Prince” Albert via controversial verbal tap out at 4:18 of the first round.
The two strikers opened by trading a variety of
crisp kicks and some blows in the clinch. Albert worked extensively for a
takedown on the fence, then switched it up and took Perez’ back while standing. As the two dropped to the
mat, Albert locked in a triangle choke. For the next minute or more, he worked
to finish, but the durable Perez postured up and positioned himself to issue
dozens of damaging hammerfists to Albert’s face.
Eventually, Albert loosened his choke, and Perez was able to push off his opponent's head to escape. Goyito quickly rolled through north-south position to lock in what looked like a vicious armbar. Though Albert moved with it,
referee Kim Winslow jumped in and called off the fight due to what she said was
a verbal submission, drawing boos from the fans at The Palms.
"I was a little surprised it was stopped, but I definitely had his arm really hard," said Perez post-fight. "I was thinking I was going to break his arm, or maybe had already broken it. He was a tough guy.''
For his part, Albert says he never submitted. "I was trying to get out, I started to yell, and then the referee stopped it.'' Perez, who trains under Mike Valle at Jackson’s MMA,
now holds an 11-4 record; Albert, who trains under Dennis Hallman, slips to 7-3.