While Team Miocic finally got on the board a week ago with a win by Mike Trizano, things didn't go as well in the latest episode as grappler Suman Mokhtarian took on Team Cormier's Ricky Steele.
Ahead of the showdown between the two featherweight competitors this week, the opening round of the tournament is beginning to wind down, which means the remaining matchups are already decided.
The final fight in the featherweight division will see Team Miocic fighter Dulani Perry take on Tyler Diamond from Team Cormier. Of course, Perry has been one of the most outspoken fighters on the show this season, often touting his wealth and then proclaiming how he's going to roll through the tournament en route to his UFC contract.
None of this sits very well with the fighters, but Diamond isn't in the mood to get into a verbal battle with his next opponent. That doesn't mean Luis Pena is immune from the conversation after he's already been ruled out due to injury. But despite walking around on one foot, he seems more than ready to challenge Perry in the middle of the house.
"The man is here for the cameras," Pena said about Perry. "He's only here for his 15 minutes of fame."
Cooler heads eventually prevail, with Perry later admitting that he had no intention of allowing his dream to slip away by fighting Pena in the house. Still, Perry believes his special brand of head games is already working, considering how much the fighters from the other team are reacting to him.
Another major storyline that took place this week were fighters beginning to position themselves to take Pena's spot now that he's been forced out of the competition due to that foot injury.
Featherweight competitor Jay Cucciniello took it upon himself to meet with UFC President Dana White this week to let him know he's more than ready to step up to lightweight if it will afford him another chance in the tournament. White also ran into a very willing John Gunther, who wanted the chance to redeem himself after a terrible outing eliminated him in the first fight of the season.
It's well known that White loves when fighters are willing to step up to a challenge like this, so he's already got two members of Team Miocic asking for the chance to step back into the competition. Who will get the slot?
We'll find out when the semifinal round matchups are announced in just a couple of weeks.
From there, it was time to get ready for the fight as Mokhtarian took on Steele in the next featherweight showdown of the season.
SUMAN MOKHTARIAN VS. RICKY STEELE
Steele slams home a nasty leg kick to get things started in the opening round, as he looks light and loose on his feet. Steele continues to circle around Mokhtarian before firing more kicks to the legs and body. Mokhtarian is trying to cut off the cage to find a home for his strikes, but Steele is doing a good job staying very active and never allowing himself to get stuck in front of his opponent. Mokhtarian finally pressures forward to lock up the clinch, where he begins peppering away with knees to the legs while attempting the takedown. With a lull in the action, the referee restarts the fighters in the center and Steele immediately fires off another huge leg kick that twists Mokhtarian around. It's clear that Steele's leg kicks are really starting to do some damage. The fighters end up locked in the clinch, but this time it's Steele pressing the action against the cage as he begins throwing knees on the inside. Steele's quickness is a problem as he blasts Mokhtarian with an inside elbow but then goes for an ill-advised takedown against his coach's advice. Moktharian tries to latch on to a guillotine choke when Steele ducks his head down but the Team Cormier fighter is able to break free. Mokhtarian tries for one more takedown before the end of the round but he's unable to drag Steele to the mat.
Steele is quick out of the gate once again with those thunderous kicks to the leg. This time around, Mokhtarian stays at a distance and begins trying to land punches from long range but he just isn't able to connect on anything with power. In return, Steele fires back with a boxing combination of his own with his right hand finding a home on Mokhtarian's chin. Steele follows that up with another stinging kick to the body with a crack that reverberates throughout the gym. Steele fires a front kick right up the middle that blasts Mokhtarian on the chin. Mokhtarian smiles and wags his chin to motion that the strike didn't hurt him but he's not firing back with anything offensively to do any damage to Steele. As time ticks away in the round, Steele continues to pepper away with stiff punches and more kicks as he backs Mokhtarian up against the cage. The constant barrage seems to be wearing Mokhtarian's defense down as he holds on to the clinch and tries to close the action down a bit. Steele is able to maintain control with another hard elbow on the inside before separating to go back to the center. With Miocic in the corner imploring Mokhtarian to move forward and go for it, he's just not putting together the kind of combinations that are going to do enough damage to get him the finish or likely win him the round. Steele is able to shrug off a late takedown attempt before the referee separates them yet again. Steele controls the distance and then initiates the clinch again before the round comes to an end.
Official result: Ricky Steele def. Suman Mokhtarian by unanimous decision (20-18 on all cards)
It was an impressive outing for Steele, who was able to control the bulk of the action with a superior striking attack throughout while stuffing Mokhtarian's attempts to drag the fight to the ground.
Afterwards, Steele celebrated his win but then felt the brunt of his kicking attacks as his foot began throbbing in pain. According to Steele, he's suffered from foot problems his entire career with several surgeries to repair damage done.
Unfortunately, Steele doesn't get to enjoy his win for very long, as he's carted off to the hospital for x-rays, where he hopes that the diagnosis won't force him out of the competition.
Meanwhile, the final lightweight fight of the opening round is announced to close out the episode as Richie Smullen from Team Cormier will take on Allan Zuniga from Team Miocic to find out who is moving into the semifinals.
Will Team Miocic put another fighter into the next round or will Team Cormier's dominance continue? Plus, we'll find out if Ricky Steele will be back for the remainder of the tournament or if his foot injury is going to knock him out of the competition.
Tune in to the next episode of The Ultimate Fighter: Undefeated on Wednesday night at 10pm ET on FS1.