Read on to find out which two fighters snagged the final two spots in the Ultimate Fighter 19 finale!
The episode opens up with Roger Zapata and the pressure he’s facing. Not only are the stakes higher now that he’s fighting in the semifinals, but he also has a newborn daughter to look after. He speaks passionately about how he used to think that if he died, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal. Now that he has a daughter, there are so many more responsibilities. If he can make it to the finals, he can provide for her.
Besides his daughter, Zapata has to worry about his opponent Dhiego Lima. Much like his first fight in the tournament, Roger is a big underdog. He doesn’t mind being in that position, but warns others to not underestimate him. He’s a much more dangerous fighter than when he first came into the house, and shouldn’t be taken lightly. As far as his gameplan is concerned, Roger says that it’s simply, “Knock him out.” He wants to make this fight a kickboxing match and Coach BJ fully supports those tactics.
On the Team Edgar side, Dhiego Lima gets some striking advice from assistant coach Mark Henry. Henry wants Lima to avoid standing still and use a lot of movement. Dhiego agrees, but doesn’t plan on avoiding contact. He accuses Roger of being scared of getting hit and will pressure Roger from start to finish. Coach Frankie has nothing but positive things to say about Dhiego. He calls him a “stud” and remarks that Dhiego has really turned up his training the last week. Will it be enough to win? We’re about to find out because it’s fight time!
Roger comes out in a southpaw stance while Dhiego works from orthodox. Dhiego opens up with two hard low kicks to Roger’s inside leg that echo throughout the gym. Roger shakes it off and connects with a solid left cross and Dhiego falls to his back. Roger tries to ground and pound, but Dhiego pulls off a brilliant half guard sweep from bottom. Before Roger can react, he’s caught in an armbar and taps at the 4:26 mark of the first round.
We quickly move gears to the last semifinal of the season between Daniel Spohn and Matt Van Buren. BJ’s confidence in Spohn is overwhelming. He even goes as far to say, “I see Spohn wiping Van Buren out.” Despite all that confidence, BJ still brings UFC Hall of Famer Chuck Liddell in to help out. Even though he ends up drilling in jeans and a T-shirt, the Iceman still takes time to show Spohn how to work off the cage and sweep from bottom. While these techniques will help, Spohn has no desire to grapple with Van Buren. He tells us, “I plan on striking until Matt hits the floor.”
As far as Matt is concerned, he doesn’t want to make the same mistake he did in his fight against Chris Fields. The animosity between the two was so high that Matt admits that he took the fight too personal. As a result, he didn’t perform up to his level and couldn’t capitalize on the openings. Paradoxically, he claims that liking Spohn actually makes the fight easier. This time around, it’ll be all business. Frankie struggles with coming up with a gameplan for the fight. Spohn brutally knocked out his opponent to get into the house, but also used a grapple heavy approach to advance to the semis. Matt has to be ready for anything. We’ll see if he can adapt because it’s fight time!
Matt begins the round with a low kick, then follows up with another kick to the body. Spohn punches back and the two let the leather fly. They break apart and Matt continues to attack with kicks. He goes to the well too many times, though. Matt kicks again, but this time Daniel grabs his leg and finishes a takedown. Matt scrambles to his feet, but Daniel grabs a front headlock and quickly takes Matt’s back. Matt tries to shake him off, but Daniel has the hooks in tight. After failing to finish the choke, Daniel bails on the submission and they return to the middle of the Octagon. Spohn hurts Matt with a cross, hook flurry and follows up with another takedown. Matt returns to his feet, but he doesn’t have any time to relax. Daniel rushes him and continues to attack. Matt doesn’t take control back until there’s less than a minute remaining. He drives some vicious knees to the body, but it might not be enough to win the round.
Daniel sneaks a right hook over the top and Matt falls back. He makes it back to his feet and stuns Daniel with a hook of his own. Both fighters refuse to back down and start swinging haymakers at one another. Daniel is on the worse end of the exchange and dives for a takedown to buy himself some time. Matt blocks it, and then proceeds to drop about a dozen elbows that Travis Browne has made famous. Bleeding from the head now, Spohn abandons the takedown and takes his chances on the feet. It turns out to be the wrong choice. Matt blasts a right hand, it drops Daniel and the ref jumps in to stop the fight. Matt Van Buren earns his way to the finals with an emphatic knockout.
Dana White calls the match, “Without a doubt, one of the best fights of the season.” BJ is disappointed with the result and cites Daniel wasting too much energy in the first round as the cause of the loss. Frankie sees the fight the same way. Spohn slowed down in the second round, and that gave Matt the opening he needed.
It looks like it will be an all Team Edgar finale. Can Dhiego Lima submit teammate Eddie Gordon? Does Matt Van Buren back up all his tough talk against Corey Anderson? Will BJ Penn finally beat Frankie Edgar? We’ll find out the answers to these questions and more this Sunday. Live on Fox Sports 1; it’s the Ultimate Fighter Finale!