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Following an action-packed end to the quarterfinals last week, The Ultimate Fighter: Redemption moves forward with only two episodes left to go this season.
Last week saw James Krause earn a hard-fought decision over Ramsey Nijem in one of the best fights of the season, as the two veterans slugged it out for three rounds before a winner was decided. Jesse Taylor also punched his ticket into the semifinals with a dominant first-round submission against Hayder Hassan to not only put himself into the next round, but also simultaneously eliminate the final Team Garbrandt fighter from the competition.
Now the semifinals are set with four fighters remaining, and only two of them will move on to the live finale on July 7 in Las Vegas. This week will see the matchup between Team Dillashaw fighters Dhiego Lima and Tom Gallicchio, who both had impressive outings to make it to this point in the tournament. The other matchup will pit Krause against Taylor, and despite that fight not taking place until next week, one of the fighters involved in the bout will get a lot of attention in the upcoming episode.
Krause managed to endure a 15-minute war with Nijem inside the Octagon last week, but he didn't walk away from the fight unscathed. In fact, Krause suffered a slight eye injury, which probably seems only minor in the grand scheme of things, but the fights on the show are actually rather close together, so any competitor could be knocked out of the tournament if they are deemed medically unfit to continue.
Obviously, Krause will do everything in his power to stay in the competition, but an eye injury like the one he suffered could be severe enough that it will knock him out of the fight with Taylor, which would then open up a slot for another fighter to replace him. It's an unfortunate turn of circumstances for Krause, who entered the show while already on the UFC roster, but who wanted nothing more than to redeem himself after failing to live up to his own expectations during a previous stint on The Ultimate Fighter.
RECAP LAST WEEK'S EPISODE
Now Krause's fate will lie in the doctor's hands, but that doesn't mean he's not going to feel the heat from the rumors circulating throughout the house that his spot in the semifinals could be in jeopardy. The curiosity from the other fighters about whether or not they may get another chance will eventually lead to an ugly confrontation as Krause continues to hold out hope that he'll be able to continue on for his fight against Taylor next week.
Ahead of the fight this week, coach TJ Dillashaw will also do his best to exact some revenge on bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt for a prank played earlier this season.
Pranks have been a constant on almost every season of The Ultimate Fighter since the very first season, with some jokes being rather funny and others going way too far. Garbrandt's joke wasn't exactly out of bounds by any means after he redecorated The Ultimate Fighter gym with a roll of tape while playing up on his constant jab that Dillashaw was a “snake in the grass” when he left Team Alpha Male, just like Conor McGregor accused him of doing back on season 22. Now Dillashaw is out for revenge and he'll play a pair of pranks on his bantamweight rival in the upcoming episode that will certainly get a rise out of Garbrandt.
Once the pranks are put aside, it's time to move on to the fight that will determine the first finalist on this season of the show.
Dhiego Lima will look for a third straight victory after two hard-fought wins over Hayder Hassan and Gilbert Smith. Lima has definitely had to put in a lot of work to this point in the season after spending two rounds in the Octagon with Hassan before needing all three rounds to get the win over Smith. That means Lima has already clocked 25 minutes of fight time this season, which can certainly take its toll on any fighter in the competition. Add in weight cutting for a third time in as many weeks and Lima will definitely need to make sure his body is in tip-top condition when he steps into the Octagon for his fight with Gallicchio.
Always seen as a constant underdog, Gallicchio has been very impressive thus far this season with two wins, both coming by way of rear naked choke. Gallicchio shocked quite a few naysayers when he eliminated season 19 winner Eddie Gordon in his first fight of the season before moving on to take out Justin Edwards with a similar submission in their fight in the quarterfinals. Gallicchio has finished both fights inside the first round, so he hasn't suffered much damage to this point in the show and that's a definite advantage as he goes into this fight with Lima.
Of course, Gallicchio's game plan will probably be no surprise because he's a wrestler who likes to look for control and then submissions on the mat. Gallicchio has an uncanny ability to find a way inside his opponent's range before dragging them to the ground, where he begins applying his outstanding grappling skills. Gallicchio is certainly one of the smaller competitors this season, so he'll be better served not standing on the outside with a taller, longer fighter like Lima.
For Lima, the key in this matchup will be consistency on the feet while not allowing himself to be taken down to the ground. Lima is no slouch on the mat, but he has to know that's Gallicchio's best chance at winning, so avoiding his grappling is an easy way to negate his opponent's best weapon. On the feet, Lima will enjoy a long reach advantage, and while he's not known for his knockout power, he definitely has a nasty body kick and technical boxing that it could give Gallicchio a lot of problems if he can't take the fight down into his world.
Who will be the first finalist on The Ultimate Fighter: Redemption? Tune into the penultimate episode tonight at 10pm ET on FS1 to find out.