Continue reading only if you want to know the results from episode 9 of The Ultimate Fighter 5.Last week we learned that this week we were going to see Gray Maynard square off Brandon Melendez. First we would have to wade through the filler to get to the fight but thankfully this week it was actually interesting (despite no one having their head slammed into cement and then being rewarded for it).
The first fight of the night is between coach Jens Pulver and the episode’s fighter Melendez. Melendez is riding a bike and training but is displeased with Pulver to which Pulver replies that there is another team he can fight on.
Things are much different at Team Penn where BJ is training with Gray getting him ready for his quarterfinals match. The session is full contact and tough the help him get ready for his fight. Back at Team Pulver Melendez and coach apparently worked out their differences letting their earlier tiff blow over.
At team Penn Randy Couture is introduced as the guest coach for the week. On a not-so-coincidental note, Maynard is a team member of Couture’s at his Xtreme Couture gym in Las Vegas. they air footage of Penn vs. Pulver I when Randy debuted as a commentator. The fight was won by Pulver via majority decision.
The feud between the two has been heating up ever since their fight in 2002 with Pulver being nice to BJ when they see each other but talking behind his back. BJ says he wants to win so Pulver will leave the sport on the bottom.
Back at the house Cole Miller and Nate Diaz have a back-and-forth prankfest that starts with Diaz waking Milled up in the middle of the night. Miller responds by silly stringing and covering Diaz’s bed with pinatas. After a fun brawl (unlike the one from last week) the two toss each others mattresses into the pool. A short truce is broken when Diaz dumps cold water on Miller followed by Manny Gamburyan antiquing Cole with baby powder.
The show then turns back to the fight with Melendez trying to drop from the mid-160s to 156. Although he struggles with the cut, Andy Wang helps him drop it and both fighters make the cut at weigh-ins.
The fight is a contrast of styles with Maynard’s wrestling background and Melendez’s standup. What would ensue was my favorite fight of the season.
Maynard predictably goes for a takedown and Melendez is on the mat under 10 seconds into the fight. Maynard cinches in a rear naked choke but it is sitting on Melendez’s chin and not his neck enabling Melendez to get out of the attempt. Melendez reverses positions and gets top control but is quickly reversed back to the bottom. Maynard gets caught in an attempted kimura but escapes the hold. The fight goes back to their feet but after the trading of a few attempted punches and kicks, Maynard takes him down yet again. Maynard gets Melendez’s back yet again but can’t do anything. Melendez is taken down a few more times before the round ends. I scored the round 10-9 for Maynard.
With Maynard up Melendez needs a good round to force it to a third, decisive round. Maynard’s takedown attempts are being defended so he starts swinging looking to catch Melendez but he comes back with punches of his own and catches him with a punch looking to shake him. Maynard automatically goes for a takedown and Melendez goes down but after little action on the ground they return to their feet. Melendez scores his first takedown of the fight and works from the top with some punches before a series of reversals with Maynard ultimately ending up on top. After some punches from the mount Melendez escapes and Maynard takes him down again. The round looks to be going Melendez’s way until the clock goes under 1 minute remaining and Maynard locks in a guillotine choke that forces Melendez to tap. Gray Maynard moves on to the semi-finals giving Team Penn 2 fighters in the round while Team Pulver has yet to advance a fighter.
Next week we will be treated to two quarterfinal fights with Cory Hill facing Nate Diaz and Manny Gamburyan against Matt Wiman.