By Ian Brewster
The Ultimate Fighter…
Episode 11 – Middleweight Semifinal #1
Air date: 3/28/2005
It’s the aftermath of the Leben vs. Florian fight. Chris has lost his second fight of the competition and is devastated. The other fighters thought Chris dominated until Kenny threw a viscous elbow, opening a huge gash on Chris’ forehead.
Chris stumbles outside the training center and openly cries about his defeat. But he pulls himself together and re-enters the gym to congratulate Kenny – a far cry from his behavior in the past. Chris sincerely tells Kenny that he lost fair and square. He then says goodbye to the other fighters and leaves the gym a much more mature fighter than the one who started the competition.
Dana announces that the middleweight final will be Kenny Florian versus the winner of the Diego Sanchez / Josh K! oscheck fight. And that fight is up next. Back at the house Diego forms a plan of attack to defeat Josh. He’s going to combat Josh’s wrestling skills by standing up and striking. Josh tells Swick and Kenny that all that anybody thinks he can do is wrestle. He feels that he’s improved dramatically since the show began and he’s going to surprise everyone. Later in the evening, Kenny talks in the bedroom with Diego and they agree that it’s harder to fight someone who you’ve trained so much with.
Early the next day, Forrest visits the doctor and has his stitches removed. He’s healing well, but it’s still up in the air whether he’ll be able to fight in the semi-finals. Forrest’s attitude is that “whatever happens happens”. All he can do is wait and see. Bobby is in the wings ready to take Forest’s place, but he has mixed emotions about the situation. Bobby basically has to hope his buddy Forrest’s UFC dream will die so his can go on.
Diego and Josh weigh in. Both are c! onfident that they’ll win the fight. Dana heads over to the Hard Rock to scout it as a possible location for the Ultimate Fighter Final weigh ins. A deal is made and Dana is excited that the fighters are really going to feel like they’ve hit the big time.
It’s fight day. Diego and Josh are both at the house packing their bags. Deigo is psyching himself up – turning the upcoming fight into a personal vendetta – he wants to destroy Josh. Josh, on the other hand, is imagining the bombs he’s going to land on Deigo’s face. The stage is set for a blood bath.
Chuck checks in with his two fighters, but he says that he’s not going to be cornering either of them. He doesn’t want to show any favoritism. Dana describes the two fighters. Josh is a great wrestler, but not a good striker. Diego is a submission expert who has dominated both fights he’s had so far. But those bouts ended in less than two minutes – so the unanswered question about Diego is endurance. Both fighters warm up! in their dressing rooms and give their last minute thoughts about the match. Diego enters the octagon, and then Josh. It’s moments from the bell to start the first round.
Round one of the second middleweight semi-finals begins. Diego stands to box and so does Josh. The exchange blow after blow. When the fight goes to the ground, neither seems to have an advantage. Diego is aggressive but Josh doesn’t back down. Both of the fighters work to try and take the other down and Diego almost catches Josh in the guillotine. With just seconds before the bell, Diego comes very close to choking Josh out.
The fighters retreat to their corners and receive advice from their corner men. Dana we hear the corner men giving advice. Dana feels that the round was very close Josh is going to have to step it up if he wants to win.
It’s round two of the Koscheck / Sanchez fight. The two continue to slam each other with bombs. The fight goes to the ground several times during the roun! d and Diego almost is able to catch Josh in an arm bar. When Josh has control of the fight on the ground, he is able to do is lay on top and doesn’t land any strikes. The ref stands up the fighters, and while Diego is distracted, Josh lands a big blow. The spectators cry foul.
Dana feels in round two that Diego’s aggressiveness is forcing Josh to fall back on his wrestling skills. He thinks that the fight is still close and could go either way.
Round three begins and both fighters look tired. Diego starts strong, landing heavy knees and punches. Josh seems to be hanging on for dear life. But then he executes a takedown and tries to get control of Diego. From the bottom, Diego is still trying to land submissions and has a strong defense. Diego is able to throw power punches and works to takedown Koscheck. At the end of the round, Diego throws a barrage of blows onto Josh’s ribs. He finishes the round strong and when the bell rings, his puts his hands up as though he’! s won. Josh collapses – his face black and blue. Dana announces that there’s a split decision. Diego wins 2 to 1. The Ultimate Fighter middleweight finals are set: Kenny Florian vs. Diego Sanchez.