Kari Hubert, Zuffa LLC
The judging was controversial, but it doesn't matter. Chris Saunders, picked dead last among all contestants on this season, defeated Team Cruz's overall second pick Sam Sacilia by split decision tonight on TUF: Live. Adelaide Byrd and Tony Weeks scored the bout 20-18 for Chris Saunders. Patricia Morse Jarman had it 20-18 for Sam Sicilia.
The first round and the second didn't look dramatically different. Sicilia opened with intense cage pressure and overhands. Sicilia threw wild strikes constantly and was briefly taken down. Throughout the course of the round, Saunders worked knees to the body.
Things changed, however, in the second half of the first round. A low kick got Sicilia thinking and that's when Saunders landed a head kick that nearly puts Sicilia's lights out. The Team Cruz standout hung on, but continued to eat shots throughout the course of the round.
In round two, Sicilia managed to compose himself enough to not get caught with anything dramatic. He again pressured early and swung wildly for the fences, mostly with right hands. This round eventually featured more grappling scrambles as each fighter would take the other to the ground, but could not hold position. Saunders took Sicilia's back several times, but Sicilia was able to reverse and attempts guillotines. Generally speaking, though, the heavy hitting was done with Sicilia even if he was unable to put Saunders out.
While many observes of the fight - including UFC President Dana White - felt the bout should have gone to a third round, but it wasn't to be. Saunders was announced the winner by split decision.
"It wasn't exactly as I thought. I thought it would go just like this," Saunders told the UFC's Jon Anik. "I got a great team behind me. I have confidence. That's all you need."
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