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'The Ultimate Fighter 7' Episode 9 Recap

This episode kicked off the quarterfinal action where "Big" John McCarthy lookalike Jesse Taylor (6-2) faced off against Dante Rivera (10-2) and seasoned veteran Matt Brown (9-6) took on MMA newcomer Amir Sadollah (0-0).

Because all four fighters originated from the brown team, Coach Forrest was faced with the dilemma of picking which two fighters he would corner. Taking the high road (which he should have) he elected to forgo making the choice and left fate up to a coin toss by UFC president Dana White. Forrest would corner Jesse and Amir, leaving Rampage to corner Brown and Rivera.

Back at the house viewers were treated to the extreme cuisine Jesse Taylor fuels his body with to keep it in tip top condition. Microwavable cheeseburgers, bacon, shredded cheese and cake were some of the tasty morsels consumed by the Californian who readily admitted he's not the healthiest of eater in the bunch. Taylor knew he had a couple of pounds he had to lose in order to meet the 185-pound requirement for his division the next day so after hammering down his feast, Lil BJM put on his plastic suit and played ping pong for a couple of hours. Somewhere, Gabe Reudiger had to be making a mental note of this miraculous weight loss secret.

Back at the gym, Coach Rampage was filmed taking a snooze while assistant trainer Juanito worked to prepare Brown and Rivera for their upcoming matches. Little did Rivera know that when he returned to the house to relax in the hot tub for a bit he would be sharing the space with Taylor who, unbeknownst to the new Team Rampage member, had been courteous enough to not urinate in the water. Instead, Taylor exited the tub and let nature take its course on the concrete while still wearing his trunks. You simply must appreciate a fighter who knows how to act like he grew up on a farm even if he didn't.

Both fighters made weight and there really wasn't much pre-fight smack-talking by either. Taylor mentioned he would be beating up a guy that he liked and Rivera made sure viewers understood he was there for himself and would simply do his best.

First quarterfinal match: Jesse Taylor (6-2) vs. Dante Rivera (10-2)

This match left quite a bit to be desired, in my opinion. Josh Rosenthal was the third man in the ring and what followed for ten minutes after the initial touching of the gloves can literally be summarized by saying two rounds of ground and pound by Taylor that led to a unanimous judge's decision in his favor.

Post-fight analysis revealed that every submission attempt Rivera tried to set up was foiled by Team Griffin's corner by virtue of knowing his fighting style and techniques from working with him for a month prior to the coin toss that landed him in the Team Rampage corner. The brown team was able to shout out instructions to Taylor that completely neutralized Rivera's guard as soon as the fight went to the ground. Since Team Forrest was 6-2 on the preliminary scoreboard, I have a feeling we will be seeing the same thing happen to other fighters sent to the opposing coach to balance the groups.

In Rivera's defense, Taylor had the advantage yet his performance wasn't good enough to finish the fight.

The second quarterfinal match between Matt Brown (9-6) and Amir Sadollah (0-0) was hyped in TUF previews on Spike TV the entire week as being one of the best fights of the season. Considering the fact castmates and MMA fans posting on message boards throughout cyberspace hailed Matt Brown as the best fighter on the show (who would most likely win the whole thing), many were surprised by the buildup. A seasoned veteran fighting a guy whose record is 0-0 is typically an expected train wreck at the expense of the newbie but based on the hype, I am inclined to believe the underdog will reign supreme in this fight. We shall see.

Amir and Matt have slept in the same room, trained together on the same team and claimed they had become good friends as a result. This begs the question of whether or not these two will be able to "pull the trigger" once the Octagon gate closes.

According to Rampage, Matt Brown was born to be a fighter. Forrest noted that Amir seemed less confident than when he had no confidence, and Matt Riddle swore Amir would be going home in a body bag.

Spike TV is losing their edge when it comes to compiling the snippets to create hype for many of the fights this season. The three major comments in the previous paragraph coupled with advertising Brown vs. Sadollah as the best fight of the season (with the stark contrast of their professional records) was a dead giveaway this match would be a complete upset, at least in my book.

Second quarterfinal match: Matt Brown (9-6) vs. Amir Sadollah (0-0)

Round one: Brown came out the aggressor with a combination of punches and kicks to the body. Amir absorbed the damage and thwarted several takedown attempts before landing an impressive (yet seldom utilized) heel to the face of Brown that got everyone's attention. The fighters tied up and traded knees in the clinch before Brown attempted another takedown. Amir exhibited good defense and managed to reward Brown's efforts with a good elbow to which Brown responded with a couple of punches. Amir got in several decent front kicks during the round and Brown landed crisp jabs and punches that I assumed would make his lesser experienced opponent begin to panic, but Amir hung in there.

Back in the clinch the fighter's traded knees to the thighs and ribs with Amir getting the better of the exchange. Brown's nose was bloodied and it seemed to cause the Ohioan to turn his game up a notch and respond with another flurry of strikes and kicks, eventually getting the game to the ground, if only for a moment. Round one was a back and forth battle and it occurred to me why this match was hyped as being the best fight of the season by Spike TV. I still stayed with my initial impression that Amir will win based on the predictable hype, but round one could be legitimately scored for either.

Round two: Brown came out swinging for the fences and landed several effective strikes before Amir got in one of his own that stopped Brown dead in his tracks followed by retreating a step or two. A little light trading followed that took the fighters into the fence where they wrestled for the dominant position and leverage. Amir managed to trip the more seasoned competitor and worked his way into a full mount where he started picking Brown apart with punches and elbows. Brown appeared to be completely spent but still attempted an escape and executed a reversal but in taking the top position, Amir trapped the veterans arm and then transitioned to a triangle choke. Unable to escape, Matt Brown had no choice but to tap.

There was no shame in either fighter's game and I certainly expect to see both compete inside the Octagon in the future. This fight absolutely lived up to the hype, Spike TV!

I must say that I am glad this fight closed the episode instead of Taylor vs. Rivera or viewers might have bailed after the first round with a bad attitude to share around the water cooler Thursday morning. This episode was DVR material for sure because it proves that in the sport of MMA any fighter can win on any given night, regardless of how much of an underdog he appears to be. Heart and a solid "no quit" attitude have not been present in many of the competitors in the past few seasons but it is fights like this one that keeps me tuned in week after week.

Matt Brown showed a lot of class post-fight and gave Amir full credit for taking the best that he had to give and beating him fair and square. As I mentioned last week, there is something special about this kid and he reminds me quite a bit of Forrest. With a record of 0-0, I couldn't understand how he made it on the show to begin with but his presence and performance have been pleasant surprises and it will be interesting to see how his career unfolds from this point forward.

Tune in next week to see Tim Credeur vs. Dan Cramer and C.B. Dollaway vs. Cale Yarbrough as well as for the announcement of the semi-final match ups. See you then!

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