The Ultimate Fighter 29 bantamweight finals are set.
Brady Hiestand (5-1)* rode his wrestling and ground-and-pound to a quick finish of Vince Murdock (12-4, 1 NC) in the semifinals of TUF 29. The youngest contestant this season, the 22-year-old Hiestand is now one win away from securing a UFC contract. He fights Team Volkanovski teammate Ricky Turcios in the bantamweight finals.
Heading into the matchup, coaches Alexander Volkanovski and Brian Ortega both expected this to be a grappler vs. striker matchup and sure enough, 30 seconds into the contest Hiestand secured a double leg takedown. Murdock was busy on his back, but eventually Hiestand settled into top control and rained down hammer fists and straight punches.
With Murdock unable to improve his position, referee Mike Beltran waved off the bout at the 3:20 mark of Round 1.
Shortly after, Murdock revealed that he’d injured his left knee. He said he has dealt with knee injuries since he was 17 and was unable to correct the issue mid-fight. The loss was another setback for Murdock’s UFC dreams after he was pulled from his debut with the promotion in 2019 and subsequently released when doctors discovered he had the rare neurological condition Moyamoya.
Hiestand’s win gives Team Volkanovski seven straight now after losing the first four fights of the season. Should Gilbert Urbina defeat Tresean Gore in the remaining middleweight semifinal, Team Volkanovski will occupy all four finals spots with Bryan Battle having defeated Team Ortega’s Andre Petroski on last week’s episode.
Ortega can take some consolation in having won this season’s coaches’ challenge as well as executing the best prank of the show so far.
In the coaches’ challenge, Volkanovski and Ortega competed in a game of cornhole, with the usual TUF prize of $10,000 for the winning coach and $1,500 for each of the winning coach’s fighters. Ortega was supremely confident heading into the contest and after a slow start for both men, Ortega pulled away in the later rounds to win the competition 21-11.
Ortega then asked UFC President Dana White for an additional $2,000 to bring his total to $12,000, which he then donated to Team Volkanovski so that each of Volkanovski’s fighters could also receive $1,500.
“T-City” took the edge in the prank wars after calling in an exotic animal handler to place several enormous snakes in Team Volkanovski’s locker room. Volkanovski took his chances handling one of the snakes and found himself in a tight squeeze.
Ricky Turcios (10-2) vs. Brady Hiestand (5-1) — bantamweight
Here are the semifinal results and the remaining matchups:
Ricky Turcios def. Liudvik Sholinian via decision
Brady Hiestand def. Vince Murdock via TKO (strikes) - Round 1, 3:20
Bryan Battle def. Andre Petroski via submission (guillotine choke) - Round 2, 2:05
Gilbert Urbina (6-1) vs. Tresean Gore (3-0)
Here are the first-round results so far:
Andre Petroski def. Aaron Phillips via submission (guillotine choke) - Round 1, 4:42
Liudvik Sholinian def. Mitch Raposo via decision
Tresean Gore def. Ryder Newman via decision
Vince Murdock def. Dustin Lampros via TKO (strikes) - Round 1, 2:40
Bryan Battle def. Kemran Lachinov via decision
Ricky Turcios def. Dan Argueta via decision
Brady Hiestand def. Josh Rettinghouse via decision
Gilbert Urbina def. Micheal Gillmore via submission (rear-naked choke) - Round 1, time unknown
On next week’s season finale, Team Volkanovski’s Gilbert Urbina fights Team Ortega’s Tresean Gore in the second middleweight semifinal matchup.
*TUF bouts are considered exhibitions and the results do not affect the fighters’ official records.
Season 29 of The Ultimate Fighter is being coached by UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski and Brian Ortega. A title fight between the two is set to take place at UFC 266 on Sept. 25.
The finalists of the TUF 29 middleweight and bantamweight tournaments will compete for a six-figure UFC contract at a finale event with a date still to be announced.
Here is the TUF 29 roster divided by team:
*Micheal Gillmore (short-notice replacement for Hunsinger)
Advancing to the finals: Turcios, Battle, Hiestand
Advancing to Round 2: Petroski, Sholinian, Gore, Murdock, Battle, Turcios, Hiestand, Urbina
Eliminated in Round 1: Phillips, Raposo, Newman, Lampros, Lachinov, Argueta, Rettinghouse, Hunsinger, Gillmore