Although it's been said before, The Ultimate Fighter 17 really has no "gimme" matches.
With some incredibly competitive preliminary fights now in the books, Team Sonnen has five competitors moving onto the next bracket, while Team Jones only has three entrants.
However, Dylan Andrews prevented Sonnen's "bad guys" from having an overwhelming advantage, as he surged back from a near-defeat situation to utterly dominate Zak Cummings in two rounds.
(Read the full episode play-by-play here.)
• Dylan wasn't the inferior fighter on paper going into this match, but he came damn close to losing. After getting tagged on the feet early by Zak, he basically curled up into a ball while eating elbows to the side of his head. Referee Herb Dean really could've stopped it if he wanted to, but it takes two guys to finish. Zak just didn't pour on enough damage to seal an early win.
• Still, Dylan paid for the lapse in judgement with a nasty head wound. One has to wonder if that cut's going to come back to haunt him later on in the competition.
• But what was really surprising was the momentum shift. As soon as Zak altered position from side control and accidentally got put on his back, it was all Dylan, who controlled Zak on the mat and laid down just enough ground-and-pound to keep the fight from getting to the feet.
• Even in the second round, it was a little shocking to see Dylan cleanly take Zak off his feet with a big takedown, even eating huge punches in the first few seconds. But with the way the rest of the round turned out—elbows, punches, tight grappling control—that's about the best argument I've seen for a 10-8 round so far. It was surprising to see that the decision score wasn't unanimous, though. Regardless, here's how the roster stands with Dylan's win over Zak.
Who wins next week?
1. Clint Hester (7-3)
2. Josh Samman (9-2)
3. Robert "Bubba" McDaniel (20-6) (Wild Card) 4. Gilbert Smith Jr. (5-1)
5. Collin Hart (4-1-1)
6. Adam Cella (4-0)
7. Dylan Andrews (16-4-1)
1. Luke Barnatt (5-0)
2. Uriah Hall (7-2)
3. Zak Cummings (15-3) 4. Tor Troeng (15-4-1)
5. Jimmy Quinlan (3-0)
6. Kevin Casey (5-2) (Wild Card)
7. Kelvin Gastelum (5-0)
(Note: Winners are in bold, losers are scratched off the list and the next competitors' names are in italics.)
• In this author's opinion, Bubba McDaniel really didn't deserve the wild-card pick over Clint Hester. Kelvin Gastelum made Bubba look like he didn't belong in the same cage, while Hester looked like he just needed an extra week of training on takedown defense.
• Unfortunately for Hester, Bubba and Jon Jones have a teammate relationship at Greg Jackson's MMA, so it made the pick pretty obvious. Still, it'll make for a good episode next week because Bubba finally gets the dance date with Kevin Casey that he was whining about two weeks earlier.
• Chael Sonnen is just good at everything, right? Fighting, commentary, self-promotion, bowling, driving construction rigs—he's like a jack of all trades. Well, except at politics. Oh, and submission defense.
• But all kidding aside, that was probably one of the more interesting coaches' challenges yet. It's pretty funny that Jones has trouble driving even when he's sober. Still, that was much better than the usual sports activities the show pushes, where one coach is unfairly better than the other. Maybe next season, they can do something more out of left field, like speed chess or a dog show.