For once, The Ultimate Fighter 17 had some episode previews that told the story straight—the wild-card match ended in a crazy finish.
It wasn't due to some fantastic finish from Team Sonnen's Kevin Casey and not by a KO victory from Team Jones' Bubba McDaniel either—it ended in a kidney failure.
After two rounds of grappling and a huge momentum shift, Casey went down to injury, quitting on his stool just before he was set to go into a "sudden victory" round against a suddenly refreshed McDaniel.
UFC president Dana White, Jon Jones and Chael Sonnen couldn't believe it, and Team Sonnen had to carry Casey out of the Octagon before he was put on a stretcher.
(Read the full episode play-by-play here.)
• Although the "grudge match" aspect of the fight was heavily downplayed, few of us could have predicted that McDaniel would be the one to play a part in sending Casey to the hospital. That portion of the season was actually spoiled for many eagle-eyed watchers fairly early in the season, but none of us knew the circumstances.
• That being said, the fight itself was a textbook case of one athlete over-exerting himself too early during the first round. Casey was the one dishing out most of the punishment, but his health issues came back to hurt him when McDaniel found his second wind and started to turn the tide in Round 2.
• With McDaniel's come-from-behind win, that makes the quarterfinals an even 4-on-4 split between Team Jones and Team Sonnen. Looks like the light heavyweight champion did alright for himself.
• Many of the fighters had a clear idea about whom they wanted to face, but nothing was more interesting than the "Uriah Hall-Josh Samman-Collin Hart" triangle. Hall wanted to fight Samman next, but Samman and Hart both lobbied to have Hall fight Hart first. That's a bad look for Samman—or maybe it's smart. Here's how the quarterfinals wound up:
Episode 10 Matches
Collin Hart (4-1-1) vs. Kelvin Gastelum (5-0)
Luke Barnatt (5-0) vs. Dylan Andrews (16-4-1)
Episode 11 Matches
Josh Samman (9-2) vs. Jimmy Quinlan (3-0)
Uriah Hall (7-2) vs. Bubba McDaniel (20-6)
• This is also the episode where Chael Sonnen and Jon Jones officially buried their beef during Thanksgiving Dinner. As much as this author hates to see the grudge go away, it was actually kind of touching to see Sonnen be so humble.
• Maybe the Jones/Sonnen feud doesn't matter anymore. But why is Sonnen changing face?
• Poor Bubba McDaniel. At this point, he's fought more rounds than everyone in the TUF house, and now he only gets a short break before having to fight the monster favorite of the show.
• It's been awhile since Barnatt knocked out Gilbert Smith, and he didn't look like a No. 1 pick. But he will still have the benefit of the longest stretch between bouts and the most training time.
• Hey! Ronda Rousey's going to be on the next episode! That should put some butts in seats. And judging by the timing of the taping, this actually takes place before her first title defense.
• Ruh-roh. If Uriah Hall put everyone he fought into the hospital, that means that Bubba McDaniel might be taking a ride in an ambulance in two short weeks. Yeesh. If that's the case, then Kevin Casey might have gotten off way easier.