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Sixteen men from across the Americas travel to Las Vegas with one dream, one goal – to become The Ultimate Fighter.

Determination. Discipline. Excellence.

Recaps by Joe Van Ginkel, GSNN


Willa Ford
Coaches: Randy "The Natural" Couture and Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell
Packager: Zuffa, LLC; Spike TV
Airs: Mondays at 11:05pm ET on Spike TV

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Episode 7 - February 28

Week Seven of The Ultimate Fighter is upon us, and the "Game Show Man" Joe Van Ginkel (that's me, folks) is back with the recap.  Can Team Couture come back from their losses this week and foil Team Liddell's "flawless victory?"  Will Nate Quarry be able to continue after his ankle injury?  Will host Willa Ford do anything but stand around and look pretty while UFC president Dana White does the real hosting work?  Let's find out… 

The aftermath of the bitter middleweight fight between Chris Leben of Team Couture and Josh Koscheck of Team Liddell opens this week.  We see the reactions of numerous fighters to Leben's split decision loss, intercut with footage from the fight.  Much criticism is leveled at Koscheck for his tactics of taking down Leben and not doing anything to finish him off. 

Back at the house, Sam Hogar's teammates on Team Liddell voice their dislike for him, signaling the start of what may turn out to be an interesting storyline.  They perceive him to be aloof, obnoxious, greedy and phoney.  Bobby Southworth makes fun of the fact that even though he is going to graduate school, he can't even light a grill.  Hogar voices his own criticisms of his team, whom he feels has not fully embraced him. (Can you say "whiney heel?") 

The teams go back to the gym, and assemble for the rebalance: one middleweight from Team Liddell must go to Team Couture.  Chuck Liddell is not happy about it, but he sends Josh Rafferty.  Team Liddell is not happy about it, and Rafferty is even less thrilled.  He believes that Team Couture has no chance to win the contest and that he will have to fight one of his friends. 

Team Liddell is supremely confident after winning most of the competition.  Hogar is critical of them ("I think my team has severely started to rest on their achievements."), but the others think it will come down to them having to fight each other.  Meanwhile, Team Couture refuses to give up.  They train even harder at the UFC Training Center so that they will not lose the next challenge. 

Back at the house, Rafferty continues to complain about being forced to Team Couture.  The other members of Team Couture try to embrace him, but Rafferty will have none of it. (Rafferty: "Ultimate Fighting is not a team sport.")  He even refuses to bond with them over a game of Texas Hold 'Em, regarding cards as stupid and a waste of time.  (Did I mention that Team Couture light heavyweight Mike Swick is a poker player with dreams of playing in the World Series of Poker?  I wonder if we can convince him to sit in with us on WLTI?  Hmm…) 

Team Challenge
The next day, the two teams converge in the desert for the light heavyweight challenge: a bizarre tug-of-war game where the six light heavyweights strap themselves to a giant metal hexagon and try to grab a series of six flags color coded to their teams and placed in a circle around them. 

This time, it's Team Couture (consisting of Swick, Stephan Bonnar and Alex Schoenauer) who gets out to an early lead, while Team Liddell (made up of Southworth, Hogar and Forest Griffin) flounders.  Team Couture eventually wins the challenge, 6-2.  At last Team Couture has gained a victory, and it is they who will make the match at the end of the show.  It is a gigantic shot in the arm for them. 

Team Liddell is dumbstruck by their first loss, and, like many complacent parties throughout history, are quick to start pointing fingers and they all point towards Hogar, thinking that he may have thrown the challenge. 

Team Couture goes back to the gym to decide who will fight. The light heavyweights toss names back and forth, considering Southworth and Hogar as their main targets, although Swick says that it may be better to leave Hogar on Team Liddell, since they don't like him at all.  Eventually, Bonnar says that he wants to fight Southworth, believing that he can take him out, even though the fight is only two rounds. 

Once again, the fighters assemble at the house for the announcement.  UFC president Dana White (who was present at Team Couture's meeting) makes the announcement: Stephan Bonnar will indeed fight Bobby Southworth.  The two men shake hands, and as in weeks past, prepare for their fight. 

The fighters go back to the YMCA to cut weight.  This time Southworth has much less trouble cutting weight, but when Bonnar arrives, he sees something he doesn’t like: besides the Team Couture members, Hogar has also come with them, confirming his distrust of Hogar. 

The next day, the fighters weigh-in.  Southworth weighs in at exactly 205, the light heavyweight limit.  Bonnar weighs in at 206, one pound heavier than Southworth.  Will it make the difference? 

Then, it's fight day.  All the usual preparations are made: warm-ups, wrapping hands, application of Vaseline, and the like.  The two men walk to the Octagon to do battle.  White reminds Bonnar and Southworth of the rules, and then UFC referee Steve Mazzayatti asks them if they're ready.  They signal affirmative, and the war is on.

Elimination Bout #4: Light Heavyweights - Bobby Southworth vs. Stephan Bonnar 

Unlike previous bouts, this one is a slugfest.  Bonnar is in control early, maintaining pressure on Southworth, moving forward and looking for openings.  Southworth lands some hard shots, but Bonnar keeps coming and lands shots of his own.  Bonnar clinches up with Southworth who spins him around and pins him to the fence.  The two men trade strikes and control. Eventually Bonnar takes Southworth down, but Southworth reverses control, and tries to "ground and pound" his man.  But Bonnar manages to work his way out of the hold and stands back up, sending the fight back to a standing position and more trading of strikes.  Bonnar pins his opponent to the fence several times and lands strikes while inside, but each time Southworth works his way out.  A final exchange ends the round. 

Between rounds, the two men rest and receive advice from their coaches: Liddell advises Southworth to use his comibination, but Couture reminds Bonnar to be mindful of the combo, and to use his jab. 

The fight resumes, and it seems to be a repeat of round one.  Again Bonnar puts on the pressure, and takes down Southworth early, going for the "ground-and-pound" tactic or a submission, but Southworth manages to reverse the hold and try for a submission, but Bonnar reverses it again, and eventually Mazzayatti breaks them up, and again the two men stand up to fight.  Bonnar continues to back Southworth down, but Southworth makes him pay with big strikes.  Bonnar pins his man to the fence, but Southworth works his way out, and again the two men trade big leather and feet.  Southworth manages to land some monster shots, and the rest of Team Liddell scream for Southworth to finish him off, but Bonnar shakes them off and continues to stalk his man.  Bonnar takes him down again, and pounds him from the mount, but Southworth reverses the take down.  But he can't put Bonnar away, and he escapes as the fight ends. 

The fight seems to close to call.  The two coaches prepare their fighters for "Sudden Victory," but the judges have their winner.  It's another split decision, and this time, it's for… 

…Stephan Bonnar.  His constant pressure won over the judges, and he has won Team Couture it's first fighting victory, in the process gaining revenge for his teammate Chris Leben, who was forced to fight last week due to Southworth's provocation. 

Southworth is livid. 

Team Couture has earned its first duke in the contest, albeit a controversial one.  Will this be the tide-turner, or will Team Liddell get back on top?  And what of Nate Quarry's ankle?  Will it heal in time, or will he be forced to forfeit his spot in the contest?  Find out next week.  For GSNN, this is the "Game Show Man" Joe Van Ginkel, saying Godspeed and spread the love.

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