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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 11 - March 28

Two episodes left before The Ultimate Fighter finale, folks, and this week promises to be a doozy…middleweight phenom Diego Sanchez must fight his teammate Josh Koscheck to find out who will face Kenny Florian in the finals.  Who will win?  Well, that's what you have the "Game Show Man" Joe Van Ginkel" for. 

In the aftermath of his loss to Florian, Chris Leben is despondent.  He is not happy to have lost because of a cut.  But he has no choice in the matter, and he is out. He mopes outside, but Couture and the rest of the team go to console him.  He goes back inside and congratulates Florian on his victory. (Leben: "In my book, I owe him a beer.")  

Meanwhile, Josh Koscheck is ecstatic that Leben, whom he has despised throughout the competition, is once again out.  But this week, it may be Koscheck going home, as he must face Diego Sanchez, who to this point has proven himself a dangerous opponent. 

Back at the house, Sanchez steels himself for this fight.  He realizes that Koscheck has a better ground game than he does, so he decides to work on his striking techniques.  Koscheck, coincidentally, decides to do exactly the same thing: Sanchez is a submission master, and so he decides to stay on his feet. 

For both men, this fight is a different animal than what they've experienced previously: much like Leben and Florian, these two men like and respect one another, and now they must fight.  (Florian has perspective for Sanchez: "If you can train with the guys you're gonna fight, then fight them and be successful, you can do anything, ya know?") 

The next day, light heavyweight Forrest Griffin goes to the doctor's office to get the stitches in the cut over his eye taken out.  The doctor says that his cut looks good, but it's not his decision, it's that of the Nevada State Athletic Commission.  As a result, the recently returned Bobby Southworth is training with Team Liddell in case Griffin will not be able to fight Sam Hogar, the other remaining light heavyweight on Team Liddell.  (If that happens, it would be what professional wrestling fans might call a "heel vs. heel" match; Southworth has proven himself a hypocrite and a whiner, while Hogar is a thief, a liar and a turncoat.) 

At the weigh-ins, Sanchez weighs in at 183.5 pounds, while Koscheck tips the scales at 185.5 pounds.  Everything is in order, and the war is on. 

Meanwhile, UFC president Dana White (who's been the real host of this show, as opposed to Willa Ford, the "official" host, who's just been looking pretty at the team challenges) goes to the Hard Rock Hotel to survey the scene for the weigh-ins for the finale.  He takes a moment to hype the final show (which I will do too: Saturday, April 9, live at 9PM EST on Spike TV.  It will be the first live UFC card to be aired on basic cable instead of pay-per-view.  A perfect dessert for after the TPIR Million Dollar Spectacular, eh?). 

Fight day comes.  The two men arrive at the gym and the final preparations begin: warm-ups, hand wrapping, application of Vaseline, and the like.  The two men walk to the Octagon for their confrontation, and Dana White reminds them of the rules: three five-minute rounds instead of the two in the preliminaries.  Then, UFC referee Herb Dean asks the two men if they're ready.  They signal affirmative, and the war is on. 

And this one really is a war. 

Semifinal Bout #2: Middleweights - Diego "The Nightmare" Sanchez vs. Josh Koscheck

The first round starts as a dance recital, but it doesn't stay that way for long, as the two men trade strikes.  Koscheck tries to stay away, but Sanchez comes in and lands some big right hands, and Koscheck answers with a big kick.  Koscheck tries to take Sanchez down, but Sanchez sprawls and stops him.  The two men circle each other looking for an opening, but neither man seems to be able to land a big shot.  Suddenly Koscheck takes Sanchez down, but his man escapes and strikes back.   They continue to circle each other looking for an opportunity and probing one another's defenses.  Koscheck tries another take down, and slams Sanchez to the fence, but Sanchez tries to lock a guillotine hold on Koscheck, but he escapes, and the two men trade shots.  Sanchez manages to escape and tries to lock in a submission, but Koscheck breaks free, and the two men trade strikes.  Koscheck tries another takedown, but Sanchez goes for another guillotine hold, and brings him down, but he cannot make his man tap out, as the horn blows to end the round. 

The second round starts much as the first did, with the two men jockeying for a good position.  Koscheck tries a takedown, but Sanchez lands a knee strike to stop him.  The two men circle one another for a good minute or so before Sanchez tries to land a boxing combo.  Koscheck lands a leg kick, and then tries to take him down unsuccessfully.  Sanchez comes in with a boxing combo, then tries to lock on a submission, but Koscheck breaks free.  The two men trade strikes and again Sanchez tries the guillotine hold, kneeing Koscheck in the head when it doesn't work, but eventually locking it on again.  But Koscheck breaks free and reverses control and to get into the mount, but Sanchez tries to lock in another submission hold.  But Koscheck escapes it and stands back up, and gets kicked by Sanchez.  He takes Sanchez back down, and trades strikes with him on the ground.  Eventually, Dean breaks them up, but forgets to move between them, and while Sanchez drops his guard, Koscheck lands a cheap shot.  The two men clinch up again as the horn blows. 

Koscheck will pay for his cheap shot. 

In the third round, the two men again circle one another looking for an opportunity to strike.  Suddenly, Sanchez lands a huge left hand, and follows in with more strikes, which Koscheck tries to counter with a takedown, only to get nearly locked into another guillotine hold and then eats several knee strikes and a right hand.  Koscheck tries to come in with a standing take down but he gets blasted by punches and knee strikes for his trouble.  Koscheck finally takes Sanchez down, and but fails to strike decisively and Sanchez tries to lock in submission holds, and each time Koscheck manages to escape.  Koscheck stands up and holds Sanchez down, and eventually comes back down to strike, but Sanchez returns fire with heavy shots of his own.  Finally, Dean breaks them up.  Sanchez loses his mouthpiece, and has to have it washed before the round continues.  Koscheck tries to take him down, but Sanchez takes the upper hand and escapes.  The two men trade strikes, and again Koscheck tries a takedown, but Sanchez locks in a submission.  Koscheck escapes the hold, only to get locked into another hold.  Sanchez pounds Koscheck with elbow strikes up to the final horn. 

Sanchez has a bloody nose, but stands up, arms in the air.  Koscheck on the other hand is exhausted, his face bruised and battered.  The two men brought their A-game here, and the fight is in the hand of the judges.

The two warriors embrace in the center of the ring, and Dana White reveals the results: a split decision for… 

Diego Sanchez. 

The Nightmare is in the finals for the middleweight division, and he'll do battle with Kenny Florian at the finale on April 9th.  Who will join them from the light heavyweights?  Find out next week.  Two big fights coming at you then and we'll be there for it.  For GSNN, this is the "Game Show Man" Joe Van Ginkel, saying godspeed and spread the love.

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