“The Ultimate Fighter: Team Carwin vs. Team Nelson” returned to action tonight on FX for its final offering. This week marked the semifinals of the season with Team Nelson’s Colton Smith facing teammate Jon Manley and Team Carwin’s Mike Ricci facing teammate Neil Magny. The bouts finalized the card for the live finale on December 15 as the final two welterweights vie to become “The Ultimate Fighter.” SPOILERS BELOW
This week’s episode opens up in the Team Nelson locker room, with virtually every fighter from the team lamenting their experience on the show. The overall theme being that the fighters did not feel they were adequately trained or led by their coach, citing multiple incidents with matchmaking and preparation throughout their experience in the TUF house.
There’s a brief segway where we get a breakdown of the first semifinal between Colton Smith and Jon Manley. Smith insists that his strategy for his fights never changes. Coach Nelson believes the fight to be an equal pairing since Smith is dominant in wrestling but Manley has a clear edge in BJJ.
Shortly before our first semifinal begins, Team Nelson decides to voice their complaints to their coach. Nelson shows little empathy and points out that his work got two fighters to the semis (never mind at least one spot was assured). Cameron Diffley, who had worked with Nelson prior to the show, tries to voice his displeasure before Nelson tells the team he cannot give the fighters heart.
Colton Smith vs. Jon Manley
- Herb Dean is our referee and we’re on our way. Manley takes the center of the cage before Smith rushes and puts the fight on the cage. Manley gets separation but Smith secures a takedown. Smith postures up and looks to pass, finally doing so. The position doesn’t last long though as Manley gets back to his feet, but Smith keeps him tight in the clinch for the rest of the round. MMAFrenzy scores it 10-9 Smith.
- Manley comes out swinging to start the second but Smith evades and eventually secures an outside trip takedown. Manley works back up and separates. Manley again looks to press the action but Smith plays it smart and secures a takedown off the clinch. Manley works back up but Smith keeps the clinch and brings Manley down as Manley digs for a submission. Manley can’t secure it and he works back to his feet, only to get slammed by Smith. Manley works up again and tries for a takedown of his own in the closing seconds only to be reversed by Smith. MMAFrenzy scores it 10-9 Smith.
- Déjà vu reigns supreme in the third round with the fight continuing to be a repeat of Manley attacking, Colton clinching and taking down Manley, and then Manley escaping. Manley finally breaks free with about two minutes left and looks to press for a finish. Smith is having none of it though, having secured the first two rounds, and simply avoids any meaningful exchanges for the remainder of the round. The final bell sounds with the decision clearly in Smith’s favor over a distraught Manley.
Colton Smith def. Jon Manley via unanimous decision
Colton celebrates his victory with a little bit of Jim Beam before we switch over to our next semifinal.
Prior to the bout, we get a view of a much happier Team Carwin locker room. Team Carwin’s fighters having nothing but praise for bringing in the coaching staff that he brought in as we prepare for the final semifinal.
Neil Magny vs. Mike Ricci
- Both fighters look to establish their range early before Mangy secures a clinch. Ricci fends off a takedown attempt and the fighters are separated with Magny landing a wicked body kick. Ricci fires back quickly however, and lands an electrifying straight left that floors Magny. Magny somehow survives and ties up the Canadian as he tries to finish. Mangy works back to his feet only to be greeted by a horrific elbow that separates Magny from consciousness and leaves him on the floor for several moments after the bout is called.
Mike Ricci def. Neil Magny via KO (elbow) in Round 1
With that, TUF 16 is in the books with only the two remaining fighters (Mike Ricci and Colton Smith) securing a spot in the finale.