TUF 15: Mountain man Michael Chiesa moves on
Watching the 5th episode of The Ultimate Fighter 15, it dawned on me how ridiculous it is that the UFC shifted the show from Wednesday to Friday. It would seem logical that on Fridays the majority of the TUF demographic would be priming themselves with copious amounts of liquor for a night on the town. Wednesdays were more accessible for fans, but Dana White has always been a fan of boxing’s Friday Night Fights.
This week’s fight pitted Faber’s stellar submission fighter Michael Chiesa (7-0), sporting an Alaskan mountain man beard and long hair, against Cruz’s Jeremy Larsen (8-2), a tough stand up fighter who Cruz says will not fold for anyone.
Cruz had Larsen working on get-ups, to avoid Chiesa’s specialty: ground control and subs. At this level, most fighters are strong like oxen, but Larsen has the build of the prodigiously strong farm boy. With grappling, however, technique is almost everything.
Faber had Octagon control, takedowns, top control and finishing on Chiesa’s to do list. Chiesa’s long limbs and reach are definite advantages for him and his grappling.
Larsen knows Cruz from childhood, but had been separated till MMA brought them together again.
“If I wasn’t fighting or in MMA right now, I’d probably be in jail or dead, because I was going down the wrong path,” said Larsen.
The fighters squared off in the Octagon, Chiesa sporting a bad tattoo on his back spelling out his own name, Larsen brandishing one equally as bad on his pec that looked like an homage to Veronica Lodge.
Round one started with Larsen affectively defending the take down, for about fifteen seconds, but to his credit, when Chiesa got Larsen down he didn’t keep him down long. If Chiesa’s takedowns and ground control weren’t utterly overwhelming, his clinches were, and frustrated Larsen’s efforts to get anything going in the stand up. An unintentional knee to Larsen’s head while technically down had the referee Steve Mazzagatti take a point away from Chiesa, effectively evening what would have been a 10-9 round for Team Faber.
Round two began with a brawl that lasted a few seconds and probably had more landed strikes than the rest of the fight combined. Larsen desperately needed something to work, to separate and land some leather, but even when he had chances, he often chose to clinch, knee, and dirty box, which didn't work out for him. By the end of the round, Chiesa had Larsen’s down again, took his back, but was unable to sink the rear naked choke. Chiesa won the unanimous decision.
The fight evened the teams at two wins apiece, but did nothing for Chiesa in the eyes of possible opponents. He dedicated the fight to his mother, who’d lost her husband---Chiesa’s dad---just as the show had begun a few weeks ago.
Faber chose Team Cruz runaway train Chris Tickle to fight Joe Proctor next week. In spite of Tickle being fickle in the training room---constantly complaining of ‘injuries”, always wanting a break, and going to the washroom as much as all the other team members combined---he does have the skills to get to the finale. We shall see.