If you missed the previous episodes, check out those highlights below:
Continue reading for the highlights of the eighth episode, which streamed Tuesday on ESPN+.
Semifinals means more fighting
The semifinal fights are scheduled for three rounds, with a potential “sudden victory” fourth round. The opening round fights were two rounds with the potential for an extra third.
The semifinal matchups, starting with Ricky Turcios vs. Liudvik Sholinian include:
Bantamweight semifinal fights
- Ricky Turcios vs. Liudvik Sholinian*
- Brady Hiestand vs. Vincent Murdock
Middleweight semifinal fights
- Bryan Battle vs. Andre Petroski
- Gilbert Urbina vs. Tresean Gore
Coach Ortega’s tardiness
Team Ortega was shown warming up in the gym, waiting on their coaching staff to arrive for a training session.
“You know they ain’t coming for another 40 (minutes),” Andre Petroski told Vincent Murdock. “Brian and the other coaches do have a history of being late to practice.”
Team Volkanovski saw this as an opportunity for a prank, so they hung multiple clocks all over Team Ortega’s locker room. Volkanovski waited for Ortega’s arrival by sitting on the top shelf with a smiley face clock covering his shorts, giving the appearance that he was naked on the shelf.
When Ortega arrived, he took it in stride and laughed it off with Volkanovski, but ultimately thought the prank was weak.
Tale of the tape:
- Age: 31
- Professional MMA Record:
- Height: 5’8″
- Reach: 70″
- Weigh-in weight: 135.5 lbs.
Sholinian isn’t one that needs a lot of direction from his coaches or training partners. According to Coach Ortega, he’s the type of fighter that “gets it” and will do what needs to be done to succeed.
Tale of the tape:
- Age: 27
- Professional MMA Record:
- Height: 5’9″
- Reach: 72″
- Weigh-in weight: 135 lbs.
Dubbed “The Cult Leader” by his housemates, Turcios opened up to Bryan Battle while sitting poolside about what his journey on “TUF” means for him personally.
Being away from electronics and other distractions allowed him to focus on martial arts and growing his mentality.
Various scenes are shown with Turcios meditating, while Coach Volkanovski says that he’s a little bit different than everyone else competing in the house.
Turcios vs. Sholinian – Round 1
The fight started with a brief feel-out process as both fighters tried to find the range by throwing single strikes at a time. Turcios circled on the outside while occasionally charging forward with a quick combination as Sholinian waved him in.
Turcios initiated a clinch against the fence midway through the round, where the two would exchange a few short strikes before separating. Sholinian landed a clean right hand which prompted Turcios to try to get it back immediately, ultimately resulting in another brief clinch against the cage.
After separating again, Turcios turned the pressure up a notch and unloaded strikes until the round expired while Sholinian did his best to avoid major damage.
Turcios vs. Sholinian – Round 2
Turcios continued to lead the striking early in the second, but Sholinian switched up the gameplan and completed a clean takedown just 30 seconds into the round. Turcios remained active from his back while Sholinian attempted to transition, but the pair returned to the feet a few seconds later.
Turcios returned to controlling the center of the cage, leading with strikes. He attempted a takedown of his own that was reversed by Sholinian creating an awkward scramble for position.
The two separated briefly, but Sholinian immediately went for another takedown which created another wild scramble before returning to the feet where the two would wildly trade strikes until the round ended.
Turcios vs. Sholinian – Round 3
Turcios was amped up to start the third round, audibly expressing his excitement to continue the fight. He led the charge early in the round with punching combinations that kept Sholinian on his back foot.
The two fought in a phone booth while moving around the cage, trading punches. Turcios got the better of most of the exchanges, but Sholinian refused to back down as he returned fire.
With 30 seconds remaining, Turcios pointed to the center of the canvas, indicating he wanted to stand and bang until the round ended. The two continued to brawl until the fight concluded.
When the horn sounded, Turcios hopped on the top of the cage to celebrate and Dana White gave a standing ovation for the performance.
After an exciting three rounds of fighting, the judges determined Turcios the winner of the fight.
The second semifinal fight
On the next episode, Bryan Battle vs. Andre Petroski will take place as the first middleweight semifinal fight.
“The bigger the stage and the brighter the lights shine, I feel like that brings the best performances out of me,” Battle said.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Petroski said. “You know if I win this, and to be in the finale, is a big deal.”