Welcome to another edition of The Ultimate Fighter: Live, as Team Cruz representative Justin Lawrence will take on Team Faber’s Cristiano Marcello. The episode starts off with Chris Tickle from Team Cruz beginning the pranks, ripping Urijah Faber’s parking sign off the post and placing it in the gym. However, late during a practice session, Dominick Cruz takes heat with Tickle’s way of training, forcing the UFC champion to have a little one-on-one time with his student.
We head back with just under 30 minutes until the start of the live fight, as Marcello is going through his training. He talks about receiving his black belt from Royler Gracie. And, we receive the theme for the night from Marcello when he says the fight is going to be, “Old-school vs. new-school.” Team Faber coach Justin Buchholz refers to Marcello as crazy, and the team does not seem amused by the prank pulled courtesy Tickle.
Instead, Team Faber adds some black tape to a poster of Cruz, making him look like Eddie Munster. Tickle takes exception to some words spoken by John Cofer, and challenges him on it in front of Faber. “The California Kid” plays peacemaker, and cooler heads prevail – for now.
We are under 20 minutes until the start of the fight, as Lawrence and Marcello continue to warm-up. Cruz reveals he picked Marcello for Lawrence because he wanted to challenge his prospect, looking to get even more out of him. If you remember, Lawrence was the top pick by Cruz, while Marcello was Faber’s second pick behind Al Iaquinta. During the elimination-round matches, Lawrence won by TKO over James Krause and Marcello downed Jared Carlsten via submission.
Cruz takes the joke on his poster well, but his team decides to have a little fun with the poster of Faber. The first coach confrontation takes place, as Cruz and his team stay in the gym a few minutes past their time to leave, and Faber makes sure to call them out on it.
Just as Lorenzo Fertitta promised, we see a Rashad Evans-based preview for the upcoming Jon Jones-Evans bout next month for the UFC light heavyweight title.
At the official weigh-in for the fight, Lawrence hits the scale at 156 pounds. Marcello, meanwhile comes in at 156, as well. The two come inches apart in the staredown, with Lawrence cracking a slight grin to the stoic face of Marcello.
It’s time to fight, as Marcello carries out a U.S. flag to the Octagon. Marcello sports a five-inch reach advantage and is 13 years older than Lawrence. Marcello takes the center of the Octagon early, as both fighters seem to be trying to figure the other out. Lawrence connects with the first strike, but is unable to put anything together. Wild swinging right by Lawrence misses, as Marcello continues to look hesitant to strike. Marcello finally goes on the attack, chasing Lawrence around the Octagon. Exchange of leg kicks by the fighters, just to test the distance out. Coming under two minutes to go in the opening round, and Marcello seems to slip. Lawrence comes in and connects with a combo. Front-kick for Marcello, and he follows up with another stiff leg kick. The round comes to an end with Marcello looking more confident than when it started.
Marcello starts the second by trying to get the takedown, but Lawrence’s strength is too much. Lawrence catches Marcello with a big shot, peppering him with quick jabs. Marcello tries to get Lawrence to the ground, but he doesn’t bite, and the two are back to their feet. Stiff jab lands to the chin of Marcello. Lawrence lands another that drops Marcello to the canvas. Lawrence is teeing off now, landing several strikes flush to the face of Marcello as the submission expert remains unable to get Lawrence to the mat. Marcello comes in, and Lawrence lands a stiff jab that drops him to the mat. Lawrence walks away, knowing the bout is over thanks to a crushing left-hand.
Justin Lawrence earns a knockout victory at 3:16 of the second round, advancing into the quarterfinals.
“Feels amazing. We worked that all week long,” Lawrence said. “There’s some added pressure (being the No. 1 pick), but it’s something I have to get used to. I’m excited, bro.”
It is announced that next week’s episode will feature Myles Jury of Team Cruz against Al Iaquinta of Team Faber. Jury was the third pick for Cruz; Iaquinta was Faber’s top selection.