No Daniel Cormier, no problem.
The UFC light heavyweight champion was unavailable to prepare Team Cormier’s Bryce Mitchell on this week’s episode of The Ultimate Fighter 27, but it didn’t make much of a difference as “Thug Nasty” won two commanding rounds over Team Miocic’s Jay Cucciniello to advance to the semifinals of the featherweight tournament.
Mitchell took control of the fight in round one after clipping Cucciniello with a head kick and then moving in to score a takedown. He would advance to back control, only to be shaken off, but back on the feet he would again set up a successful takedown with his striking.
In round two, Mitchell caught a Cucciniello kick to immediately bring the fight to the mat and establish back control. Though Cucciniello managed to avoid Mitchell’s choke attempts, he failed to escape the dominant position and went on to lose the two-round fight via unanimous decision.
Both men entered the bout with perfect professional records, as the theme of TUF 27 is that all contestants are undefeated. They will technically remain that way until the finale on July 6, due to TUF bouts being classified as exhibitions.
Two-time heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez took the lead in Cormier’s absence and helped their team improve to 4-0 in the competition. Velasquez has experience as a coach on the long running reality program. On the inaugural season of The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America, he led featherweight Yair Rodriguez and bantamweight Alejandro Perez to tournament victories.
It wasn’t all good news for Team Cormier. Lightweight Luis Pena, who picked up a win in last week’s episode, was forced to withdraw from the competition due to a fracture in his foot that would require 4-6 weeks of recovery time. Later in the show, UFC president Dana White told “Violent Bob Ross” that if he’s healthy, he will be booked to compete on The Ultimate Fighter 27 Finale.
Here are the first-round results so far:
Joe Giannetti def. John Gunther via technical submission (guillotine choke) in Round 1
Brad Katona def. Kyler Phillips via majority decision
Luis Pena def. Jose Martinez via unanimous decision
Bryce Mitchell def. Jay Cucciniello via unanimous decision
On next week’s episode, Team Cormier’s Thai Clark fights Team Miocic’s Mike Trizano in a lightweight bout.
Season 27 of The Ultimate Fighter is being coached by UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier and UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic. Cormier challenges Miocic for the heavyweight title in the main event of UFC 226 on July 7 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
The finalists of the TUF 27 lightweight and featherweight tournaments will compete for a six-figure UFC contract on July 6, also in Las Vegas.
Here is the TUF 27 roster divided by team:
Advancing to Round 2: Giannetti, Katona, Pena (forced to withdraw due to injury), Mitchell
Eliminated: Gunther, Phillips, Martinez, Cucciniello