24 fights and 10 episodes have passed, but only two fights remain before the semifinal matchups will crown the next two competitors who hope to wear The Ultimate Fighter crown on April 13.
After last week's rousing performances by Dylan Andrews and Kelvin Gastelum, if there's one sure thing about The Ultimate Fighter this season it's that there are no sure things. Underdogs have ruled the roost week after week in many of the preliminary round fights, and that trend continued into the quarterfinals.
Knockout king Uriah Hall and the very outspoken Josh Samman hope to avoid that same fate when they face off with Bubba McDaniels and Jimmy Quinlan, respectively, to see which two fighters will remain in the tournament with a hope of becoming the newest Ultimate Fighter winner.
The first quarterfinal showdown will pit Samman against Quinlan in a classic fight of striker vs. grappler.
Of course that's not to say anyone doesn't have the skill set to counter the other nor does it mean that one fighter could come in with a whole new game plan set to stun his opponent (hello Kevin Gastelum winning by knockout!), but style wise Samman has to know his way to win is on the feet, and Quinlan's obvious advantage is on the mat.
All season long, Samman has been more than happy to expel his own virtues, but he backed it up with a knockout over Tor Troeng in his preliminary round fight, and now he gets the chance to do it again. It's a tough road to travel against Quinlan however, who comes to the show as a four-time All-Conference collegiate wrestler and a multi-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu champion.
Quinlan was a dark horse favorite when the competition started, and remains as such going into his fight with Samman. His striking is good enough to keep him safe, and his ground game is dangerous enough to make anyone worry about ending up on their backs with Quinlan on top of them.
The fight favors Quinlan, especially if Samman gets over aggressive in his striking, and the season of underdog performances favors the New England area grappler just like when he eliminated Team Jones' No. 1 pick Clint Hester a few weeks ago.
The second quarterfinal fight pairs Uriah Hall, who now owns the greatest knockout in TUF history with his spinning heel kick to finish Adam Cella earlier in the season, with wild card winner Bubba McDaniels.
There are always going to be favorites during each season of the Ultimate Fighter, and this year Hall is the golden boy. A deadly mix of flashy stand-up, unreal power in hands and feet, and an underrated ground game with scrambles and the ability to get out of bad positions makes Hall a nightmare matchup for almost everyone in this competition.
It's also hard to ignore the promotion leading into the fight as McDaniels has been seen in commercials as a jumbled mess, not able to get his head right as he tries to prepare for the showdown with Hall.
McDaniels' problems all seem to come down to mental preparation because when he's ready and prepared, he could be the best fighter in the entire Ultimate Fighter house. A veteran fighter that trains under famed coach Greg Jackson, which means he's routinely going rounds with fighters like his coach Jon Jones, and McDaniels is a serious threat to anyone on the right day.
The problem is will that right day happen when he faces the shining gem of TUF 17?
Hall is a bad fight to take on a good day, and if McDaniels isn't 110-percent when the fight starts, he might soon be the second feature of his opponent's growing highlight reel. Look for Hall to go head hunting like an executioner during a busy day on Game of Thrones when he faces off with McDaniels as soon as the referee says 'fight'.
If there was one odds on favorite with the best chance to carry that strategy all the way to the finale, Uriah Hall certainly seems to fit that bill.
TUF 17 Fantasy Preview: The Quarterfinals Conclude
By Damon Martin 4月 01, 2013