‘TUF 24’ Recap: Episode 12

By Mike Sloan Nov 30, 2016
We have reached the final episode on Season 24 of “The Ultimate Fighter,” where everything culminates with a battle between Tim Elliott and Hiromasa Ogikubo. The winner moves on to challenge Ultimate Fighting Championship flyweight titleholder Demetrious Johnson in “The Ultimate Fighter 24” Finale main event on Saturday at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas.

After a lengthy intro showcases the two finalists, Episode 12 begins at “The Ultimate Fighter” House, where coaches Joseph Benavidez and Henry Cejudo arrive with pizza and other food, as the fighters celebrate a terrific season. From there, Elliott and Ogikubo are allowed to FaceTime their families. As expected, emotions run high for the two flyweights.

Once weigh-ins are complete, Benavidez takes his entire team to the Bootlegger Bistro for a meal on what is the final night of the show for everyone. The coach and his fighters toast one another and give speeches through which they reflect on their lives and their experiences during “The Ultimate Fighter.” Whether or not Cejudo did the same for his team, no one knows.

Johnson makes an appearance the following day and sits cageside for the final, measuring the two men fighting for the right to challenge him for the title. Before the fight, “Mighty Mouse” speaks with UFC President Dana White and predicts and Elliott victory. Ogikubo and Elliott then enter the cage for their three-round clash.

Round 1 begins with referee Herb Dean serving as the third man. Elliott comes out aggressively with errant punches to the body and kicks downstairs. After Ogikubo blocks a minor flurry to the head, he changes levels and takes down the American. Elliott springs right back to his feet and circles away before tagging the former Shooto champion with a straight left. Ogikubo absorbs a pair of shins to the leg and body before popping his counterpart with a right to the face. Elliott circles again, executes a nice single-leg takedown and lands in Ogikubo’s guard. Moments later, he backs out and forces a reset in the center of the cage. The flyweights trade decent punches away from the fence before Elliott stuffs an Ogikubo takedown attempt. Elliott blocks two high kicks but swallows a right cross before being taken down. He shifts his hips to half guard and then three-quarter guard, all while denying the Japanese veteran’s bids to pass. Elliott scrambles to his feet, and from there, they trade serious fire, with both men connecting with punches to the head and kicks to the body. The Titan Fighting Championship titleholder shoots in again and takes down Ogikubo, only to find himself in a guillotine choke in the waning seconds. A close round ends.

Elliott quickly secures a takedown and lands in Ogikubo’s full guard at the start of the middle stanza. Ogikubo answers with a takedown of his own after the American opts to return to a standing position. Just as before, they scramble to their feet, with Elliott tagging his adversary with a pair of straight lefts to the head. Ogikubo shoots in again, but the Wichita, Kansas, native wraps him in a crucifix and forces him to explode to his feet. Elliott chases down Ogikubo and drags him to the canvas once more. The Paraestra Matsudo rep’s pace slows, and Elliott seizes his back during an ensuing scramble and threatens with a rear-naked choke. Ogikubo escapes, mounts the Resurrection Fighting Alliance alum and bites down on a guillotine, only to see Elliott wiggle free and reverse position. A wild scramble follows, to Elliott’s advantage. He advances to the back again and rides out the clock, sending the final to a third round with momentum in his corner.

Ogikubo slowly shoots for a single-leg to start Round 3 but eats a kick to the ribs and finds himself being taken down from a standing kimura sweep. He thwarts the submission attempt, but Elliott winds up on top and peppers his counterpart’s body with elbows and punches. Ogikubo struggles to get to a more advantageous position but ends up turtled against the cage absorbing punches. A mauling unfolds, as Elliott out-scrambles the Japanese standout at every turn, piling up points along the way. Ogikubo later rolls in a desperate attempt to escape, a decision that allows 29-year-old Glory MMA and Fitness rep to take his back. Elliott cannot find the finish, and out of nowhere, Ogikubo musters the strength to stand, reverse position and climb to the back. Time ticks away, and the drastic shift Ogikubo needs is nowhere to be found. With 10 seconds left, he charges after Elliott with a torrent of punches and jumps on a mounted guillotine to no avail.

With no drama or fanfare, White announces Elliott as the unanimous decision winner: 30-27 on all three scorecards. Benavidez and Cejudo square off in the center of the Octagon following the trophy presentation and the trash talk commences. No such heat exists between Johnson and Elliott, as they stand face to face, with the challenger continuing his quirk of staring at the ground.

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