This week on Fight Master, the final two fights in the opening round took place. So far, six men have punched their tickets to the quarterfinals. From Team Shamrock, Chris Lozano, Nick Barnes and Joe Williams have advanced. Cole Williams and Mike Bronzoulis of Team Couture secured their spots via wins, as has Joe Riggs of Team Jackson.

Two spots were still up for grabs. Team Warren’s last hope was Evan Cutts, while Team Jackson had Eric Bradley and Team Couture had A.J. Matthews and Cristiano Souza.

The first fight of the episode was between Cutts and Souza. Souza made his way into the house by knocking out his own teammate and is viewed as one of the top guys in the competition.

In looking at the tape, Team Couture viewed Cutts as a weak striker. They wanted Souza to lure him into a striking battle because Cutts’ defense, even in his fight to get into the house, looked poor. Joe Warren agreed, saying that Cutts needed to get Souza down and work his ground game and the clinch.

Evan Cutts vs. Cristiano Souza

The first round started with Cutts moving forward and Souza looking for the home-run shot. Cutts shot for a takedown, but was rebuked. Souza tagged Cutts multiple times, but failed to finish him. It looked like Souza was going to gas himself out, when he dropped Cutts again. Souza worked from the top on the ground. Cutts attacked off his back, but he was still rocked and somewhat tired himself. Eventually, the Team Warren member got back to his feet. Both men were noticeably slowing as Cutts shot for the takedown. Souza used a headlock to defend. A wild scramble ended the round.

The second round opened with a couple of exchanges before Cutts pushed the Team Couture member against the cage. He landed strikes in the clinch which looked to be effective. As Cutts looked to finally bring the fight down, Souza tripped him to his back. That didn’t last long, as they went back to the feet and another clinch battle ensued not long after. Cutts finally got the takedown. During a failed roll, he took Souza’s back momentarily. Souza ended up on top. That didn’t matter, as Cutts slapped on an impressive triangle choke to score the upset victory.

Evan Cutts def. Cristiano Souza by submission (triangle choke). Round 2

The next fight was the final of the first round, with Team Couture’s A.J. Matthews taking on decorated wrestler and Team Jackson member Eric Bradley. Matthews picked Bradley because he wanted a challenge and Bradley agreed, saying that he is not a good match-up for Matthews, which is why he thinks he was picked.

Matthews revealed that he hurt his shoulder when he fought to get into the house. He re-aggravated that injury in training, which threatened to keep him out of this fight. However, it looked like he was going to try to fight through it (which he did).

A.J. Matthews vs. Eric Bradley

The first round saw a feeling-out process with Matthews obviously wary of Bradley’s wrestling and Bradley looking to set up a takedown. About a minute in, Bradley got the takedown, but Matthews frantically made his way toward the cage and worked back up to his feet. Bradley threw knees to the body and thighs while in a transitional spot on the ground, where he had Matthews’ back while the Team Couture member was on his knees. Bradley continued to try to plant Matthews on the ground, with Matthews using a kimura to break up the hugfest. After a little bit of on-the-feet action, Bradley again shot a double and got Matthews in the same position that was utilized for most of the round. Matthews got up toward the end of the round, but spent that time pressed against the fence. That was an easy 10-9 round for the Team Jackson member.

We moved on to the second round, where Matthews looked to pepper Bradley with strikes, but again was on the receiving end of a takedown. Matthews did not spend much time on the ground before getting back to his striking. Bradley shot a takedown, but Matthews sprawled. Persistence paid off, as Bradley got him somewhat down again and moved to his back. Matthews did a good job of getting out of the bad spot and moving up to his feet. As in most of the fight, Matthews was pushed up against the cage by the relentless wrestler. After taking some body shots, Bradley secured yet another takedown in almost a carbon copy of the first round. Definitely a 10-9 round that gave Bradley a 20-18 win to move on to the next round.

Eric Bradley def. A.J. Matthews by unanimous decision (20-18 x3)

With that, we have the quarterfinals. Cutts and Bradley join the field of eight. In terms of the teams, Frank Shamrock leads the way with three fighters in the quarterfinals. Randy Couture and Greg Jackson have two fighters apiece, and Warren got just one man in.

Photo: Fight Master Logo (Spike.com)

About The Author

Riley Kontek
Staff Writer

Riley Kontek is a Chicago-land native that has been an addict of mixed martial arts since the first Chuck Liddell-Tito Ortiz encounter. He has been writing on MMA for the last year and is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report MMA. In addition to that, he used to host a weekly radio show on MMA. Though he has no formal training in mixed martial arts, Riley is a master in the art of hockey fighting.