One house, 16 fighters. It might not seem all that daunting, but each season, The Ultimate Fighter’s format takes a toll, both mentally and physically, on the fighters seeking to snag that six-figure contract. While The Ultimate Fighter 19 continues in search of the next great welterweight, the third installment of the Brazilian version of the UFC’s landmark reality series comes closer to its concluding moments.

This week, on the 11th episode of the show, coach Chael Sonnen and rival Wanderlei Silva saw the semifinals begin. Fans will recall that last week saw the quarterfinals end at a 4-4 mark. Heavyweights Jollyson Francisco and Marcos Rogério did battle, and Rogério scored a decision in two rounds of the bout.  With that in mind, who would kick off the semifinals? It didn’t take us long to find out, as the middleweight clash of Wagner Gomes and Warlley Alves started things off. As only one week remained before the season finale, the last two weeks promised two fights in one show, so following the Gomes-Alves clash, Rogério and Antônio Carlos Junior were set to battle.

At the house, the competitors selected the two Octagon girls for the finals of the “TUF Muse” competition. They reviewed the film at their disposal judiciously and selected Ana Cecilia and Fernanda Hernandes as the two finalists. 

After that grueling deliberation, the fighters got a special surprise at the first of the two weigh-ins. Bruce Buffer, who has never appeared on The Ultimate Fighter in all of the seasons of the series, stopped by and wanted to encourage the semifinalists. He signaled his own arrival to them by yelling his signature line “It’s time!” After both Alves and Gomes hit the mark, it was time to get things going in this first middleweight semifinal.

Middleweight Fight: Wagner Gomes (Team Wanderlei) vs. Warlley Alves (Team Sonnen)

Alves came out swinging and landed a high kick and a one-two combination that hurt Gomes. After a pause and a leg kick, Gomes tried to first take the action to the ground, and then pressed the action against the cage. Gomes slipped and recovered enough to try for the takedown, but when he went to press the action against the cage, Alves locked up a guillotine choke and forced the tap in just 25 seconds of the first round.

Warlley Alves def. Wagner Gomes by submission (guillotine choke). Round 1, 0:25

Team Sonnen ddid not get a chance to celebrate the win too hard because Rogério and “Cara de Sapato” battled next. Both fighters kept similar strategies to those of the middleweights, as Junior wanted to advance position and submit “Pezao”, while Rogério elected to keep this one standing. After a brief moment where Junior got a pep talk from former UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos, we moved on to the second semifinal featuring the two big boys.

Heavyweight Fight: Antonio Carlos Junior (Team Wanderlei) vs. Marcos Rogério (Team Sonnen)

It didn’t take long for both men to set a rather fierce pace in this once, thanks in part to strikes from Rogério. Rogério tried to smother Junior, and did a good job of it early on. Junior got enough room to complete a takedown from which Rogério rose, but once Rogério turned his back, Junior executed a suplex, locked up a body triangle, and sunk in a rear-naked choke to move himself through to the heavyweight final.

Antonio Carlos Junior def. Marcos Rogério by submission (rear-naked choke). Round 1, 2:17

This concluded the first two semifinal bouts. The remaining match-ups will feature Ricardo Abreu vs. Márcio Junior and Richardson Moreira vs. Vitor Miranda. Will Abreu blast past “Lyoto” to meet Alves in the middleweight final? Will Moreira withstand Miranda on his way towards a showdown with Junior at the finale? Find out next Sunday as The Ultimate Fighter Brazil 3 comes to a head!