This week’s episode featured the much-hyped fight between Matt Van Buren and my teammate (and close friend) from back home, Chris Fields. Neither guy made it a secret that they didn’t like the other. They didn’t actually have many confrontations in the flesh. The only time they had a few words with each other was the time Chris said something to Matt in the kitchen. Other than that, all of their trash-talking was done in the team vans on the way to practice. Both guys were opinionated people who didn’t bite their tongue about anything, and funnily enough, it was that same trait they shared that really led to their dislike for each other.

The episode also shows the fighters going to the Harley-Davidson HQ to check out the Harleys. This actually happened after all the quarterfinal fights had taken place and the semifinalists were there to choose the Harley we would take if we were to be the winner of the competition. The night at the Harley HQ was great fun. We got to check out all the bikes, and we even got to test drive one of the bikes on a treadmill-type contraption.
We also got to try on some of the Harley clothing range, which was great fun. We felt like right badasses in the cool gear—all of us except B.J. Penn, who we dressed up in crotchless leather pants and a leather jacket with tassels…it was hilarious!

The fight between Chris and Van Buren was always going to be different to their usual fights. Both guys generally enjoyed a big reach and height advantage in fights, but in this fight that usual advantage in their games was canceled out.

The fight started out with Van Buren immediately looking to clinch up with Chris. He obviously wasn’t comfortable standing with a guy that had a similar height and reach as him. The first round was very tight and could have went either way. The judges may have given the round to Van Buren because he was initiating the clinch.

The second round was much the same. Van Buren was clinching as often as he could. In the rare occasion the fight was out in the open, Chris was definitely winning the striking exchanges. At one point toward the end of the round, Chris got a hold of Van Buren’s neck and pulled guard to go for a guillotine. Unfortunately for Chris, Van Buren was able to free his head and ended up on top for a minute or two. This definitely secured the second round for Van Buren.

At the end of the second, Van Buren was awarded the decision and a third round was deemed unnecessary. I was really disappointed for Chris because I knew he was better than he showed in that performance. But Van Buren just seemed to get off first in the clinch every time, and that was the deciding factor.

Immediately after this fight, UFC President Dana White called all the semifinalists into the office to decide the match-ups along with the coaches. Instead of discussing match-ups, Dana told us how he was unhappy with the quarterfinal fights and how he wanted to see a lot more urgency in the performances in the semis. As you can see, after I left the office and returned to the locker room, I was pretty pumped up. I picked up Dan Spohn and started screaming. Dana’s words had definitely struck a chord with me.

The semifinal match-ups were then announced by Dana. I was called up first to fight Eddie Gordon in the first fight. I was pumped and ready to go. Tune in next week to see the fight!

About The Author

Cathal “The Punisher” Pendred is a 26-year-old martial artist hailing from Dublin, Ireland. He was born in Boston while his father was studying law overseas. Pendred moved to Ireland at age five and took part in judo and taekwondo, before finding rugby. At the age of 19, Pendred turned his attention to MMA. He holds wins over UFC veterans Che Mills, David Bielkheden and Nicholas Musoke and was the Cage Warriors welterweight champion prior to joining the cast of The Ultimate Fighter. Pendred trains alongside current UFC fighter Conor McGregor and fellow TUF 19 competitor Chris Fields at SBG Ireland.