Last week, Joe Proctor gave Team Faber a three fights to two lead over Team Cruz with a win over Chris Tickle.  This week, Vinc Pichel will try to bring the hammer back to the red team as he faces John Cofer.

“I know that (Dominick) Cruz is boiling inside,” commented Urijah Faber on his team taking control. “Cruz is trying to hold it together, but he’s a poor loser; I know, I’ve beat him before.”

Cruz’s frustration showed as he lectured Tickle about not listening.

“I’m disappointed in Tickle disappointing himself,” Cruz explained. “Some people just need tough love.  This is that tough love point for Tickle.”

Cruz addressed his entire team about listening, pointing out that the team’s winners are the fighters who have followed his instructions.  He then continued to hound Tickle over the point in the gym’s hallway, prompting Faber to shout words of encouragement to Tickle.  Not surprisingly, that didn’t sit well with Cruz.

“You look like a bum.  You dress like a bum.  Nobody cares what you have to say,” Cruz shouted to Faber while telling the former champion to shut up.  The tensions continued to rise between the coaches as they exchanged words.

Once Cruz finished bickering with Faber, he returned his attention to Tickle.  The two had a heart-to-heart about Tickle’s supposed lack of heart.  Meanwhile, members of Faber’s team discussed how they felt Cruz didn’t approach the situation in the right manner, and should have given Tickle some time to mentally recover before talking to him.

Andy Ogle relayed a horrible nightmare in which his girlfriend is murdered, then it’s off to Team Faber’s training session.  Faber talked match-ups, telling his team that they’re aiming to have Andy Ogle take on Mike Rio and Chris Saunders fight Sam Sicilia for the last two fights in the tournament’s opening round.

Vinc Pichel talked about not having a chance to be a kid due to the tough neighborhood where he grew up.  He didn’t tell his mother about training in MMA at first, worried that she wouldn’t approve because of his prior fights and arrests.  Now, though, she’s supportive of his fight career.

In practice, Cruz drilled Pichel on takedown defense.  The coach voiced his pleasure at Pichel’s penchant to pop right up when he’s taken down, as well as his ability to follow Cruz’s instructions and throw the combos that Cruz called out.

“I’m planning on keeping the fight standing, knock him out,” Pichel revealed about his game plan for Cofer.

Cofer grew up a wrestler, starting at age seven.  The Team Faber fighter explained that wrestling has helped develop his mental fortitude.  Faber broke down Cofer’s skill set, assessing him as a solid all-around fighter.  Cofer trained for Pichel by working on staying safe on the feet and looking for the takedown.

“I am a competitor,” Cofer stated. “I’m ready to fight.  I’m not taking this fight lightly.  I know I got my work cut out for me in this fight.  It’s gonna be a war.”

At the weigh-ins, Vinc Pichel tipped the scales at 154 pounds and John Cofer came in at 156 pounds. UFC president Dana White came in following an uneventful staredown and talked to both teams.  It seemed as if he was aiming to create a sequel to his famous “Do you wanna be a f***ing fighter?” speech as he encouraged all 16 men to remain mentally tough as the season heads into previously uncharted waters in terms of length.

One last look in the locker rooms and then it was time for this week’s fight.

John Cofer vs. Vinc Pichel

The first round didn’t see much significant action.  The two men started out with the usual feeling out process.  Cofer looked like he wanted to shoot for a takedown, but abandoned the attempt without much effort.  Both fighters threw a lot of punches and some kicks, but few shots found a home.  Cofer started connecting more often as the round continued.  He went for a couple of takedowns that Pichel easily stuffed. It looked like Cofer opened a cut on Pichel’s face as the two swung wildly to end the round.

The second stanza found the two contestants swinging with more determination.  Cofer rocked Pichel, but Pichel knocked Cofer’s mouthpiece out in return.  Both men started landing more of their strikes, while Cofer continued to be unsuccessful in taking Pichel to the mat. Cofer took Pichel’s back in a standing clinch, but nothing came of it, and the two started throwing as they separated. The two ended up in another clinch, and Pichel scooped Cofer up and slammed him to the mat.  Although Cofer is the wrestler and Pichel the striker, Pichel’s takedown was the first of the fight for either man.  Once on the ground, the two ended up in an awkward north-south position where the best either could manage was to deliver punches to the ribs of their opponent.  The round ended there, with Pichel in an awkward mount facing Cofer’s feet.

Dana White announced that the judges see it as a draw, so it was off to the sudden victory round.  As the round opened, Pichel connected with a flurry of punches as both men went for broke.  Pichel took Cofer down once more. It looked like Cofer might make an attempt at a guillotine choke, but Pichel got his head out, moved across Cofer’s body and cinched in an arm-triangle choke to force Cofer to tap out.

Official Result: Vinc Pichel def. John Cofer by submission (arm-triangle choke). Round 3, 0:44.

With the win, Pichel put control of the fight selection back in the hands of Team Cruz. Cruz selected Sam Sicilia from his team to square off with Team Faber’s Chris Saunders on next week’s episode.  By default, that means that the final pairing for the opening round of the tournament will pit Team Cruz’s Mike Rio against Team Faber’s Andy Ogle.

Photo: Vinc Pichel (Facebook)

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