Last week’s quarterfinal bouts were recapped, and the victors from last week, James Vick and Michael Chiesa, were shown celebrating.

Like last week, with two live fights on the docket, the attention quickly shifted to the fights at hand. First up was Team Faber’s Chris Saunders taking on Team Cruz product Vinc Pichel.

“For a last pick, we couldn’t have gotten a better guy,” Coach Urijah Faber stated about Chris Saunders. “There’s no breaking him. At times he looks like the best guy. He has the skill to take Pichel out of this fight.”

“Growing up was tough for me,” Saunders recalled. “I didn’t have my mom or dad and if I wanted something done, I had to do it myself. I’m looking to be a role model. You can do anything you put your mind to.”

“Pichel vs. Saunders is a good fight,” Dominick Cruz declared. “The key is going to be Pichel getting Saunders to the ground and submitting him. Grind, grind, grind. Pressure, pressure, pressure.”

“The further out in the water we get, the bigger the advantage for me,” said Pichel. “He may not even make it out to deep water. I may knock him out in the first round. I don’t really see him having a chance of beating me.”

Vinc Pichel vs. Chris Saunders

After a quick feeling out process, Pichel pressed Saunders against the fence and looked for a takedown. However, Saunders reversed the position and gained the top position. Pichel attacked with elbows from his back, as Saunders controlled the position. Pichel returned the fight to the feet at the midway point of the round. Pichel again worked hard for a takedown, but Saunders kept the fight standing.

Pichel again looked for a takedown to open the second round. Saunders fought hard to keep the fight upright, eventually transitioning to Pichel’s back and looking for a takedown of his own. Pichel flurried with two minutes remaining, scoring with clinch knees before finally securing a takedown against the fence. Saunders transitioned again, briefly taking Pichel’s back in the final minute. Pichel pushed hard until the final bell.

Official Result: Vinc Pichel def. Chris Saunders by majority decision (20-18, 20-18, 19-19)

“I was kind of hoping for a third round because this is my first decision,” Pichel said, despite being the victor.

“I thought for sure we were heading to sudden-victory,” a disappointed Saunders declared. “I won the first round and he clearly won the second.”

“This is a unique experience for me,” Faber said of having his two fighters facing one another. “It’s not fair for me to take a side.” He informed Al Iaquinta and Andy Ogle that he would be randomly assigning coaches to their corners on the day of the fight.

“Al’s a great guy and he’s very tough,” Ogle said. “I’ve fought him a million times in my head, but I’ve also fought him in the gym. I’m not going to let that get to me. This is my show, my time. I expect to have a war. I want this more than anyone.”

“Ogle’s really stepped up his game,” Faber explained. “He’s grown a lot.”

“I feel like the hardest working person here,” Iaquinta declared. “I’m the first one on the mat and usually the last one off it. That’s the difference between me and a lot of the guys here. Andy’s tough and he’ll keep me on my toes. I came here for a UFC contract and I’m going to leave with a UFC contract.”

[alert type=white ]Al Iaquinta vs. Andy Ogle[/alert]

Ogle started the fight as the aggressor, but Iaquinta held his ground and looked to counter. Iaquinta scored with a headkick and followed with a right hand. Ogle seemed unfazed and continued to come forward. Ogle connected with an overhand right and then a lead hook. An uppercut from Iaquinta slowed Ogle. The pace slowed until Iaquinta scored with a big right hand that hurt Ogle. He pounced and looked to finish, but Ogle tried to get back to his feet. On the way up Iaquinta landed an elbow that sent Ogle crashing back to the mat and a follow-up right hand forced the referee to wave off the fight.

[divider]Official Result: Al Iaquinta def. Andy Ogle by TKO (elbow and punches). Round 1, 4:44

“We’ve sparred the whole time here, it was weird,” Iaquinta said of fighting a teammate.

“It happens. Each dog has its day,” a dejected Ogle said. “Everybody loses. There can only be one winner and I’m gutted it’s not me.”

Dana White agreed that the opening fight was close, but felt Pichel was the deserving winner. He also declared that Iaquinta sent a statement.

The semifinal matchups will be Team Cruz’s James Vick vs. Team Faber’s Michael Chiesa and Cruz’s Vinc Pichel vs. Faber’s Al Iaquinta. Both fights take place next week, May 25.

Following the fights, White announced that with bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz sidelined by a knee injury, Urijah Faber will now face Brazilian Renan Barao at UFC 148 on July 7 for the interim belt.

Photo: Al Iaquinta (L) battles Andy Ogle (Josh Hedges/Zuffa, LLC)