Episode 11 begins with a recap of Manny Gamburyan’s quarterfinal win over Matt Wiman, and in the locker room after the bout, Gamburyan’s cousin, welterweight contender Karo Parisyan, gets into it with Manny’s teammate Nate Diaz, almost sparking a fight.
Cooler heads prevail though, and the fighters move on to the gym as the semifinal matchups are determined by UFC President Dana White and coaches Jens Pulver and BJ Penn. They are:
Gamburyan vs Joe Lauzon and Diaz vs Gray Maynard.
In episode 11’s semifinals, Gamburyan pounds out a shutout three round decision over Lauzon in what many considered an upset. Gamburyan, with his aggressive and non-stop attack dominates for much of the bout, but a late surge in the final two minutes by Lauzon almost pulls victory from the jaws of defeat. It was too little, too late though, and Lauzon is eliminated by scores of 30-27 across the board.
“Manny is 10 times the fighter I thought he was,” says White, who underestimated Gamburyan because of the height disadvantage he goes into practically every fight with.
With one finalist secured, episode 12 will determine Gamburyan’s final opponent on June 23rd. There is another pretty high profile fight on that show though, and it’s the main event rematch between coaches Penn and Pulver. White wanted to get the party started a little early though, so he entered the TUF5 house with $10,000 in cash, which would be awarded to whichever coach could win two out of three ping pong games against the other. As an added incentive, the members of the winning coach’s team would receive $1,000 each.
The three matches are heated, with Penn taking the first game and Pulver evening the score in game two. The third match goes down to the wire, with Pulver pulling it out by a score of 13-11.
Back to the real fights, Diaz and Maynard square off, and it’s an exciting battle between the jiu-jitsu ace (Diaz) and the former All-American wrestler (Maynard). The first round sees Maynard working his ground and pound and opening a nasty cut over Diaz’ right eye while the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu fighter works his submission attempts from the bottom position. In the second round though, Maynard gets over aggressive and when the fight hits the mat again, Diaz capitalizes, sinking in a guillotine choke that forces Maynard to tap out, propelling Diaz into the finals against his teammate, Gamburyan.
The finals are set, and on June 23rd, Spike TV will air The Ultimate Fighter 5 Finale, featuring the rematch between BJ Penn and Jens Pulver, and the lightweight final between Nate Diaz and Manny Gamburyan.
Make sure to visit MMANews.com on June 23rd for the best live coverage of the TUF 5 finale anywhere on the web! For EXCLUSIVE pre-fight interviews with both BJ Penn and Jens Pulver, CLICK HERE.