TUF Season 31 Episode 7 Recap

Image for TUF Season 31 Episode 7 Recap

The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): Season 31 returned this week for the seventh time this season with a familiar theme to the last six episodes: Will Conor McGregor’s team pick up its first win of the season?

Last week’s episode saw things escalate between coaches McGregor and Michael Chandler. The two went nose-to-nose in the middle of the cage and had to be separated. The conflict nearly overshadowed Kurt Holobaugh’s come-from-behind upset of Lee Hammond, as a hail-mary mounted guillotine attempt sent Holobaugh to the semifinals where he joins five of his eight teammates.

This week, Team Chandler’s Jason Knight looks to punch his ticket into the lightweight semis when he takes on Team McGregor’s Landon Quinones.

Those with a subscription to ESPN+ can stream TUF 31 on demand.

TUF 31 Episode 7 Recap

The episode opens with members of Team McGregor recapping the end of last week’s episode for the uninformed. The next morning, Roosevelt Roberts, Jason Knight, and others hang out in the kitchen, talking about McGregor. Roberts, in particular, seems fascinated by the paradox that is McGregor, claiming he can seem like a great man at times, but at other times can be someone he wants to smack across the face.

It’s true. This is what has made Conor such a divisive personality, and part of what’s made him the draw he is. He can evoke a host of emotions out of anybody, but nobody is going to feel indifferent. Everybody has an opinion on Conor McGregor.

As the action moves to the UFC Apex, McGregor looks to be getting serious now that his team is in a 6-0 hole. Fresh off a physical confrontation with Chandler, McGregor is preparing to get hands-on with his training. He says he needs to settle himself, but really, it feels like he’s planning to use training as an outlet for his frustration, which could have a ton of unintended consequences.

Sure enough, McGregor strikes Quinones, who is next to fight, with a liver shot that crumbles the young man to the canvas. Just prior to this, Quinones explained in a confessional how it’s been a blessing to get to train with McGregor. He later says the kick “kind of shut [me] down”, while McGregor urges him to fight through the pain. Nevertheless, Quinones remains upbeat and says he will learn from being dropped in practice.

Back in the TUF House, Team Chandler meets with one another to discuss their mindset ahead of their next fight and how they might be able to complete a sweep of Team McGregor. Knight, of course, is set to take on Team McGregor’s Landon Quinones at the end of the episode. Knight says it is certainly possible and is ready and willing to do his part. Cody Gibson notes how favorable the remaining matchups are to them, and how that’s especially true for Hunter Azure, Team Chandler’s top-seeded bantamweight, who fights next week. Gibson also open questions where a sweep has ever happened on the show, and amazingly, it has not.

If it does happen, McGregor certainly has to levey some of the blame, though the UFC is perhaps most to blame for creating a season of fights chock full of mismatches and prospects who would struggle mightily to win a fight on Dana White’s Contender Series. Fighters like Lee Hammond and Trevor Wells have still managed to impress in defeat, but the quality of UFC veteran on this season would also be a challenge for even the most proven of prospects.

Knight then begins to explain his time in prison. He once spent nine months behind bars, but did not begin his sentence until two years after committing the crime, well after he had turned his life around. this caused him to miss some key moments in his daughter’s life, but he has since learned to use this as motivation in his fighting career.

Knight, who is also known in internet circles as “Hick Diaz,” is still just 30 years old and became a fan favorite during his first stint in the Octagon with four performance bonuses. True to his nickname, Knight’s fighting style is reminiscent of the Diaz Brothers, but fighting at 145 means speed and athleticism are a factor in ways in which they are not in heavier weight classes. As a result, Knight began to falter, and was eventually released from the promotion. However, if he can earn his way back in as a lightweight, he could quickly regain his fan favorite status if he draws some fun stylistic matchups.

Knight, who is “as redneck as they come,” chalked up his bad fortune in the UFC to him not taking his career as seriously as he once did. Now that he has cleaned up his act, he is ready for a second shot at stardom.

Speaking of Knight, he is the focus of the next day’s training session. Knight reveals he actually trains with Quinones back in Florida and that he will turn heads with a first-round finish. However, just as Chandler is about to break down the stylistic matchup between Knight and Quinones, Knight can be heard screaming in frustration after a clash of heads opens up a small cut under his left eyebrow. UFC chief physician Dr. Jeffrey Davidson examined the cut and opted to glue it shut to facilitate quick healing. Chandler remarks that if there is anyone he wouldn’t worry about with a facial laceration it would be Knight, but Knight’s future in TUF has nothing to do with pain tolerance. He will need to be medically cleared regardless of his desire to fight.

Chandler tells Knight to go to the house and show off the cut, hoping it gives Quinones a sense of relief that they won’t have to fight before telling him the fight is still on. The man can be funny when he wants to, and sometimes when he doesn’t mean to.

As we learn the next day, the fight is indeed still on, as UFC President Dana White says Knight lucky the cut won’t keep him from the fight. He also adds that Gibson, who is already through to the next round, has been dealing with knee pain that has kept him out of the gym. Gibson, himself, believed his knee to have been “bruised” after his fight and kept training on it. However, after being encouraged to get it looked at, Gibson found out he suffered a Grade 2 MCL sprain, which is also a small tear. Surprised, Gibson must now contemplate his future on the show after being advised to take two months out of the gym to let the ligament heal naturally.

It’s not a hard decision, as Gibson is prepared to fight on an ACL tear if it’s what he has to do to win the competition.

On the other side of the war, McGregor is taking a hands-on approach to Quinones’ training just days after dropping him with a body kick. “Mystic Mac” praises his fighter as he Quinones discusses the game plan with striking coach Owen Roddy. The plan is to lean on his technique, keep Knight on the end of his shots and not get drawn into a brawl. They believe Quinones to be the more technical striker and that a win could come easy so long as the right buttons are pushed.

Back at the house, Quinones shares with his teammates that he grew up without a father figure and that his mother faces mental health challenges, which have prompted him to intervene in suicide attempts on multiple occasions. During his confessional, he reveals that he had a reckless nature during his childhood but found a connection with Nick Diaz when a friend introduced him to UFC videos. He noticed similarities between his own temperament and that of Stockton’s beloved fighter. The irony is how similar Knight, Quinones’ next opponent, is to Diaz from a stylistic standpoint. He is heavily reliant on his chin and cardio, but favors volume over power with his punches and can fall back on sound jiu-jitsu.

In his home video, Quinones is seen relaxing on the beach in Boca Raton, Fla. The 27-year-old explains that he had a lot of anger as a child and became hooked on the thrill of competition after achieving his first victory while still in high school. He pays a visit to his mother, acknowledging the difficulties they face in their relationship.

Quinones is a pupil of Roger Krahl’s at Wolf Pack MMA. He has both won and defended his Titan FC lightweight championship, a good belt to win for up-and-coming prospects in the sport. Both those victories cam by knockout within the first two rounds.

Knight and Quinones, who are at least friendly with one another as occasional training partners, hang out in the the hot tub before the fight and discuss their approach to weight cutting. Quinones believes the veteran is trying to play mind games with him.

At the ensuing weigh-in, both fighters have no problem making the 155-pound limit with Quinones being a regional champion and Knight typically fighting at 145 pounds. Both teams believe their fighter has this one in the bag, while White calls Knight “one of the favorite to win the whole show.” Lightweight is slightly more open than bantamweight as far as quality of fighter in concerned, but Knight figures to have much tougher challenges ahead of him if he can get by Quinones.

Knight says this fight is grown man vs. boy, while Quinones believes he is better everywhere and intends to prove it. Only one thing left to do!

The Fight

Chris Tognoni is the referee.

Knight opens up with a right hand and Quinones returns with a body kick. Knight’s style seems to have changed very little as he has immediately begun to march Quinones down. Feeling the pressure, Quinones opts for a level change and drops for a takedown against the fence.

Knight seems to be trying for an armbar off his back, but uses it to bait Quinones into his triangle. It looks tight, largely because it is. Quinones taps, and Knight has earned Team Chandler another quick victory without taking any damage on his cut.

Team McGregor is one more defeat away from facing a historic sweep. Wow.

Jason Knight def. Landon Quinones via Submission (Triangle Choke) in Round 1


White, who was cageside for the fight along with Hunter Campbell, said the result did not shock him and figured Knight’s experience would carry him.

McGregor doesn’t have much to say about the defeat, other than Quinones is better than what he showed and that the fight game “is a cruel mistress.”

Knight is fired up after the win, telling Quinones he shouldn’t have dropped for the takedown while shouting “one more” at McGregor. McGregor asks him, “one more what?” to which Knight responds in kind. As McGregor approaches him, Knight confesses he didn’t mean any disrespect and was just happy to win.

McGregor then approaches White and asks what happens if there is a clean sweep? McGregor seems to be referring to what his role in the show would be if he has no fighters to prepare for future fights. An interesting question. White says we will just have to see how it plays out.

Next week’s fight pits Hunter Azure of Team Chandler against Rico DiSciullo in a do-or-die scenario for Team McGregor.

Share this article

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *