This Tuesday brought with it episode seven of The Ultimate Fighter 29, “Friend or Foe.” Spoiler alert, on a fighting reality show, at some point, eventually everyone is your foe. As far as TUF 29 is concerned, however, the latest fight offering was one of the season’s best.
Episode seven kicked off with Ricky Turcios and Dan Argueta sharing some pizza following last week’s showdown. Then, Brady Hiestand and his opponent this week, Josh Rettinghouse, shared a hot tub while cutting weight. The pair are friends outside of fighting, both hailing from Spokane, Washington, which makes the duo something on an anomaly on The Ultimate Fighter.
Oh, and the two are roommates in the TUF house as well.
“At the end of the day, he’s gonna be a body inside the cage, and he’s going to be trying to knock my head off and I’ve got to go out there and knock his head off,” Rettinghouse noted. The pair have trained together in the past, though they hadn’t done any sparring. “It is what it is, I think we’ve come to terms with it, but it sucks, because he’s my boy.”
Interestingly, coach Brian Ortega then reveals that he’d told Josh right at the start of the show that he wanted him to fight his friend. Tough love approach? Or is this more akin to bad parenting, and having siblings duke it out?
Dana White calls the match-up a “true test of killer instinct.” Fighting cliches aside, maybe it’s better the pair get this out of the way in the opening round, rather than later, when the stakes are higher.
The fight itself saw Hiestand control early, catching Rettinghouse in a front headlock for a while. After some grappling along the cage, Hiestand took the back, and eventually locked on with a rear-naked choke, dragging his opponent back on top of him and getting his hooks in. Rettinghouse survived, fighting hands. Hiestand showed to be a very coachable student, locking on a body triangle immediately when his corner called for one. Rettinghouse, however, freed a hip and scrambled out.
Between rounds, Josh Rettinghouse was warned for grabbing the cage. “Do not grab the cage again or I will take a point,” the ref admonished.
In the second, Rettinghouse managed to back his opponent up against the fence and hurt him on the feet. Right hands seemed to land at will; Rettinghouse’s corner urged him to find the finish. He didn’t. Instead, Hiestand made some space and landed a jab. They’d end up in a clinch, however, with Rettinghouse landing an slick elbow. Eventually, however, Hiestand would find a takedown.
That necessitated a third round. Rettinghouse pumped his jab and slipped in an uppercut, while Hiestand looked absolutely exhausted. Hiestand attempted to create space, primarily with a push kick he threw a couple of times in the round. But Rettinghouse eventually scooped up his opponent and landed an emphatic slam takedown. Hiestand was quickly out, landing a takedown of his own then controlling from the back. Bloodied, exhausted, friends turned foes would go the distance, embracing at the end. It came down to a split decision, with Hiestand getting the nod.
Not a bad little bantamweight scrap, easily one of the best of the season.