Team Koscheck's Aaron Wilkinson (6-3) vs. Team GSP's Kyle Watson (13-6-1)
After a touch of gloves, referee Steve Mazzagatti gets the action started. Kyle throws low kicks, closes the distance and easily tosses Aaron to the mat. Kyle lands in side control and patiently looks to improve his position further. Aaron turns into him and clings close to avoid punishment, but Kyle peppers him with short punches while still trying to move into mount. Aaron initially defends and finally sees an opening to get to his feet. Kyle, though, clings to him and takes him back to the mat even as Aaron tries to cling to the fence, which prompts a warning. Once on the ground, Kyle quickly hops into the mount position and then takes his opponent's back when Aaron rolls to his knees. The fighters roll again, and Kyle still has his opponent's back while in the seated position against the cage. Aaron tries to fight off the arms and a choke, but Kyle finally slides his forearm across the throat, and after nearly a half minute of fighting it off, Aaron finally is forced to tap-out. Kyle punches his ticket to the semifinals with the submission win.
"It's probably the worst performance I ever had," says Aaron, who feels he disappointed his coaches.
Team GSP's Michael Johnson (8-4) vs. Team GSP's Alex Caceres (4-2)
Dana White does the intros, Herb Dean is our ref, and we're underway.
Alex keeps distance before snapping a leg kick. Michael moves in with lunging punches but is pushed back with a front kick. Michael then swarms with punches, closes the distances, picks up and slams his opponent to the mat while landing in full guard. Alex works rubber guard and gets some distance, and though Michael clings to a leg, he gets back to his feet, and the fighters restart. Michael fires off a couple punches, Alex counters, and then Michael lands a cross shot that knocks out his opponent's mouthpiece. Herb calls a halt as Michael keeps moving forward.
"Let me get it, dawg," Alex says with a smile.
Michael, though, has an angry scowl and awaits the restart. Once he gets it, he fires off more big punches, puts Alex against the cage, grabs a single leg and again slams him to the mat. Working from full guard, Michael works short punches and looks to pass guard. Alex tries to stop it, but Michael frees a leg, stands back up and then presses a seated Alex into the cage. Alex gets back to his feet and fires off a nice combo as Michael covers up. The fighters, though, then break and restart. Alex works jabs as Michael may be tiring. But Michael lands a nice straight left, which is countered with an effective leg kick. Alex is now the aggressor, though he doesn't generate much power with his punches. Michael again closes the distance, puts him against the cage, lands a big uppercut, pops him with a knee to the head, and then looks for the takedown. Alex fends it off while leaning against the cage and delivers a knee before they reset in the center. Michael unloads a big combo that Alex narrowly avoids. Michael then absorbs a low kick that knocks Alex off balance, and Michael drops to the mat with him before deciding to allow him back up. Michael lands a couple straight punches, pins Alex against the cage, and then unloads a solid combo before the round ends. Michael complains of a knee to the groin that wasn't called. MMAjunkie.com scores it 10-9 for Michael, though Alex's corner of Jeff and Jonathan somehow convince him he won.
In the second round, Michael counters a kick with a straight right. Alex gets confident with his striking but is soon picked up and slammed to the mat. Michael delivers forearm strikes from side control. Alex tries to roll free, but Michael stays tight. Alex turns into his opponent but continues eating punches. They're scoring points but don't do a ton of damage. Michael then postures up to his knees to rain down some heavier blows. Alex puts his back against the cage and gets back to his feet. Both tiring fighters come out swinging. Alex is smiling but then ducks and lands on his knees as a defense. Michael follows, but after jockeying for position, Alex takes top position. Michael quickly gets back to his feet and then presses Alex into the fence while working body punches before a takedown. Michael works from full guard and drops a few punches and elbow strikes, though Alex defends well. But he postures again to tag Alex with some heavier blows. Alex listens to his corner and tries to hop back to his feet and finally gets upright with a minute to go. Alex swings wildly. Michael closes the distance and pins him against the cage, gets the takedown and moves into side control, where he closes out the round with a couple elbow strikes. MMAjunkie.com scores it 10-9 for Michael, who has the 20-18 win on our card.
The judges concur, and Michael earns the unanimous-decision victory.