It’s been a closely contested season on the Ultimate Fighter this go-round, making it somewhat fitting that the most recent episode’s featured bout went three rounds and saw both men nearly edge things out. Entering the effort, Team Nelson led 4-3 in the competition with #1 pick Dom Waters poised to take on Team Carwin’s Mike Ricci in hopes of securing the final quarterfinal spot.

Ricci came out strong, landing a leg kick in the opening round that dropped Waters as well as a body shot doing some decent damage. Waters battled back in the second, scoring a takedown and taking the period with control and a steady flow of strikes. In the third, Waters seemed set to do more of the same before making a mistake allowing Ricci to sweep him and take over. In the end, spending the majority of the final frame on top proved to be enough for Ricci to get the win.

“Fighting three rounds against a guy like Dom Waters, with his skill and his size, was definitely a challenge and I had to dig deep. I did and it felt great,” said Ricci after the bout. “That was the toughest fighter in the house and nobody wanted to fight him. I fought him for 15 minutes and I beat him.”

The tournament’s final eight fighters were also paired up for their respective rumbles on the show with the biggest surprise involving Ricci’s request to mix it up with Michael Hill. The Canadian countrymen had made a pact earlier on the season to avoid facing off until the final out of solidarity for their heritage. However, some of Hill’s antics in the house apparently changed Ricci’s mind to the extent he made it a point to ask for the fight and was ultimately granted his wish.

The other quarterfinal clashes set to unfold in the immediate future are Jon Manley-Joey Rivera, Igor Araujo-Colton Smith, and Bristol Marunde-Neil Magny.

Other highlights (or lowlights depending on one’s point of view) involved James Chaney admitting he bit Manley in their bout, apologizing to UFC President Dana White for the embarrassing act of desperation, as well as Julian Lane getting in the face of Smith after a crass remark nearly sent him to saying, “Let me bang, bro,” for the second straight week. Ultimately, cooler heads prevailed, and the two worked out their issue.