TUF 24 Recap: Rizzo v Schnell

The episode starts with a bunch of fighters lounging around the locker room at the TUF gym. They are all examining the display of all 16 championship belts brought in by the various titleholders from their respective organizations.

UFC president Dana White then begins to promote the next fight between #11 Matt Rizzo of Team Benavidez and # 6 Matt Schnell of Team Cejudo. White quickly begins to hype Schnell who is the interim flyweight champion of the Legacy FC organization and currently on a six fight win streak with five first round stoppages.

Schnell is shown preparing for his upcoming fight at a Team Cejudo training session and feels confident in his well-rounded ability to shut down the grappler. He believes that he can dominate the fight on the feet or the ground but admits that the stylistic match up will be challenging. Coach Henry Cejudo recommends Schnell to keep the fight standing because of his opponents BJJ black belt and submission record.

The next scene shows an enthusiastic Joseph Benavidez, who has brought his entire team out to Lake Las Vegas for an afternoon of paddle boarding to alleviate the constant grind of gym training. Rizzo doesn’t seem to be annoyed about losing a training session and feels that some team bonding and outdoor activity will help him mentally for the fight.

Rizzo is now shown in training camp and goes onto explain his wrestling upbringing and how he got into BJJ. Rizzo has held the Ring of Combat flyweight championship belt for nearly 2 whole years with a myriad of submission victories to his name. Benavidez stresses that his fighter needs to make the contest ugly and bring Schnell into his world.

Back at the house, Schnell talks about his childhood and how he always found himself fighting on the street. The American Top Team member then takes us through his life back at the Florida gym where he trains and sleeps. He admits to living a minimalistic lifestyle and that for money he teaches taekwondo and drives an after school bus.

The attention then turns to Rizzo and his everyday life in Pennsylvania. Rizzo and his fiancé live with his parents and he works a full time job alongside his fighting career for money. Whilst training as a professional athlete at Revolution Academy, the champion installs security systems and mows lawns to pay the bills.

Coach Benavidez advises Rizzo on his strategy for the upcoming bout. Tactically, he wants him to set traps for his opponent and then exploit his weaknesses, which he feels is on the mat.

Both fighters come in under the 126-pound flyweight limit before both men enter a very intense staredown. Fight day is here and the two fighters head to the training centre to finalise preparations for competition.

No. 6 Matt Schnell (10-2) vs. No. 11 Matt Rizzo (9-2)

Round 1 – Schnell opens the first stanza with a missing body kick but is able to land a stinging right hand to the head of Rizzo. Following on, Rizzo shoots for a takedown, but Schnell is able to shake it off. Whilst moving in for another takedown, Schnell is able to get his arms free and tag Rizzo with a few elbows to the back of the head, which prompts Herb Dean to give his first and final warning. Rizzo is sticking to the grappling strategy and continues with the takedown attempt, which presents Schnell the opportunity to go for a guillotine. Schnell moves the guillotine into a dangerous position but Rizzo eventually pries his head free. From within Schnells guard, Rizzo attempts a flurry of punches that is mostly caught in his opponent’s defenses. In a scramble, Rizzo fails to get the back and now Schnell is looking to create space for his striking. Rizzo seems desperate for the takedown and constantly shoots, which leads Schnell to attack the neck once more with the guillotine. Rizzo winds up in the guard of Schnell and has to defend a triangle until the bell sends them both to their corners. Due to the constant pressure and submission attempts it’s an easy 10 – 9 round for Schnell.

Round 2 – Schnell comes out of blocks aggressive with a couple of low kicks but is met by another takedown attempt. Rizzo is finally able to bring Schnell to the ground and lands in Schnells full guard. Similarly, Schnell attacks off his back with a triangle and seems to have tightened his grip. Rizzo tries to stack him, but Schnell is successful in preventing it and squeezes even tighter. Schnell locks it in deep and forces Rizzo to tap via submission.

With the win, Schnell breaks Team Cejudos two fight losing streak and retakes the competition lead by a score of 4 – 3.