The fourth episode of TUF 24 opens with a Team Cejudo training session focused around #2 Yoni Sherbatov, who is preparing to face #15 Eric Shelton of Team Benavidez.
Sherbatov is champion of Canada’s Xcessive Force Fighting Championship and with his high rank comes great expectation. The Russian admits the pressure to live up to his ranking is beginning to affect him. Sherbatov is then shown in his home town where he runs his own MMA gym with his brothers. He mentions the stress of owning a business whilst competing at the highest level and hopes winning the tournament will afford him an opportunity to solely focus on training. Dana White emphasizes the power of Sherbatov and highlights his 22 second KO victory to claim the XFFC belt.
Back at the house, Eric Shelton expands upon his background and how its been difficult raising four kids at the age of 25. The Caged Aggression MMA champion laments over not properly providing for his children financially, however, believes winning TUF would be the first step in securing a better life for his family. Shelton reveals his checkered past and how he was involved with the wrong crowd until one day he woke up and became a man. He then moved to Pat Miletich’s gym in the Quad Cities to focus on his UFC dream.
At the next Team Benavidez training session, coach Joseph Benavidez helps Shelton with different combinations to counter his opponent. Shelton admits his lack of experience with southpaw fighters but believes his coaches have prepared him well to overcome any previous weaknesses with the stance.
The fighters then meet up in their teams for a film study session on the flyweight champion, Demetrious Johnson. As the winner of the tournament is granted the next shot at the belt, both coaches show tape of their previous bouts with the 125-pound champ and provide insight into their respect contests. #3 ranked Tim Elliot verbally attacks DJ throughout the film session, saying he doesn’t attempt to finish fights or take risks inside the cage.
After the weigh-in and usual pre-fight footage, both fighters enter the cage and are ready to fight.
#2 Yoni Sherbatov (5-0) vs. #15 Eric Shelton (10-2)
Round 1 – Sherbatov comes out aggressive and immediately throws a high kick that lands on the forearms of Shelton. Sherbatov then attempts to close the distance but is met with a stiff right hand that forces Sherbatov to move away. Shelton begins to hack at the legs of Sherbatov and is able to avoid another high kick. Sherbatov steps in with a left but is caught coming in again. After two minutes the Russian seems to have a cut under his left eye but does not seemed bothered by the abrasion. Shelton then charges with a combination of his own but Sherbatov is able to land a solid hook followed by kick to the mid-section. The fight is very back and forth so far with both struggling to land anything significant. Sherbatov hits Shelton with a jab and moves in for a successful double leg takedown. Shelton immediately scoots to the cage and looks to get to his feet. Sherbatov is trying to pass the guard and grab a guillotine but is effectively swept and is put on his back. Shelton establishes some solid offence from the guard but Sherbatov is able to move to his feet. Sherbatov then shoots for another takedown but is having trouble keeping his opponent on the ground. Shelton immediately rises to his feet and is able to land a nice uppercut and jab whilst in striking range. Sherbatov shoots again but the effort is stuffed before the bell.
Round 2 – The two quickly trade jabs to begin the second frame and Sherbatov shoots in for an ineffective takedown attempt. Shelton lands a punch off the break but Sherbatov is persistent and looks for another takedown. Shelton is able to fend off the wave of attacks but ends up locked in the clinch where he is able to land a knee to the face. Sherbatov is eventually able to drag his opponent to the mat and secures solid position inside the guard. With two minutes left, Shelton is able to explode to his feet and reverse position, leaving Sherbatov on his back. Sherbatov claws his way back to a standing position, but Shelton is all over him and able to drag him back down. Sherbatov gives up his back during the transition and Shelton is able to swiftly clasp a rear-naked choke. Sherbatov fights for as long as he can but the forearm is secure and there is no escape. Sherbatov eventually goes unconscious and the ref steps in to end the fight.
Result – Eric Shelton def. Yoni Sherbatov via technical submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2
Shelton is able to pull off a massive upset by taking out the #2 ranked fighter in the tournament in a highly competitive fight.
Team Benavidez is able to secure its second win of the season and cuts Team Cejudo’s lead to 3-2 in the competition.