Originally written on 5thRound.com  |  Last updated 5/19/12

The 11th episode of “The Ultimate Fighter: Live,” entitled “Like a Spartan,” aired Friday evening on FX. As expected, favorites Vinc Pichel and Al Iaquinta beat their respective opponents to advance to the lightweight tournament’s semifinals.

Pichel defeated Chris Saunders via majority decision, while Iaquinta recorded a big TKO win over Andy Ogle at 4:44 in the 1stRound of their shootout.

UFC President Dana White closed out the episode by making a couple of significant announcements. First, James Vick (#5 Cruz) will meet Michael Chiesa (#5 Faber) in the semifinals and Pichel (#6 Cruz) will battle Iaquinta (#1 Faber) on the opposite end of the brackets.

In addition, White confirmed coach Urijah Faber will face Renan Barao for the interim bantamweight title at UFC 148.

Don’t forget to catch next Friday’s episode at 10PM ET (7PM PT satellite) on FX.

Here is what last night’s stars had to say:

UFC President Dana White:

“Pichel vs Saunders was a grinder match. It was a close first round. It could have gone either way. Then in the second round, Pichel just took over. There was no doubt he won that round and deserved the win.”

“I didn’t know what to expect of Iaquinta vs Ogle. There’s no doubt Ogle came to fight, he’s got a great chin and a big heart. But Iaquinta looked good. He looked as good as anyone has ever looked on the Ultimate Fighter.”

“So now, we’re going into the semifinals and it’s dead-even. I have to tell you, I think Pichel’s a tough guy but we just saw what Iaquinta can do. And then there’s Vick, the incredible underdog and Chiesa, the guy who has gone through more than anyone in this house. You won’t want to miss these fights.”

Vinc Pichel:

“I knew to expect a lot of hard leg kicks, just thinking CHECK THAT **** AND FIRE! I practiced a lot of movement in this week’s training to keep him on his heels so he couldn’t throw them as often. Certain combinations worked really well for me, and I was able to take him out of his comfort zone.”

Dominick Cruz:

“Pichel listened perfectly to the game plan, which was to keep Saunders on his heels, throwing heavy shots, which takes away Saunders’ kicking ability and forces him to box. This allowed Pichel to dirty box and clinch and grind out the win.”

Thoughts on Barao fighting for the Interim belt: “It’s a tough thing to chew on to pass up a spot I’ve worked so, so hard for. It’s testing my heart and determination in this situation. This will prove and test to myself the integrity I have and make me a stronger champion.”

Al Iaquinta:

“I fought smart, I knew if I fought smart I could beat just about anybody.”

Urijah Faber:

“I’m not surprised by the outcomes. Things went as predicted. Saunders losing the first round was a big surprise. I thought he won hands down. Al looked awesome he stalked Ogle down.”

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