Mike Ricci down Michael Hill to win 'Ultimate Fighter' all-Canadian bout

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TORONTO - Mike Ricci won the Battle of Canada, dominating Michael Hill en route to a unanimous decision on "The Ultimate Fighter."

Ricci had his way with Hill on the ground, but could not finish him off in a much-hyped fight that saw the relationship between the two turn sour when Ricci asked to fight his fellow Canadian.

Ricci showed why in the episode of the reality TV show that aired Friday night.

"A lot of people said I was too small to be in this tournament and I want to prove those people wrong," said the 26-year-old from Montreal, who moved up a weight class from lightweight (155 pounds) to welterweight (170) to compete on the show.

Ricci advances to meet Neil Magny in one semifinal while Jon Manley fights Colton Smith in the other.

The two winners will face off in the live finale Dec. 15 in Las Vegas with a UFC contract on the line.

Ricci and Magny are both members of coach Shane Carwin's team while Manley and Smith are coached by heavyweight Roy (Big Country) Nelson.

The Ricci-Hill fight was more grinding than spectacular.

I expected it to be a more explosive fight from both guys," said UFC president Dana White.

The two exchanged early leg kicks before Hill rushed Ricci and the two clinched at the fence. Ricci used the position to take Hill down midway through the round.

Ricci dominated the rest of the round, hurting Hill with elbows as it ended.

Hill, a member of Team Nelson, tried to storm Ricci early in the second round and paid for it again, ending up under his opponent at the fence. Each time the 25-year-old from Kelowna, B.C., tried to get up, Ricci got him back down.

"You could tell that Hill doesn't have much of a ground game," said White. "He got absolutely dominated by Ricci today."

A disappointed Hill said: "It just wasn't my day today ... I just let him beat me up for two rounds."

The buildup to the fight proved awkward with Hill, perhaps jokingly, suggesting someone put laxative in Ricci's pasta sauce. Ricci taped his casserole dish shut just to be on the safe side.

In the other quarter-final shown on Friday's episode, Manley won a majority decision over Nelson teammate Joey Rivera.

"Pretty disappointing," White said of the fight between two friends.

Said Manley: "I was scared to really exchange with him because in practice he beats my ass."

Smith had already defeated Igor Araujo of Team Carwin and Magny beat Carwin teammate Bristol Marunde.

The show features 16 fighters — welterweights on Season 16 — who spend six weeks locked up in a Vegas mansion other than training or fighting.

White says the series, which airs on FX and Sportsnet, is the UFC's equivalent of baseball's triple-A developmental league.

Ricci compared life on the show to ancient Sparta.

"We just train and got to war and we don't care about anything else."

Ricci's explanation for picking a fight with Hill was that since he had defeated Dom Waters, Nelson's first pick, he wanted to take on Hill because he was the second pick on the rival Nelson team.

Ricci trains at the Tristar Gym alongside Georges St-Pierre.