The UFC officially wrapped the thirteenth season of The Ultimate Fighter this past Saturday night with the standard season-ending event. It was the shortest season in the shows history, one of the least memorable, and one of the least watched. None of that mattered this past weekend though as the fighters still went out there and performed. And despite the show having very few memory inducing moments, this might have been the most memorable finale in history as it was the Ultimate Fighter Finale featuring Ms. Brittney Palmer.
Tony Ferguson defeated Ramsey Nijem by KO (Punches) at 3:54 in Round One to win The Ultimate Fighter 13 Welterweight Title
The two best fighters in the house made it to the finals and Tony Ferguson proved that he was indeed “The Ultimate Fighter” by taking out Ramsey Nijem in the first round.
The Fight: Nijem came out strong in the fight with a flurry of strikes. A surprised Ferguson kept his composure though, ducked under, and managed to get some takedowns. Nijem bounced right back up though and continued to pressure Ferguson with punches. It was a back and forth battle on the feet until Ferguson caught Nijem with a right straight followed by a left hook that floor Nijem. A couple of punches on the ground later, Nijem was out, and Ferguson was the new TUF champion.
Nijem Fight Assessment: I liked Nijem’s strategy to try and blitz Ferguson early with strikes but he should have known that standing for so long with the stronger puncher was a bad idea. Maybe he was setting Ferguson up for takedowns in the second round but we’ll never known because things didn’t get that far.
Nijem Future: Almost always TUF fighters, especially finalists, are babied a bit by the UFC. I’m sure Nijem will be given a mid-level opponent, maybe someone making his UFC debut, to really show where he’s at in the sport. I think Nijem has potential but I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
Ferguson Fight Assessment: I thought Ferguson was the best fighter during the show and he proved to be the best fighter on the show. I was impressed with Ferguson’s wrestling in this fight as he was able to takedown Nijem, who everyone thought would be the better wrestler, with relative ease. Granted he couldn’t keep him down but the fact that he was composed enough to weather the flurry, duck under, and the get the takedown showed good maturity. And lets not forget about his striking, which is very good and he has one punch power.
Ferguson Future: Being a TUF winner carries some clout but nowadays it’s tough to know just how good these winners are because the competition just isn’t very good. I liked Ferguson’s skills though and I think he’s going to be a tough out for a lot of guys. I’m sure he’ll be given a relatively easy fight in his first post-TUF bout.
Predicted Next Fights: Nijem vs. Shamar Bailey – Ferguson vs. TJ Waldburger
Clay Guida defeated Anthony Pettis by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Clay Guida put Anthony Pettis’ title shot on hold with a grinding wrestling performance en route to a unanimous decision.
The Fight: This fight was essentially the same for three rounds. Guida consistently put Pettis on his back, grinded him out with short strikes, and avoided the flurry of submission attempts. The three fight highlights actually came from Pettis. First, Pettis pushed off the cage and tried a spinning back kick but he missed the chin of Guida. Next, Pettis caught Guida in an armbar at the end of the second round but Guida survive to the bell. Even if it had been the start of the round, based on Guida’s defense all night, I think Guida would have eventually found a way out. Finally, Pettis got the back of Guida after a failed throw by Guida but couldn’t maintain the position and Guida escaped out the back door. Despite Pettis making the highlights, it wasn’t enough to supersede the nearly 15 minutes of control by Guida. The fight ended with Guida taking the back of Pettis, which just solidified the win for “The Carpenter.” It wasn’ the prettiest victory but winning ugly is still winning.
Pettis Fight Assessment: I really expected Pettis to have better takedown defense. Every time Guida shot in, he got the takedown. Credit Guida for doing a nice job of mixing up his strikes with his takedowns and quickly changing levels but Pettis is usually quicker than he seemed on Saturday in sprawling. Otherwise, I don’t think Pettis fought a bad fight. He did a nice job attacking off his back but, as we saw last week with Miguel Torres and Demetrious Johnson, attacking off your back only gets you a loss. I would have liked to seen more leg kicks but those were taken away quickly by Guida on the first takedown.
Pettis Future: Pettis is still young and I’m sure he’ll develop good takedown defense over time but he really blew a big opportunity. Despite his age, there are no guarantees that he’ll be this close to a title shot again. Now it’s time to see where Pettis ranks in the UFC. He needs to take on a UFC veteran, who is just below Guida in the lightweight pecking order.
Guida Fight Assessment: A lot of people are down on Guida’s performance, and while I understand, I can’t agree. Guida had a game plan and he stuck with it. He took down Pettis on the very first kick he threw, which caused Pettis to be a lot more hesitant with his kicks. He also did a great job of mixing up his strikes and takedowns and also ducking under every time Pettis threw to secure the takedown. On the ground he did a nice job defending submissions, which was huge because Guida has had a tendency to be caught in submissions throughout his career. You can’t blame Guida for the judges valuing top control over grappling aggression.
Guida Future: Guida is likely now one fight away from a title shot, and if Ben Henderson beats Jim Miller, he could get that title shot. No matter what, Guida needs a top contender in his next bout. There are plenty of great lightweight battles at UFC 132 and Guida could be paired up with Dennis Siver in his next bout if Siver can get past Matt Wiman.
Predicted Next Fights: Pettis vs. Stout/Edwards winner – Guida vs. Siver
Ed Herman defeated Tim Creuder by TKO (Punches) at 0:48 in Round One
With both men coming off long layoffs, Ed Herman wasted no time reminding fans who he is by making short work of Tim Creuder.
The Fight: That fight was all action from the start with Herman pressing forward but Creuder doing a nice job of moving away and landing good counter punches. Then in the middle of an exchange, Herman caught Creuder with an uppercut that sent him down to the mat. Creuder had his wits about him but Herman quickly landed a swinging right hand that put Creuder out and a couple of more punches for good measure. It was a much needed victory for Herman, not only thanks to his layoff, but also because he had laost three of his last four.
Creuder Fight Assessment: Creuder was doing well but he just got caught. It was a shame because Creuder is an exciting fighter and you know he wanted to put on a show after such a long layoff but it unfortunately it didn’t work out for him.
Creuder Future: I hope Creuder doesn’t get cut because he deserves another chance considering the layoff. I know he’s lost two straight but he’s almost always exciting and I think he should be given one more fight where he’s not hampered by cage rust.
Herman Fight Assessment: Herman was getting tagged up early but he managed to survive and then quickly put away Creuder with more or less one shot. I never want to go too far on praise for quick KO’s because anyone can catch or be caught early but this was a much-needed victory for Herman.
Herman Future: I’m sure Herman would have liked to shake some of the cage rust but this was probably better for him. Now he’s gotten the first fight after the layoff out of the way and next time out he should be more comfortable in the cage.
Predicted Next Fights: Creuder vs. Ring/Head loser – Herman vs. Simpson/Tavares winner
Kyle Kingsbury defeated Fabio Maldonado by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Kyle Kingsbury and Fabio Maldonado battled hard for 15 minutes at end the end of the fights, Kingsbury’s hand was controversially raised.
The Fight: Kingsbury came out strong with a stiff jab and some good knees in the plum clinch but Maldonado did a good job blocking most of the knees and making Kingsbury pay with body shots. Whenever they were at a striking distance, Maldonado would continue to tag Kingsbury with a jab and hooks to the body. Kingsbury managed a takedown in the first round but Maldonado nearly caught him a guillotine. It was a close first round but I thought Maldonado did more damage, especially with the body shots, and blocked most of the damaging strikes that Kingsbury threw. The second round was close as well although more of Kingsbury’s knees slipped through and he busted the nose/lip of Maldonado. Once again Kingsbury tried for a number of takedowns but Maldonado either fended them off or was immediately back up. Maldonado may have cost himself the round when he dropped his hands and let Kingsbury land a couple of unanswered shots. Despite that, I once again gave the round to Maldonado although I could easily see how Kingsbury won it since Maldonado didn’t quite land the damaging blows that he did in round one. The third round was all Maldonado. He tagged Kingsbury early with some good right hands and ended up shutting the left eye of Kingsbury with his strikes. Maldonado also continued to work the body of Kingsbury and managed to get a couple of takedowns but didn’t do anything with them. I had the fight a clean sweep for Maldonado although a 29-28 score wouldn’t have shocked me. Well the fight was 29-28, in favor of Kingsbury.
Maldonado Fight Assessment: I was very impressed with Maldonado in this fight. His boxing is very sharp and the body shots he was landing were some of the best I’ve seen in MMA. If the fight was scored as a whole, there is not doubt in my mind that Maldonado would have won, but he was a victim of the system. His takedown defense was solid and every time he was put on his back, he was almost immediately back up. He ate some knees in the clinch but he blocked the majority of them, which seemed to be lost on the judges.
Maldonado Future: Maldonado is a middleweight fighting at light heavyweight and that was very clear in this fight. Now that he’s suffered a high-profile loss and he’s more hip to the idea of weight cutting due to being in the states, I think we’ll see Maldonado at middleweight in his next bout. He could be a force in that division as well because his boxing is very sharp and he’s training grappling with the Nogueira brothers.
Kingsbury Fight Assessment: Kingsbury is a very good one round fighter. He did a solid job in this fight with knees in the clinch, some good kicks, getting takedowns in the clinch. His problem is that, due to all the muscle he’s put on, his cardio isn’t all that great. Kingsbury fought the third round like he knew he was up two rounds and luckily for him he was.
Kingsbury Future: Kingsbury he has a lot raw talent and if he can get guys out of there in a round, he’s going to be a threat in the division. UFC would be smart to keep bringing him up slowly because he’s still very green but he’s training at AKA so you know he’s going to continue to improve.
Predicted Next Fights: Maldonado vs. Rivera/Sakara winner – Kingsbury vs. Soszynski/Pokrajac winner
Chris Cope defeated Chuck O’Neil by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
In a battle of Ultimate Fighter semifinalists, Chris Cope showed that he’s much improved since the show while Chuck O’Neil heads back to the drawing board.
The Fight: The first round of this fight was relatively even with O’Neil having success with leg kicks while Cope was doing a nice job of mixing up his punches and changing levels. Cope may have been the busier of the two in the first round but I thought O’Neil was landing the more effective strikes, especially with all the leg kicks he was throwing. Then something changed in the second and third rounds and Cope started to take over. O’Neil was throwing less kicks and his counters were coming slower while Cope was really starting to find his rhythm. Cope continued to do a nice job attacking the body of O’Neil and getting in and out before O’Neil could catch up to him. Cope seemed to rock O’Neil in the third round but O’Neil did a nice job covering up and surviving. It made no difference though as all three judges scored the fight a clean sweep for Cope to give him his first official UFC victory. WOOOO!
O’Neil Assessment: I don’t know what happened to O’Neil after the first round. I thought he did alright for the first 5 minutes with leg and body kicks but wasn’t given the credit on commentary from Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg. But for the next 10 minutes he just shut down. He didn’t look all that gassed but he was definitely a different fighter who just wasn’t throwing.
O’Neil Future: It wouldn’t shock me if O’Neil were cut because the only Ultimate Fighter contestants who are guaranteed another shot in the UFC are finale winners and the two finals. But my rule (that UFC doesn’t follow) is that if you’re on the main card, win or lose, you should get another fight. That said, O’Neil really needs to bring it if UFC decides to bring him back.
Cope Assessment: Cope fought his fight. He stayed aggressive and did a nice job mixing up his strikes. Most importantly, he was able to keep up a relatively high pace for all three rounds, which I think wore on O’Neil.
Cope Future: Cope seems to lack natural punching power but if he can outwork guys like he did O’Neil, he could have a solid future. If nothing else, Cope is probably the most memorable fighter from the show thanks to his Ric Flair impression.
Predicted Next Fights: O’Neil vs. Justin Edwards – Cope vs. Clay Harvison
Quick Thoughts on the Prelims
*Credit Danny Downes for taking a fight on short notice and hanging for 15-minutes but Jeremy Stephens is no joke at 155.
*Josh Grispi went from title contender to possibly unemployed in six months. He’s young though. George Roop continues to impress me at 145.
*Shamar Bailey has a lot of potential but he needs to get some better conditioning.
*Justin Edwards vs. Clay Harvison was a sloppily entertaining fight.
*Well, Ken Stone was looking good. And then Scott Jorgensen put him out with essentially one punch from the guard. That’s some power.
*Impressive performance by Rueben Duran, who bounces back strong after a close loss to Takeya Mizugaki. “All of the Lights” is no longer an undefeated walk out song thanks to Francisco Rivera. As an exclusive scoop that you won’t find anywhere else, Jason High, the man who first came out to “All of the Lights,” will change up his walk out song at the June 24th Strikeforce event.