Another season of “The Ultimate Fighter” has come and gone from the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, but not without another Finale full of firefights. Roy Nelson and Matt Mitrione exchanged bombs in this battle of “The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights” alumni, but Roy Nelson’s iron chin served him well yet again, as “Big Country” withstood everything the former NFL player had in store for him, and sealed the deal with his newfound striking abilities, which he commented on after the fight.
“I think it’s just one of those things – God blessed me with striking. I used to submit everybody. But when I got my first knockout, I was like, ‘This is so much easier than this wrestling and jiu-jitsu stuff.’ I was looking to pick him apart and do it in the later rounds and show all the critics that a fat guy can go five rounds.”
“It’s the first time I’ve thrown combos – that’s why I can’t wait to fight (Junior Dos Santos) or Cain (Velasquez),” Nelson said.
A victory like this one in the main event of The Ultimate Fighter Finale will certainly help him progress towards a rematch with the Heavyweight Kingpin Junior “Cigano” Dos Santos or a lucrative fight with Cain Velasquez down the road.
Army Ranger Colton Smith overcame his underdog status and a significant disadvantage in experience by sticking to what he did best throughout “The Ultimate Fighter,” wrestle. Despite Mike Ricci being the odds-on favorite, Smith never let up on the pressure, shutting down Ricci on all three scorecards with his stifling top game and relentless submission attempts. With how promising Ricci looked on TUF, this will not be the last that UFC fans see of him, but tonight’s win goes to Colton Smith.
Fan favorite and hard-kicking heavyweight Pat “HD” Barry brought his record to .500 with a come-from-behind victory over the returning Shane Del Rosario. Del Rosario dominated the first round, but Barry quickly shut his lights out in the second with his patented heavy hands. Pat Barry is always a pleasure to watch, and he adds another win to his record and the prospect of higher profile fights to his future.
Dustin Poirer and Jonathan Brookins were both game to slug it out, and Brookins seemed to be getting the better of the striking exchange. But after a loss to Chan Sung Jung via D’arce choke, there would be no better manuever on this night to snatch for a comeback victory, and that’s just what happened, as Dustin “The Diamond” Poirer righted the ship and returned to his winning ways via D’arce Choke over the always game Jonathan Brookins in the first round.
Mike “Quicksand” Pyle found himself in some rough terrain of his own, as James Head proved to be ready for the battle and showcased heavy hands as fans have come to expect, but a knee from Pyle’s thai plum ended the war in the first. This victory marks the third straight for Mike Pyle, who could be looking at higher competition, while James Head heads back to the drawing board after a win over veteran Brian Ebersole.
Bantamweight “Brutal” Johnny Bedford lived up to his name and kept the pressure on Marcos Vinicius with powerful punches and stout submission defense, as he put the “TUF: Brazil” veteran away in the second round with a series of strikes, including a picture perfect body kick and brutal ground and pound. After a year-long layoff, Johnny Bedford returns with a bang.
If there is anyone new from this Finale to keep an eye on, it would be Russian Lightweight Rustam Khabilov, who utilized a suplex-based offense to put away former “Ultimate Fighter” contestant Vinc Pichel in brutal fashion in the first round. After three suplexes and some follow-up finishing punches, the referee waved off the fight. Fellow fighters in the 155 pound class, keep an eye on Rustam Khabilov.
TJ Waldburger welcomed Nick Catone to 170 pounds the only way he knows how, by putting him to sleep. Waldburger and Catone jockeyed for position and reversed dominance repeatedly before Waldburger finally secured a guillotine and transitioned into a triangle choke in the second round to spoil Catone’s welcoming party.
Hugo “Wolverine” Viana may have been coming in to his Bantamweight debut, but he has not lost any of the power in his hands. Reuban Duran was game, but after a few vicious “Wolverine” bombs, the referee was forced to intervene at 4:05 of the first round.
Persistance paid off for Mike Rio, who dueled with John Cofer and hunted for submissions all the while until he finally found his armbar at 4:11 of the third round and picks up his first victory in the UFC.
In the “Fight Of The Night,” Tim Elliot and Jared Papazian kept the action fast and furious, and the blood was boiling. Despite the warrior’s spirit shown by both, Tim Elliot claimed the fight and continues to climb the Flyweight ranks.
Roy Nelson def. Matt Mitrione via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 2:58
Colton Smith def. Mike Ricci via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26) – TUF 16 final
Pat Barry def. Shane del Rosario via KO (punches) – Round 2, 0:26
Dustin Poirier def. Jonathan Brookins via submission (D’Arce choke) – Round 1, 4:15
Mike Pyle def. James Head via TKO (knee and punches) – Round 1, 1:55
Johnny Bedford def. Marcos Vinicius via KO (punches) – Round 2, 1:00
Rustam Khabilov def. Vinc Pichel via KO (slam, punches) – Round 1, 2:15
T.J. Waldburger def. Nick Catone via submission (triangle choke) – Round 2, 1:04
Hugo Viana def. Reuben Duran via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 4:05
Mike Rio def. John Cofer via submission (armbar) – Round 3, 4:11
Tim Elliott def. Jared Papazian via unanimous decision (30-25, 30-25, 30-26)
Fight Of The Night: Elliot/Papazian (125 lbs)
Submission Of The Night: Waldburger’s Triangle against Nick Catone (170 lbs)
KO Of The Night: Pat Barry