The Ultimate Fighter 18 finale prelims are in the books, and the prelims section of the card provided some thoroughly exciting bouts. Joshua Sampo submitted Ryan Benoit in the second round of the Facebook prelim fight and it was on to the Fox Sports section.
First up was Sean Spencer vs. Drew Dober in a Welterweight battle and the first round was a good one for Spencer. He used good boxing combinations and head movement to keep Dober on the back foot and earn the 10-9.
The second round saw Dober put in another valiant effort, but Spencer threw elbows in to the mix and Dober was showing the fight. DD was busted up at the end of another 10-9 round for Spencer. All on the feet so far, although Dober has shot a few times but been stuffed.
Dober’s chin is lined with granite; he can take a shot, as Spencer was throwing everything he had. Big knees to the gut and head, and vicious boxing were the tale in the third round for SS. Spencer was faster and more accurate in this fight. Spencer takes the decision after a great scrap, Dober looks very busted up.
Second fight of the card was a Heavyweight showdown between Jared Rosholt and Walt Harris. Harris displayed elegant footwork and hand speed in his debut, knocking down the favorite Rosholt twice in round one. Harris’ boxing was on point and he took the first round with conviction.
Round two saw Rosholt land some clean shots early on, a nice uppercut to the gut really got Harris’ attention. Harris looked to fatigue mid way through the round, perhaps he hit an adrenalin dump in his first UFC bout. Rosholt stole this round by being way more aggressive and volume of strikes. Harris was game and ended the round well, but I’d score it 10-9 Rosholt.
A surprising turn of events in the third as Rosholt landed a big takedown, his first of the fight. Rosholt’s wrestling pedigree proved too much for Harris as JR landed some great ground and pound, Rosholt even had a crucifix from half guard at one point. Harris may have lost this bout by taking it easy in round two, as he gets wrestle-pumped for most of round three. Decision win for Rosholt.
Rani Yahya goes up against Finnish import Tom Niinimäki now, in a Featherweight attraction. The first round was an excellent display of grappling transitions from both men, with Yahya constantly looking for a leg lock but Niinimäki was able to show that he also has some good defence. A great technical display in round one, and a very close one too.
Much the same story in round two as Niinimäki was able to defend a gator choke and land top position after a great scramble. Niinimäki has very slick transitions and is outgrappling Yahya here. The Finnish man is stood up while in side control?!? Oh right, its Kim Winslow refereeing. He almost gets caught in a choke as Yahya tightens his grip, but escapes and I think he won round two.
Niinimäki is proving that wrestling and positioning beats submissions when you have great defence; he is making Yahya look like an amateur grappler. Knees from side control from Niinimäki, and Yahya really doesn’t have much in the way of offense here. Winslow stands them again, what the hell is her problem? They exchange and scramble, and Yahya sinks in a Guillotine. Niinimäki holds on, but he could well be in big trouble until he pops out well. Niinimäki steals a decision, but will someone please teach Kim Winslow what MMA is?
Last on the card was Akira Corossani vs. Maximo Blanco in another 145lb. tilt and this was wild from the start. Blanco landed some big right hands then a double leg takedown. As Corossani went to stand he was ripped with a huge knee to the dome while still technically down. Corossani said he couldn’t see and his nose was bleeding very badly. The fight is called off and DQ win for Corossani Very disappointing there, hope we get to see them fight again.
Joshua Sampo def. Ryan Benoit by submission (RNC) 4:31 round two
Fox Sports Prelims
Sean Spencer def. Drew Dober by decision
Jared Rosholt def. Walt Harris by decision
Tom Niinimäki def. Rani Yahya by decision
Akira Corossani vs. Maximo Blanco was ruled a DQ win for Corossani after an illegal knee in round one