Tuesday, 5 June 2012

UFC The Ultimate Fighter Finale on ESPN - TV Review

I really don’t like reality television. Which is why, once again, I haven’t watched a single episode of The Ultimate Fighter.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy a good scrap. So it’s for that reason we’re heading into the Octagon for my latest review as we take a look at The Ultimate Fight Finale, shown live in the early hours of this past Saturday morning on ESPN here in Britain.

The broadcast began in the lightweight division as Justin Lawrence faced John Cofer.

These two began their night’s work by catching each other’s kicks and taking the fight to the ground, but with each of their stints there lasting only a few seconds it wasn’t lone before the fight developed into a nice striking affair.

As the action progressed Lawrence upped his game a great deal, and it was only in the last minute of the second round that Cofer came back into the fight, scoring with a big suplex and controlling the action until the buzzer sounded.

The end came just 19 seconds later when Lawrence connected with a big right kick to Cofer’s head. Cofer crashed down to the mat, the referee quickly stepping in to give Lawrence the knockout win.

The next two fights featured action from the featherweight division, beginning with Max Holloway against Pat Schilling.

The young Holloway put in a dominating performance here. For three rounds he gave us a brilliant striking display, continually targeting Schilling’s body with some brutal blows that had him on the back foot on more than once occasion.

Schilling was simply overwhelmed, and his only real success came towards the end of the second round when he went for a kneebar. He would surely have taken the win there and then if rounds lasted longer than five minutes.

Holloway soon picked up where he’d left off before, and although Schilling managed to get in a few good blows it was all Holloway, and it came as no surprise when he took the unanimous decision.

Then it was on to Jonathan Brookins against Charles Oliveira.

This proved to be a very entertaining affair. After an initial feeling out period Oliveira began to really up his game as he connected with a series of great strikes. Brookins had some success when he took the Brazilian to the ground after a flying knee attempt.

Despite being on the back foot quite a bit Brookins managed to bloody his man’s nose towards the end of the first round. Oliveira soon regained control though, and when he scored with the takedown he quickly escaped from Brookins’ guillotine attempt before getting the submission win with a guillotine of his own.

The co-main event saw Michael Chiesa taking on Al Iaquinta in the lightweight final of The Ultimate Fighter.

Iaquinta came forward as soon as the fight began, putting together some good combinations. The action got a little scrappy for a few seconds, but it wasn’t long before Chiesa wrapped his man in a body lock and took the fight to the ground.

Iaquinta tried to defend as much as he could, but Chiesa was relentless, and even when he synched in a rear naked choke he didn’t give up, the referee stepping in when he passed out to give Chiesa the win and the big fat contract.

The main event saw Jake Ellenberger taking on Martin Kampmann in the welterweight division.

This one looked like it was going to end early when Ellenberger connected with a left hook that sent Kampmann crashing. Ellenberger followed him down for some ground and pound until the Hitman recovered enough to tie him up. The two of them then spent most of the next few minutes on the ground as Ellenberger looked to improve his position and Kampmann looked for a guillotine.

The action was taken up a gear in the second round as both men got off some good shots as Ellenberger bloodied his man’s nose. But when Kampmann wobbled him with a right hand he followed up with a couple of knees in the muay thai clinch, the second one sending him down as the referee stepped in to give Kampmann the TKO win.

ESPN then went back to their old habit of coming back late from a commercial break as they missed the opening moments of the lightweight encounter between Miles Jury and Chris Saunders.

An entertaining encounter saw Jury getting off some good strikes until he went for a flying knee. Saunders caught the limb and went for a takedown, only to find himself in a guillotine as he eventually tapped out to give Jury the submission win.

More lightweight filler material followed as Joe Proctor faced Jeremy Larsen.

This wasn’t too bad. For nearly two minutes they engaged in a nice striking battle, but as Larsen came forward with a combination Proctor grabbed him in a muay thai clinch that sent him down to the mat, the referee quickly stepping in as he went for the ground and pound to give Proctor the TKO win.

In conclusion - once again my point has been proven. You don’t need to watch The Ultimate Fighter series to enjoy The Ultimate Fighter Finale.

It was nice to see some of these fighters for the first time, and some of them, most notably Justin Lawrence and Michael Chiesa, put in impressive performances.

However, my fight of the nights honours are going to the Max Holloway/Pat Schilling encounter. It may not have had a flashy knockout or submission ending but it was a great display from a fighter still finding his place in the world.

So with that business out of the way all that’s left to say is that the 15th Ultimate Fighter Finale gets the thumbs up from me.

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