It’s time to head off into the Octagon to find out just who became the top dog in the 17th finale of the UFC’s Ultimate Fighter, shown live in the early hours of this past Sunday morning on ESPN here in Britain.
The broadcast began with middleweight action as Bubba McDaniel faced Gilbert Smith.
This proved to be a very enjoyable show opener. Although there were some good striking exchanges the best moments came on the ground. Both guys put in good performances there as they jockeyed for position.
While the grappling in the first round looked very even Smith upped his game a little in the second when he went for a guillotine. McDaniel managed to defend against this, and as the second round became the third round it was his turn to stamp his authority on the proceedings.
McDaniel looked like he was searching for a rear naked choke when he took Smith’s back, and after some successful defensive moves Smith managed to reverse the positions, but as soon as he landed in the guard position McDaniel locked in a triangle choke to take the submission win.
It was up to heavyweight for the next fight as Travis Browne took on Gabriel Gonzaga.
Browne began his night’s work with a high kick that almost cost him dearly when Gonzaga caught it and took him down to the mat. Browne managed to get straight back to his feet though.
But with the Brazilian intent on taking the fight to the ground he went for another takedown against the cage. Browne resisted these attempts, and when he connected with a series of elbows to the side of his man’s head. Gonzaga slumped to the ground as the referee stopped the action to give Brown the knockout win.
Action from the women’s bantamweight division followed as Miesha Tate faced Cat Zingano. This one had two prizes on offer, the chance to challenge Ronda Rousey for the title, and the change to oppose her as coach on the next season of The Ultimate Fighter.
This was a really good fight, and another great advertisement for women’s MMA. It began with Tate rushing across the cage so she could take the fight to the ground, and from that moment on we were treated to three rounds of frantic action.
Tate did incredibly well in the first two rounds, and although Zingano had her moments Tate controlled the majority of the action. Her best work came in the second when she simply overwhelmed Zingano, going for a number of submissions as she stamped her authority on the proceedings.
The tide turned completely by the time the third round began. This time around it was Zingano who scored with the takedown, and even though Tate managed to get back to her feet of series of knees and elbows to the head was enough for the referee to stop the action as Zingano took the TKO win.
Then it was back to the middleweight division as Uriah Hall took on Kelvin Gastelum in the Ultimate Fighter final.
The only fight of the show to go the distance proved to be an exciting affair full of great back and forth action. Both fighters went all out as they looked to claim the big prize.
Gastelum put on some tremendous work on the ground as he controlled the action. There were times when Hall seemed powerless against him. His striking wasn’t that bad either.
As for Hall what we saw from his striking greatly impressed me, but having been told that he was a better striker than a grappler I was even more impressed with his ground work, particularly his reversals, as well as the moment when he took Gastelum down with a suplex.
As for the judges they couldn’t agree as they gave Gastelum the split decision.
The main event featured bantamweight action as Urijah Faber went up against Scott Jorgensen.
This was the perfect way to end the show, with two of the best in the division putting on a great encounter. Faber put on a tremendous performance in the first two rounds. His striking looked good and his ground game looked even better. There were times when he made Jorgensen look ordinary, and I can’t believe I just said that about Scott Jorgensen.
Jorgensen began his comeback in the third. His striking and in particular his jab looked first rate as he out-fought Faber for the first time. He continued this great work into the early stages of the fourth, but when Faber scored with the takedown he quickly took Jorgensen’s back so he could synch in a rear naked choke for the submission win.
In conclusion - I think you can guess how I’m going to end this, can’t you?
This may well be the best UFC show I’ve seen this year. From top to bottom it was jam packed with tremendous action, beginning with the opening between McDaniel and Smith right up to the main event. Everything about this show was just so good.
As for my fight of the night no-prize those in the know gave their accolade to Cat Zingano and Miesha Tate, and that’s a decision I’m more than happy to agree with.
So with all of that taken care of there’s just one more piece of business to attend to, and that’s to give The Ultimate Fighter Finale 17 the big thumbs up.