It’s time to head into the Octagon for the first of a UFC double bill, beginning with a look back at the 22nd Ultimate Fighter Finale, shown live this past weekend on BT Sport here in Britain.
The main card began with lightweight action as Julian Erosa faced Marcin Wrzosck.
The first three rounder of the show proved to be an entertaining back and forth affair in which both fighters had their moments. Wrzosck’s striking looked great early on, but he soon found himself countered by Erosa’s takedown, which led to a couple of choke attempts from my namesake in what was possibly his best chance of the entire fight.
As the fight progressed each man enjoyed moments of superiority, and as the action entered the final round it was difficult to separate the two. Wrzosck had more success with his striking, while Erosa enjoyed some more success with his takedowns.
So with the fight going the distance the judges were called into action, and they couldn’t agree as Erosa took the split decision.
The featherweights were up next as Tatsuya Kawajiri took on Jason Knight.
This one was contested mainly on the ground with Kawajiri in top position, but the Japanese star didn’t have thing entirely his own way though. Knight’s rubber guard early on was highly effective as he went looking for submissions, but when Kawajiri began to open up with the ground and pound a right elbow opened up a nasty gash under Knight’s left eye.
This was more or less how the rest of the fight played out, with Knight enjoying some success on his back with his rubber guard and Kawajiri taking control soon afterwards. There were a couple of nice striking exchanges, but the fight finished with Kawajiri in top position on the ground once more.
All of this meant more work for the judges, and this time they were in complete agreement as Kawajiri took the unanimous decision.
Then it was back up a division for the first of three consecutive lightweight encounters, beginning with Joe Lauzon against Evan Dunham.
This mainly-striking battle was a somewhat one-sided affair. Dunham put in an great stint here throughout the three rounds. His striking looked crisp and gave Lauzon no end of trouble, and the only thing missing was the big finish.
Lauzon managed to get in some good shots of his own, but he was far behind his opponent as far as work rate goes, and even though he managed to open up a cut above his man’s right eye that was his only real success of the night, such was Dunham’s performance.
Afterwards the judges continued with their agreeing ways by giving Dunham the unanimous decision.
The lightweight action continued with Edison Barboza going up against Tony Ferguson.
These two decided to dispense with the feeling out period when they swung for the fences as soon as the horn sounded. It proved to be the perfect start to the fight, and when Ferguson rolled for a knee bar attempt he soon had the Brazilian in an awkward-looking body lock.
However, Ferguson earned himself a point deduction when he connected with an up-kick while Barboza was still grounded. The action was stopped momentarily while the doctor checked Barboza over, and when the fight resumed they picked right up from where they started from.
It was more of the same in the second round, and it wasn’t long before the blood was flowing when they connected with respective elbows. That didn’t stop them continuing with this frantic pace though, and when Barboza went for a takedown Ferguson countered with a d’arce choke. He quickly synched it in, and with nowhere to go Barboza tapped out, giving Ferguson the submission win.
The Ultimate Fighter Lightweight Final followed between Artem Lobov and Ryan Hall.
The final three rounder of the evening was another one-sided affair, but this time around it was grappling that took centre stage as Hall put in a great performance.
It all began when he rolled for a heel hook attempt early on, and from there he quickly took Lobov’s back and went for a rear naked choke. The Russian managed to survive that particular scare, but he just didn’t seem able to get out of first gear.
Ryan was more than happy to pull guard and take the fight to the ground. Lobov managed to get in a few blows but they never really amounted to much as the fight went on, and Ryan signalled his dominance of the fight in the final round when he jumped up and took Lobov’s back in a standing position. Lobov seemed at a lost as to what to do, and by the time he moved away from the fence and fell backwards as he tried to release himself from Ryan’s grip it was pretty obvious who was going to win this one.
So it came as no real surprise when the judges gave Ryan their unanimous decision.
The main event featured featherweight action as Frankie Edgar faced Chad Mendes.
The only fight of the entire show that didn’t make it out of the first round promised much, and even though it didn’t last that long it delivered.
Both fighters got off to a good start as they traded blows, with Mendes having some success when he began to target Edgar’s lead leg with some well-placed kicks. But then a left hook from Edgar sent Mendes crashing to the canvas, and after a brief spot of ground and pound the referee stepped in to give Edgar the knockout win.
In conclusion – long-time readers will know that while I’ve never really enjoyed The Ultimate Fighter reality series I’ve always been keen on the Finales. After all, who doesn’t like a good scrap?
And good scraps is what we got here throughout the main card, with six very enjoyable fights and great performances throughout, topped off by an exciting main event with the kind of knockout we’d like to see on every MMA show.
As for my prestigious fight of the night no-prize those in the know gave their award to the Tony Ferguson/Edson Barboza battle, and I see no reason to disagree with that particular decision.
So with all of that being said there’s just one more thing to do, and that’s to give the 22nd Ultimate Fighter Finale the thumbs up.