Thursday, 21 July 2016

Catch-Up: UFC The Ultimate Fighter Finale 23

It’s time to continue our look at recent happenings in the MMA world, and for this we’re stepping into the Octagon once again to see what happened on the main card of the UFC’s latest Ultimate Fighter Finale, shown recently on BT Sport here in Britain.

The action began in the lightweight division as Joaquim Silva went up against Andrew Holbrook.

The blink or you’ll miss it affair of the evening began with a bit of posturing as both fighters tried to gauge the distance, but when Silva caught his man’s kick attempt and pushed him to the mat it was the beginning of the end. A big right from the Brazilian as Holbrook tried to get to his feet sent the American into la-la land, and as Silva followed him down for a spot of ground and pound the referee quickly stepped in to give Silva the TKO win after just 34 seconds.

Featherweight action followed as Doo Ho Choi took on Thiago Tavares.

I really liked this one. It may not have lasted that long but it certainly told an interesting story. It began when Tavares scored with an early takedown off Choi’s high knee attempt, but as the Brazilian tried to impose his will on the fight Choi showed some sound defensive work when he managed to get back to his feet.

The same thing happened a few moments later after Tavares scored with another takedown, but this time around Choi began to score with a few jabs after he escaped his man’s clutches. A big right then sent Tavares crashing to the mat, and after the Korean followed him down for a few more blows the referee stepped in to give Choi the TKO win.

It was back up to lightweight for the next fight as Ross Pearson faced Will Brooks.

The first fight on the show to go the distance was an interesting back and forth affair in which both fighters put in good performances. Pearson’s striking looked top notch throughout, especially in the final round, while his sound defensive work on the ground and against the fence gave the debuting Brooks quite a bit of trouble.

Brooks, for his part, looked pretty decent throughout. His ground work was okay, as was his striking, but for a fighter who has gone the distance in six of his last seven fights it was kind of obvious that he wasn’t going to get the stoppage win.

So it was left to the judges to separate these two, and they were in complete agreement as Brooks took the unanimous decision.

Then it was on to the Ultimate Fighter finals, beginning with the women’s strawweight final between Tatiana Suarez and Amanda Cooper.

Now this I liked. There was no messing about from these two as they began their night’s work in a fast and furious manner, and when Suarez took the fight to the ground it was the start of some excellent back and forth grappling, with Suarez getting in some good ground and pound before Cooper countered with an arm bar attempt.

A few moments later Cooper went for a guillotine, but when Suarez relieved the pressure with a takedown she quickly worked herself into position for a d’arce choke, and it wasn’t long before Cooper was tapping to give Suarez the submission win.

The light heavyweight final saw Andrew Sanchez take on Khalil Rountree.

This is probably one of the most one-sided fights I’ve seen this year. Sanchez dominated the action for the entire three rounds as he put on an excellent display of ground fighting. It may not have been overly flashy, and it may not have sat well with the crowd, but it certainly was effective.

Rountree just looked completely out of his depth here, and there seemed to be very little he could do as Sanchez controlled the action and kept busy enough to keep the referee from standing them up.

As for the judges, no surprises there as Sanchez took the overwhelming decision.

The main event saw Claudia Gadelha challenge Joanna Jedrzejczyk for the Women’s Strawweight title.

This could possibly be on of the fights of the year. It began when Gadelha scored with the early knockdown off a big left, but from that moment on it became the case of the grappler versus the striker, with Gadelha enjoying a tremendous amount of success in the first two rounds with takedown after takedown after takedown.

The only problem with this though was that Jedrzejczyk kept getting back to her feet, and it was from the third round onwards that the champion took over. Her striking was excellent, and as the fight went on and as Gadelha began to visibly tire Jedrzejczyk was using her as target practice, and although Gadelha still had her moments they were few and far between by this time.

But with no finish in sight it was down to the judges for the final time as they gave Jedrzejczyk their unanimous decision.

In conclusion – well, I think this proves my point again, the point being that you don’t need to watch the series to enjoy the finale of the Ultimate Fighter, although saying that this show was enjoyable may be understating things a little.

There were some really good performances throughout this show, but they were all completely overshadowed by the main event. Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Claudia Gadelha proved once again that woman do belong in the UFC, which is why these two are getting my prestigious fight of the night no-prize.

So with all of that out of the way there’s just one thing left to do, and that’s to give the 23rd Ultimate Fighter Finale the thumbs up.

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