Every UFC main event has to be about something, and when there aren’t any titles on the line, things tend to get pretty creative. Leading up to the main event of the TUF 17 Finale, the talk surrounding the bout focused on the friendship between competitors Urijah Faber and Scott Jorgensen and how it may affect the bout. Whether the two were actually the close friends that the media made them out to be was completely irrelevant; which is good, because Jorgensen revealed during fight week that they weren’t.
What we were left with was a bout between the number two and number seven ranked bantamweights that played out as expected. This isn’t to say that the fight wasn’t entertaining (it was), but Jorgensen was outgunned early and often by Faber before “The California Kid” sank in the fight ending rear-naked choke in the fourth round. It was closer than the gambling odds indicated it would be, but not exactly a close fight, and though Jorgensen managed to mount some offense of his own, he never appeared to be any real threat to Faber.
The bantamweight division is very top-heavy, which perhaps more than anything explains why Urijah Faber is seemingly always one fight away from a title shot. The gap between the top five guys and the rest of the division is wider than most fans would care to acknowledge, and it showed last night. Still, I’d rather watch Urijah Faber fight Michael McDonald than watch him get crammed into yet another title fight. I doubt I’m in the minority here – at least among hardcore fans.
Of course, the “friendship” angle between Faber and Jorgensen wasn’t the only storyline from last night to abruptly fall apart. After Anik’s interview with Jon Jones and Chael Sonnen, it’s safe to say that any possibility of the UFC marketing these two guys as bitter rivals/sworn enemies/anything other than apathetic about fighting each other is off the table. Judging by the comments on last night’s liveblog, I may be the only person who actually enjoyed the segment, but I digress. Oh, one more obvious storyline fell apart last night, too.
Elsewhere on the card…
- Throughout this season of The Ultimate Fighter, it seemed obvious that Uriah Hall was destined for stardom. He steamrolled his way through his competition on the show, impressed us with flashy, Tekken-inspired kicks and appeared ready to make an immediate impact on the UFC middleweight division. On paper, Hall’s co-main event clash with Kelvin Gastelum for this season’s championship was strictly a formality, as Gastelum was no threat to actually win this fight, right?
Not quite. Gastelum surprised many – including Hall – by being more than willing to press the action against the feared striker, and earned takedowns throughout the course of the bout. Even though Hall managed to reverse some of Gastelum’s attempts, in the end Gastelum took the fight – and this season’s championship – by way of split decision.
Perhaps it’s fitting that the most interesting season of The Ultimate Fighter in recent memory ended with an underdog winning it all, but don’t be quick to dismiss Kelvin Gastelum. Gastelum may not have the resume that Hall has, but a good wrestler who doesn’t get gun-shy has unlimited upward mobility in the UFC. As the youngest TUF champion in the history of the show, Gastelum has the potential to make quite the impact on the middleweight division. Likewise, don’t give up on Uriah Hall just yet. The close loss may be a product of Hall having the Octagon jitters, something that happens to many fighters the first time they fight in the UFC. Time will tell how Hall bounces back from this defeat.
- The $50,000 Fight of the Night bonus rightfully went to Cat Zingano and Miesha Tate for their three round brawl. Although Zingano kept the bout close, Tate’s wrestling earned her the edge on the judge’s scorecards heading into the third round. However, Zingano was in complete control in the third round, earning a takedown and landing strikes at will against Tate. After catching Tate with a knee during a scramble, Zingano kept swinging until Kim Winslow stopped the bout. Cat Zingano earned a coaching slot on The Ultimate Fighter 18 alongside Ronda Rousey – as well as a title shot at the end of the season – with the victory.
Fights are virtually guaranteed to end in controversy whenever Kim Winslow is in the cage, and this fight proved to be no exception. After the event, Miesha Tate expressed her anger over the stoppage, claiming that Winslow waived things off too soon. “She told me, ‘Show me something,’” said Tate. “I don’t know what you want. I sat up, I shot a double, I got back to my feet. I took some damage because of that, because I was trying to listen to the referee, and she fucking stopped the fight.” Despite Tate’s argument that the stoppage was early (for what it’s worth, I didn’t think it was), it was a great fight that further demonstrated why women belong in the UFC.
- Travis Browne is certainly one of the most creative strikers in the UFC, but I know I can’t be the only person who thought “not this again” when he started his bout against Gabriel Gonzaga with a wild high kick that completely missed its target. Throughout the next minute of the fight, it was obvious that Gonzaga wanted nothing to do with Browne’s striking. During the last six seconds of the fight, it was obvious why. Despite Gonzaga’s best efforts to neutralize Browne’s dynamic stand-up, Browne only needed a few standing hellbows to shut out Napao’s lights, earning himself the $50,000 Knockout of the Night bonus.
- If you didn’t like watching Bubba McDaniel thoroughly outclass Gilbert Smith on his way to a third round triangle choke victory, you’ll possibly take comfort in knowing that he didn’t win the $50,000 Submission of the Night bonus for his efforts. Instead, the honor went to Daniel Pineda, who kicked off the card with a first round victory by kimura over Justin Lawrence.
- As for the $25,000 End of the Season awards, Fight of the Season went to Dylan Andrews and Luke Barnatt for their back-and-forth quarterfinal fight that Andrews eventually won by TKO, Submission of the Season went to Kelvin Gastelum for his rear-naked choke victory over Josh Samman during the semifinals, and I think it’s pretty obvious who took home Knockout of the Season.
Urijah Faber def. Scott Jorgensen via submission (rear-naked choke), 3:16 of Round Four
Kelvin Gastelum def. Uriah Hall via Split-Decision
Cat Zingano def. Miesha Tate via TKO (knees & elbow), 2:55 of Round Three
Travis Browne def. Gabriel Gonzaga via KO (elbows), 1:11 of Round One
Bubba McDaniel def. Gilbert Smith via submission (triangle choke), 2:49 of Round Three
Josh Samman def. Kevin Casey via TKO (knees), 2:17 of Round Two
Luke Barnatt def. Collin Hart via Unanimous Decision
Dylan Andrews def. Jimmy Quinlan via TKO (punches), 3:22 of Round One
Clint Hester def. Bristol Marunde via KO (elbow), 3:53 of Round Three
Cole Miller def. Bart Palaszewski via submission (rear-naked choke), 4:23 of Round One
Maximo Blanco def. Sam Sicilia via Unanimous Decision
Daniel Pineda def. Justin Lawrence via submission (kimura), 1:35 of Round One