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Another Ultimate Fighter Finale is in the books, and it totally delivered. Other than the bout between Melvin Guillard and Jamie Varner getting cancelled, every single bout except maybe the Colton Smith vs. Mike Ricci bout was pretty great. The only bout that went to a decision other than the TUF final was Tim Elliott vs. Jared Papazian, and that was damn exciting. This card was underrated from the start, but the few people that tuned in should be pleased with what they got (except for the fact that they/I missed Nonito Donare's fight to watch Mike effin Ricci).
In the main event Roy Nelson showed off his ridiculous power once again, but he was a little craftier than usual about it. He caught Mitrione with the heavy right hook, and Mitrione took it. So what did he do? He threw an uppercut next time, which totally caught Meathead off guard. Then just leveled him with a three-punch combo. It was a good win for Nelson, but doesn't really do a lot for his standing in the division.
Wow, Mike Ricci got handled tonight. The only thing that looked worse in the cage in that fight was Steve Mazzagatti missing the most obvious kick in the nuts in the last six months. Nonetheless, Ricci just couldn't keep Smith off of him and Colton turned into Mikey's personal backpack for most of the 15 minutes. Ricci almost nailed the hail mary armbar late, but it wasn't to be. It is true that Ricci is a natural lightweight though, and he'll be more competitive against the wrestlers in that division. And Smith is going to have a harder time riding a full-sized welterweight with some wrestling chops.
- Shane Del Rosario had his chance, but he got sloppy. We all know Pat Barry's not a great grappler. But not taking the time to set up a choke and trying to finish it with no hooks was just bad, and it ended up costing SDR the fight. He let Barry have another chance to do what HD does best, and he sure did - that final shot was just thunderous. I flinched in my seat.
- Dustin Poirier is awesome, but he can't fight like that all the time. Letting Jonathan Brookins bomb on him early was not a smart idea. He just showed little regard for his striking and Brookins almost made him pay. Poirier did call it correctly in the post-fight interview though - Brookins has walked into a choke loss twice in a row now. Porous striking defense and bad fight IQ aren't things that can be corrected easily.
- Melvin's Guillard interview with Heidi Androl is one of the funniest things I've seen this month. I'm paraphrasing here, but basically he said Varner's camp accused him of greasing, then came back 20 minutes later and said he was sick. He followed it up by saying that he had no respect for Varner as a fighter anymore and didn't want to fight him, and wanted on the February card. Androl told him that Dana White had rebooked him against Varner in two weeks at UFC 155. Without missing a beat, he just said "Oh. Okay then. Cool." I laughed so hard at that.
- Mike Pyle was getting tagged, but that knee was just a thing of beauty. James Head is going to be a nasty opponent for a lot of welterweights, but Pyle's experience and toughness won him that fight. I'm not a fan of Pyle, but I have to respect what he did tonight. It was very, very impressive.
- Johnny Bedford just trucked Marcos Vinicius. Vina's actually a decent fighter but he just took a beating and didn't have much in return. Great finish by Bedford too.
- Rustam Khabilov pulled off one of the craziest suplex displays I've ever seen in the UFC. He completely ragdolled Vinc Pichel, and just straight dropped him on his head and knocked him out. It remains to be seen if he could do that against a wrestler, but I can't think of a debut lately that was better than that. Combat sambo in the house.
- T.J. Waldburger impressed me tonight. Nick Catone is a tank at 170 and Whataburger had his hands full, but dropping him and finishing him like that was very, very nice. On a side note, an we see Catone face off with Head now?
- Hugo Viana might be my new favorite fighter. He closed the distance and dropped Reuben Duran three or four times with the right like it was nothing. Those were just bombs and the last one spun Duran right around. His post-fight interview was hilarious too - "I never saw an ugly man like me so beautiful on the television." And his English was great. Totally perfect performance.
- Mike Rio pulled that out out of his butt. He was down two rounds and to me, his armbar technique looked a little lacking while he was trying to set it up. But he was persistent and got the finish. His technical wrestling was really fun to watch as well.
- Tim Elliott and Jared Papazian apparently almost fought in the sauna yesterday and accused each other of all sorts of illegal stuff, including Elliott saying Papazian BIT him in the cage. Regardless though, Elliott dominated the fight and he looks like he could be a tough challenge for anyone at flyweight.
- Tweet of the night, courtesy of our former editor and MMA Uncensored host Luke Thomas: "Mike Ricci has terrible taste in wine. Seriously."