Another night of fights is in the books, and the TUF Live Finale wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be. I'll be honest, I haven't watched the last 10 seasons of The Ultimate Fighter so I always dread the Finales. I generally don't know 75% of the guys on the card, and feel like a maroon trying to sound intelligent in regards to a bunch of guys that won't be in the UFC at this time next year anyway. This definitely won't be the most gripping winners and losers post ever, I'll tell you that up front. But there was still a fair amount of good action to discuss, so let's get to it.
Martin Kampmann: This was a gigantic win for Kampmann. Sure, he fought his opponent's fight once again and nearly got taken out in the first round, but he came through in the clutch for the second fight in a row and re-ignited his hopes for a welterweight title shot down the road. Based on the post-fight interview it seems that Kampmann will meet Johny Hendricks in a title eliminator next. I want to say that's a really bad matchup for him but after his last two fights, how can you ever count Kampmann out of anything?
Michael Chiesa: It continually seems like MMA is one of the sports where you rarely see the storybook ending. The sport is just too unpredictable to reward the people that might deserve some good fortune on a regular basis, but tonight was a different story. Chiesa made (almost) everyone happy with a solid first-round finish, and might actually be a solid fighter in the UFC. I have my doubts about basically everyone that comes out of the TUF system nowadays, but Chiesa seems pretty talented.
Charles Oliveira: Do Bronx has been a massive enigma in the UFC thus far, but he brought his A game last night. His striking was on point in the first and Brookins never really got anything appreciable going. He switched it up in the second and took the fight to the floor, where he locked up a "modified guillotine" (I got tweets/comments all night claiming that it was everything from a straight guillotine to a D'Arce choke to an Anaconda choke - help please). I'm not sure how well Oliveira will deal with the deep waters of 145 yet, but he's looked pretty good so far.
Max Holloway: I'm a sucker for a fighter that knows how to work the body in MMA. The reward is so much greater than the risk if you know what you're doing, and 20-year-old Max Holloway knew what he was doing tonight against Pat Schilling. He absolutely destroyed Schilling's gas tank by the end of the first round with his body work, and fought much smarter than your average 20-year-old for the next ten minutes too. Most kids would go in for the kill when they gain the advantage, but Holloway was wise enough to stick to his own gameplan, even if it meant a decision instead of a finish. I was very impressed, and I think he has a bright future at 145.
Justin Lawrence: I was tempted to leave him out since he seems a tad one-dimensional, but that head kick KO was worth a mention. It's not very often that I actually react to something that happens in a fight, but I may or may not have yelled out an expletive when Cofer went down from that kick. The 80k in bonuses made Lawrence the biggest financial winner on the card, and he deserved it. Great performance.
Losers after the jump.
Jake Ellenberger: Everyone knows that Ellenberger has one-shot power, and he proved it within 30 seconds of the opening bell tonight. But why did he follow it up with four minutes of hugging? I understand the idea of not panicking and all that, but still. He showed no urgency and let Kampmann recover completely. He started off the second well, and I'm not sure many people picked a Kampmann KO via knees, but still - that was his fight to win and he left it in the cage. That loss was absolutely massive in a division with a ton of contenders. Instead of fighting champions and top contenders, he's back in the middle of the pack.
Al Iaquinta: I mentioned before that I didn't watch The Ultimate Fighter, so I can't come up with some detailed analysis of why he lost or what it means. The bottom line is that he did lose, and he got submitted in the first round to boot. He'll clearly get his shot in the UFC but it's going to take a few wins to erase the memory of him going to sleep tonight.
Jonathan Brookins: The TUF winner isn't a bad fighter by any means. His standup has steadily improved and he has a very good ground game. He had his moments against Oliveira on the feet in the first round, and played his cards right when Oliveira went for the takedown in the second. He just got caught by a superior grappler in my eyes. I've come around on Brookins a bit - I used to think he wasn't that talented, but he really is. He might not be challenging for a title anytime soon but he can give most featherweights fits on any given night. He'll be back for sure.
John Albert: I'm still of the opinion that Kim Winslow stopped the fight for pretty legitimate reasons. Albert admitted to yelling in pain while trapped in that armbar, and that's the same as a verbal submission to a lot of referees.The stoppage is definitely defensible. Either way, Albert was in control of that fight for a while and should have finished it. He has now lost two in a row and is in danger of getting cut, and while a lot of people will blame the referee, do you really think he was getting out of that armbar either way? Come on now.