The first half of the TUF 23 Finale is in the books. Through the first six fights, we had some duds and we had some exciting finishes (early at least). Here's how it all went down.
After a slugfest in the first, it was all Maynard. The two men were throwing wild strikes early, with each connecting and staggering their opponent. Maynard finally went back to what he was known for (being a bully) though, smothering Bruno and grinding him out on the ground for the next ten minutes. Bruno did cinch up a guillotine that looked dangerous in the third, but Maynard escaped and grinded it out.
Matheus Nicolau defeated John Moraga by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
If you're going back and re-watching this card, definitely skip this one. Both men were overly timid on the feet, and weren't connecting much when they were throwing. They did each land a power shot here and there, but nothing sustained. It was a tough fight to judge because of the inactivity - the only decisive thing that happened over the whole 15 minutes was a couple of late Nicolau takedowns. They may very well have won him the fight.
This wasn't a very good fight overall. The two men did slug it out in the first, with Hendricks probably getting the better of it. Stansbury took over with his grappling from there though, grounding Hendricks for large portions of the final two rounds and beating him up. The scorecards were strange - none of the rounds looked like 10-8's in either direction - but the right guy won.
Wrestlng, wrestling, wrestling. Ferreira went 6-for-6 with takedowns, and totally controlled Smith on the ground over the final two rounds. It negated a good first round by Smith, and cost him a decision loss.
Lee's grappling was on point tonight. After Matthews got up from an early takedown, he was put on the floor again later in the round. This time Lee took his back, sunk his hooks, flattened him out on his stomach, and unloaded with punches until the ref was forced to stop it.
Jingliang's power was on full display here. Zafir got an early takedown, but Jingliang used his strength to reverse and get up. He quickly scored his own takedown, then landed a few huge rights that put Zafir out just like that. It was a very impressive performance from the Chinese fighter. Here's the finish: