It was a busy weekend for the UFC as they closed out not one but two seasons of The Ultimate Fighter, with UFC on FX 6 closing out The Smashes between Australia and the UK and The Ultimate Fighter 16 Live Finale marking the end of the Nelson vs. Carwin season. Both cards stepped away from the historical format of TUF finale cards in that neither featured a majority of the season’s cast members and instead framed the finale bouts and coaches’ showdown with more relevant bouts. The results both sent a message to the MMA world and had a much greater impact on the state of affairs in the UFC compared to other finale events. Aside from the outside-the-cage impacts that the cards had, they were, all things considered, a pair of solid MMA offerings that are a cut above what fans have come to expect in the finales. Also a bonus for MMA fans, the impact of having an electric finale follow a lackluster season as opposed to the usual finale that fails to live up to its hype should result in an overall TUF product from here out as the UFC puts renewed emphasis on fighters fighting to win as opposed to fighting not to lose while in the house by taking a few of the finale slots traditionally reserved for runners up and giving them to more relevant bouts.
Less than 24 hours after the winners of TUF: The Smashes are determined, the final offering from The Ultimate Fighter 16 will take place in Las Vegas, Nevada. As has become the trend of late, coach “The Engineer” Shane Carwin (12-2) injured his knee and thus the coaches will not be facing one another. Instead, “Big Country” Roy Nelson (17-7) will face fellow TUF 10 alum “Meathead” Matt Mitrione (5-1). The co-main will feature the two finalists of the TUF series’ latest installment with ”The Martian” Mike Ricci (7-2) of Team Carwin taking on Colton Smith (3-1) of Team Nelson. Anchoring the card is a clash of heavyweight kickboxers as “HD” Pat Barry (7-5) steps in the Octagon across from Shane del Rosario (11-1). The opening match will see “The Diamond” Dustin Poirier (12-2) against Jonathan Brookins (13-5) followed by a lightweight tilt between “The Young Assassin” Melvin Guillard (30-11-2) and “C-4″ Jamie Varner (20-7-1).
The TUF: Live Finale went off without a hitch last night as Mike Chiesa (8-0) upset fellow Team Faber finalist Al Iaquinta (5-2) to become the Season 15 Ultimate Fighter. The following main event saw Danish kickboxer “Hitman” Martin Kampmann (20-5) overcome adversity in the first round to finish “The Juggernaut” Jake Ellenberger (27-6) in the second. “Blessed” Max Holloway (5-1) rebounded from his UFC debut loss to dominate a Unanimous Decision over “Thrilling” Pat Schilling (5-2) and TUF winner Jonathan Brookins (13-5) fell short in a featherweight bout against “Do Bronx” Charles Oliveira (16-2). The card was a fitting end to the UFC’s first live season of The Ultimate Fighter.
—MAIN CARD (on FX)—
Jake Ellenberger vs. Martin Kampmann: Kampmann via KO (Knees), Round 2, 1:40
TUF: Live Finale Lightweight Bout
Mike Chiesa vs. Al Iaquinta: Chiesa via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 1, 2:47
Jonathan Brookins vs. Charles Oliveira: Oliveira via Submission (Guillotine Choke), Round 2, 2:42
Max Holloway vs. Pat Schilling: Holloway via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27), Round 3, 5:00
Justin Lawrence vs. John Cofer: Lawrence via KO (Head Kick), Round 3, 0:19
Another season of The Ultimate Fighter is in the books. All that’s left is for “Maverick” Mike Chiesa (7-0) to face Al Iaquinta (5-1-1) in the TUF Finale tomorrow to determine the season’s winner. The card will be headlined by dangerous Danish kickboxer “The Hitman” Martin Kampmann (19-5) as he goes toe-to-toe with stand-out welterweight wrecking machine “The Juggernaut” Jake Ellenberger (27-5) with a place in the UFC title picture on the line. Shoring up the rest of card is a pair of solid bouts featuring TUF Season 12 winner Jonathan Brookins (13-4) who faces submission specialist “Do Bronx” Charles Oliveira (15-2) and “Blessed” Max Holloway (4-1) as he meets “Thrilling” Pat Schilling (5-1).
—MAIN CARD (on Fuel TV)—
Diego Sanchez vs. Jake Ellenberger: Ellenberger via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28), Round 3, 5:00
Stefan Struve vs. Dave Herman: Struve via TKO (Punches), Round 2, 3:52
Aaron Simpson vs. Ronny Markes: Markes via Split Decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29), Round 3, 5:00
Stipe Miocic vs. Philip De Fries: Miocic via KO (Punches), Round 1, 0:43
TJ Dillashaw vs. Walel Watson: Dillashaw via Unanimous Decision (30-25, 30-25, 30-26), Round 3, 5:00
Ivan Menjivar vs. John Albert: Menjivar via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 1, 3:45
The world’s premier mixed martial arts organization, the UFC, returned to the bayou state of Louisiana for the seventh time last night to deliver the ravenous fans of MMA a quartet of main card bouts. The opening of the festivities saw long absent Thai boxer “The Talent” Alan Belcher (17-6) win in brilliant fashion over “The Athlete” Jason MacDonald (23-15) with a quick submission due to strikes. The night looked good from the start but quickly petered out as Jonathan Brookins (14-2) dropped a Unanimous Decision to “New Breed” Erik Koch (13-1) after one of the most lackluster fights in recent memory and “The Crusher” Court McGee (12-1) took the night’s second uneventful nod over “The Ox” Dongi Yang (5-2). The night did end on a high note for fans as young stud wrestler “The Juggernaut” Jake Ellenberger (25-5) shocked the odds makers by knocking out heavily favored former Strikeforce champ Jake Shields (26-6-1) in the first, but it did little to make up for a night of less than entertaining combat. The UFC puts on more fights in a year than any other two major organizations combined, so blowout cards can’t be expected every time, but one can’t help but wonder how happy Spike TV was to see one of the organization’s last fights before leaving for FOX fall flat.
—MAIN CARD (on Spike TV)—
Jake Shields vs. Jake Ellenberger: Ellenberger via TKO (Knees and Punches), Round 1, 0:53
Court McGee vs. Dongi Yang: McGee via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-28), Round 3, 5:00
Jonathan Brookins vs. Erik Koch: Koch via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 30-27, 29-28), Round 3, 5:00
Alan Belcher vs. Jason MacDonald: Belcher via Verbal Submission (Strikes), Round 1, 3:48
The UFC returns to the great state of Louisiana for battle for the seventh time in its history as TUF vets, former WEC stand-outs, and returning blue chippers meet for Ultimate Fight Night 25. Kicking things off in the Big Easy are two middleweight warriors, “The Athlete” Jason MacDonald (23-14) and long absent prospect “The Talent” Alan Belcher (16-6). Featherweight Ultimate Fighter winner Jonathan Brookins (14-1) takes on the always dangerous WEC veteran Eric Koch (12-1) in the night’s second battle and “The Crusher” Court McGee (11-1) joins Korean fighter “The Ox” Dongi Yang (5-1) in the Octagon to round things out before the main event. For the marquis bout of the evening, one of the most dominant fighters in Strikeforce history, former champion Jake Shields (26-5-1), tries to rebound from his title fight loss by stopping the streaking welterweight frontrunner Jake Ellenberger (24-5). The pair offer interesting challenges for one another, and the winner will likely find himself across the cage from the welterweight champion in the near future.
September 17 the UFC returns to the great state of Louisiana for a battle in the bayou between former Strikeforce multi-division champion Jake Shields (26-5-1) and red hot welterweight contender Jake Ellenberger (24-5) at UFC Fight Night 25. Opening the card is the return of “The Talent” Alan Belcher (16-6) as he squares off against “The Athlete” Jason MacDonald (23-14). Following the middleweight tilt is a solid featherweight showing between TUF 12 winner Jonathan Brookins (14-1) and WEC stand-out “New Breed” Eric Koch (12-1). Taking the responsibility for ushering in the night’s main event is a truly exceptional middleweight pairing, “The Crusher” Court McGee (11-1) of TUF fame and “The Ox” Dongi Yang (5-1) from Korean Top Team. “The Ox” is looking to make his name known and build a winning streak after his 1-1 UFC start and he knows that McGee is a tough opponent to go through to get there. McGee has no plans on letting the Korean break .500 as he seeks to stay undefeated in the UFC.
New Orleans, Louisiana gets its seventh taste of Octagon action when the UFC returns with another installment of its signature series Fight Night this Saturday. “The Talent” Alan Belcher (16-6) and “The Athlete” Jason MacDonald (23-14) are set to start the night off in a middleweight bout. Korean transplant “The Ox” Dongi Yang (5-1) and The Ultimate Fighter 11 winner “Crusher” Court McGee (11-1) lock up in another battle in the 185lbs. division. In the main event, Jake Shields (26-5-1) and “The Juggernaut” Jake Ellenberger (24-5) meet to see which wrestler can rightfully call the UFC canvas their home. The featherweights make themselves known on the main card between all this action when Jonathan Brookins (14-1) and “New Breed” Erik Koch (12-1) grace the UFC cage. Brookins springs back to action from a nine-month hiatus as The Ultimate Fighter Season 12 champion. Koch is one of the fastest featherweights in the world with two back-to-back knockouts on his heels. The time could not have been any more perfect for these two to finally step up and meet.
The UFC returns to the bayou when UFC Fight Night 25 takes place once again in New Orleans, Louisiana this Saturday night. Former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion and top contender Jake Shields (26-5-1) plans to get back into his winning ways when he meets fellow wrestling powerhouse “Juggernaut” Jake Ellenberger (24-5). “New Breed” Erik Koch (12-1) is charged with the task of welcoming back fellow featherweight Jonathan Brookins (14-1) in a promising fast-paced battle. In the co-main event, fan favorite TUF 11 winner “Crusher” Court McGee (11-1) takes on one of the silent killers of the middleweight division, “The Ox” Dongi Yong (5-1). Among all the action though, UFC veteran “The Athlete” Jason MacDonald (23-14) brings his crafty ground game to the cage when striking extraordinaire “The Talent” Alan Belcher (16-6) returns to face him after a lengthy lay-off. Belcher has been absent from combat for some time but his stand-up game is the weapon of choice he can always rely on. MacDonald might be creeping into the elder years in respect to MMA competition but with a tight submission game, Father Time might have to take a backseat for now as athleticism tries to shut down talent.
For the first time in its history, Zuffa is bringing its premier mixed martial arts promotion the UFC to Ontario, Canada. On April 30 the Rogers Centre will host UFC 129, the sixth live event held by the UFC in Canada and the first in Ontario since MMA was officially legalized and sanctioned in the province in August of last year. The Toronto event was originally slated for UFC 131 but later changed as the promotion’s busy 2011 schedule fell into place.