While it was not a spectacular night of fights, the TUF 17 Finale was a solid night of bouts that went over without any real controversy or other disappointments. What did provide a fair amount of excitement was the fact that three of the night’s five-main-card bouts ended in major upsets. “The Menace” Bubba McDaniel (21-6) opened the card with a third-round submission of Gilbert Smith (5-2) that was not unexpected, but then “Hapa” Travis Browne (14-1-1) shut down the red hot submission expert “Napao” Gabriel Gonzaga (14-7) with a barrage of elbows from the sprawl against the cage. The ladies then stepped into the Octagon for the second time in UFC history and blue chipper “Alpha” Cat Zingano (8-0) overcame early struggles to demolish the heavily favored “Cupcake” Miesha Tate (13-4) with a “Fight of the Night” winning third-round stoppage. The upsets continued into the championship bout of The Ultimate Fighter 17 tournament as ultra-hyped number one seed Uriah Hall (7-3) came out flat and dropped a Split Decision to last-picked wrestler Kelvin Gastelum (6-0). In the main event, “The California Kid” Urijah Faber (28-6) showed the world why he is the eternal top contender at 135lbs. when he finished off fellow top bantamweight “Young Guns” Scott Jorgensen (14-7) in the fourth round.
The curtain has been called on the seventeenth season of The Ultimate Fighter and all that’s left is for the UFC to crown the winner on Saturday night at The Joint at The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. Opening duties for the main card on FX will fall on quarter-finalist “Bubba” Robert McDaniel (20-6) as he debuts against teammate Gilbert Smith (5-1). Next out, “Hapa” Travis Browne (13-1-1) will look to rebound against former heavyweight title challenger “Napao” Gabriel Gonzaga (14-6). “Cupcake” Miesha Tate (13-3) will battle undefeated “Alpha” Cat Zingano (7-0) for a coaching position on TUF 18 to anchor the card. Filling the traditional co-main slot is the TUF Season 17 finale between Team Sonnen teammates Uriah Hall (7-2) and Kelvin Gastelum (5-0), and pulling headlining duties is a battle between former WEC Featherweight Champion “The California Kid” Urijah Faber (27-6) and “Young Guns” Scott Jorgensen (14-6).
Saturday night the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada plays host to the biggest welterweight showcase in years for UFC 158: St. Pierre vs. Diaz. A pair of Ultimate Fighter standouts open the night as “The Martian” Mike Ricci (7-3) takes on English “Freakshow” Colin Fletcher (8-2). Middleweight veteran Chris Camozzi (15-5) tries to keep his three-fight win streak alive against “The Promise” Nick Ring (13-1). “The Juggernaut” Jake Ellenberger (28-6) clashes with “The Great” Nate Marquardt (32-11-2) to vie for relevancy at 170lbs. as the Kingpin of Welterweights, and “Rush” Georges St. Pierre (32-2) settles a grudge match with the pride of Stockton, Nick Diaz (26-8). While the main event is sure to bring fireworks, the co-main event between “The Natural Born Killer” Carlos Condit (28-6) and relentless contender “Bigg Rigg” Johny Hendricks (14-1) has enough heat to thaw the last of Montreal’s icy winter.
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.
Thirty-two of the world’s most talented unsigned mixed martial artists are primed and ready to compete on The Ultimate Fighter 16. Today officials announced the names of those comprising the 32-man welterweight roster, which includes 29 Americans, two Canadians, and one Brazilian as well as several major promotion veterans, all to be under the tutelage of either former UFC Interim Heavyweight Champion Shane Carwin (12-2) or TUF Season 10 winner and former IFL champ “Big Country” Roy Nelson (17-7).