Monday, April 15, 2013

TUF 17 Finale Recap

Travis Browne finishes Gonzaga with elbows.
For those of you who missed Saturday night's fights, you missed out.  The TUF house had some serious talent this season and it showed in pretty much every fight.  The non-TUF fighters put on an equally entertaining show and this is how it went down:

Main card quick results:

  • Bubba McDaniel edged out Gilbert Smith with a 3rd round triangle choke/armbar combination.  The decision was not clear and could have gone either way so good for him for securing the late finish.
  • Gabriel Gonzaga was knocked out by some controversial elbows from Travis Browne.  Travis was against the cage defending the takedown when he dropped some serious elbows that knocked out the resurgent Gonzaga.  He took home a $50,000 KO of the Night bonus for his handiwork.
  • Cat Zingano pulled off the huge upset by securing a TKO victory over Miesha Tate.  More about this fight later.
  • Uriah Hall was edged out by Kelvin Gastelum via split decision.  I did not think it was close enough to warrant a split decision but this was an entertaining fight.  The last pick of Chael Sonnen on the show is now the season 17 winner of TUF.
  • Despite dominating the first 3 rounds and likely being ahead on all three judges scorecards, Urijah Faber did not rest on that in the championship rounds.  Faber sunk in a 4th round rear-naked choke victory over his good buddy Scott Jorgensen.
Now it is time to go into more depth on the card:
I will start with the main event fighters, Urijah Faber and Scott Jorgensen.  As for Scott, he took a chance by taking a fight against the #3 guy in the bantamweight division.  If he won it would have possibly secured him a title shot, and a loss does not really affect his standing in the division.  He is widely considered to be near the bottom of the top 10 but he definitely has a bright future despite the loss.  As for Faber, he has still only lost title fights his entire career and he continues to boast spectacular submissions.  He has lost recently to the champion and interim champion.  What's next for him could depend on what happens in Winnipeg on June 15th.  If Barao keeps the win streak alive, Faber could have to win another fight to get that title shot.  Should Wineland pull off the upset, Faber could be getting that interim title shot.  He has a win over Wineland so the rematch would be a grudge match where the champion is the one seeking revenge which has a cool feel to it.  However, Urijah has never been one to take a lot of time off in between fights, having already fought twice in 2013.  He will likely take on a top 5 guy in Pickett, McDonald, or even Assuncao.  Should he win that, it is impossible to deny him a title shot whether Wineland, Cruz, or Barao is champion at that time.

As for the co-main event, this is the best thing that could have happened for the UFC.  Kelvin Gastelum is now a star, yet Uriah Hall losses no fame.  Hall is going to get a contract to fight top competition despite losing the fight in the finale.  He is too talented and is a fan favorite due to his devastating striking abilities.  Kelvin came out of nowhere to win the show.  Kelvin is now respected as a great fighter, and is only the young age of 21.  He is a potential star in the game and him winning is a great thing for the UFC.

Last but not least, it is time to talk women.  Miesha Tate and Cat Zingano not only fought for a title shot against Ronda Rousey, but also a coaching spot on the next season of TUF.  That is about as high as stakes are going to get.  Throw in the pressure of being just the second women's fight in UFC history and you can imagine that both of these ladies had tremendous pressure on them heading into fight night.  Miesha Tate came in as the heavy favorite, but why?  She was the former Strikeforce Bamtamweight Champion and has significantly more name recognition that Zingano, but is far from the more superior fighter.  Zingano is a proven finisher with both submissions and knockouts.  Cat is also undefeated in her mixed martial arts career.  It was even apparent on TV that the UFC was trying to sell Miesha Tate to the fans by only showing her walk in, while Cat made her entrance during a commercial break.  Despite all the hype being behind Tate, Zingano is the girl who stole the show.  During the first round there were a few exchanges in which both girls landed before Tate eventually took the fight to the ground and beat up on Zingano for a bit.  The second was all Tate early, but Zingano eventually reversed it and beat up Tate from a top position to finish the round.  Two of the judges had it 20-18 Tate, while the 3rd had it at 19-19.  Keep in mind the fighters do not know this heading into the 3rd round, this is all revealed much later following the fight.  Zingano needed to finish Tate in the 3rd and final round, and she did so in spectacular fashion.  She beat up Tate on the ground for a while after securing an early takedown.  When Tate tried to get up, Zingano threw some powerful knees over and over again and finished it off with an elbow that dropped Tate to the ground.  Kim Winslow stopped the fight securing a TKO victory for Zingano.

In addition to this recap of the women's fight, I have a few more things to say.  Kim Winslow is probably the worst ref in the game right now.  Dana White always talks about Steve Mazzagatti being the worst ref, but Mazzagatti did an excellent job from what I saw on Saturday.  Winslow the entire Tate vs Zingano fight was barking out orders.  She gave them more instructions than the corners of the fighters gave.  The whole time it was on the ground she was saying "watch the eyes" or "watch the back of the head" to make sure the girls were fighting clean.  Earlier that night she warned Blanco to stop holding the fence at least 10 times and never stopped the fight to take a point away from him.  She also told the girls to "work" a couple times when clearly there was active ground and pound and there was hardly a dull moment the entire fight.  Throw in a controversial stoppage and you had a bad night Ms. Winslow.  Miesha was going for a single leg takedown when Winslow jumped in a called it a fight.  Now to say Miesha was getting her ass kicked would be an understatement, but come on Kim, let her have a chance to get out of danger and fight on.  This was not some fight on an undercard between two unheard of fighters with little to no implication.  This was a title eliminator with a TUF coaching job on the line.  Kim Winslow should not be a ref for big UFC fights anytime soon.  If Saturday night wasn't enough to get Kim Winslow fired, ask King Mo or John Albert what they think about her.

Sorry for that rant, but Kim Winslow needed to be criticized for her subpar performance.  Here are some positives to take out of the women's fight.  These two girls seriously went at it and put on a show.  Both Zingano and Tate took home Fight of the Night honors which earned them $50,000.  That means that women are now 2 for 2 on winning the FOTN honors.  To be 2 for 2 is one thing, but to do so on extremely exciting fight cards is ridiculous.  UFC 157 was one of the best cards the UFC has put on in recent memory yet Rousey/Carmouche still stole the show.  Zingano/Tate had the same back and forth aspect to it which made the fight so entertaining.  Women's MMA is here to stay and fans need to embrace it.  I have rarely seen a boring women's fight because they have so much to prove.  They keep laying it all out there and the fans are winning big.  The 3rd UFC women's fight is coming up at UFC 159 between Sheila Gaff and Sara McMann.  This is on the under card and will be shown of FX.  Tune in if you have not seen the women fight yet, you will not be disappointed.

Three Stars of the TUF 17 Finale:
  1. Cat Zingano
  2. Kelvin Gastelum
  3. Clint Hester (he did his best Chris Weidman impression and should have won KO of the Night in my opinion with a spectacular elbow KO)
My career predictions are coming in at 45/86 after Saturday night. (52%)

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