The Ultimate Fighter Season 24 Finale had its moments, good and bad. A TKO due to malfunction, a fun slug fest, a few finishes, and of course a lot of decisions made an appearance. I came into this card with low expectations as I knew the show focused on Flyweight fighters, a weight class that is not my favorite to watch compete. Throwing my ignorance aside, I watched this entire card through its nearly 7 hour duration.
Preliminary Card (UFC Fight Pass)
Light Heavyweight – Devin Clark def. Josh Stansbury – Decision unanimous – (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Clark and Stansbury both latched onto each other and went into the clinch not long after this fight started. Clark scored a takedown and Stansbury attempted a guillotine in the first. The second round (and most of the whole card) was spent in the clinch. Clark punched his way out of the clinch a couple of times scoring some strikes. More of the same happened in the third, going in and out of the clinch with Clark edging out Stansbury in attacks. Clark attempted to take Stansbury down several times in the third round and Stansbury was able to show off his good takedown defense. Both fighters got some jabs to land and Clark eventually did get Stansbury to the mat.
Middleweight – Anthony Smith def. Elvis Mutapcic – TKO elbow and punches – (RD 2 – 3:27)
At the start of this fight Mutapcic looked strong but Smith was able to recover and win via TKO. In the first round Mutapcic tripped Smith with a leg kick and was able to get some hammer fists to land. Mutapcic then picked Smith up and slammed him on top of his head which looked like a neck injury waiting to happen. He followed the takedown up with some elbows and ground and pound, easily winning the round.
Smith came out firing in the second round, landing a knee, jabs, and combos which opened up a wound on Mutapcic’s head. After eating all of the attacks, Mutapcic looked lost and was just fighting on muscle memory and instincts. Smith then landed another knee and a crushing elbow on the temple of Mutapcic which essentially ended the fight. Smith threw a few hammer fists to get the TKO. The replay of the finishing blow was brutal.
Preliminary Card (FS1)
Women’s Strawweight – Jamie Moyle def. Kailin Curran – Decision unanimous – (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
I would be lying if I said Curran wasn’t one of my favorite fighters. She is very attractive. Her good looks didn’t help in her match against Moyle as she lost in a unanimous decision. The fighters spent a lot of time in the clinch trading knees and elbows. Moyle scored a takedown and landed consistent strikes in the first round. In the second Curran continued to land strikes to the left eye of Moyle leaving a huge welt which later opened up and bled like a waterfall. Moyle picked up and slammed Curran to the mat which I think is what opened up her cut above her eye. Moyle controlled the rest of the round landed ground and pound and washing Curran in her blood flowing from her eye.
Time was stopped in the third when Curran landed an illegal knee on Moyle who was considered to still be down (I didn’t think she was down). Moyle scored a few more takedowns in the last round turning the fight into a literal blood bath. It has to be annoying as a fighter having your opponent bleed all over you.
Lightweight – Dong Hyun Kim def. Brendan O’Reilly – Decision unanimous – (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
“Big” Dong Hyun Kim (if that isn’t his nick name it should be) defeated Brendan O’Reilly in a unanimous decision. O’Reilly held his own landing some brutal elbows in the clinch and scrambling on the ground looking for a submission, but Kim won this fight pretty easily in my eyes. O’Reilly stole a round but in the other two rounds Kim scored takedowns, ground and pound, and dictated the fight. Not a whole lot to say about this one other than Kim should be called Big Dong and can eat some vicious elbows. 4
Bantamweight – Rob Font def. Matt Schnell – KO knee and punches – (RD 1 – 3:47)
Schnell tried his hardest to recover after getting clipped early in this fight, but two knock out blows is almost impossible to recover from. Font stunned Schnell with a body kick and then again with a knee to the head. Font landed some punches in for good measure after landing the knee to score the KO. Schnell did score a takedown, but after the fighters got back to their feet, his night was over.
Featherweight – Ryan Hall def. Gray Maynard – Decision unanimous – (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
I said earlier that the Page/Gonzalez fight at Bellator 165 was the worst fight I have ever watched, but I think this Hall/Maynard match quickly dethroned it. Even though it went all three rounds, there isn’t a lot to discuss about this fight because all three rounds were the same. Hall awkwardly fell to the mat every time Maynard charged forward to attack and stayed there until the ref stood him up. I guess this style works effectively in dodging blows and bringing the fight to the floor but Maynard never took the bait and stayed on his feet. That may be true but it fucking sucks to watch. Maynard was super frustrated as Hall keep falling to the floor and he stood back as the ref allowed Hall to stand up.
In the third round Hall final brought Maynard to the ground with his goofy roll on the ground style but immediately complained to the ref that Maynard kicked him illegally in the head. So not only is his fighting style more annoying than a work email requesting a lot of work sent 15 minutes before you clock out, it leaves him vulnerable to grounded head kicks and he felt like he had the right to complain about them. I and the crowd were super frustrated with this guy. Boo’s filled the arena all three rounds and even the ref had a face of “dude really?”
Hall did win as he landed more strikes and Maynard did all he could to ignore Hall after the decision was announced. Hall then called out Maynard for not adjusting to his fighting style and defended his boring win to the crowd. This was hard to watch and Hall did not gain my fandom.
Main Card (FS1)
Flyweight – Brandon Moreno def. Ryan Benoit – Decision split – (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
Brandon “the nickname that is confusing and sounds like he kills babies” Moreno won in a close fight against Ryan Benoit. In the first round Moreno caught a Benoit kick which lead to a clinch and a slam takedown for Moreno. Both fighters landed blows in the first and their was a time stoppage for a nut shot on Benoit.
Benoit brought the fight into the clinch right away in the second round and clipped Moreno with a jab. Moreno recovered by scoring two more takedown slams in this round. In the third round Moreno attempted to score more takedowns, but Benoit defended them well and landed a rough left hook. This fight was close but I felt the judges got it right with Moreno getting more takedowns and being more effective in the clinch.
Women’s Bantamweight – Sara McMann def. Alexis Davis – Submission arm-triangle choke – (RD 2 – 2:52)
The only other fighter that I have seen that looks as muscular and intimidating as Sara McMann is Liz Carmouche. McMann is shredded. She used her athletic physic to score a takedown in the first and second round. In the second round she submitted Davis with an arm-triangle choke which looked complicated watching it live as it was a mass of arms and legs locking each other up. I want a McMann Carmouche match up.
Light Heavyweight – Jared Cannonier def. Ion Cutelaba – Decision unanimous – (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
I don’t know if this was the official fight of the night, but it definitely received that honor from the Sports Void. I finally forgot about the Hall/Marnard fight while watching this slug fest. It was hard to tell who was going to survive for a while as both fighters were absorbing shots. The tone for the fight was set when Cutelaba got in the face of Cannonier before the fight doing the throat slitting gesture.
Cutelaba scored two takedowns in the first round, and a couple more in the second. The fight became real interesting in the third when Cannonier had Cutelaba reeling. Cannonier kept his hands at his waist looking intimidating as fuck and even more so when he dodged Cutelaba’s punches by moving his head from side to side. He did eat some hard jabs from Cutelaba but Cannonier clipped Cutelaba and became the aggressor. I am not doing this fight justice in this recap, all I can say is Cannonier just out bossed Cutelaba. His stare down and cocky stance was awesome, it was the complete opposite of the Hall fight.
After the beating Cutelaba in a disheartening manner, Cannonier bowed and Cutelaba walked away defeated and embarrassed.
Welterweight – Jorge Masvidal def. Jake Ellenberger – TKO punches – (RD 1 – 4:05)
Ellenberger started off strong in his match against Masvidal landing some blows. But they didn’t appear to be doing much damage as Masvidal begun taunting asking for more. Masvidal then unleashed punches many of which landed. Ellenberger fell to the mat and Masvidal did not let up. I thought the TKO was going to get called right there but Ellenberger survived. After the fighters got to their feet, Masvidal landed blows and had Ellenberger reeling into the fence. This is where Ellenberger’s foot gets stuck between the mat and the fence leaving him exposed to the punches from Masvidal as he tried to free himself.
This is when Herb Dean called the fight. Since he was unable to defend himself, the fight was called TKO due to malfunction. A tough and strange way to lose a fight. It also looked painful as his big toe was pinned between the chain link and the mat. I don’t think Ellenberger would have been able to absorb the punches and knees from Masvidal much longer so it may have been a blessing in disguise for Ellenberger, losing in a controversial manner rather than getting rocked.
Flyweight – Joesph Benavidez def. Henry Cejudo – Decision split – (27-29, 30-26, 29-27)
I am going to say something really dickish and ignorant. I am not a fan of Flyweight fights. There I said it. They are boring.
The experts and commentators loved this close fight between Flyweight contenders Benavidez and Cejudo but I didn’t think it was anything special. A point was taken away from Cejuo in the first round for two nut shots on Benavidez which I didn’t think was fair as both were clearly not intentional. Other than the dick kicks, there isn’t much for me to say about this fight. Both fighters landed blows but to me it looked like the two fighters would run into each other in the center of the octagon, fail around throwing attacks and then separate. The just repeated that sequence of events with a few takedowns mixed in.
I admit that I am the asshole here but I didn’t think this fight was that great. Both fighters were clipped but it was obvious that the match was going to go to a decision no matter how many punches landed.
Flyweight – Demetrious Johnson ( c ) def. Time Elliot – Decision unanimous – (49-46, 49-46, 49-45)
This Flyweight match was enthralling as the championship belt was on the line. A belt that Johnson has held since its inception and has defended 8 times going into this fight. I thought this was going to be a quick finish for Johnson as Elliot, despite having many fights on his resume, won a TV show while Johnson is regarded as the best pound for pound fighter in the world.
Elliot made this fight interesting and it looked like he was going to topple the long time champ. In the first round after being brought down by Johnson, Elliot scrambled to top position and attempted a guillotine and a d’arce choke. Both chokes looked tight and I stood up staring at my TV expecting to see Johnson tap. Johnson didn’t tap, got back to his feet but was clipped by a jab from Elliot. The fight went back to the ground and Johnson did everything he could to survive.
The rest of the fight was controlled by Johnson. Elliot still got some shots in and was giving it his all, but the experience from Johnson was too much. The ground fight was so technical and even though Johnson accumulated wining rounds, I was still engrossed in the 4th and 5th round as Elliot was still energized and scrambling on the mat. At that point it wouldn’t have been surprising if he scored a submission on Johnson.
Johnson prevailed and defended his belt for the 9th time. The dude is good. I predict he retires as the Flyweight champion and will destroy the record held by Anderson Silva of 10 title defenses. Good way to end the card.
UFC Fight Night 102 is Friday, December 9th and UFC 206 is Saturday, December 10th. That Holloway/Pettis fight is going to be dope.