Last night was the finale, which featured Nate Diaz v Manny Gamburyan. The promos for the show took full advantage of both Diaz' and Gamburyan's family, selling the clash as a meeting of "UFC royalty." A tad hyperbolic perhaps, but a good way of selling the card. And of course, the show also features the long-awaited clash between Jens Pulver and BJ Penn.
Because the show mainly featured matches, and not in-house shenanigans, I've decided to break down the matches into my Good, Bad and Ugly classifications. Primarily for the sake of consistency.
- BJ Penn d Jens Pulver - BJ looked to be in the best condition he's ever seen, and was more than ready for Jens. But Jens was able to last a round and a half with BJ, before finally submitting to a rear naked choke.
After the match, BJ and Jens hugged, and it seems that the 'bad blood' between the two of them has been cleared up. Which is good, given that the whole thing seemed to be more of a friendly rivalry than a feud. Plus, with Jens apparently dropping down to 145 in the WEC (watch out Urijah Faber) and BJ looking to go back up to 170 to avenge his loss to Matt Hughes, there isn't any point to these two 'feuding' any longer.
And speaking of BJ/Hughes 3, I'm totally favouring BJ. He lost the last fight because of poor conditioning, and if the well-conditioned BJ from last night shows up, Hughes is in trouble. Which is fine with me.
So it's understandable that the UFC would want Huerta to win. But this fight wasn't a cakewalk. Evans put on a good performance, most likely winning the first round. But in the second round, Huerta came out more aggressive. Even then, Evans took down Huerta twice, before Huerta was able to get Evans' back, and rained down punches until the ref stopped it.
Evans may have lost, but he established himself as a strong fighter in the growing lightweight division. And Huerta solidified his position both in the division, and in the UFC.
The first round was very good, with Joe going all out, and Brandon showing good submission defense and striking when the fight was standing. The first round ended with Joe trapping Brandon with a heel hook that, with another thirty seconds, would probably have meant victory. The second round continued with more of the same. Brandon showed great submission defense, just not enough to counter Joe's relentless attack. Joe finally got Brandon with a triangle choke as Brandon was transitioning out of giving up his back to Joe.
Joe showed that his defeat of Jens wasn't a fluke, and his loss to Manny wasn't a stumbling block. And Brandon still has a future in the octagon, or another MMA organization, possibly a team based league.The Bad
- Cole Miller d Andy Wang - Okay, during the season, Andy got in trouble for choosing to stand and trade punches, rather than take the fight to the ground and utilize his Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt! So what does he do when he's given a chance on the TUF Finale? He stands and trades punches with Cole of course!
Cole looked pretty good here, but not overly impressive, knocking Wang down with a high kick to the head, and finishing him with punches, although Wang argued that the fight was ended too soon. Cole will be pretty good in a few years, but he isn't at the same level of Diaz, Lauzon and Gamburyan.
Wang? Wang needs to rethink his fighting philosophy. Like I said while rewatching Wang's fight during the Spike TV TUF marathon, if I'm Wang's corner man, I'm telling him that if he doesn't shoot for a take down in the first thirty seconds, I'm throwing in the towel. And then I follow through on that threat. Wang needs to be taught to fight to his strengths.
Nicknames are all well and good, but only when they're earned, original and somewhat entertaining. Don't just take a nickname because you like the sound of the word. Otherwise you'll get names like Chilly McFreeze or the Shockmaster.The Ugly
- Gray Maynard NC Rob Emerson - Before the fight, this one was similar to Pete Sell v Scott Smith from the TUF4 Finale. Two guys, both friends, looking to beat on the other guy for 15 minutes, then go out for a protein shake afterwards.
After the fight, this one was similar to Pete Sell v Scott Smith from the TUF4 finale, with the most bizarre finish on the show. The first round saw Maynard dominate Emerson with wrestling, but Emerson scored some good punches. At one point, Maynard really damaged Emerson with a strong blow to the ribs, made all the worse by the fact that Emerson evidently tore some cartilage on his ribs during training.
In the second round, Maynard took Emerson down, and the force of impact caused Emerson to tap. But the force also knocked Gray out, as he essentially DDT'ed himself on the mat. Gray thought he won, but it was announced as a no-contest. Gray was livid, while Emerson positioned everything for a rematch.
Not a bad fight, as both guys looked good (although Gray looked better), but the ending was a mess. And Gray's refusal to accept the decision made him look pretty bad. I can understand arguing, but he was almost petulant.
When the second round started, Manny seemed ready to go, albeit a little winded, while Diaz seemed fresh. Manny shot in, and took Nate down, then started tapping. Manvil suffered another shoulder problem, which is what kept him out for two years before he got on the show, and he evidently aggravated in his victory over Lauzon.
Again, this was by no means a bad fight, but the ending was ugly, made all the worse by the repeats of Manvil's shoulder injury. Obviously Nate will take the victory, but he didn't beat Manny. What is worse is the possibility that Manny may not fight again, given the continuing problems he seems to have with that shoulder. Should Manny be able to return, a rematch is more than in order. Maybe an Ultimate Fight Night with Manny v Diaz and Gray v Emerson?