The UFC delivered once again with the Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale, with an unlikely hero emerging as the youngest champion in TUF history, while the women proved — once again — they belong inside the Octagon.
Here are the biggest winners and losers from the TUF 17 Finale:
If you’re still not sold on women’s MMA after that fight, you’ll need to come up with a better excuse besides “the fights just aren’t as entertaining.” Cat Zingano and Miesha Tate went at it during their TUF 17 Finale bout, overshadowing the guys. Their performance earned them Fight on the Night Honors, an extra $50,000 apiece, and the sincere gratitude of hardcore MMA fans around the world.
Zingano — who brought the contest to an end with a vicious series of knees during the third round — will now get the next shot at UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey.
Despite being the last man picked by Chael Sonnen during the show, and the underdog heading into pretty much all of his fights, Gastelum pulled off a huge upset at the TUF 17 Finale, defeating knock out artist, Uriah Hall, via split decision. Kelvin went right after Hall during their bout, and unlike all of Uriah’s opponents on the show, he didn’t seem intimidated by the Jamaican’s power. At this point, Gastelum’s future in the UFC looks bright, and he very well may be a contender someday.
While Hester’s hands looked good during the show; his grappling ability was rudimentary at best. However, Clint’s wrestling looked significantly improved at the TUF 17 Finale (he knocked out Bristol Marunde during the third round of their encounter after stuffing multiple takedowns), and he just might be good enough to be a contender in the UFC’s middleweight division if he continues to improve his grappling at the same pace.
Ok, I’ll admit I’m being a bit hard on Hall, but he does deserve to be chastised for his performance at the TUF 17 Finale. Hall spent way too much time toying with Gastelum early on, repeatedly dropping his hands with his back against the cage, imitating the tactics Anderson Silva used during his UFC 153 bout against Stephan Bonnar.
Gastelum was able to make him pay for his antics, scoring points with takedowns. I personally scored the fight 29-28 in Hall’s favor, but two Octagon-side judges scored it 29-28 in Gastelum’s favor while the third agreed with me. Fortunately for Uriah, he looked good despite the losing effort, and it probably won’t mean much big picture wise. He’s still one of the most promising fighters to ever come out the TUF house, and he should be able to do serious damage in the middleweight division if he overcomes his focus issues.
Anyone who missed the fights
The TUF Finale fight card wasn’t the most stacked card in the world, but it exceeded all expectations. From the prelims to the main event, the UFC delivered one of the most entertaining free fight cards in its history.