john lawrence looks at the season finale of the ultimate fighter…
Saturday night’s finale of The Ultimate Fighter 16 was another fight card that did not disappoint. There were exciting fights, great submissions, and some highlight reel knockouts.
The night started out with a featherweight matchup between Dustin Poirier and TUF season 12 winner, Jonathan Brookins. I had to pick Brookins, because frankly, he is one of the most likeable guys the UFC has ever seen. From the moment the bell rang, these two were just teeing off on eachother. It slowed down a little with some grappling against the cage, but then Poirier rocked Brookins with a straight right. They went to the ground and Poirier sank in a deep d’arce choke. Unfotunately, that was the end of Mr. Brookins.
Winner by submission – D’arce choke – Dustin Poirier
The second fight of the evening was a lightweight match between Vinc Pichel and Rustam Khabilov. This fight can be summed up in one word. Crazy. Khabilov is an absolute beast. They was a little feeling out for the first minute or so, then it was all Khabilov. He grabbed Pichel and gave him a suplex, then another and another. I almost thought I was watching Zangief from Street Fighter. On the third one, Pichel was rocked, and Khabilov proceeded to ground and pound until the ref finally stopped it.
Winner by KO Rustam Khabilov
Next up was a heavyweight match between Pat Barry and Shane Del Rosario. There has been a lot of talk leading up to this fight about people wanting Pat Barry to drop down to light heavy weight. He is a little smaller than an average heavyweight. But I’m pretty sure after his performance against Del Rosario, who is a muay thai world champion, a lot of the talk has been silenced. The first round was looking a little bad for Barry. He was taken down, gave up his back, and almost fell to a rear naked choke. For someone who is a known striker, Del Rosario was putting on a Jiu Jitsu clinic, trying rear naked chokes, even oma plata (a very complex shoulder lock). The round somehow ended with Barry on top of Del Rosario. Round two was over almost as quick as it started. Pat Barry landed a gigantic left hook. He followed it up with a few more punches and topped it off with a big right hand, and Shane Del Rosario was out.
Winner by KO Pat Barry
At this point in my night, I really just can’t wait for the next fight. It’s been a great card and I was just hoping it would keep going. AND IT DID!!!! We move on to the welterweights now with a fight between Mike Pyle and James Head. Head comes out just looking huge compared to Pyle, and was overpowering him right out of the gate. Pyle did a great job creating space where he could and attempting to clinch. At about two minutes in, he finally was able to sink in the clinch and lands a straight knee to the face of Head. He tops it off with some punches and that’s another fight down.
Winner Mike Pyle via KO
Now we get to what I always consider the true main event of any TUF finale. The fight where the TUF champion is crowned. I’m particularly excited about this contest because I really liked both fighters throughout the season. Mike Ricci a Canadian fighter that trains in Montreal with Georges St. Pierre and Rory MacDonald. Colton Smith is an active-duty Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Army. Both are incredible physical specimens and both seem to be really likeable guys. This fight started off fast with Ricci throwing a head kick, only to miss and be taken down by Smith. They grapple briefly and get back to their feet. They are both smiling ear to ear and they high five each other. Smith then really turns it on and takes Ricci down again and proceeds to control him for the remainder of the round.
Round two sees more of the same, as Smith continues to basically manhandle Ricci.
Round three is no different. Colton executes his gameplan to perfection. He neutralizes Ricci’s striking and keeps him on the ground. Late in the round Ricci made an attempt to gain ground, but it was really too little too late. Smith was just too dominant.
Winner via unanimous decision Colton Smith
The “main event” of the evening was between heavyweights Roy Nelson and Matt Mitrione. Nelson and Mitrione were actually teammates on season 10 of The Ultimate Fighter, which would see Roy Nelson become the season winner. Mitrione, who served a short stint in the NFL with the New York Giants and the Minnesota Vikings, was a stand in for TUF coach Shane Carwin, who suffered an injury during training. Both guys are known for having a good chin and heavy hands, but Nelson is also a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under Renzo Gracie. The fight starts out a little on the slow side. Both fighters seemed to be feeling each other out, but that all changed a couple minutes in. These two just start throwing heavy hands at each other. Mitrione threw a few hard body kicks, leaving Nelson welted, but Nelson answered with punches. Nelson’s punches proved to be too much for the former defensive tackle , as he knocked him out with two minutes remaining in the first round.
Winner via KO Roy Nelson
The preliminary card results were:
Johnny Bedford def Marcos Vinicius via KO
TJ Waldburger def Nick Catone via Triangle Choke
Hugo Viana def Reuben Duran via KO
Mike Rio def John Cofer via Armbar
Tim Elliot def Jared Papazian via unanimous decision
Fight of the Night honors went to Tim Elliot and Jared Papazian
Knockout of the Night went to Pat Barry
Submission of the night went to TJ Waldburger
Mullet of the Night went to Roy Nelson with Mike Pyle running a close second