The Ultimate Fighter 14 Finale went down this past Saturday night in Las Vegas from the Pearl at the Palms and saw the emergence of the first featherweight and bantamweight TUF winners, as well as a host of other exciting bouts. With the fight card now in the rear view, let’s take a look at how things shook out.
John Dodson and Diego Brandao became the first TUF winners from the bantamweight and featherweight divisions, respectively. Both men further proved themselves to be truly talented fighters that look to have real potential to become major players in their respective divisions. Dodson blasted the talented TJ Dillashaw with a pair of left hooks in the first round of their 135-pound contest that had him lunging after a desperation single-leg takedown when referee Herb Dean stepped in to stop it.
It was an early stoppage, but Dillashaw will come back strong and Dodson is a deserving winner, though he’s much more suited to competing in the flyweight division. Brandao showed that he’s got more to his game than just wild, powerful striking, as he rebounded from a hard shot thrown by his opponent, Dennis Bermudez, to latch on a vicious armbar that had Bermudez tapping and crying out in pain immediately. He’s reckless and hard-charging, but he’s got sick technique and strong finishing instincts and Brandao should have a bright future in the UFC at 145lbs.
TUF 14 coaches Jason “Mayhem” Miller and Michael Bisping squared off in the night’s main event, with Bisping coming back from a frustrating first round to dominate a rapidly-tiring Miller en route to a third-round TKO. Mayhem came out strong, giving Bisping trouble on the feet and threatening him from dominant positions, but inexplicably gassed out and opened the door for Bisping to take over the fight. Miller never looked for an out and, in fact, egged his opponent on, but he got thoroughly beaten in rounds two and three as a result of an empty gas tank. Whether it was an adrenaline dump (it probably was) or the result of an injury in training camp that prevented him from training properly, Mayhem’s performance absolutely did not offer an accurate view of his abilities.
Though it was hardly as bad as Dana White made it sound and Mayhem absolutely shouldn’t be cut from the UFC, the 30-year-old has restarted his UFC career on something of a dreadful note and will need to turn things around in a big way his next time out to remain relevant at the top of the game. In victory, Bisping retains his position hovering near the top of the division, but, despite handling victory with class, the Brit did little to help his negative image by throwing a blatantly illegal head kick to a downed Mayhem; the strike didn’t land, but if it had and considering the illegal knee that he rocked Jorge Rivera with in his last fight, we might be having a very different conversation today.
Lightweights Tony Ferguson and Yves Edwards threw down in a very closely-contested battle, with Ferguson eventually being awarded the unanimous decision. Though this was a fight that could have gone to Edwards or been scored a draw without raising much controversy, the fact that there were scores of 30-27 for either man is another clear and depressing reminder of the dismal state of mixed martial arts officiating.