Ultimate Fighter – Recap – The Ultimate Final!

By Ian Brewster

ULTIMATE FIGHTER: THE ULTIMATE FINAL

Franklin Finishes Shamrock!
Griffin and Bonnar Make History! “THE BEST FIGHT IN UFC HISTORY”
Sanchez Sets his Sights on the UFC!

“World’s Most Dangerous Man” Defeated

UFC living legend “The World’s Most Dangerous Man” Ken Shamrock was defeated by rising superstar Rich “Ace” Franklin in the main event of “The Ultimate Fighter” finale at the Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas on Saturday.

At UFC 1, Ken Shamrock was there. Now as the UFC made its live network television debut on SpikeTV, it was only fitting that the living legend should be there as well. His opponent, Rich “Ace” Franklin, was undefeated in UFC competition and he had never seen a decision in his career. Franklin possessed amazing power in both hands, devastating knees and some of the best submission skills in all of mixed martial arts.

Though Shamrock appeared the bigger man, he surprised many when the scale read 201 pounds on the day of the weigh-in compared to Franklin’s 203 pounds.

The cheers deafening in anticipation but as the fighters left their respective corners, the crowd began to quiet in respectful anticipation.

At the opening bell, both combatants appeared hesitant to trade.

Franklin, aware of the experience edge acquired by Shamrock over his illustrious career, was content to stay out of Shamrock’s range and establish a quick, snapping jab.

Shamrock, while in the twilight of his career, still had the hunger and bravery that made him famous.

It was these qualities that allowed him to push the action and attempt to land his newly polished right hand. But, his 41-year-old body couldn’t keep up with his 20-year-old mind, and Franklin quickly landed a hard right that dropped his older opponent. Even after being hurt, Shamrock still refused to go out quietly and secured his trademark ankle lock that at one time would have stopped even the most dangerous of fighters. Franklin still proved to be too much for Shamrock, and, showing superior training and conditioning, easily escaped the hold.

The fighters once again returned to their feet and Shamrock, in a last ditch effort, threw a high kick that not only missed its target, but also caused him to lose his balance and fall to the ground. Franklin capitalized on the fallen warrior and proved to the world why he was the future of Mixed Martial Arts. As Franklin landed a devastating barrage of hard rights and lefts, Shamrock could do nothing but cover up and wait. Referee “Big” John McCarthy mercifully stopped the fight. Franklin was awarded the TKO victory at 2:44 of the opening round.

Sanchez Sets his Sights on the UFC!

In the first co-main event of the evening, Diego “The Nightmare” Sanchez met submission-grappling superstar Kenny Florian in the highly anticipated final matchup of the middleweight tournament of “The Ultimate Fighter.”

Florian entered the ring in a modest display. Sanchez on the other hand, escorted to the ring by a mariachi band in a proud display of his Mexican heritage, came out to a huge ovation from the crowd.

The fight began slowly with both fighters circling, but the action quickly picked up. Sanchez, aware of his height and weight advantage, rushed the smaller Florian into the octagon fence. Sanchez proceeded to take Florian to the mat, and quickly began to rain punches down to the face of his opponent. Florian tried in vain to achieve guard, but was quickly overwhelmed by punches. Referee Steve Mazayatti quickly stepped in to call a halt to the bout at 2:43 of the very first round.

Sanchez advanced to the finals with submission victories via rear naked choke over Alex Karalexis, Josh Rafferty and also won a split decision over Josh Koscheck in the semi finals.

The ultimate victory of the charismatic Sanchez translates into six-figure contract with the UFC.

Griffin and Bonnar Make History!

The light heavyweight final showcased Forrest Griffin, who is known for his wild man antics and supercharged intensity, and the Carlson Gracie-trained workhorse Stephan “The American Psycho” Bonnar. The fans were with buzzing with excitement as both fighters made their way to the octagon.

In what can be easily called the “Fight of the Year” for the UFC and quite possibly in all of the mixed martial arts, both men stood toe-to-toe for the full fifteen minutes with each of them damaging the other with bad intentions. From the opening bell, the fighters stood in the center of the octagon and exchanged right hands. In the second round the action continued with Bonnar landing the cleaner shots and opening a very bad gash on the bridge of Griffin’s nose but the bleeding was controlled between rounds. With both men tiring badly and the third round about to explode, Griffin and Bonnar touched gloves in a show on sportsmanship at the opening of the final round. The third round slowed slightly but the exchanges continued and with both men leaving everything that they had in the ring.

The fans were on their feet as the fight concluded.

The fight was in the judges’ hands after three furious and vicious rounds. In a unanimous decision victory, Griffin was awarded the win plus a six-figure contract with the UFC. In an incredible display of appreciation, UFC president Dana White also awarded Stephan Bonnar an identical contract.

A Bonnar vs. Griffin II is surely on the horizon.

In the opening preliminary bout of the night, Boston’s Alex Karalexis (5-1) set the tone of evening by knocking out Cincinnati’s Josh Rafferty (5-5) at 1:40 of the opening round. Rafferty began very aggressively and scored a takedown. Karalexis remained calm and reversed the position, allowing him to unleash a brutal series of fight ending ground and pound style punches. Both men were previously eliminated from the competition after falling victim to Diego Sanchez, each losing by submission.

“Kid Lion” Mike Swick (6-1) made the biggest statement of his career by knocking out Argentina’s Alex Schoenauer (5-2) at :20 seconds of the very first round. Both men came out throwing punches. Swick hurt Schoenauer immediately with a vicious combination of punches. Swick, who was eliminated from the light heavyweight competition by Stephan Bonnar, returned to his natural weight class of 185 pounds for this fight.

In other middleweight action, Nate “The Rock” Quarry improved his record to 6-1 by stopping North Hollywood’s Lodune Sincaid by TKO at 3:17 of round 1. Sincaid tried to counter punch for much of the first round until Quarry landed a hard body shot causing his opponent to turn his back. The unspoken concession of Sincaid forced veteran referee “Big” John McCarthy to call a halt to the fight. An ankle injury sustained while training ended Quarry’s stay on TUF before he was given the chance to compete. Sincaid was originally eliminated by Bobby Southworth in the inaugural fight of “The Ultimate Fighter” series. His record now falls to 5-2.

In one of the most anticipated grudge matches of the evening Canada’s Jason Thacker took on “The Ultimate Fighter” standout Chris “The Cat Smasher” Leben (16-3). Pre-fight fireworks began when Thacker charged Leben before the bell sounded. Thankfully, order was quickly restored and the match began. Thacker was noticeably overmatched by the more experienced Leben and the fight quickly went to the mat. It was there that “The Cat Smasher” stopped Thacker with a vicious display of ground and pound punches. The official time was 1:35 of round one. Leben improves to 16-3 while Thacker falls to 0-1.

In the final off-tv bout of the evening, Sam Hoeger of Miletich Fighting Systems won a unanimous decision in an upset of the more experienced Bobby Southworth.

“The Ultimate Fighter” finale was telecast to one of the largest television audience in SpikeTV history. Based upon the ratings, the feedback from the fans and the emergence of two new UFC superstars, you can guarantee that “The Ultimate Fighter” reality show will return!