Truth be told the UFC would have had to have put out a very bland and/or offensive product last night to not out shine last weekend’s forgettable UFC 130. As it were The Ultimate Finale 13 provided tons of thrills and a few high octane knockouts. And while nothing compares to Travis Browne’s demolition of Stefan Struve this show beat up on its older, more prominent cousin in every other category across the board.
1. Yes, I know we crowned a new Ultimate Fighter last night, and I’ll get to that in a minute. But first I want to touch upon the top story which to me is without question the new arithmetic found atop the UFC’s lightweight division. We all know the story of poor little Anthony Pettis who Matrix kicked his way into a title shot against the winner of Frankie Edgar/Gray Maynard only to have it stolen away from him thanks to a unlikely draw at UFC 125. That meant he was awarded the honor of fighting Clay Guida here presumably just to keep his title shot even though that probably wasn’t even the case as a few days ago Dana White said that he would most likely need two more wins to earn a title shot now. In any case his pretty boy persona got owned by Clay Guida’s wild child begging the question of who now gets that title shot assuming that Edgar/Maynard III actually happens and that it does not end in a draw. I’m putting in a vote now for Jim Miller though I’m sure plenty of other people would have something to say about that.
2. Tony Ferguson, you know. . .the drunk, took home the title of Ultimate Fighter tonight thanks to a very delicious knockout of the much more likeable Ramsey Nijem. The question for me is where does he go from here and how will the fans respond to him. Looking backwards I think that we could say that coming out of TUF 10 we knew Roy Nelson would be embraced by the fans. He did, after all, have a built in fan base (the fats). Court McGee was a snooze and in his one fight since then has done nothing to counteract that perception and after him came Jonathan Brookins has been MIA since he took the title in December. Ferguson had that ugly scene right at the end of the season involving too much drink and much screaming. It was the only real act of drama all season and I think that image of him swan diving and head butting the table will live on in the memory of fans. So, does Ferguson embrace his heel status and market himself as such or does he take the Tiger Woods route and do everything he can to kiss the ass of mainstream America?
3. Maybe you care, maybe you don’t but this could have very well been the 2nd to last Ultimate Finale as the UFC’s current contract with Spike ends with the airing of The Ultimate Finale 14. Add to that the fact that ratings have been tough to come by this season and we may just be in the waning days of this long running reality show. Of course I would say that it will probably be back, maybe on Versus maybe on Spike, but it needs a freshness injection in the worst way possible.
4. I was hoping not to squabble with Dana White over post-fight bonuses this column but he just blew the Fight of the Night award in such dramatic fashion that something must be said. Kyle Kingsbury vs. Fabio Maldonado, while close, was nowhere near the Fight of the Night. In fact, out of 11 fights I would say that it was only the 5th best. What could possibly persuade the UFC to give such an underwhelming brawl the nod? My only theory is that I think we are still living in a prize fighting world which slants towards the heavier divisions. Ok, this one was close whereas my favorite fight of the night, Guida vs. Pettis, had intense moments of drama but ultimately was a shut out on the scorecards. But what about Justin Edwards vs. Clay Harvison? To me that really captured the spirit of what Uncle Dana looks for in a fight. Two guys fighting for their careers letting it all hang out despite the fact that their skill levels and gas tanks may not have been up to standard. I had Edwards winning 29-28 on my scorecard even though technically he just doesn’t have the raw talent that Harvison does.
5. To a certain degree Ed Herman bailed out the UFC with his lightning quick knockout of Tim Credeur but by far my biggest gripe coming into this show was that this mess was scheduled to be on the main card whereas fighters such as Scott Jorgensen (you remember him, the last guy to challenge Dominick Cruz for the Bantamweight title) and Josh Grispi were relegated to the Facebook prelims. Again, a certain lighter weight bias might be in the play but I would add that there was another factor as well. Both of these fighters were once on The Ultimate Fighter, and we know that the UFC is kind of enslaved by their need to overly promote those guys in an effort to then promote their reality show. Both of these fighters were coming off a loss and Herman had lost three of his last four, hardly main card material.
6. The incessant “Woo”-ing of Chris Cope was, I’ll admit, charming enough, especially considering just how far under Mike Goldberg’s skin it got. Plus he looked great in his win over Chuck O’Neil, the question is will he be able to develop his character past the point of just ripping off Ric Flair and deliberately annoying the people around him.
7. After watching Jeremy Stephens whoop Danny Downes for three straight rounds I felt regret that we were deprived of his scheduled fight with season 12’s Ultimate Fighter Jonathan Brookins which would have been something much more competitive. Then this morning word came out that Brookins is looking to move down to Featherweight, his old weight class, thus leaving the Lightweight division which is just about the best career move any UFC fighter can make at this point. Stephens looked like a beast out there tossing Downes around, nearly cranking his arm clean off and then bloodying his face, and it is hard to image that he wouldn’t have done the same thing with Brookins and his undersized frame.
8. There has already been a fair amount of hate dumped on Clay Guida for his excellent gameplan execution in out-wrestling Anthony Pettis and scoring the decision victory by people who cry “boring” every time a fight doesn’t end in with an act of horrifying violence. I would probably argue that cockfighting is a better sport for them but that is neither here nor there. But why they pick on Guida, a man who did in actuality provide an exciting grappling affair, and let Shamar Bailey off the hook. Guida has shown that in the right circumstance he is more than happy to go out there and recklessly throw punches whereas Bailey’s whole M.O. seems to be to put on the most sleep inducing bouts imaginable. It worked for him last night as he won his bout against Ryan McGillivray but his fight with Chris Cope made him look one-dimensional and completely beholden to his one specialty.
9. After two straight beatdowns it is hard to imagine what the UFC was thinking when they announced, a few short months ago, that Josh Grispi would be the first person to challenge Jose Aldo for the newly minted UFC Featherweight title. No disrespect to George Roop, who looked unstoppable out there, or Dustin Poirier but Grispi needs to change up his game because right now he seems to have no answer for fighters who get in his face and bring him the noise. Grispi is a man who brought his record up to 14-1 with wins over Mark Hominick and Jens Pulver but the bright lights of the UFC have apparently gotten to him as since the merge he is 0-2. It will be interesting to see if the UFC throws him a bone with his next fight and let him take on a lesser opponent or if they keep him right in the lion’s den.
10. Another man who has struggled with his leap into the big time is poor Ken Stone who once again got knocked out by a high level Bantamweight. This time it was Scott Jorgensen who was able to blast through Stone’s guard and obtain the stoppage with his ground and pound. Last time we saw him he was being carted out of the arena after Eddie Wineland used a massive slam to turn out his lights. Unlike Grispi however Stone is probably a case of too much too soon as I don’t believe he has the ability to compete in the UFC. . .yet.
Tags: Anthony Pettis, Chris Cope, Chuck O'Neil, clay guida, Danny Downes, Dominick Cruz, Eddie Wineland, George Roop, Jens Pulver, Jeremy Stephens, Jim Miller, Jose Aldo, Josh Grispi, Ken Stone, Mark Hominick, Mixed Martial Arts, Ramsey Nijem, Ryan McGillivray, Scott Jorgensen, Shamar Bailey, Tony Ferguson