UFC: Ultimate Fighter VI Finale review
by Scott Newman(MMA)
Posted on February 6, 2009, 4:21 AM
UFC: Ultimate Fighter VI Finale
Las Vegas, Nevada
-For me at least, Season 6 of the Ultimate Fighter, AKA Team Hughes vs. Team Serra was the season where it was quite clear that the talent level of the fighters had noticeably dropped. I mean, I guess it was bound to happen – this was post-boom for MMA and fighters the calibre of Diego Sanchez, Forrest Griffin et al are just not going to be floating around in promotions like Gladiator Challenge any more, you know? Either UFC already has them or a promotion like Strike Force or Elite XC does. So effectively Zuffa were forced by this season to fill the show with journeymen and fighters with little experience and little standout talent. This season would see sixteen Welterweights competing for the crown, with the coaches being then-WW champion Matt Serra, and his bitter rival, legend Matt Hughes.
Despite the lower talent levels I actually found the season entertaining for the most part. Sure, the fights in the training center were mainly one-sided squashes or sloppy affairs, but I guess I’m easily pleased, and stuff like the rantings of Roman Mitichyan (“I’m not a pussy, doc!”) and George Sotiropoulos (“I’m not your fuckin alarm clock, mate!”), the on-off friendship between heavy favourite Mac Danzig and the hapless Blake Bowman, and the confrontation between Jared Rollins and ‘War Machine’ over the “upper decker” made for a generally fun show. As always the Finale was filled mainly with fights between the castmates, although this time we were given a huge bonus of a main event pitting Clay Guida against Roger Huerta in what was, on paper, practically a guaranteed contender for Fight of the Year.
Poor Georgieff drew the short straw, evidently, in being the only cast member to end up being faced with a real UFC veteran here. Not sure why they chose him to pit against Goulet, but basically they ran out of cast members to use as they had an odd number to start with due to Jon Koppenhaver replacing Roman Mitichyan, and chose not to bring back the afore mentioned Blake Bowman, or Joey Scarola, the guy who decided to leave the house after a TON of drama that we didn’t really need to see.
Georgieff shoots early but it’s an easy stuff for Goulet. They exchange some punches into a clinch, and Goulet trips him down into half-guard. Georgieff tries to sweep, but Goulet shows good base and defends, and then decides to stand back up. Goulet catches a kick and they clinch, but Georgieff breaks with a knee. Right hand and left hook land for Goulet and he catches another kick and gets a takedown to guard. Couple of elbows by Goulet and he works into half-guard, pressing Georgieff into the cage. Georgieff does a good job of pushing off the hips though, and escapes to his feet. They exchange some punches and Georgieff throws some really amateur-looking arm punches, but they actually land and appear to stun Goulet. Man, that guy’s chin isn’t great. Jonathan quickly changes levels though and tackles him to guard. Georgieff lands some elbows from the bottom as Goulet works to pass, and then drops a big right hand that stuns Georgieff en route to passing to half-guard. Side mount follows and then Goulet steps over to full mount. Georgieff gives his back, and Goulet flattens him out. Georgieff stands, but can’t shake Goulet off and the Canadian locks up the rear naked choke, and Georgieff decides to pass out rather than tap out.
Well, outside of the one flurry of punches that was an unsurprising squash, but it’s pretty sad to see Goulet get stunned by such crude punches to be honest. Guy has a lot of skill but his chin is always going to hold him back.
Armenian born Mitichyan had been responsible for possibly the funniest moment of the whole series in the first episode, as he was ruled out with an elbow injury and then begged the doctor to let him continue on with the tapings, ranting and raving at the poor guy and telling him he “knew nothing”, before kicking out randomly at a bin and sitting on a kerb with a flower. Seriously, it was hilarious. Kickboxer Price, meanwhile, was eliminated in the first round by submission and is probably best remembered for going after a cameraman for some reason. No, really.
Price comes forward but Roman instantly grabs a single leg and gets a takedown to guard. Price tries to kick him off as Roman stands, but then the Armenian decides to grab a leg for a leglock, and rolls through quickly into a straight ankle lock for the tapout.
Nice submission win for Mitichyan and man it was quick, as they replay the whole fight twice which is really rare. 23 seconds according to Bruce Buffer. Makes up for being forced off the show by injury I guess. Price didn’t really get a chance to do anything, and we never did find out whether he’d improved his overall ground game, his Achilles heel on the show.
Submission fighter Arroyo was regarded as one of the season’s better prospects, and hadn’t actually lost during the tapings, instead being eliminated from the semi-finals due to injury. Kolosci meanwhile had the misfortune of being tapped out by Mac Danzig twice, as he was Arroyo’s replacement but ended up going out in the same way he’d gone out of the quarter-finals.
Touch of gloves to begin and Kolosci comes in swinging and shoots, but Arroyo grabs a front facelock and tries to swing his way over to take the back. Arroyo lands a couple of elbows to the side of the head, but Kolosci changes it to a single leg and puts Arroyo on his back. Arroyo gets a guillotine, but lets it go. He stays active from his back though, and works to isolate an arm, with Kolosci standing up to try to escape. Kolosci gets a slam to avoid as Arroyo can’t quite swing his leg over the face to finish the armbar. Eventually he locks it in, but Kolosci does a tremendous job of spinning out and turning free into the guard. Arroyo does a good job of controlling Kolosci from the bottom, not taking any damage really, and so Kolosci stands up. Ref brings Arroyo up and Kolosci throws a wild right hand, and shoots, but Arroyo catches him in a guillotine and pulls guard. Kolosci works free though, and it looks like Arroyo might be tired now. Some good elbows from the bottom land for Arroyo though, and as Kolosci tries to land some strikes from the top Arroyo catches him in a clean armbar and rolls him through for the submission.
Kolosci like on the show demonstrated heart here, but didn’t have anything close to the skill of Arroyo on the mat and it was only a matter of time before he got caught. Not a horrible fight or anything but it was hardly top-level stuff.
Surprising that they would match these two up as they’d been friends in the house, most notably drinking themselves silly in a later episode, giggling like schoolgirls and genuinely making a nuisance of themselves. Mandaloniz actually trains with BJ Penn for what it’s worth, while anyone who saw the show will remember Hightower for the ludicrous way he wore his baseball cap.
Round 1 begins and they brawl with punches right away, with Hightower landing the better shots. They clinch up and Richie gets a takedown to side mount, but Mandaloniz reverses and gets the top position and then stands. They exchange more sloppy punches and a big right hand cracks Hightower but he eats it up. Rude Boy goes for the takedown but Richie defends and clinches, where he lands a nice knee to the body. Mandaloniz continues to go for the takedown, but can’t get it as they muscle along the fence. Knees to the thighs by Mandaloniz, but Hightower breaks with a short left elbow. Good leg kick from Mandaloniz as they continue to brawl. Big right from Troy and he follows with a heavy knee, but Richie fires back with a body kick. Richie keeps swinging though, despite dropping his hands now, and he eats another overhand right before they clinch. Hightower blocks a trip, and they exchange inside, before breaking off. They exchange some more punches and Hightower lands a one-two, but Troy nails him on the button with a straight left that folds him up, and some hammer fists finish the job.
Energetic, if sloppy brawl. Not much more to say really if I’m being honest.
Saunders was my favourite character on the show, mainly because we seem to share the same bizarre penchant for randomly kicking inanimate objects. He trains with American Top Team though and definitely looked like one of the more talented guys in the house. This was actually a rematch from the first round of the show, as Barrera, despite being wildly overmatched, had put up a great, gutsy fight and the fight had been one of the better ones of the season.
Saunders lands a leg kick and narrowly misses a high kick to start things off. Barrera immediately looks for a takedown and pushes Saunders into the cage, but Ben does a good job of stuffing it, using a headlock to control Barrera. Saunders gives his back in a waistlock but Barrera still can’t get him down, and Ben turns into him back to a normal clinch. Two knees from inside the clinch hurt Barrera and he drops for the takedown, but Saunders sprawls out and looks to lock up an anaconda choke, before giving up on that and attempting to transition off the single leg to take Barrera’s back. Saunders gets the back with both hooks in, very nice transition, and it looks like he’s working to take an armbar from the back. He straightens out Barrera’s arm, but can’t get it locked up due to the cage being in the way and Barrera manages to pull out and ends up in Ben’s guard. Saunders locks up the rubber guard from his back to control Barrera’s posture, but Barrera escapes and lands a right hand. Saunders continues to control him from his back though, despite being pressed up against the fence, and Barrera is unable to do much damage from the top at all. He does manage to ride out the round on top though. Saunders’ round, 10-9.
Round 2 gets underway and Barrera immediately goes for a takedown and manages to take Saunders’ back, but Ben quickly rolls to guard before Barrera can capitalize on the position. Saunders uses his legs to manoeuvre away from the fence, and little happens from the position due to Ben’s excellent defensive guard. Ben tries to pivot for an armbar but Barrera avoids, but still can’t seem to do any damage from the top. Ref finally brings them up with 2:40 remaining and Saunders narrowly misses a CRAZY flying knee, literally launching himself at Barrera who ducks under. Barrera goes for the takedown again but Saunders reverses and takes the back again, this time getting an over/under from the side. He tries to roll through for an armbar, but slips off and Barrera ends up on top in the guard again. Elbows to the head from Saunders on the bottom, as Barrera still doesn’t do much from the top. Ref stands them again and this time Saunders catches him with a BIG left kick to the head as Barrera shoots. Dan looks hurt and still lunges for the takedown, but Saunders stuffs it and Barrera turtles up. Ben lands some punches from the top and then transitions to step over and take the back, where he drops some nice elbows and looks to take the armbar, but the buzzer sounds to end the round.
Third and final round and I’ve got Saunders up two rounds here. Body kick by Saunders hurts him right away, and he stuffs a takedown attempt and lands some punches as Barrera crawls forward. Again he transitions to take the back off Barrera’s single leg attempt, and this time he locks up a body triangle. Punches land from behind as Saunders looks to set up for the rear naked choke, but Barrera defends well with hand control. Barrera tries to turn out of the body triangle so Ben switches it to the other side and continues to control him, but can’t lock up the choke. Barrera rolls and Saunders lands some punches and elbows, and then tries to flatten him out, but Barrera rolls and ends up with Saunders beneath him again. Finally Barrera manages to shake off the body triangle and ends up on top in guard, good job from him. Again Saunders controls Barrera from the guard, preventing him from doing any damage, and the referee brings them back to their feet. Big body kick from Saunders and Barrera shoots again, but once more Ben stuffs it and then lands some knees to the body as Barrera turtles up. Dan goes for the takedown once more, but can’t finish the single leg and Saunders stays in a kneeling position, working Barrera over with punches and elbows to the body as the round finishes.
Total shutout for Saunders, despite Barrera taking the top position for large portions of the fight. Judges score it unanimously for Saunders, 30-27, 29-28, 30-27. Barrera didn’t do a bad job as such as he was able to get the takedown a few times and got a couple of good reversals, but in the end Saunders was able to shut him out with a far more well-rounded game, using an excellent defensive guard to avoid damage from the bottom, and when he got a more dominant position he came close to ending things with submissions using his superior BJJ. His striking was also far better and he landed the more telling blows during the short stand-up period. With his size (6’3” at 170lbs) and well-rounded game I honestly think Saunders could become a contender in time at Welterweight, and I wonder if he could’ve actually won the season here had he not been sick going into the Speer fight.
Greek-Australian Sotiropoulous was probably second only to Mac Danzig on the show in terms of experience, as he’s fought in Shooto and had a solid record, with his only notable loss coming by DQ to Shinya Aoki. He’d made it to the semis where he was eliminated by Tommy Speer in somewhat controversial fashion following an eye poke. George’s most memorable moment, as I mentioned earlier, was the alarm clock row with Ben Saunders. Now that would’ve been a fight - wrestler Miles was basically a gimme for George here.
Miles comes in swinging and immediately works for the takedown, but George avoids it using a front facelock to control Billy. He drags him down and ends up taking the back, and almost instantly, Miles looks in trouble. George sinks both hooks in and flattens him out, landing some punches, before transitioning to a body triangle. Miles looks totally lost in the position and George swiftly locks up the rear naked choke for the tapout.
Complete squash for Greek George who tooled Miles on the ground in quick fashion. Despite his clear physical ability Miles fought like a one-dimensional wrestler and once Sotiropoulous took the back it was over pretty much right away.
The lone “grudge match” on this card pitted Team Hughes’ ‘J-Roc’ Jared Rollins, against Team Serra’s ‘War Machine’ Jon Koppenhaver, after a rivalry was caused due to, well, Koppenhaver shitting in the upper part of the Hughes team’s toilet. This was enough to cause Rollins to snap and we came close to having another Thomas-Sims debacle, but thankfully the scuffle got calmed down and the two men were set up to fight one another on the Finale. And sorry but J-Roc’s Mike Tyson-esque voice is hilarious.
Round 1 begins, and Rollins catches a kick and gets a takedown right away. War Machine works a butterfly guard and works to his feet, before taking Rollins down with a double leg to guard. Koppenhaver tries to work from the top as Rollins does a good job of controlling his posture, and he also lands some nice elbows to the head from his back. Koppenhaver lands some of his own elbows from the top, working the body too, as Rollins seems content to land elbows from his back to the top of War Machine’s head. Couple of short elbows land from War Machine and he cuts Rollins open, but J-Roc answers with a series of REALLY vicious elbows from the bottom, just ramming the point of his elbow into the head over and over. Round ends shortly after that flurry.
War Machine comes out for the 2nd throwing bombs, and they exchange wildly before Rollins cracks him with a big knee. Rollins tries a takedown but ends up on his back in the guard again, and the cut on Rollins is bleeding quite badly now. Actually War Machine is cut too now, blood running down all over the place, I’m thinking either from the knee or from the elbows. More good elbows from the bottom from J-Roc as the crowd actually start a “War Machine!” chant. Things slow up a bit so Steve Mazzagatti calls the stand-up, and they restart with a wild exchange before Rollins misses a flying knee. Superman punch also misses and War Machine lands a counter that stuns him, but Rollins shoots and gets the takedown to guard where he immediately works from the top as War Machine answers with elbows from the bottom. There’s blood everywhere at this point. War Machine rolls but takes some shots and ends up on his back in half-guard now, and then J-Roc passes to side mount. War Machine rolls and gives his back, but Rollins can’t get the hooks in and he ends up back in side mount landing more shots. Full mount follows and then War gives his back again, but avoids the choke and manages to roll back to half-guard. Big shots rain down from Rollins as War Machine looks in DEEP trouble, bleeding all over the shop, but the round ends before J-Roc can finish things.
Into the third and final round of what has, I have to admit, become one hell of a brawl. Rollins shoots right away and goes for the takedown, but Koppenhaver hits a switch and gets on top in J-Roc’s guard. Big shots from War Machine now as Rollins looks tired, but then he soon gets back to delivering the elbows from his back. Ref stands them when things slow down, and War Machine bulls him into the fence, but Rollins blocks the takedown and lands a HUGE knee! Left hand drops him to a squatted position and then J-Roc KILLS HIM DEAD with a SICKENING KNEE!~! Somehow War Machine survives this and ends up in the guard, and man both guys are exhausted now. Suddenly though War Machine gets a kimura and REVERSES FROM NOWHERE TO FULL MOUNT! HUGE ELBOWS drop down and Mazzagatti stops things. UNBELIEVABLE comeback from War Machine.
This is one of those fights that would totally split fans down the middle – some would love it for the blood, the violence, and the sheer heart shown by both guys, while others would decry it as a sloppy brawl with little skill used on the ground and crude exchanges standing. The way I see it, it’s the same as Imes-Evans from the TUF II Finale – in terms of heart and determination it’s one of the best fights you’ll ever see, but in terms of skill, well, it’s not. I can’t take anything away from these guys though – they went out and gave their all to the best of their abilities, which is all you can ask for. Hell of an entertaining fight.
Former KOTC Lightweight champ Danzig was the hot favourite to take the title from the beginning, as despite being a natural 155lbs as opposed to 170lbs, he had so much more experience than anyone else in the house and had fought world-class fighters like Hayato Sakurai before. Speer meanwhile was the season’s token one-dimensional wrestler with brute strength and heavy hands, and really he’d gotten somewhat lucky on his path to the finals, beating Ben Saunders while he was sick with the flu before KOing George Sotiropoulous after a questionable eye poke. Some saw Speer as a young Matt Hughes though, and the question surrounding this match was whether Danzig’s skill and experience could overcome the brute force of the ‘Farm Boy’. Pre-fight video is pretty hilarious as it shows Tommy doing his FARM BOY TRAINING, running up slopes with wheelbarrows and hitting things with large sledgehammers and the like. Danzig meanwhile tells us he’s enjoying life again now he’s out of the TUF house, and they don’t really show much of his training. I like to assume it was all high-tech though, so this is like Rocky IV if Ivan Drago was a small, pale vegan as opposed to a hulking Russian brute.
Round One begins and Tommy immediately looks for the takedown from the clinch, muscling Mac into the fence, where he lands some knees to the body and legs. Speer avoids a single leg and they exchange punches to the body, before Mac surprisingly gets a double leg and puts Speer on the mat! He takes the full mount with relative ease and right away Tommy is in trouble. Punches land and Tommy squirms desperately from his back, and then ends up giving his back. Danzig gets both hooks in and flattens him, before locking up the rear naked choke, and Speer taps out.
Surprisingly one-sided fight, probably the most one-sided TUF Final since Sanchez vs. Florian from Season One in fact. People talked about Speer’s power giving Danzig trouble but he never gave Tommy the chance as he took him out of his comfort zone by putting him on his back, and from there it was academic as Danzig’s superior technique gave him the dominant position to finish things quickly. Danzig was the favourite from the off to win the whole thing and didn’t have any trouble along the way, which goes to show I guess how far above the rest of the line-up he was, even undersized (although admittedly he didn’t fight the guys who would’ve been his toughest match-ups in Rollins, Saunders, or Sotiropoulous). And with that Danzig becomes yet another TUF winner to drop down a weight class immediately.
Huerta had already won a ridiculous four fights in 2007 but many fans were criticising him (and Zuffa) as his four opponents were all UFC debutants and Huerta was accused of being “babied” due to his good looks and Hispanic background. Guida meanwhile had never been given an easy fight in his UFC career, and those fans who were criticising Huerta thought Clay would ‘expose’ El Matador. Personally I’ve always been a big fan of Huerta and predicted a decision win for him that would finally shut up the haters and prove that he could hang with the top talent in the division. As I mentioned at the beginning of the review, expectations were insanely high for an exciting fight, as neither man seems to know how to put on anything else.
Round 1 begins and Huerta misses a high kick, and then both men press tentatively with punches before Guida shoots on a single leg. He manages to get Huerta down to guard, but Huerta squirms from the bottom and pushes off to his feet. Guida grabs a front facelock but Huerta breaks free and lands a body kick, only for Guida to get right back on him, forcing him into the fence. BIG SLAM from Guida puts Huerta on his back in guard again. Huerta keeps a closed guard and tries to control Guida, but Clay passes to half-guard. Huerta gets a leg up on the fence and uses it to roll, and they scramble with Huerta looking to lock up a kneebar. Guida slips out though and takes the back with an over/under, landing a knee to the body. He tries to get the hooks in for a choke, but Huerta rolls and ends up on top. Guida tries to stand and eats a nasty knee, but as Huerta drops for a takedown Guida returns the favour and Big John McCarthy immediately calls time, as Huerta’s knees were on the floor when the knee landed. They restart after a moment and Huerta gets the better of a punching exchange, before catching Guida with a left high kick. Good pair of rights land from Guida and then they openly trade before Guida shoots on a single leg again. Roger tries to switch and go into a kimura, but Guida avoids and gets the over/under again. He tries to take the back proper, and gets both hooks in, but Huerta defends the choke well and manages to wriggle free, rolling into Guida’s guard. Guida rolls and gives his back, and Huerta goes for an armbar, but Guida works free and drops some punches, and then they scramble with Guida ending the round on top in side mount. Amazing round that you’d probably have to give to Guida.
Second round, and they aggressively trade punches with both landing, before Guida tackles him to the mat in full guard. Huerta ends up seated against the cage, but Guida sucks him out and puts him on his back. Huerta scrambles and they roll around before he ends up on one knee, and Guida looks to be setting up for a knee strike, but Roger strikes first with an uppercut and backs off. Pair of high kicks glance off Guida, and Huerta follows with a big left hand. Couple more snapping high kicks land before Guida misses on a takedown attempt. Huerta tries another kick but Guida catches it this time and gets a driving takedown to the guard. Huerta tries to tie him up as Guida lands some hammer fists, and then he kicks him away, but Guida remains relentless and pounces again, taking the over/under once more. Knee to the body lands and then Guida tries to put the hooks in, but Huerta scrambles wildly and escapes to his feet. He goes for a trip himself, but Guida sprawls out with a front facelock and stands, breaking with a knee. Combo of punches land for Huerta as Guida tries to return fire. This is an insane fight. Massive one-two from Guida snaps Roger’s head back and Clay follows with another left and a head kick himself! Takedown from Guida puts Huerta against the fence again. Huerta gives his back and eats some heavy hammer fists from behind, and then Guida tries to get the hooks in again, but Huerta reverses out and tries a takedown of his own. Guida looks to hit a switch, and they scramble back up and THROW DOWN with both men landing hard blows! Huerta lands a heavy right, and then Guida goes to shoot, Huerta sprawls but it’s a FAKED SHOT and Guida NAILS HIM WITH AN UPPERCUT!~! Huerta looks hurt bad and falls to his back and Guida flails away from the top, going into half-guard, but Huerta does a good job of taking the punishment, managing to survive the onslaught. Another vicious right smashes into Huerta’s head and then Guida goes POSTAL with double hammer fists, but Huerta guts it out until the round ends.
UNBELIEVABLE stuff and right before the third round begins we get the BEST STAREDOWN IN MMA HISTORY.
They throw down again as the round begins and Guida nails him with another right, but Huerta answers with a body kick. Guida dives for a single but eats a MASSIVE KNEE and immediately looks hurt! Huerta stuffs the takedown and then comes CHARGING IN WITH A BRUTAL KNEE!~! Guida looks badly hurt now and takes some more punches before diving in with sheer desperation for the takedown. This time Huerta spins off and takes Guida’s back, getting the hooks in and he LOCKS UP THE CHOKE AND GUIDA TAPS!~!
Wow. Unbelievable fight from start to finish, as they just came in at an insane pace and threw down with reckless abandon, but it wasn’t like a sloppy fight or anything as the ground skill shown was amazing too. Early on it looked like it’d be Guida’s fight as he controlled things with his wrestling, but Huerta just seemed to turn things up a gear after the second round and Guida was just unable to do anything to stop that. The staredown sums it up in my mind – Huerta just decided he would NOT LOSE this fight or he’d die trying, and that attitude pulled him through.
Post-fight Huerta gives his props to Guida, thanks his mom, and says he wants to take the UFC into Mexico, while Guida gives Huerta credit for catching him and pays tribute to the UFC saying it’s an honor to be fighting here. Both guys come out of this looking like absolute SUPERSTARS and quite rightfully so. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is your Fight of the Year for 2007, point blank.
-Highlight reel closes us out. Whew.
Like the Koppenhaver-Rollins fight, this whole show seemed to split the fanbase down the middle as half of the fans (like Bryan Alvarez for instance), thanks to the exciting fights, great finishes and tremendous heart on show, saw it as an instant classic, while others, due to the sloppy nature of some of the fights and lower levels of skill than we’d seen before in the UFC saw it as little more than an exciting KOTC show with a better main event and a bigger budget. For me, it depends a lot on whether you can accept the fact that in the modern climate, the UFC can’t only be signing and using top-level contenders, as with practically twenty shows a year they need a deeper roster. For free-TV shows like this I don’t see the problem in using lower-level guys and guys with clear talent but not that much experience, as long as they still have the best of the best fighting on their main PPVs. And they do, so what’s wrong with having an exciting show like this, even if the fighters aren’t the very best in the world? And besides, who’s to say that a young guy like a Ben Saunders (possibly) or a Jon Koppenhaver (not likely) won’t become one of the best of the best in time? And well, in Huerta-Guida, you have the Fight of the Year for me. So fuck the haters. Two thumbs up.
Best Fight: Huerta-Guida
Worst Fight: Sotiropoulous-Miles
Overall Rating: ****1/4
UFC: 79-94, Fight Nights 12-16, and TUF VII and VIII Finales.
Pride: Shockwave 2005, Shockwave 2006, 32, and 33.
King of the Cage: 23, 29, 30, 32, 33, 36, 42, 48, 52, and 58.