UFC: Ultimate Fighter X Finale review
by Scott Newman(MMA)
Posted on April 28, 2010, 3:06 PM
UFC: Ultimate Fighter X Finale
Las Vegas, Nevada
-After a dull TUF 9, Season 10 - AKA Heavyweights immediately promised to be infinitely more interesting. Where TUF 9 had had two coaches with pretty much no rivalry going in, one of whom had a distinct lack of charisma (Henderson), TUF 10 had Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson and Rashad ‘Suga’ Evans, two masters of trash-talk with an existing feud stemming from their confrontation at the end of UFC 96. Where TUF 9, like the majority of the preceding seasons, used a mix of unknown up-and-comers and journeymen on the cast, TUF 10 had the former IFL Heavyweight Champ in Roy Nelson, three UFC veterans, four NFL veterans, and of course, in the big shocker, Kimbo Slice – the now-defunct Elite XC promotion’s top star, a guy who had drawn solid ratings on CBS before EXC went under. Well, Dana had always said the only way Kimbo would ever fight in the UFC would be if he went through TUF first, so there you go. So naturally, right from the off TUF 10 was one of the most eagerly anticipated seasons yet, with Kimbo being the main attraction to the majority of fans. And indeed, the ratings spiked, peaking for the third episode that saw Kimbo face off with Roy Nelson.
Of course, Kimbo lost. And while he was able to build a little more credibility as he came across as a humble guy who was willing to learn and not the street thug that EXC had promoted, things didn’t turn out so good for a lot more of the people involved. Rampage for starters, his team losing seven of the eight first round matches, was portrayed at best as a completely incompetent coach and at worst a mean-natured bully thanks to his clashes with Darrill Schoonover. As for the rest of the fighters, aside from one or two exceptions (Roy Nelson, Brendan Schaub, Marcus Jones and Justin Wren, in my opinion) they put on for the most part sloppy, uninspiring fights that saw most of them gas out within a round. Throw in the nasty bullying of an admittedly hapless Zak Jensen, mainly at the hands of James McSweeney and Wes Sims (compare their treatment of Zak to how Nate Diaz for instance treated the equally hapless Wayne Weems on TUF 5 and I’m sure you’ll be disgusted with them) and another classic TUF idiot in Matt ‘Meathead’ Mitrione and all in all, the season was a mixed bag – some hilarious clashes between the coaches, decent levels of drama in the house, but some of the worst fights on TUF to date. For the finale, like TUF 9 before it, only the guys who made it to the quarter-finals were brought back, giving us a decent-on-paper card featuring the likes of Frankie Edgar and Jon Jones. Oh, and what promised to be a brawl for the ages between Kimbo and fellow slugger-minus-a-chin-and-ground-game Houston Alexander.
Canadian Bocek, after a less-than-inspiring start to his UFC career, had quietly been building some steam on the undercards, picking up successive wins over Alvin Robinson and David Bielkheden. Here he was faced with a UFC debutant in Joe Brammer, a pretty much unknown guy who, unfortunately, decided on the wrong sponsor team (Neo-Nazi clothing label Hoezler Reich) meaning that probably nobody outside of his family or friends would root for him. Well, it’s true.
Round One begins and Brammer comes out with a couple of kicks, going to the body and legs before Bocek misses a superman punch. Bocek walks him down and lands a right hand into a clinch, forcing Brammer into the fence, then lands a good knee to the head to break. Bocek keeps pressing forward and then gets a nice double leg, but Brammer uses the cage to work back up. He gives his back standing though and Bocek suplexes him down and then jumps onto the back with both hooks in. Brammer looks in trouble as Bocek switches to a body triangle and begins to work for the choke. Brammer controls the gloves to avoid and Bocek switches back to regular hooks, then loses one as Brammer scrambles to his feet. Bocek stays on the back though like a lemur, and from there he locks up the rear naked choke for the tapout.
Pretty much a squash once it got to the ground as Bocek was on a totally different level to Brammer. Bocek has a seriously good ground game but to me his stand-up looks a little stiff and I think he runs into trouble if and when he faces a top wrestler like a Tyson Griffin or Gray Maynard, but this was a solid win for him. Crowd, it must be noted, are horribly dead for the post-fight promo. Actually it seems like the place is pretty much empty which is one of the things I hate about the Vegas shows – why can’t the fans there show up for the first prelim like they do in pretty much every other city the UFC head to?
Hallman was an odd signing for Zuffa late in 2009, as while he was on a four-fight winning streak, in 2007 he’d tested positive for steroids and been banned for a while and his opponents were hardly stellar. Personally I figured he’d been brought back to rematch Matt Hughes in an attempt for Hughes to erase those losses from his record, but instead he was matched with John ‘Doomsday’ Howard, who had taken two close decisions in his first two UFC bouts against Tamdan McCrory and Chris Wilson. Not being a comic book fan, by the way, the whole Superman vs. Doomsday thing goes totally over my head.
First round begins and Hallman throws a head kick and then shoots for a takedown. Howard stuffs it and moves Hallman into the cage, but Superman gets a bodylock and trips Howard down. He moves into half-guard pretty quickly but Howard gets a butterfly guard back in. Back into half-guard for Hallman and the crowd are insanely dead, literally sounds like there’s maybe four or five guys in the building. Shame on you, Las Vegas! Hallman grinds his right elbow into Howard’s face, but does little more before Howard escapes into full guard. Surprised the ref hasn’t stood this up yet. Couple of body punches from Hallman and then referee Josh Rosenthal calls the restart. Good leg kick from Howard as they stand. Nice body punch and then he grabs Hallman and gets a rear waistlock, but Hallman drops and rolls for a kneebar and then switches off for a heel hook. Howard manages to slip free, but Hallman uses it nicely to sweep to top position in guard. Good elbow from Hallman from the top. He looks to pass but Howard shows some decent defense from the bottom and uses the butterfly guard to avoid. Little work done from Hallman on top, and the round peters out. 10-9 Hallman even if he didn’t do much with the positions he got.
Into the 2nd and Hallman opens with a sharp leg kick. Both men throw leg kicks and they clash, then Howard presses and shoots for a takedown. He lifts Hallman right up, but Hallman gets a guillotine and then pulls him to the ground. Howard ends up on the bottom but manages to get half-guard to alleviate it a little, and Hallman eventually releases and slips into side mount. Hallman looks to step over for a top-side triangle and then manages to take the back off a scramble, getting one hook in. Man, Howard’s getting owned on the ground here. Hallman works for the rear naked choke, but Howard does a good job of defending it. Hallman’s got both hooks in now though, and he looks to hook an arm with one of his legs ala BJ Penn. Howard continues to defend though and there’s less than thirty seconds remaining. Round ends with Hallman in dominant position. Totally one-sided round, 10-9 Dennis Hallman and to be honest, with more damage that might’ve been a 10-8.
Third and final round and Howard comes out aggressively throwing strikes, but Hallman clinches and then pulls guard. He immediately tries for a submission, but Howard lifts him back up and they end up clinched on their feet. Hallman looks to trip him down and Howard blocks, then ends up on top as they muscle for another takedown. Good wrist control from the guard for Hallman as he avoids Howard’s attempts at ground-and-pound, but Howard manages to break free, stand, and land some punches. Hallman quickly grabs a half-guard with double underhooks though and works for a sweep. He almost gets it, but botches up at the last second and Howard manages to take full mount! Hallman bucks like crazy and tries to escape, and he does do a good job of avoiding the worst of the punches Howard throws. Good shots to the body from Doomsday though. Beautiful reversal from Hallman puts him on top in the guard again however, and with a minute remaining this looks like curtains for Howard now. Howard ties him up from the bottom and it looks like he’s holding on for a stand-up, and with twenty seconds to go Josh Rosenthal does just that. Knee from Hallman but Howard hits a belly-to-belly takedown and then stands over him and drops a big right hand. Hallman kicks off and gets to his feet, but Howard comes forward swinging and DROPS HIM WITH A LEFT HOOK! Hallman folds and Howard lands another one and IT’S ALL OVER! Holy SHIT.
Well, fight was dull for the most part but man, what a comeback from John Howard. He literally needed to stop Hallman in those dying seconds to win and somehow he pulled it out. Unbelievable stuff and it’s even more crazy when you consider with different judges and like, five seconds less in this fight and Howard could be 0-3 in the UFC instead of 3-0 after this fight. Hallman actually fought well and put in his best UFC showing in years, and you have to feel for him with a loss like that, but hey, I guess he should’ve tried harder to finish the fight earlier. Crazy stuff.
Another UFC newcomer, Wallace was bringing in a 9-0 record (with a win over TUF veteran Antwain Britt on there) and a very intimidating physique, as well as a hilarious nickname in ‘Sho Nuff The Master’. US Marine Stann meanwhile had recovered from a shoddy UFC debut to beat old WEC rival Steve Cantwell in September, and on paper this seemed to be another winnable fight for him based on his big-time experience and Wallace’s lack thereof.
Fight gets underway and holy crap is Wallace jacked up. Big leg kick from Stann but Wallace quickly gets on him and gets a double leg, immediately passing into side mount. Scramble from Stann and he escapes to his feet nicely. Wallace presses forward into the clinch and they exchange some knees, with Stann landing a couple of really digging ones to the body. Break and Wallace lands a right. Stann circles around and throws a left hand, but Wallace gets a powerful takedown to guard. Good job from Stann to scramble back to his feet, but Wallace still has a high single leg and looks to bring him back down. Wallace pulls him down but it’s only for a moment as Stann wall-walks back to his feet. Nice left hook from Stann to break off. Hard leg kick from Stann and Wallace looks hurt for a second before rushing in. Leg kick again from Stann but this time Wallace catches it and hits a NORTHERN LIGHTS SUPLEX to side mount! Whoa. Little done from Wallace on top though and Stann manages to push off and escape to his feet. Good right hook from Stann coming forward and then he avoids a takedown from the clinch. Wallace drops for a double leg and manages to get him down again, but he does little and the round ends there. Close round to score as Wallace hit a lot of takedowns but did little with them while Stann got the better of the striking. Probably a 10-10 round in fact.
Second Round and Wallace looks for the takedown right away, as Stann works to stuff it. Wallace switches to a single leg and really goes for the takedown, and indeed he manages to put Stann on his back in guard again. Right hand from Wallace but Stann again scrambles to his feet, and this time he manages to reverse a takedown attempt and winds up on top in Wallace’s guard. Stann looks for some ground-and-pound and then stands to bypass the legs into side mount. Good job from Wallace to escape to full guard as Stann looks to drop some elbows. Left forearm lands for Stann from the top. Wallace throws his legs up for a submission attempt, but Stann easily avoids it and then gets back on top, this time in half-guard. Stann postures up and delivers a nice left hand, then Wallace tries to roll into a leglock. Stann gets pulled down and Wallace goes for the kneebar, but Stann manages to stay calm and rolls through with it, then triangles his legs together to block and finishes the round on top. 10-9 Brian Stann.
Third round and Wallace looks a bit gassed coming out of his corner. Pair of left hooks from Wallace and then he eats a leg kick before getting another takedown to Stann’s guard. Couple of punches from Wallace as Stann tries to wriggle free, but the former Marine gets sloppy and Wallace takes the back with both hooks in. Stann looks to roll over into Wallace’s guard, defending any choke attempts in the process, and a scramble brings both men to their feet. They exchange some knees in the clinch with Stann getting the better of it, but Wallace drops for another single leg and really forces Stann to work hard to defend. Pair of heavy knees land for Stann to break the clinch and now Wallace is clearly breathing heavily. Hard leg kick from Stann hurts Wallace and forces him to shoot desperately, but Stann defends and almost reverses. Wallace really tries for the takedown now but still can’t get Stann down, and the former Marine lands a couple more knees to the midsection. Stann breaks off and lands another leg kick, then stuffs a takedown and goes for a takedown of his own to finish the fight. Wallace stuffs it and eats a knee before they break and trade some punches to end. I have this 30-28 for Brian Stann.
Judges have it 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28 for Brian Stann. Bit of a dull nothing fight if we’re honest with very few highlights. I don’t mind these types of guys being in the UFC as 205lbs is short on b-level guys for up-and-comers to fight, but I doubt very much that either man ever climbs to title contention level.
Arguably two of the more talented fighters from the TUF 10 cast, both of these men were on Team Rashad and made the quarter-finals, before being eliminated by Brendan Schaub and Roy Nelson respectively. I’d personally argue that the four of them were the most talented guys on the show, but that’s another story. Both men were strong wrestlers, with Wren being a Greco-Roman national champion while Madsen actually beat Brock Lesnar in a high school match! This was a close fight on paper but I’d been more impressed with Wren on the tapings and went for him.
First round begins and Madsen catches Wren with a left in the first exchange. Good right from Madsen too. Wren looks cut on the forehead already. Both men are swinging heavily here but there isn’t much in the way of technique. Both men are in really poor shape too, it must be said. Madsen catches Wren with another right and then breaks a clinch with a knee. Stiff right hand from Wren wobbles Madsen and puts him on the back foot. Building is so quiet that you can clearly recognize Robbie Lawler’s drawling voice shouting instructions from Madsen’s corner. Wren wades into the clinch but eats a counter from Madsen again. Wren swings some more but takes another counter right. Weird moment now as Wren taunts Madsen by sticking his chin out, and then they trade some sloppy blows. More wild swinging and for the most part both men miss. Clinch from Wren and he muscles Madsen to the cage with a knee, but Madsen breaks. Madsen is basically winning this round by countering Wren every time he steps forward. Horrible exchange to finish the round. 10-9 Madsen but why two good wrestlers are putting on a crappy boxing match I don’t know. You can’t even call it crappy kickboxing because neither guy is kicking.
Round Two and they pick up where they left off in the first with Madsen countering Wren’s wild bombs as he steps forward. Solid combo lands for Wren. Right hand counter from Madsen again. Pair of left jabs and a right hand land for Wren, but Madsen hits him with another right counter. Wren tries to taunt him again but Madsen’s still content to counter. Good lunging shot to the body for Wren. Both men miss some punches before Madsen lands with a stiff jab. Right hand from Wren as he pushes forward. Round continues with Wren pushing forward and Madsen looking to counter, and finally they end the round with some big swings. 10-9 Madsen again.
Round Three and they begin with a quick trade. Wren pushes in with a solid combo and then we’re back to more of the same with Wren swinging wildly and Madsen looking to counter. Madsen’s not landing as well as in the earlier rounds now though so the aggression could help Wren on the scorecards. Good leg kick from Wren. Another exchange and Wren gets the better of it this time, ending with a leg kick. Wild swings from Wren but he eats a right hand counter again. Pair of left hooks from Wren put Madsen on the retreat but he can’t capitalize. Wild trade into a clinch and Wren lands with some knees and punches inside. Less than a minute to go now and Wren is swinging like a madman. Wren tells him to bring it with thirty seconds to go and then looks for a takedown, but Madsen stuffs it and they brawl out of the clinch before Madsen hits a right to end the fight. 10-9 Wren for the aggression but I think this is Madsen’s fight.
We’ve got a split decision, 30-27 Madsen, 29-28 Wren, and 29-28 for Jon Madsen to take the victory. Crowd boo the decision but you can’t just reward aggression when a guy is landing counters and avoiding the wild swings of the aggressive guy. Fight was dire though, sloppy boxing match for 99% of the time. I still think Wren has potential as he’s only 22, but to live up to it he needs to drop about 20lbs and then concentrate on his strengths – i.e. his wrestling and ground game as opposed to sloppy striking.
English kickboxer McSweeney had made the semi-finals of the tournament despite bringing in one of the worst records (3-4), but despite being one of Rashad’s top boys his personality wasn’t all that in my opinion, as he was largely involved in the bullying of Zak Jensen and it was he that finally caused Jensen to snap by locking him in a bathroom....
...That to me was the strangest scene of the whole series, by the way, as since when are fighters allowed to come to blows in the house? Remember when Chris Leben almost got kicked out for punching a door? Or it was a big deal for War Machine to tackle J-Roc in Season 6? And in fact Marlon Sims and Noah Thomas *were* kicked out for fighting. Now you get Junie Browning throwing glasses and punching guys and getting off with a warning, and McSweeney and Jensen outright fighting and not even being yelled at by Dana! Sorry for the tangent....
Schoonover meanwhile had become the unfortunate victim of Rampage’s bullying, as Quinton called him ‘Titties’ (over and over and over and over it must be added...) in reference to his flabby chest, causing them to almost come to blows on more than one occasion. Despite McSweeney being a Brit I was pulling for Darrill here.
We begin and McSweeney opens with a leg kick that Schoonover counters with a left hook. Front kick to the body from the Brit. Combo and a pair of heavy knees from McSweeney and Darrill is on the retreat. Big combo from McSweeney and a flying knee drops Schoonover, who quickly goes for a takedown. McSweeney blocks with a standing guillotine though and then drops to his knees, before pulling guard, but Schoonover holds on and escapes into the guard. McSweeney opens up wildly with elbows to the head from the guard, and then rolls for an armbar, but Darrill avoids. McSweeney kicks him away and lands an upkick, but Schoonover keeps him down and gets into side mount and then full mount for a second before James slips to half-guard. Schoonover passes to side mount, but a good reversal puts McSweeney on top and he passes to side mount himself. Keylock attempt from McSweeney and then he gets the Hughes crucifix to drop some punches before getting full mount. Schoonover looks in trouble and gives his back, and now he’s in trouble. McSweeney looks mad improved from the tapings. Darrill manages to roll to half-guard, but he takes a couple of punches before James stands over him. Brutal ax-stomp to the body from McSweeney and he avoids a takedown as Schoonover stands. Big knee from Darrill though and McSweeney looks rocked, and Schoonover closes in with a combo! Both men throw front kicks and McSweeney knocks him right back, and that’s the round. Well, that was fun. 10-9 McSweeney.
2nd round and Schoonover comes wading in with punches but doesn’t land anything devastating. Right hand from James and he tosses Schoonover down, then stands over him before waving him up. McSweeney changes his mind and kicks at the legs instead, then drops into the guard, apparently angering his cornerman Rashad Evans. Darrill ties him up, but takes some hammer fists as McSweeney avoids an armbar attempt. Good elbow from McSweeney. McSweeney passes with a right hand and then has to stop himself from throwing a knee with Schoonover on his knees, instead landing a couple of power punches. McSweeney tries to take the back, but Schoonover scoots across and looks for the takedown himself. He ends up in the turtle position though and James lands some hammer fists and a knee to the body. Elbows to the side of the head from McSweeney and he looks to take the back, but Schoonover hits a reversal and gets top position in guard. He tries to pass but McSweeney reverses him and takes side mount, where he lands some nasty short elbows. Schoonover attempts an armbar, but James avoids it and stands, then sprawls to avoid a single leg. He looks to take the back again, then takes full mount before getting the back to end the round. 10-9 McSweeney again. He seems insanely gassed between rounds, though.
Third round and McSweeney opens with the front kick and follows with a leg kick. They exchange some sloppy strikes as both men look gassed, but McSweeney then trips Schoonover down with a violent thud. Side mount for McSweeney and he lands some forearms and then appears to be prepping an arm triangle, before Schoonover turns and tries to get to his feet. McSweeney keeps him down and ends up in the guard, where he feeds Darrill some more elbows. Ref calls a clean break to stand them, and Schoonover lands a right hand to counter a knee. Schoonover starts pushing forward more now as the Brit looks to use the front kick to keep his distance, then lands a left hook. Action has really slowed down now as both men look exhausted. Front kick, flying knee and a head kick rock Schoonover though and McSweeney follows with a heavy right hand. Big knee and combo put Darrill out on his feet and McSweeney follows with more punches that drop him for the stoppage.
Fight started out fun as McSweeney looked excellent in the first round, but he gassed out badly in the second and the fight descended into sloppiness soon after. Finish was awesome though and was probably enough to earn McSweeney at least two more fights with the UFC. I doubt he ever rises to title contention but I could see him in the midcard as a gatekeeper type like Antoni Hardonk or something, so good for him.
Both of these men were former NFL players, with Jones actually being a first round draft pick in 1996. On TUF, Jones was portrayed as an emotional, sensitive guy who was generally nice, and actually showed some skills, particularly on the ground, before he was knocked out by Brendan Schaub in the semis. Mitrione’s personality had pretty much been the opposite to Marcus’s, as he was arguably the most disliked member of the cast, thanks to his hot temper, constant complaining about various injuries (shoulder and a concussion I think it was), and an incident that saw him reveal Team Rashad’s plans for future fights to Team Rampage. While Mitrione flipped out a number of times during the tapings, only one incident had seen Jones snap – the possibility that his friend Scott Junk would have to retire following an eye injury suffered at the hands of...Matt Mitrione of course. So this was the first fight based on an in-house confrontation since the wild brawl between War Machine and J-Roc in Season 6, meaning I had inexplicably high hopes for it.
We get started and Jones quickly bulls into the clinch and looks to take Mitrione down, which he does with ease, landing in side mount. Mitrione manages to get to half-guard, and then works back to his feet, but Jones stays on him and lands a pair of right hands. They muscle for position in the clinch before breaking, and man Jones’s stand-up looks bad, just lumbering forward trying to close the distance. Big knee lands for Mitrione as Jones tries to get him down again, but Marcus looks okay and forces him back into the cage. Knees to the body from Mitrione and then they break. Leg kick lands for Jones and he grabs a front facelock and then looks for a guillotine as Mitrione leans in. He pulls guard and sits back, but Mitrione’s got an arm in and he manages to slip free. Jones goes for a triangle instead, but Mitrione stays postured up in the guard and then stands free, where he kicks the legs. Ref calls Jones back up and he lumbers forward and takes some counters before muscling Mitrione to the ground again. Like before Mitrione wall-walks to his feet, and they end up clinched. Good punches from Marcus as they break and we get a wild trade for a second before Jones gets an easy takedown and moves to side mount. He looks for a top-side triangle but Mitrione avoids and the round ends there. 10-9 Jones but he looked very vulnerable standing in that round.
Both men are breathing heavily to open the 2nd, but Mitrione looks more gassed to me. They begin and Jones comes lumbering forward again...but this time he walks right into a sharp right hand from Mitrione that drops him face-first, and Mitrione finishes him off there.
Well, Jones’s chin was always a question as was his crude stand-up, and Mitrione was able to take advantage of that despite not really showing much improvement in his skills since the tapings. Pretty shoddy fight if I’m honest although I was gutted to see Jones go down that way as I really liked his attitude on the show. I doubt Mitrione sticks around in the UFC long as he’s so unpolished and has poor cardio. Cool knockout though.
Matt Hughes student Veach had made an immediate impact in the UFC in February, knocking out Matt Grice in his debut, but here he was faced with a far more challenging foe in Frankie Edgar, who was coming off the biggest win of his career in Sean Sherk. With the rumor being that another win would get Edgar a title opportunity, I was fully expecting him to overcome Veach’s size advantage to take the win here.
Round One and Edgar comes out with a head kick that Veach blocks. Veach comes flying in for a takedown but Edgar stuffs it. Good right hand from Frankie. Single leg attempt from Veach and he drives Edgar into the cage, but Frankie stuffs it again and throws Veach off before landing a body kick. Veach catches it and gets a takedown, but Edgar pops right back up. Veach gets on him again though, and this time elevates him before hitting a Hughes-style RUNNING BODYSLAM!~! Edgar looks calm from the bottom and looks to hit a switch, and it looks to me like a kimura is there for the taking. Frankie keeps scrambling though and ends up giving his back, before escaping to his feet. Veach pushes for the takedown again and hits ANOTHER big slam, but Edgar wall-walks back up and hits a switch to pop free into the clinch. Left hook for Veach breaks off and they exchange strikes, where Frankie knocks him off balance with a shot to the body. Big left hook narrowly misses for Veach. Edgar’s head movement is really good. Couple of low kicks from Frankie and he avoids some punches. Nice right hand from Edgar and he goes for the takedown, but Veach avoids it and lands a pair of hooks. Stiff jab from Edgar and he ducks under a wild swing and Veach falls down for a second. Good lunging left hook from Frankie. Round ends with a body kick from Edgar. Close round and I’m not really sure how I’d score it.
Round Two and Edgar looks more into the fight now and he uses head movement to avoid some hooks and lands with a combination. Single leg is stuffed by Veach and he tries one of his own, but Edgar defends nicely and escapes. Good combo from Edgar wobbles Veach’s legs a little but he looks alright. Right hand lands for Frankie on the way forward. Veach looks to be struggling with the movement of Edgar now and sure enough, Frankie catches him with a short right hook that drops him. Edgar pounces and begins to open up with some big ground-and-pound shots from the half-guard, before passing and taking the back, flattening him out with both hooks in. Veach looks just about done and Frankie quickly lands some more shots, then locks in the rear naked choke for the tapout.
Very impressive win for Edgar who dealt with Veach’s size and strength advantage brilliantly and capitalized on the first opportunity he got to finish the fight. I don’t think anyone could’ve expected what would happen next for him though! Really fun fight from start to finish as Veach was so aggressive with his takedowns in the first round.
When Kimbo was eliminated from the TUF tournament by Roy Nelson, it was pretty clear that it wasn’t the end for him in the UFC (although TUF’s constant teases of him getting back into the tournament wore thin quickly!) and almost immediately the rumor of him fighting Houston on the finale show emerged. The rumor turned out to be true and so we were left with this – two natural brawlers with heavy hands, questionable chins and even more questionable ground games. Basically it was a question of who could land the big bomb first, and given that Houston hadn’t won in the UFC in three fights I ended up taking Kimbo in what I expected would be a wild brawl.
First round begins and man, part of me is still shocked to see Kimbo in the Octagon. Alexander begins by circling around while Kimbo takes the center of the cage....and this goes on for the first TWO MINUTES with the only shots being a couple of weak leg kicks from Houston. What the hell? Crowd begin to boo loudly with half the round gone. Left hook misses for Kimbo and a pair of leg kicks land for Houston. Right hook lands for Slice to counter the leg kick and they clinch and throw some punches that don’t really land before breaking off where we get more of the same. Couple more leg kicks from Houston and he avoids a combo and lands a knee. Action slows again as Houston goes back to circling. More leg kicks from Houston and the round mercifully ends under a shower of boos. That was one of the worst rounds I’ve ever seen in the UFC. Houston gets it though for at least landing SOME strikes.
Into the 2nd and it’s the same merry-go-round fight with Houston just circling around. Jesus Christ. Crowd are irate now. Pair of leg kicks from Houston before Kimbo misses a wild right hand. More circling as I’m reminded of Severn-Shamrock II. Finally a left jab lands for Kimbo and catches Houston off balance. Kimbo closes in, gets a clinch, and trips him down into full mount! Crowd heat up but Houston powers out and escapes to his feet. Houston goes back to the leg kicks, but slips and Kimbo capitalizes with a combo that stuns him. Houston turns his back, and Kimbo clinches and bulls him into the cage. Big body shot from Kimbo. Bodylock from Kimbo and he hits a SICK BELLY-TO-BACK SUPLEX, DROPPING HOUSTON ONTO HIS NECK!~! JESUS. Somehow Houston muscles back to his feet, but he slips face-first on a takedown attempt and Kimbo almost gets a guillotine before they stand in the clinch. Takedown from Kimbo and he lands in mount, and then lands some big punches, looking to finish. Houston gives his back and Kimbo gets both hooks in, landing some heavy punches before locking up a rear naked choke! He looks off-position though to finish it and Houston almost turns into the guard. Kimbo turns into mount though and drops some elbows before taking the back again. Alexander manages to pop out the back door with seconds to go, and he eats an uppercut before getting suplexed on the buzzer. I’m going 10-8 Kimbo there because Houston did next to nothing.
Third and final round, and who the hell would’ve thought it’d go this far? And naturally, it’s the same nonsense, with Houston just circling around. Thirty seconds gone and they start trading sloppy bombs, but nobody goes down and both men look completely spent now. Big jab from Kimbo snaps Houston’s head back. Alexander looks exhausted and they exchange some more sloppy shots. Left lands for Houston but doesn’t do much damage. Big leg kick does land though, taking Kimbo off his feet, but as Houston looks to capitalize Kimbo gets a single leg and slams him down. Half-guard for Houston with about two minutes to go. Big chant for Kimbo as he looks to pass. Arm triangle is wide open for Kimbo if he wants it but he punches at the body instead. Ref calls a clean break as the action slows down, and it takes Houston forever to get up. Couple more leg kicks from Houston as Kimbo looks awkward standing now. No power in Houston’s leg kicks at this stage though. Seconds remaining. Kimbo pushes forward with some slow punches but gets knocked off balance by a right. Fight finally ends and both men lean forward exhausted, their hands on their knees. I think I’m going 29-27 Kimbo here but I’m not sure. Fight was terrible.
Judges have it a unanimous decision for Kimbo Slice, 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27. No clue how you’d give Kimbo the first round, but whatever. At least he showed some semblance of improvement, while Alexander is the same one-dimensional guy he was in 2007. Fight was awful, one of the worst of 2009 outside of the one point in the second round where Kimbo turned it on. Still, UFC have done a good job in marketing Kimbo as a humble guy who wants to learn the game as opposed to the new Tyson like the idiots at Elite XC, as they can put him against low-level guys without issues where EXC were pretty much backed into a corner pushing him as their top star.
Pretty much everyone, myself included, had Jones down as a sure-fire future star as soon as he was able to dominate Stephan Bonnar in just his second UFC fight, but Hamill was quite clearly his toughest opponent to date in that not only was he a top-class wrestler himself, he’d also shut down other great wrestlers like Rex Holman and Mark Munoz before and at this stage, Jones hadn’t really shown much else in his game outside of flashy-but-risky strikes. The smart money was still on Jones simply based on his quick learning curve and ridiculous athleticism, but a win for Hamill certainly wasn’t out of the realm of possibility. Tale of the tape shocks me as I had no idea Hamill was 33 – I thought he was in his mid-twenties! And Jones looks far larger than him even though I never had Hamill pegged as a small LHW. Jones is like a spider or something with his long limbs though.
They begin and both men look pretty tentative and throw out some feeler strikes, circling around. Couple of low kicks from Hamill and Jones answers with a missed high kick and a front kick. Spinning back kick misses for Jones but he lands with a right hand. Good body kick from Jones. Single leg attempt from Hamill but Jones stuffs it pretty easily. Couple of jabs land for Hamill. Good low kick from Jones. Hamill gets a clinch and looks to work some dirty boxing, but Jones lands with a knee to the body and then hits a HUGE LEG TRIP that plants Hamill on his back! Side mount from Jones and he immediately steps to mount, opening up with some VICIOUS ELBOWS. Hamill looks to be done and if I’m the ref I’d stop it now, but surprise surprise it’s Steve Mazzagatti and he lets it go. Hamill is getting mauled here. Jones begins to look at Mazzagatti in an attempt to get it stopped, but it doesn’t work and he continues to elbow Hamill, bloodying him up badly. Jones switches to the downward elbows (ala Dusty Rhodes’ bionic elbows) and as they’re illegal, Mazzagatti steps in, but then the fuck-ups really begin as Hamill stays down on the mat and Mazzagatti asks him if he wants out, gets no answer, and so he stops it there. And of course, everyone including the announcers assumes that Jones has won by TKO...until Bruce Buffer announces that Hamill’s won by DQ due to the downward elbows.
Post-fight Hamill – sounding smashed up as hell – explains that his shoulder popped out as Jones tripped him down which meant he couldn’t defend himself properly. Which, if anything, makes the whole debacle even worse as it shows that he wasn’t able to intelligently defend himself.
Alright, so let’s look at this again. Firstly Mazzagatti should’ve stopped the fight once Hamill stopped defending intelligently, which he did a few moments after Jones took the mount, way before he switched to the downward elbows. Secondly, when the Mazz DID step in due to the downward elbows and Hamill was left on the ground, Hamill’s face was covered in blood and his eyes were clearly closed – so what the hell was Mazzagatti doing verbally asking a DEAF GUY if he wanted out? How could Hamill possibly respond? And then to DQ Jones when it was clear that it was the earlier ground-and-pound coupled with the shoulder injury - rather than the illegal elbow - that finished Hamill, well, what can you say? Probably the worst decision I can recall in recent memory. Just a total mess. On the good side this was an incredible performance from Jones as Hamill is certainly no joke and nobody had dominated him like that before. I’m just ignoring the whole DQ issue and taking this as a win for Jones via TKO. Fight was fun, silly refereeing aside.
Despite both his TUF coaches (initially anyway) and Dana White being less than impressed with his attitude, former IFL champ ‘Big Country’ Nelson had made his way to the finals as expected with little problem, dispatching of Kimbo Slice and James McSweeney with relative ease with Justin Wren being the only guy to give him any difficulties. Schaub on the other hand was arguably the most impressive guy in terms of performances on the tapings, as he’d submitted Demico Rogers and knocked out both Jon Madsen and Marcus Jones. With his impressive background (Golden Gloves boxer, purple belt in BJJ, Greg Jackson-trained) he’d been my one-to-watch from the beginning and hadn’t disappointed. Despite far superior athleticism and clear skills though, Brendan was the firm underdog coming into this one simply because of Nelson’s huge experience advantage – four fights against tomato cans prior to TUF don’t really prepare you that well for a guy who’s fought Andrei Arlovski, Jeff Monson and Ben Rothwell if we’re honest. Even so though (and admittedly I’m biased as I’m about as far from being a fan of Roy Nelson as possible) we’d seen athleticism and potential overcome experience before, and so I took Schaub to win this in an upset.
Fight begins and Schaub throws out some nice jabs before shrugging off a takedown attempt. Good combo from Schaub has Nelson covering up, but he stays calm under fire, gets the clinch and trips Brendan down. Schaub gets half-guard and defends, but Nelson uses a kimura tease to pass to side mount. It looks like he’s going for the crucifix position he used to take out Kimbo and McSweeney, but Schaub manages to scramble and escapes to his feet. They exchange some punches and Schaub gets the better of it, landing again with a combination. Exchange continues with neither man really landing cleanly now. Good right hand lands for Nelson and Schaub answers with one of his own. Nelson looks to clinch, but Schaub muscles him off. Sharp jab lands for Schaub but Nelson steps in and WAYLAYS him with a right to the temple, dropping him, and that’s that! Wow.
So Roy Nelson is officially the winner of Season 10 of the Ultimate Fighter. In all honesty I still dislike him greatly, not so much due to his fighting style or anything like that, but to be quite frank, I find his gut absolutely disgusting. I mean, I do get people saying how he uses it to his advantage and stuff, but I just think it gives off a bad image for the sport in that he looks like he doesn’t train at all, and the fact that he comes off like he’s got a serious chip on his shoulder because he’s “the fat guy” just annoys me. I can see him settling into a role as a gatekeeper in the Heavyweight division, but to be honest I await the day a more natural HW who’s in proper shape – let’s say Todd Duffee because I’m a big fan of his – smacks him around. Credit where it’s due though, that was a hell of a knockout for him. As for Schaub? Well, he’s still got a world of potential and this was probably too much, too soon for him. I think he rebounds and in three or four years he might be a contender.
-Credits roll and we’re done with another season of TUF.
As a show, well, let’s be honest, the TUF X Finale sucks. You do have a handful of highlights – a good Edgar-Veach fight, strong performances from Jon Jones and Roy Nelson – but they’re overwhelmed by stuff like the awful Kimbo-Houston match, slop-fests like Wren-Madsen, Mitrione-Jones and McSweeney-Schoonover as well as dull fare like Hallman-Howard (for fourteen minutes anyway) and Wallace-Stann. Throw in the shitty DQ issue around Jones-Hamill and you’ve got arguably the worst UFC show of 2009. As for TUF X itself, it’s similar to TUF IX I guess – if you’re a big fan of the TUF format then you’ll love it, and if you’ve become sick of TUF at this point then it’s not worth the bother and won’t change your mind. So thumbs down overall.
Best Fight: Edgar-Veach
Worst Fight: Slice-Alexander
Overall Rating: **
UFC: 107-111, Fight Night 20 & 21, Versus 1
WEC: 47 and 48
King of the Cage: Various shows