Fight Notes: The Ultimate Fighter 28 Finale
You'd have a hard time finding someone more apathetic to The Ultimate Fighter than me these days. Still, the fight card for the finale of the show's 28th season served up some really good fights and a lot of exciting finishes. The stakes of TUF finals matches often leads to cautious, grinding decisions, so I'm always leery of them but we were spared this time out. I hope TUF goes away, but I doubt that's going to happen as long as the UFC's broadcast partners need content. Here are my notes from the night:
Kamaru Usman def. Rafael Dos Anjos by Unanimous Decision (50-43, 49-45, 48-47)
The story of most of the fight was Usman's wrestling, which is unfortunate since that's not a very entertaining story... RDA had flashes of success, and landed the more effective strikes in many cases. The the first, RDA landed a nice upkick, in the second he pulled off a sweet Kimura sweep, and in the third had some good moments but couldn't build any momentum. Round 4 saw Usman really take over, as RDA appeared to be fading. Round 5 was more of the same, and Usman locked up a cleansweep decision victory on my cards. Can we stop putting RDA up against wrestlers now? A quality win for Usman, even if his style isn't the most crowd-pleasing thing to observe — but damn is it effective. The scorecards were all over the place, and I have no idea where 48-47 came from... Yikes.
Juan Espino def. Justin Frazier by Submission (straight armbar) @ 3:36 of Round 1
Espino took Frazier down almost immediately, and never let up on the pressure, mauling him, working ground strikes and eventually trapping him in a submission. A mercifully quick heavyweight fight, and TUF finals bout.
Women's Featherweight Fight
Macy Chiasson def. Pannie Kianzad by Submission (rear-naked choke) @ 2:11 of Round 2
Chiasson was able to bully Kianzad early, seemingly hurt her with knees to the body and then took her back and fished for rear-naked chokes for the final ~90 seconds of the first round. In the second round, an armbar attempt was countered and Chiasson took Kianzad's back as a result, and then finally secured the choke she was unable to find in the previous round. A really nice finish, I was worried we were going to get the usual tentative decision you tend to get with The Ultimate Fighter finals matches.
Pedro Munhoz def. Bryan Caraway by Technical Knock Out (kick and punches) @ 2:39 of Round 1
This was short and sweet; both fighters were acting like this was a single-round stand-up fight. Munhoz eventually landed a couple of knees to the face, followed by a kick to the body which sent Caraway reeling into the cage. Munhoz followed-up with some punches and the referee waved the fight off. Caraway protested the stoppage but the fact is he fell to the canvas like he'd been shot and he turned his back while his opponent was flurrying him with punches. I thought the stoppage was fine.
Emden Shahbazyan def. Darren Stewart by Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
This was a typical middleweight fight, such that it wasn't all that exciting to watch. Shahbazyan controlled the bulk of the fight by continuously shooting for takedowns and clinching against the fence. Stewart was defensive for most of the fight, but whenever he got chances to throw strikes he was fairly successful and almost finished Shahbazyan in the third round. I was a little surprised this was a split decision, as I had it 29-28 for Shahbazyan. I almost choked on my soup when the winner asked for a bonus — the fight was not good at all.
Women's Catchweight Fight (130.5 lbs)
Antonina Shevchenko def. Ji Yeon Kim by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
I honestly can't remember much about this fight except for Shevchenko's sister, Valentina, incessantly shouting "hey!" throughout the fight. It was grating and infuriating. My other takeaway was that Ji Yeon Kim is really tough, as she took an illegal knee to the head in the final 2 minutes of the fight and didn't even flinch. It looked like a clear decision win for Shevchenko, even with the incredibly distracing shouts from her corner. I'm hoping we never experience the "hey!" business again, or I am going to actively root Antonina to be cut — I was almost begging for some idiots in the crowd to shout "woo!" just for the sake of variety.
Catchweight Fight (148.5 lbs)
Kevin Aguilar def. Rick Glenn by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
This was a really fun, back-and-forth fight. Aguilar busted up Glenn's right eye early in the first round, but took some hard punches in return. The second was a lot more closely contested, though I had Aguilar as winning both rounds. The third looked to be another close one, until Aguilar dropped Glenn with a massive overhand right and sent him down to the mat. Glenn was able to defend himself fairly well and eventually get back to his feet, and even stunned his opponent was a standing elbow before the fight concluded. I gave Aguilar ever round, as did the judges. Glenn looked good, despite missing weight while Kevin Aguilar made a great UFC debut showing he's more than just a rookie with a lot of quick finishes. Fight Of The Night performance from both men in my estimation. (Editor's Note: the UFC ended up not awarding a Fight Of The Night bonus, for whatever reason.)
Joeseph Benavidez def. Alex Perez by Technical Knock Out (punches) @ 4:19 of Round 1
Yet another quick fight, as Benavidez asserted himself quickly in the stand-up exchanges, rocking Perez a couple of times before following him to the mat and laying in the ground strikes. At one moment, it looked like Yves Lavigne was stopping the fight — as he moved in and put both hands on Benavidez — but then let the fight resume. Benavidez put Perez down with another shot and went right back to laying in the ground-and-pound, this time prompting a true stoppage. The commentary was going off on Lavigne for his false-stop, but it is possible he was moving in to warn Benavidez for some shots to the back of Perez' head. Either way, Joe B stopped his opponent twice in one fight.
Maurice Greene def. Michel Batista by Submuission (triangle choke) @ 2:14 of Round 1
This looked like it was going to turn into a typical heavyweight abomination, but when Batista took Greene down, the latter threw up a triangle and actually managaed to secure it with a little bit of additional work. Batista was stuck, tried to fight his way out, but ended up getting tapped. A heavyweight winning via triangle from the bottom... Wow.
Women's Featherweight Fight
Leah Letson def. Julija Stoliarenko by Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
A fairly unremarkable fight, as Letson held the centre of the cage for most of the fight and kept Stoliarenko on the end of her jab the whole time. Stoliarenko landed a few shots, and briefly threatened a submission when she pulled guard for a guillotine choke in the third, but was ultimately unsuccessful and spent the remaining ~2 minutes on her back. I have no idea how the judges were split on this fight, and even giving Stoliarenko is generous.
Fight Pass Prelims
Roosevelt Roberts def. Darrell Horcher by Submission (standing guillotine choke) @ 4:50 of Round 1
One way traffic for Roberts, who eventually backed Horcher against the cage and locked him in a brutal standing guillotine. At one point, Horcher was contorted in the horizontal as he tried to escape but was unsuccessful and was forced to tap. Impressive work by Roberts, and a tough setback for Horcher who had recently put a horrific motorcycle injury behind him.
Tim Means def. Ricky Rainey by Technical Knock Out (punches) @ 1:18 of Round 1
Not much to say here, Tim Means just beat the crap out of Rainey who was overwhelmed and stopped in short order.
Raoni Barcelos def. Chris Gutierrez by Submission (rear-naked choke) @ 4:12 of Round 2
I missed the first round because the UFC.ca website didn't list a start time and showed only 2 bouts for the Fight Pass Prelims, so I assumed everything started at 7:00pm EST. I tuned in justin time to see Barcelos — who was leaking blood from his eyebrow, due to an elbow strike — battering Gutierrez with ground-and-pound. Within 2 minutes, Barcelos was able to transition to a rear-naked choke and scored the win.
Published: December 1st, 2018.