TUF 17 finale kicked ass last night. But let’s make one thing very clear. Personally I think the actual show is for shit these days. It’s cheap reality television at best. If I have to watch one more season start with everyone running in to the house to claim beds and start drama with each other, I’m gonna start face planting on to pitch forks.
The best thing about the show is that it helps fighters build their brand, as well as the UFC’s, so for that, I’m glad it exists, just as long as no one ties me down and tapes my eye lids open when it’s on the boob tube.
So last night the TUF Finale had a lot riding on it for many of the divisions in the sport. The middleweights were watching to see if Urijah Hall had arrived, the women’s UFC division was holding their breath as the second women’s fight in the promotion kicked off, and the heavyweights had a bout of top contenders go down as well.
~ Winners ~
The biggest winner of the night was Kelvin Gastelum. Apparently Gastelum has been heralded on the show as the perpetual underdog in all his fights. Even his coach, Chael Sonnen, said he was subpar in training but always showed up on game night.
He did just that when he entered the octagon against a very dangerous and talented fighter in Urijah Hall and stole a split decision victory over three rounds. He simply wasn’t afraid of his opponent and made a fight out of it, while leaving the rest up to chance. Like Kenny Florian and Jon Anik were saying, no one had told him he was the underdog that night.
Not only was Gastelum not a big deal in the MMA world before last night, but he was still living with his mom in a tiny apartment. I don’t know what it takes too financially, logistically, or emotionally support a full training camp, but Gastelum definitely used the resources he had and turned water in to wine when it mattered.
In store for this man are some descent fights with promising fight purses. Simply put, everyone loves an underdog story and this one doesn’t need much precedence in the form of hype or fanfare. Gastelum came out and stole a bunch of Urijah Hall’s fans, and he did it on the biggest stage for all the marbles and a UFC contract to boot.
I don’t know his body type but if I could see this young fighter (youngest TUF winner ever apparently), do anything right now in his career; it would be to cut weight and drop a weight class. He’s clearly carrying a few extra pounds in to the cage at middleweight and at some point, someone will take advantage of the size difference at this level of the game.
The second biggest winner in my book is women’s mixed martial arts as a whole. All I have to say for Miesha Tate vs. Cat Zingano is this, “what a fight.” It was easily the fight of the night in my book and the way both women utilized their technical skill sets really proved a point.
The women in this sport are here to bang. They aren’t going to lay and pray, they aren’t going to leave the decision to the judges, and they aren’t going to fade away like so many of their peers have in the history of women in combat sports. The entire transition of WMMA into the UFC has come to fruition in only two fights, of which is so much quicker than anyone imagined was possible only a short time ago.
With her miraculous third round comeback knockout victory against Tate, Zingano is the first mom to win a UFC fight, and will be the next coach for TUF 18. What’s even more impressive is that her counterpart on the show, Ronda Rousey, will join her for a title bout as only the second fight in the UFC’s history where both the champion and contender will face off with undefeated records in their careers.
The only other title fight that boasted the same dynamic was Lyoto Machida vs. Rashad Evans back in the day. Therefore women’s MMA has accomplished one thing, they made us realize there really isn’t much left in the form of controversy to talk about, and thank god for that. The Fallon Fox issue alone has created enough unnecessary drama to last a lifetime in the sport.
~ Losers ~
There really aren’t losers who fight in the UFC. If a man or women can say they fought in the UFC, they have done enough to warrant my respect at least. Now that doesn’t mean some fighters weren’t hurt by last night’s shenanigans.
Gabriel Gonzaga just can’t catch a break for one. Sure he was on a three fight tare in the heavyweight division of late, boasting the second longest record among the UFC heavyweights (one fight behind Mark Hunt), but he just can’t ever manage to go the distance.
See the problem with not going the distance, is that sure you may win some amazing knockout or submission victories, but that also means you’re losing by the same token as well, unless you’re just that good, and Gonzaga isn’t unfortunately.
Travis Browne sure scored a big win as he made one of the most remarkable KO highlights I’ve ever seen, by dropping vicious elbows in to the side of Gonzaga’s head, as Gonzaga was holding him against the cage by the waist, apparently looking for a take down in a failed attempt to make it three submissions in a row.
~ Odd balls ~
Urijah Hall is the odd ball of the century because I could see him fitting in to the winners or losers category. Sure he lost the fight, but the lesson learned wasn’t that hard, considering it was over a split decision loss at the beginning of his career, and not a brutal KO against a contender who wouldn’t have put up with the ‘Anderson Silva-esque’ moves he was unsuccessfully attempting to dish out onto his opponent during the fight.
When Dana White told the press he felt Hall had mentally checked out in the fight and had conveyed this sentiment to the TUF standout, that moment might have created a true threat among the middleweight elite in the UFC.
Another Urijah, in the form of Faber is also an oddball of a situation. He’s considered the number one contender behind Dominic Cruz and Renan Barao, both of whom he can’t beat, and after another amazing submission finish in the main event against a top level bantamweight contender in Scott Jorgensen, he obviously is on a whole other level from the guys ranked below him.
So where does he go from here? The answer is as obvious as it is odd. He will be considered the reigning champion of gate keepers, among the lower weight classes. If someone looks like they are the guy to beat, don’t give them a title shot against Cruz or Barao until they can at least beat Faber. Because that task will always be a tall order for anyone, not already wearing gold.