TUF 9 Finale - Before I begin this recap of The Ultimate Fighter 9 Finale, I first must point out that I was correct with many of my first impressions at the beginning of the season. I was right about Pearson and Winner being among the two best lightweights, and also chose Demarques Johnson to be the best fighter on Team USA.
I also chose Nick Osipczak as a dark horse on the show, and he proved he could hold his own in the octagon. There was no shame in losing to Demarques Johnson. Also, I was right about Mark Miller and Jason Pierce being among the worst fighters in the house: Mark Miller was destroyed in his fight and Jason Pierce didn’t even take advantage of his opportunity in the house.
However, I was wrong about James Wilks and his ability to stand and bang. Wilks made handy work of Frank Lester both times they fought (although he did get rocked in their first meet) and showed his standup was decent. His appearance in the finale is no accident, and he showed that he is a solid, all-around fighter. (Read: The Ultimate Fighter 9 Episode 1 Recap)
Nate Diaz vs. Joe Stevenson
Immediately Joe Stevenson shoots in for a takedown. Nate holds on to it for a good twenty seconds before finally letting go. Stevenson takes advantage of his position on top and moves quickly into side control.
Nate rolls over into his back and Joe Stevenson stays on top of him. Getting Nate in a sort-of crucifix position, Joe continues to throw punches on Nate’s face.
Nate doesn’t give up, rolling over and getting on top of Stevenson. Stevenson takes hold of Diaz’s head, locking in a guillotine. Nat looks almost like he’s going to be forced to tap but is relentless. Diaz miraculously pops his head out of Diaz’s grip and the fight continues on the ground.
The two fighters soon get up and Stevenson continues to smother Diaz. The first round ends with Stevenson throwing knees at Diaz’s side.
Once again, as the second round starts, Stevenson immediately comes out trying to takedown Diaz. Diaz once again goes for the guillotine, but Stevenson maneuvers out of danger.
The two fighters stand up and Joe presses Nate up against the cage. Diaz uses a nice sweep to take Stevenson down, but he is able to get on top. Joe Stevenson displays his strong jiu-jitsu skills, countering everything the BJJ black-belt Diaz throws at him. Diaz continues to work in crazy jiu-jitsu moves, but Stevenson uses his strength to power out of them.
Nate Diaz refuses to tap gloves to begin the third round. Like the previous two rounds, Joe Stevenson shoots for the single-leg, working for the takedown. Both fighters struggle to gain position, constantly working their opponent’s momentum, which is key for a jiu-jitsu throw.
Both fighters are so proficient in Brazilian jiu-jitsu they cancel each other’s out. Joe Stevenson’s wrestling is better, however, giving him the upper-hand throughout the fight. Little striking has been seen throughout this fight, so it has become a non-factor.
With 30 seconds left in the fight, both fighters are standing. Stevenson has clearly won the first two rounds of the fight and just needs to survive to win. Time finally expires and the two shake hands: a great show of respect between the fighters.
Winner: Joe Stevenson (Unanimous Decision)
Ross Pearson vs. Andre Winner
The former teammates come out and touch gloves to start the fight, good friends from the television series. The two stand and box, exchanging blows. Both fighters show extreme quickness in their striking, but Winner looks to have a little more power behind his blows.
As both fighters begin to clinch against the cage, Andre Winner has a slight upper-hand with his “dirty-boxing.” After a brief time-out (Winner accidentally knees Pearson in the cup), both fighters come out throwing hard punches. The distance is closed once again, with the two throwing constant knees and elbows.
Andre Winner comes out to end the round with a fast four-punch combination to Pearson’s body, finishing with a strong strike to his face. As the bell rings, Winner looks to have won the round, constantly smothering Pearson and getting the better of their exchanges.
The second round starts and Pearson comes out very aggressive. He throws some good punches and connects with a nice shot to Winner’s body. Once again, the two clinch and are pressed against the cage. Pearson shoots in for the single-leg but Winner stuffs the takedown attempt.
Both fighters have a very active clinch-game, throwing a mess of elbows and knees. They are both high-energy fighters and show why they deserve to be the final two lightweights from TUF 9.
At the two-minute mark, the second round is very close. Each fighter has landed his share of strikes, and it will be a very difficult round for the judges to score.
Both corners seem to believe that Andre Winner has won the first two rounds. The fighters start the third round in the clinch once again, where they both seem very comfortable. Probably two-thirds of the fight has been in the clinch, so the two are very familiar with that aspect of the fight.
Pearson probably knows he needs a knockout to win the fight, and lets loose his hands. He throws some very nice, quick punches, but they don’t faze Winner. At the two minute mark of this third-round, Winner seems to be a little tired and less active. However, even if Pearson wins this round, there is a good chance he will lose the fight, depending how the second round was scored.
Pearson comes out strong just before the horn sounds with a flurry of punches that rock Winners. As the fight ends, Winner was obviously hurt in the last 15 seconds.
Winner: Ross Pearson (Unanimous Decision)
Chris Lytle vs. Kevin Burns
Chris Lytle comes out of the gate swinging for the fences, throwing huge, looping punches and only connecting once. As the fight goes deeper into the first round, he slows down his pace and looks a little more relaxed.
Kevin Burns on the other hand calmly lets Lytle throw his fury of punches, covering up and waiting for the barrage to end. Burns counters the wild punches with short, quick strikes, hoping to punish Lytle enough to make him think twice about throwing those haymakers. With two minutes left, Burns begins pressing the action, forcing Lytle to back up.
With 1:23 left on the clock, a time-out is called when Burns accidentally kicks Lytle in the cup. After the fight is restarted, Burns connects with a heavy shot on Lytle, rocking him, dripping him to the mat. Lytle shoots for a leg and the two wind up clinching, saving Lytle, keeping the fight from being ended.
Burns continues to rock Lytle with twenty seconds left in the first round. After the horn sounds, Lytle’s legs are wobbly and he looks winded. First round definitely goes to Kevin Burns.
Lytle begins the second round much like he began the first, throwing haymakers, and actually connects an overhand right that sends Burns backing up for the cage. Just when the fight looks like it could be ended, Burns comes back with a flurry of punches of his own, sending Lytle on the retreat.
Burns shoots in for a takedown and winds up in side-control. His position is short-lived, however, and the fight continues standing up. Both fighters look to bang, and Lytle connects with several straight body shots to Burns’ side.
Once again Burns connects with a kick to Lytle’s cup. As a result, Burns stops throwing leg kicks, obviously scared to make another mistake and have a point deducted. After a good minute of not throwing kick, Burns finally throws a knee to Lytle’s midsection and for a third time, makes contact with Lytle’s cup. Fortunately for Burns, and with much surprise to all the viewers, referee Herb Dean does not deduct a point.
Burns throws a leg kick to start the third round that gets caught by Lytle, who conters with a strong right punch that opens Burns up. Bleeding heavily from just on the outside of his left eyebrow, Burns continues to fight unfazed.
Lytle continues to attack the body of Burns, but now targets his left eyebrow as well. He connects with a huge overhand right that connects with a resounding slap heard by the entire audience. Burns begins to look winded and desperate, but can’t get much going, even though he keeps up the pace.
Lytle presses the action, hungry to end the fight with an exclamation mark, but as many times as he strikes Burns, Burns refuses to go down. Burns shows true heart, never quitting and putting on a huge show for all who attended. Both fighters shake hands after the horn, and Burns goes to get checked out.
Winner: Chris Lytle (Unanimous Decision)
Demarques Johnson vs. James Wilks
Both fighters come out striking and Wilks connects early, forcing Demarques to close the distance and clinch to regain his bearings. After they separate, Wilks connects again, sending Johnson back the cage once again. Wilks throws a couple strong knees but none connect solidly against Johnson.
Wilks takes Johnson down and goes for a heel-hook. He cannot pull it off, however, and finds himself on the bottom. Wilks continues going for several leg-locks, but none are effective. From the bottom, Wilks attempts an ooma-plata before going for a triangle-choke, which Johnson pulls out of. Johnson gets to his feet with Wilks on his back.
Johnson tries to go for a kimura with Wilks’ arms wrapped around him, but gets tripped and goes down. Wilks gets one hook in and turns Johnson around, going for a rear-naked choke. Johnson keeps his chin down, preventing Wilks from sinking in the choke, however, with just seconds left in the first round, sneaks his arm beneath Johnson’s chin and forces him to tap.
Winner: James Wilks (Rear-Naked Choke)
Diego Sanchez vs. Clay Guida
The main event begins even before the referee starts the fight, with both fighters staring each other down from across the ring and shouting at each other as Diego Sanchez enters the ring. Tension runs high between both men, and they can’t wait to get started so they let their fists do the talking. Neither fighter hides his hate for his opponent. Regardless, they show each other respect, touching gloves as they stare one another down.
Diego rushes out at Guida, throwing strong, relentless punches as Guida fires back wildly. Guida gets smashed, even losing his mouth piece, as he is forced against the cage. Sanchez separates slightly from Guida, and Guida takes advantage, taking Diego down.
While Diego Sanchez tries to get to his feet, Clay Guida makes sure to keep him down. Sanchez pushes Guida off and the two fighters get back up to his feet. Guida bleeds heavily from his nose, and has been for much of the fight.
After a brief time-out to get Guida’s mouthpiece back in his mouth, Sanchez connects with a huge kick, sending Guida reeling backward. Desperate to keep the fight going, Clay lunges towards Sanchez looking for a takedown. Sanchez takes advantage of Guida’s wobbliness, however, taking Guida down. Both fighters soon are back standing and the horn sounds shortly after.
Both fighters are a bit more cautious to start the second round, and Guida knows he must take Sanchez down to win the fight. Diego Sanchez’s stand-up is just too much for Guida, and so he must work the takedown and get his ground-and-pound working.
While Guida gets a takedown, Sanchez is able to avoid taking a lot of damage, preventing Guida from posturing up. With Guida on top, Diego tries to sink in a kimura, but is unsuccessful. From the bottom, Sanchez throws strong elbows to the top of Clay’s head, but he is unfazed. Blood covers both fighters as they struggle on the ground, and as the horn sounds to end the second round, each fighter is painted crimson red.
Sanchez is the first to strike in the third round, and Guida counters with a right hand of his own. Both fighters shoot in for a takedown, and neither is successful. Diego and Guida look tired and beaten, and are more careful in choosing their moments to engage.
With two minutes left in the third and final round, neither fighter has the advantage. After shooting in, Guida gets caught in an arm triangle, but Sanchez is unable to pull it off because of the slipperiness from the blood. Sanchez then works for a kimura, but Guida holds on for dear life. Time continues to tick off the clock, and Sanchez is still unable to pull it off.
The horn finally sounds to end an action-packed fight, and the winner is unclear. The fight goes to the judges’ scorecards, where anything can happen. A lot depends on whether or not the first round is scored a 10-9 or 10-8 in Sanchez’s favor: if the fight is scored a 10-8 and Clay Guida won the second and third rounds, the fight would end in a draw.
Winner: Diego Sanchez (Split Decision, 28-29, 29-27, 29-28)
Final Thoughts: What an awesome night of fights! Regardless of the number of fights that went down to a decision, this has been one of the UFC’s best shows, with each fight being exciting to watch. It would be hard to choose the Fight of the Night with so many strong performances; though if I had to choose, it would be Diego Sanchez vs. Clay Guida. Those two went all-out despite the amount of blood that poured from Guida’s head and nose.
James Wilks’ “upset” victory over Demarques Johnson was also very exciting. Many people counted Wilks out, myself included. In the beginning of the season, I though Wilks would get dominated standing up and only had a submission game; however, he dominated every aspect of the fight.
I was disappointed with the outcome of the Ross Pearson vs. Andre Winner fight, however. I had Winner winning the first two rounds, and Pearson winning the third, believing Winner had won the fight. I don’t know what the judges saw, but I thought it was pretty clear Andre had the first two rounds dominated, although Pearson showed a couple signs of life.
Congrats to all the winners…once again Dana White has put on one amazing show!