The Ultimate Fighter 5 Finale

Thursday, June 28th, 2007

I didn’t get around to watching The Ultimate Fighter 5 Finale until last night. Wow. That’s some good TV.

I had never even heard of Roger Huerta, despite his Sports Illustrated cover — it’s odd that they didn’t choose Liddell or a similar star, isn’t it? — so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I am familiar with referee Steve Mazzagatti though, so I shouldn’t have been surprised when he let Huerta rain down a whole lot of unanswered blows:

Huerta tried to secure a rear-naked choke but Evans’ defense prevented it so Huerta instead unloaded a series of strikes to the head. Finally, after what seemed like 20 or so unanswered punches, referee Steve Mazzagatti stepped in and pulled Huerta away. The official time of the TKO was 3:30 of the second round.

“I finally got position, got a good angle, started going for a rear-naked choke,” Huerta said after the fight. “I couldn’t finish it. You could tell he’s a real good ground guy, real good wrestler. He didn’t want to get choked out. But I just kept going, wanting the ref to finish it.”

I’ve seen Thales Leites before, and I’ve been impressed, so I was not surprised that he won, but I was impressed with his smooth transition to the arm-triangle — and I was surprised to hear the Japanese term kata-gatame used to describe it.

On Sunday, at a friend’s grill-out, another friend mentioned seeing some kind of UFC contraversy on ESPN. It’s still somewhat shocking to have MMA news on ESPN, but it’s particularly upsetting to be the UFC expert and not know what happened. What happened was too odd to make up:

Once the fighters crashed on the mat, Emerson tapped out because his ribs were badly injured. Referee Steve Mazzagatti quickly waved off the fight because of the tap from Emerson but he failed to realize that Maynard had knocked himself out in the process.

After several minutes of mass confusion, the Nevada State Athletic Commission overruled Mazzagatti’s call and deemed the fight a no contest.

That was wild, but watching Joe Rogan interview Maynard was a riot. Maynard denied ever being out, and Rogan could only say, “Bro, bro, watch the replay. You were out.” Maynard doesn’t make a much better showing in his post-fight interview.

Anyway, if that freak ending wasn’t freaky enough, there was also the freak ending to the Manvel GamburyanNathan Diaz fight:

In the co-main event, Nate Diaz became The Ultimate Fighter 5 champion basically by accident, as opponent Manvel Gamburyan injured his right shoulder 20 seconds into the second round.

“When I [went] for his left leg, I popped it out,” a disappointed Gamburyan said about his shoulder. “He sprawled really good, and I popped it out. I thought I broke my shoulder and neck [at the] same time. I was hurt really bad. I know I can fight hard, but it was really bad pain. I can’t continue.”

There was nothing freaky or unexpected about the B.J. PennJens Pulver fight — except that Penn seemed to be taking his time, almost toying with Pulver:

There were a few times during the skirmish when it appeared as though Penn (11-4-1) could have ended the fight early and gone for either an armbar or rear-naked choke, but he seemed content to keep a slower pace in an effort to administer a more potent beating.

“He didn’t go for the easy submission,” said Pulver after the disappointing loss. “He tried to beat the hell out of me. I respect him more and more every minute. B.J.’s a savage; he’s very good.”

I guess BJ’s post-fight interview was a bit of a surprise:

Penn was unavailable for comments moments after the triumph over Pulver, his rival-turned-future training partner. Instead, Penn shouted into the microphone for everybody to visit his personal Web site — — which ironically crashed due to a likely surge in traffic.

Every TUF finale so far has kept me interested.

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