Another year of The Ultimate Fighter is now in the books as the first ever “live” version of the show came to a conclusion on FX.
The finals featured lightweights Michael Chiesa and Al Iaquinta as they battled for the right to be called The Ultimate Fighter in Season 15. The fight didn’t last long, but it was very entertaining as the winner capped off an emotional few months of training with what was easily the biggest win of his MMA career.
Though the event itself featured mostly competitors from this season’s cast, the main event was a very interesting bout between two consensus top-10 welterweight contenders in Jake Ellenberger and Martin Kampmann.
Read on to to find out who the victors were as we look back at the 10 most memorable moments from UFC’s The Ultimate Fighter 15 Finale.
Referee Kim Winslow has the unforgiving assignment of being a referee in one of the most difficult to control sports in the world, mixed martial arts.
Like many referees, Winslow has been under much scrutiny about some of the calls she has made in the past, but perhaps none was more ridiculous than her stoppage in the bout between Erik Perez and John Albert.
After taking quite a beating to the face while attempting a triangle choke, John Albert found himself in a very painful-looking armbar late in Round 1. However, without him ever tapping, Winslow stepped in to stop the fight, declaring Perez as the winner in the process.
Winslow claimed it was a “verbal submission,” though Albert vehemently denied that he ever gave up.
Later, Dana White gave his take on the situation:
Just an FYI John Albert will get his win bonus after the ridiculous stoppage by Winslow. Always cleaning up after bad reffin.— Dana White (@danawhite) June 2, 2012
Perhaps Dana White owes Kim Winslow an apology? I'm sure she'll be waiting on pins and needles for that one.
Sometimes there is more to the story than meets the eye. As it turns out, perhaps Winslow’s stoppage wasn’t quite as bad as we initially assumed it was.
According to numerous reports, including MMAjunkie’s Derek Bolender, under the unified rules of mixed martial arts, screams of pain can be an indication of a verbal tap and thus be used as justification for a referee to stop a fight.
Per unified rules, if a fighter "makes audible sounds such as screams indicating pain or discomfort" it is treated as a verbal tap out.— Derek Bolender (@MMAjunkieDerek) June 2, 2012
Knee strikes are one of the most violent attacks in the sport, but it's surprisingly rare that a fight actually comes to an end because of one. On Friday night, though, one of the early bouts came to an end quickly as Joe Proctor destroyed Jeremy Larson with a beautiful knee.
From the Muay Thai Plum/Clinch, Proctor caught Larson right in the face with the knee. Larson desperately tried to continue fighting, but the damage was done as Proctor finished things up with a few punches on the ground before the bout was called.
The knockout was the first of Proctor's nine-fight professional MMA career and he made quite the impression in his UFC debut.
If his performance on Friday night's fight card proved anything, it was that Sam Sicilia knows what he is good at and knows how to keep the fight in a place that benefits his own skill set.
Utilizing his wrestling to keep the fight on the feet, Sicilia picked apart Chute Boxe's head jiu-jitsu coach Cristiano Marcello for the better part of the contest.
Exhausted after the first round from throwing every punch with full power, it appeared as if Sicilia was going to be in some trouble in the second round. He was for a moment, but it was only a matter of time before one of his huge punches caught Marcello.
After a left hook caught Marcello, Sicilia followed up with a knee to the head and a series of big punches on the ground before he was finally pulled off.
He'll have to work on his cardio or at least utilize better punch selection in the future, but the knockout was impressive nevertheless.
Myles Jury was widely considered one of, if not the favorite on Season 15 of The Ultimate Fighter.
Season 15 was not his first shot at the show, however, as he had originally competed on Season 13, Lesnar vs. Dos Santos, as a member of Team Lesnar.
However, after tearing his ACL in the first episode of the season, Jury was sent home and a sympathetic Dana White told him that he'd get another shot at the UFC when he got healthy again.
Though Jury fell short of becoming The Ultimate Fighter in Season 15, he did have a successful UFC debut as he submitted Chris Saunders with a nice guillotine choke late in the first round of their bout.
Sometimes emotions get the better of fighters when they're in the cage, the adrenaline is pumping and the fans are screaming. That might have been what happened during the bout between TUF castmates Chris Tickle and Daron Cruickshank.
An altercation between the two fighters happened during the season after Tickle threw a water bottle at Cruickshank which resulted in some strong emotions going into this fight from both men.
At one point during the fight on Friday night, Tickle was on his back and threw a flagrant up-kick right at Cruickshank's head, with Cruickshank clearly on the ground. This is an illegal strike under the unified rules of mixed martial arts due to Cruickshank not being standing.
The fight was stopped and Tickle did get a point taken away from him, but much like the first Anderson Silva vs. Yushin Okami fight which saw Silva disqualified, the kick was extremely confusing.
Cruickshank eventually won the fight by unanimous decision.
A former professional kickboxer, Justin Lawrence joined the UFC's lightweight division on Friday night and will immediately be one of the most refined strikers in the entire division.
He proved that in emphatic fashion when he landed an absolutely brutal right head kick on his opponent, John Cofer, in the third round of their lightweight contest.
The kick was right on the button and so perfectly timed that another strike wasn't needed. The fight was immediately stopped and Lawrence had his hand raised in victory.
Sometimes the most thorough beatings in MMA fights don't end by knockout or submission. Instead, they actually go to a judges' scorecard where the full 15 minutes (or 25 minutes for title fights) are spent with one fighter pummeling the other fighter rather than giving the some mercy by stopping the contest earlier.
That's exactly what happened in the one-sided destruction which saw Max Holloway out-land Pat Schilling by a total strikes count of 118 to 27 (according to FightMetric.com).
It wasn't just the total strikes, either. It was where and how they were landed. While Schilling mostly threw lunging kicks and punches, combined with a few spinning backfists, Holloway looked like a boxing expert in the cage as he tore into Schilling's torso with body shot after body shot.
The damage caused Schilling to lose a lot of the speed he is known for and allowed Holloway to avoid most of the strikes that were thrown at him.
Schilling showed a ton of heart by making it to a decision, but it was about as one-sided as a 30-27 unanimous decision can be. The 20-year-old Holloway has great things ahead of him.
After winning season 12 of The Ultimate Fighter, Jonathan Brookins has been on a very up-and-down path, earning a knockout victory over Vagner Rocha this past February, but falling short in a decision in his fight before that against Erik Koch.
On Friday night, Brookins felt what might have been the low point of his career as he was fairly easily submitted by Charles Oliveira. Of course, Brookins isn't the first fighter to tap to the jiu-jitsu black belt, as Oliveira has now finished nine of his 16 career wins by submission.
Brookins is certainly capable of bouncing back, but he did not appear to be "on" for this fight. His timing seemed to be off and he just wasn't his usual self.
It's hard to tell whether it was all Brookins being off, or whether Oliveira is just that good, but either way, the TUF 15 finale will be a night that Brookins hopes to forget.
In one of the most emotional moments that has ever unfolded on television, TUF 15 cast member Mike Chiesa was told that his father had passed away just days after he had joined the house to fulfill his dream of being a fighter in the UFC.
Chiesa reminisced about his father being ill as he left and making him promise that, no matter what, he would stay on the show.
After heading home to be with his family for a few days during the funeral, Chiesa returned to the TUF house where he would proceed to run the table, earning his spot in the finals against Al Iaquinta.
His dream came true in Las Vegas as he choked out the jiu-jitsu purple belt, Iaquinta, with a perfect rear-naked choke, earning the title of The Ultimate Fighter Live's Lightweight Tournament champion.
If Martin Kampmann keeps doing this, he's going to become the Rocky of MMA.
After a ridiculous come-from-behind victory against Thiago Alves earlier this year, Kampmann did it again on Friday night as he knocked out the No. 3 welterweight in the world, Jake Ellenberger, in dramatic fashion.
As his face would indicate, Kampmann took quite a thrashing in the first round of The Ultimate Fighter Season 15 Finale main event as Ellenberger nearly finished him with a huge punch followed by a flurry of strikes on the ground. "The Hitman" battled back, though, made it out of the round.
It began to look like the fight was going to go Ellenberger's way as long as it stayed on the feet, but Kampmann had other plans.
The second round was a completely different story as Kampmann battled back and eventually put Ellenberger's back against the cage.
With his hands clamped firmly behind Ellenberger's head, Kampmann threw up a string of three knees that all appeared to catch Ellenberger in some way. It was the third knee that really did the damage as Ellenberger collapsed to the ground.
According to a poll on Bleacher Report MMA, nearly 40 percent of fans believe that the fight was stopped a bit early by referee Steve Mazzagatti, but the record book will show that it was a clean knockout for Kampmann in what might have been the biggest fight of his MMA career.