The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes concluded its lightweight bracket Friday night at UFC on FX 6 when sensational grappler Norman Parke squared off with the polarizing Colin "Freakshow" Fletcher.
The two English teammates came to fight for three full rounds, and Parke's ground control proved to be the difference, as he earned a hard-fought decision victory.
What we'll remember from this fight
Nothing particularly spectacular or revealing happened in this fight. If you watched TUF: The Smashes, you knew Parke was a great grappler, and you knew Fletcher was a creative and lanky fighter who liked to throw kicks and spinning attacks.
That is exactly what we saw at UFC on FX 6 from each man. Parke took Fletcher down at will, and, while Fletcher proved to be adept off his back, Parke was never in danger of being submitted or battered on the canvas.
His control was impressive, but Parke never threatened himself, either, so we did not really get to see his submission skills in this contest, unfortunately. He fought away some crafty set-ups from Fletcher, but he also showed an inability to finish from "Freakshow's" back on two occasions.
All in all, we'll remember that two good friends came to throw down and put on a show for the crowd in this one. It wasn't outrageous, but it was a solid 15 minutes of mixed martial arts action.
What we learned about Parke
As I previously said, if you watched Parke on TUF: Smashes, you already knew he could control his opponents from top position. We saw this, but we also saw a pretty diverse and precise striking game from the night's victor, which was a nice surprise.
If Parke can continue to add stand-up elements to his arsenal and refine his submission game, he will become a very scary dude at 155.
What we learned about Fletcher
Colin Fletcher throws a lot of kicks. A whole real lot.
His 155 pounds is supported by a lanky 6'2" frame, and for that, "Freakshow" holds a reach advantage over most of the lightweights of today. However, with this frame comes a lack of power, and nothing Fletcher threw tonight seemed to phase Parke or really hurt him.
Fletcher connected with some solid leg kicks and body kicks (and I was just waiting for a Corey Hill moment), but he could never string together a combination that amounted to any damage.
Where Fletcher's ground skills are concerned, he struggled with defending Parke's takedowns, but he never looked outclassed or outmatched on the canvas. He had a pretty solid and crafty bottom game, and he consistently avoided compromising situations and even attempted a few submissions of his own.
Overall, Fletcher looked decent, but he's definitely going to need to refine his striking game and add some strength training to his regimen if he wants to make the next step.
What's next for Norman Parke
The door is wide open for Parke as he enters the UFC's stacked lightweight division. With his grappling abilities, Parke is well-equipped to take on a number of opponents.
A matchup with former The Ultimate Fighter finalists Al Iaquinta or Michael Chiesa makes sense moving forward.
What's next for Colin Fletcher
I personally enjoy watching Fletcher fight, and his antics and personality could turn him into one of the light division's biggest stars, if not solely for his abilities inside the Octagon.
He has a lot of room for improvement, but a matchup with a low-level lightweight like Tiequan Zhang or Joe Proctor could be fun.
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