TUF 16 Finale Results: Questions Answered and Lessons Learned
The 16th incarnation of The Ultimate Fighter is finished. Colton Smith has bested Mike Ricci, and Roy Nelson has won the "coaches" battle—although Matt Mitrione wasn't actually a coach on the show; he replaced the injured Shane Carwin.
Although the card wasn't particularly star-studded, there were fights throughout the night that taught lessons and answered lingering questions.
What did the MMA world learn?
Read and find out.
Don't Board the T.J. Waldburger Hype Train Yet
T.J. Waldburger had a great, decisive victory over Nick Catone, showing that his skills as a fighter are considerable.
But let's not go nuts.
He's an exciting grappler, but he's come up short in every big fight in the organization he has had, losing to Brian Ebersole and Johny Hendricks.
At age 24, Waldburger has loads of time to improve though. He has time to become a truly great fighter, he's just not there yet.
Expect Big Things from Rustam Khabilov
Rustam Khabilov knocked out Vinc Pichel with a suplex.
It was unbelievable.
The series of powerful, devastating, suplexes was reminiscent of Dan Severn vs. Anthony Macias in the early days of the UFC.
Now, obviously, we need to see some more from the Russian, but any man who can ragdoll a fellow professional fighter in such a way is clearly a skilled, gifted individual who can make an impact on the sport.
Will the UFC's Bad Luck Ever End?
Countless fights in 2012 have been scrapped due to injures and other deleterious circumstances.
Melvin Guillard vs. Jamie Varner can be added to that list.
The fight was canceled when Varner was discovered vomiting in the locker room, prompting fans to ask what exactly did Dana White and company do to the injury gods to prompt such terrible luck in 2012.
Johnny Bedford Needs a Big Fight at Bantamweight
Johnny Bedford is 7-1 in his last eight fights and is on a three-fight winning streak, with a win over highly-hyped Louis Gaudinot.
Bedford also smashed Marcos Vinicius. It's time that he gets a better opponent to really test himself against.
Give Mike Pyle a Top-10 Opponent
Save for a loss to burgeoning welterweight star Rory MacDonald, Mike Pyle has been on an absolute tear in the welterweight division.
He's 6-1 in his last seven and is riding a three-fight winning streak.
At age 37, it's now-or-never for Pyle, so why not give him a step up in competition—as he requested in his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan—and see if he can break into the uppermost echelon of welterweights?
Dustin Poirier Is Still One Best 145-Pounders
Dustin Poirier submitted Jonathan Brookins, who is an extremely savvy Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner, and again proved that despite the loss to Chan Sung Jung, he's still a top featherweight in the world.
Poirier was actually in trouble in the beginning of the fight, but he managed to pull through and ultimately defeat Brookins with a D'arce choke.
With the win, Poirier retains his status as an elite featherweight; a title fight should only be one or two wins away.
Rules Need to Be Streamlined
An illegal knee to the head almost ended Tim Elliott's night early. However, for his transgression against the rules, Jared Papazian was not docked a point.
An illegal move that nearly incapacitates a fighter deserves to be penalized and punishments for infractions against the rules need to be consistent between different officials and athletic commissions.
Also, in the Colton Smith-Mike Ricci fight, Steve Mazzagatti failed to recognize an obvious low blow, refusing to pause the action even when both fighters acknowledged that the low blow occurred.
There needs to be some kind of consistent referee training and procedures for dealing with rule breaking, or things like this are going to continue to happen, blighting the sport.
Edit: After official scorecards were released, it appears that Papazian was, in fact, docked a point for his illegal knee, despite the fact that the official didn't alert anyone to this fact during the fight.
Don't Ignore the Sponsor
Did you see Dana White's reaction when Colton Smith ignored the Harley Davidson representative who was presenting him with a motorcycle?
If you didn't, let's just say White wasn't thrilled. Don't bite the hand that feeds you, fighters.
Roy Nelson Has Still Got It, but He May Be Undersized
Roy Nelson knocked out Matt Mitrione in impressive fashion. This victory comes at a crucial time, since before the fight with Mitrione, Nelson was 2-3 in his last five—and Nelson looked terrible in his three losses.
However, Nelson's stock has increased a bit in his win over Mitrione. It's also worth noting that when in the clinch with Mitrione, Nelson looked undersized.
This has been said before but it's worth repeating: Nelson's "fat guy" gimmick isn't worth having a lower ceiling as a fighter. If he got into better shape, he'd be capable of so much more.