UFC on FX 6 and TUF 16 Finale Superlatives: Best and Worst from Both Events
At The Ultimate Fighter 16 Finale, Roy Nelson became a back-to-back winner for the first time since he knocked out Stefan Struve in March 2010. It didn't come against opposing The Ultimate Fighter coach Shane Carwin, but Nelson still looked impressive in stopping Matt Mitrione in under three minutes.
A day earlier, Ross Pearson defeated George Sotiropoulos in a battle between The Ultimate Fighter: Smashes coaches.
Saturday's event also saw Colton Smith control Mike Ricci on the ground to become the newest winner of The Ultimate Fighter reality series. As a result, Smith has earned a six-figure contract with the world's premier MMA organization.
On Friday, Norman Parke and Robert Whittaker became the winners from the first season of The Ultimate Fighter: Smashes.
The fight cards were packed with a number of other exciting moments as well. So, let's take a look at the best of worst from UFC on FX 6 and The Ultimate Fighter 16 Finale.
Best Fight: Tim Elliott vs. Jared Papazian
An illegal knee to a downed opponent can often lead to the unfortunate end of a fight. However, in a bout between Tim Elliott and Jared Papazian at The Ultimate Fighter 16 Finale, an illegal knee ended up making the fight even more exciting that it otherwise would have been.
After a furious start to the fight, Papazian blasted Elliott with a knee to the face as the latter was already seated on the canvas. Though Elliott was wobbly getting back to his feet, officials allowed the fight to continue. That decision may not have been in the best interest of fighter safety, but it definitely turned out to be in the best interest of fan entertainment.
Elliott came back strong for the victory and kept a furious pace throughout the three-round bout, showing why flyweights are capable of being just as exciting as fighters in any other division.
Worst Fight: Colton Smith vs. Mike Ricci
Colton Smith did not gain many fans despite winning The Ultimate Fighter 16 on Saturday.
Though Smith got inside the Octagon and did his job, fans were clearly not pleased with his risk aversion and level of aggression.
The welterweight tournament winner repeatedly took Mike Ricci's back, but he was unable to secure a rear-naked choke against the well-schooled Canadian and wasn't really willing to sacrifice position to attempt anything else.
Now, the blame for this fight's disappointing outcome should not be placed on Smith alone. Ricci knew exactly what Smith was going to do heading into this fight, and he couldn't stop it, so there was no reason for Smith to take any unnecessary chances.
Best Performance: Rustam Khabilov
Not many knew a whole lot about Rustam Khabilov heading into The Ultimate Fighter 16 Finale.
Now, everyone knows that clinching with the guy his a horrible idea.
Khabilov tossed Vinc Pichel around the cage like a sack of potatoes until eventually knocking the former TUF participant out cold with one of several suplexes.
Worst Performance: Mike Ricci
There were a lot of people who had high hopes for 26-year-old Mike Ricci heading into The Ultimate Fighter 16 Finale, and they still should, but the Canadian definitely disappointed in a big way against Colton Smith.
Though Smith showed his hand throughout The Ultimate Fighter 16 by using his wrestling, Ricci had no answer for his opponent's takedowns. Ricci was able to fend off Smith's attempts to lock up a rear-naked choke, but that wasn't enough to avoid a lopsided decision loss.
As a member of Tristar Gym, Ricci is sure to keep improving. However, as a TUF runner-up, he'll have a much shorter leash than he would have had if he defeated Smith on Saturday.
Best Striking: Hector Lombard
Hector Lombard's second appearance inside the Octagon was exactly what many expected the former Bellator champion to look like in his UFC debut.
On the UFC on FX 6 main card, Lombard pushed forward much more than he did against Tim Boetsch. With a more aggressive approach, Lombard was able stop Rousimar Palhares in under four minutes.
Lombard's loss to Boetsch was a setback, but the 34-year-old is still one or two big wins away from earning a shot at the middleweight belt.
Worst Striking: Reuben Duran
Remember that inflatable Bozo the Clown punching bag you would beat up on as a kid?
That was Reuben Duran at The Ultimate Fighter 16 Finale.
Duran popped back up after multiple knockdowns at the hands of Hugo Viana. However, a brutal right hand near the end of the opening round finally put Duran down for good.
It was certainly a poor outing for Duran, but it was also his first fight in more than 18 months. If Duran can remain active, he has shown some promise in the past with a submission win over Francisco Rivera.
Best Grappling: Mike Pierce
There were a number of fighters who looked great on the ground over the weekend. Norman Parke and Colton Smith used their wrestling to become The Ultimate Fighter winners, but Mike Pierce was able to control a more experienced opponent on the ground.
Pierce took Seth Baczynski down six times in three rounds and was able to maintain the top position for most of the fight.
He may not be the most exciting fighter in the world, but Pierce is proving himself to be one of the best grapplers in the welterweight division.
Worst Grappling: Jared Papazian
Tim Elliott isn't really known as a great wrestler, but he was able to take Jared Papazian down repeatedly on the preliminary card on The Ultimate Fighter 16 Finale.
After a back-and-forth start, Papazian was taken down seven times by Elliott, who appeared to still be rocked following an illegal knee. Active on the ground, Elliott also passed Papazian's guard nine times in the three-round contest.
Best Moment: Pat Barry
On a weekend which saw two UFC events, sporting events were not the first thing on anyone's mind. A mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., cast a cloud over all of America.
Following his over Shane del Rosario at The Ultimate Fighter 16 Finale, Pat Barry put everyone's thoughts into words.
"I woke up yesterday to the worst text message ever about the incident yesterday," Pat Barry said in his post-fight interview with UFC commentator Joe Rogan. "If you've got kids, hug them as if it's the last day. Go hug your parents. Go hug your best friends. If you have any beef with anybody from over 10 years ago that's over nothing, tell them you're sorry and you love them, because you never know what's going to happen, man."
Worst Moment: Steve Mazzagatti
Widely regarded as one of the worst referees in MMA, Steve Mazzagatti had actually not made too many glaring mistakes throughout 2012. However, his streak of staying out of the headlines came to an end at The Ultimate Fighter 16 Finale.
Early in the second round of a bout between Colton Smith and Mike Ricci, Mazzagatti completely blew a call on an accidental groin kick.
Initially, the referee appeared to see Smith's kick make contact with Ricci's cup and began to step in. However, once Smith followed up on his kick by rushing forward, Mazzagatti backed off and would not stop the action at Ricci's request.
Unless otherwise noted, quotes obtained first-hand by Bleacher Report.
Statistic via Fightmetric.com.