The 5 Best Fights in TUF Finale History
The inaugural season of The Ultimate Fighter, particularly the show's finale, effectively resuscitated a nearly flat-lined UFC in April 2005.
Countless captivating bouts have been showcased on finales of the show, including the granddaddy of them all, a bout that determined the winner of Season 1 between Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar.
The show broke new ground 17 seasons later when the company's brass decided to film a season with both male and female fighters competing in the bantamweight division.
With the finale of the 18th season of The Ultimate Fighter just four days away, here's a look back at the best scraps in TUF finale history.
Event: TUF 17 finale, Miesha Tate vs. Cat Zingano.
Outcome: Zingano won via TKO (knees and elbows) at 2:55 of Round 3.
Event: TUF 3 finale, Ed Herman vs. Kendall Grove.
Outcome: Grove won via unanimous decision.
5. The Ultimate Fighter 5 Finale: Gray Maynard vs. Rob Emerson
While controlling Rob Emerson and seemingly on his way to his first UFC win, Gray Maynard suffered an extraordinarily rare knockout at the TUF 5 finale in June 2011.
Maynard nailed Emerson with a flurry of punches before shooting a well-timed double-leg takedown up against the fence. Maynard got under Emerson's hips and launched, popped his own and then brutally slammed his foe into the canvas.
Once on the ground, Emerson began tapping from apparent rib injury, and Maynard rolled off the California native in a state of unconsciousness.
The bout was deemed a no-contest, although Maynard and Emerson each pocketed $40,000 "Fight of the Night" bonuses on account of their rarely seen double KO.
4. The Ultimate Fighter 6: Clay Guida vs. Roger Huerta
At the pinnacle of his career, Roger Huerta needed a spirited third-round comeback to steal a win from the ever-durable Clay Guida at the TUF 6 finale in December 2007.
Guida had used his grappling prowess and ground-and-pound chops to take the first two rounds from a frustrated Huerta.
But getting pushed into a corner brought the best out of Huerta, who landed a thunderous knee on Guida before taking his back and then slapping on a fight-ending rear-naked choke just 51 seconds into the final round.
Huerta swelled his stock with the enthralling win while Guida kept his reputation intact with a noble effort, and both men appropriately left with $30,000 "Fight of the Night" bonuses.
3. The Ultimate Fighter 4 Finale: Scott Smith vs. Pete Sell
Fighters worldwide learned an invaluable lesson from Scott Smith's amazing recovery/knockout of Pete Sell at the TUF 4 finale in November 2006.
Smith absorbed a flush left hook to the liver from Sell, which forced the California native to clutch his midsection and back up against the fence.
Sell smelled blood and closed the distance to finish his foe, only to get clipped with a heroic right straight from Smith that sent him crashing to the canvas.
With Sell on his face, Smith crumbled to the ground and winced in pain as referee "Big" John McCarthy called the bout in Smith's favor.
Although he didn't get the win, Sell enjoyed the consolation prize, which was the same $30,000 check that Smith garnered for "Fight of the Night" honors.
2. The Ultimate Fighter 9: Clay Guida vs. Diego Sanchez
Fans at the Pearl Concert Theater at the Palms Resort could hardly believe that Clay Guida survived the beating Diego Sanchez delivered in Round 1 of the TUF 9 finale in June 2009.
Sanchez began dominating Guida with barrages of flurries in Round 1 and then delivered a near fight-ending high kick on "The Carpenter" later in the stanza.
A bloody Guida narrowly survived and stormed back to challenge the seemingly possessed Sanchez in the bout's last two rounds.
For their unforgettable clash, Sanchez and Guida each took home $25,000 "Fight of the Night" bonuses, the second consecutive "Fight of the Night" award for each man.
1. The Ultimate Fighter 1: Forrest Griffin vs. Stephan Bonnar
Because in its wake the then-unstable UFC catapulted in popularity, many consider the bout between Stephan Bonnar and Forrest Griffin at the TUF 1 finale in April 2005 the most pertinent in the company's history.
Intense onscreen drama between competitors had already made the inaugural season of TUF a success, but until the unforgettable scrap between Bonnar and Griffin, the UFC hadn't really arrived.
It's strange that it took just one intense, back-and-forth war to change the fate of an organization and frankly, a sport, forever. However, that's precisely what happened when Bonnar and Griffin slugged it out at the Cox Pavilion.
The duo landed a combined 145 significant strikes in the bout, although Griffin got the best of the action by delivering 88 significant blows to Bonnar's 57.
With both men bloody and exhausted, UFC president Dana White shocked those in attendance and announced that even though Griffin won a decision, both he and Bonnar would walk away with six-figure UFC contracts.
In addition to being a fan favorite, the epic TUF 1 finale bout fittingly took the top spot on UFC: The Ultimate 100 Greatest Fight Moments, which hit stores in 2010.