The Ultimate Fighter 18 Finale: The Real Winners and Losers
The Ultimate Fighter concluded its 18th season on Saturday evening, crowning two season winners and revitalizing the career of one of the world's top lightweights.
The night's action featured some excellence, some lethargy and some peculiarity—basically everything we've come to expect from a fight card in 2013.
Here, the winners and losers are not always what they seem.
Getting your hand raised at the end of a fight does not confirm that you are a winner in my book; coming up short doesn't always make you a "loser" either.
Let's cut the formalities and check out who won and who lost at The Ultimate Fighter 18 Finale.
Winner/Loser: Jared Rosholt
Hooray for ambiguity! We start with a winner and loser.
Getting his first UFC fight under his belt is a big deal, so Jared Rosholt gets a half-pass for his lackluster performance against Walt Harris.
Rosholt was a a three-time All-American wrestler at Oklahoma State University. Fans had anxiously awaited for his UFC debut.
...and finally! A takedown...in Round 3.
For some reason, Rosholt decided to trade punches with the hard-hitting, finishing freak Harris for two rounds before turning to his wrestling and easily taking the final frame.
To his credit, Rosholt's striking was not completely awful; he won Round 2 on every judge's card, so there's that.
Still, I expected more from him in this bout. He looked slow and hittable, and his cardio was unspectacular.
Time will tell how good he can be inside the UFC's heavyweight division, but for now my expectations are tempered.
Winner: Mario Yamasaki
I'm reciprocating the love after your performance in the Maximo Blanco vs. Akira Corassani fight, Mr. Yamasaki.
Referees make bone-headed decision sometimes. That doesn't surprise anybody.
When they do, we are quick to erect the crucifix and prepare the nails, hammering away until we have satisfied our anger toward their incompetence.
Referees do the right thing sometimes too, though. Occasionally, they do exactly what they should, and Yamasaki made one of these excellent calls in the featured preliminary bout between Blanco and Corassani.
After Blanco hurt Corassani badly with an illegal knee, Yamasaki immediately jumped in and followed protocol before eventually disqualifying Blanco.
Since Corassani could not continue as a direct result of the foul, this was the right call.
Well done, ref.
Loser: Maximo Blanco
Blanco has proved to be a supreme disappointment inside the Octagon.
After the disqualification loss that was discussed in the prior slide, he falls to just 1-3 in his last four, and he has yet to piece it together in the UFC.
Making matters worse, he did a flip after Yamasaki waved the fight off, thinking he had earned a stoppage victory.
Nope, just a disqualification.
Sorry for your luck, sir, but your next fight is a must-win after this unfortunate twist.
Big Loser: That UFC 168 Promo
Stop it. Just...stop it.
As a fan of the heaviest of heavy metal, one would think I could stomach most any vocal style for prolonged periods of time.
I thought that, too.
That UFC 168 promo featuring Steven Tyler trapped in a wood chipper proved us wrong, however.
Every time the commercial popped up (read: every six minutes of TV time), I had to mute my speakers.
I know what I'll hear in my nightmares.
Winner: Jessamyn Duke
I'm not sold on Jessamyn Duke just yet, but I'm coming around.
Once she adds some power and learns how to utilize her lanky frame, she can be a real threat in the division.
Her win over Peggy Morgan at the finale solidified her position on the UFC's roster, and now she will get the chance to showcase her skills at the highest level.
Will she evolve into something great, or will she burn out?
For now, she's a big winner thanks to her efforts on Saturday evening.
Loser: Kim Winslow
You can't just stand somebody up from half guard when she's raining punches and elbows.
But you did.
I just showed Yamasaki (and refs in general) some love, and you ruined it all when you stood Peggy Morgan up from a dominant position late in Round 3 against Jessamyn Duke.
Well, guys, grab the lumber.
I'll get the hammer.
The first two fights of the night ate up 90 minutes of airtime.
The main event didn't start until 12:40 a.m. EST.
Winners: Chris Holdsworth, Julianna Pena and Miesha Tate
Well, this one is obvious.
Miesha Tate has plenty to smirk about now, as her team members Chris Holdsworth and Julianna Pena earned "The Ultimate Fighter" titles and looked outstanding in the process.
Holdsworth boasts a legitimate Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt under esteemed instructor Marc Laimon, and now he hones his striking game under Duane "Bang" Ludwig and spars with the beasts at Team Alpha Male.
He is primed for big things.
His striking looked solid, and his ground game looked unstoppable, as he easily submitted David Grant to become the winner of Season 18's men's bracket of The Ultimate Fighter.
Similarly, Pena took Rakoczy to the mat in Round 1, where she quickly worked into full mount and unleashed a barrage of brutal punches and elbows.
Referee Mario Yamasaki was forced to intervene with just one second to go, which cemented Pena's victory in dramatic fashion.
Losers: David Grant and Jessica Rakoczy
David Grant and Jessica Rakoczy missed their chance at a six-figure contract, a Harley and the title of "The Ultimate Fighter."
Even worse than this, though, they looked terrible in their matches.
Both fighters were completely outmatched and overwhelmed, and now they enter the UFC with question marks looming over their skill sets and capability to perform on the big stage.
Rakoczy will benefit from the addition of a strawweight division, but Grant will get thrown into the lower levels of the bantamweight pool, where he will need to show improvement to stay afloat.
Winner: Nate Diaz
Nate Diaz demolished Gray Maynard via first-round knockout.
You didn't see that one coming, did you?
Diaz unloaded punch after punch upon Maynard's grill, knocking him out on his feet and forcing referee Yves Lavigne to step in and stop the fight.
The end began with a stiff Diaz left that sent Maynard to the canvas, but the stocky wrestler rebounded and composed himself...for a second or two.
Diaz swarmed, and Maynard was done. The performance breathed new life into Diaz's career, and a big fight will await the Stockton product in his next outing.
While Diaz's fight went perfectly, his post-fight interview was equally...interesting.
The brash 155-pounder kept it real (as always), dropping expletives and failing to answer Jon Anik's questions in any fashion.
It was awesome.
It was distinctly Diaz (patent pending; this sounds like it could be a cologne or something).
Loser: Gray Maynard
Gray Maynard has suffered knockout losses in three of his last four fights.
Is he in a slump, or is he just past his prime and outside the division's Top 10 for good?
Right now, I don't know.
His chin is susceptible, and he has shown little improvement in any area over the course of his last four fights.
I don't want to summon the bells for his retirement party, but I wouldn't stop the hand that rings it, either.
Main Card on Fox Sports 1
Nate Diaz def. Gray Maynard, TKO (Round 1)
Julianna Pena def. Jessica Rakoczy, TKO (Round 1)
Chris Holdsworth def. David Grant, Submission (Round 2)
Jessamyn Duke def. Peggy Morgan, Unanimous decision
Raquel Pennington def. Roxanne Modafferi, Unanimous decision
Prelims on Fox Sports 1
Akira Corassani def. Maximo Blanco, Disqualification for illegal knee (Round 1)
Tom Niinimaki def. Rani Yahya, Split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)
Jared Rosholt def. Walter Harris, Unanimous decision
Sean Spencer def. Drew Dober, Unanimous decision
Josh Sampo def. Ryan Benoit, Submission (Round 2)