TUF Nations Finale Results: Matches to Make for the Entire Fight Card
Tim Kennedy has shed any doubt that he is a serious contender in the middleweight division.
At The Ultimate Fighter Nations Finale, he blasted through Michael Bisping's defense for five takedowns. Spending more than nine minutes in top position, Kennedy earned a clear decision victory that could push him into the Top Five in the 185-pound rankings.
Bisping, meanwhile, has had trouble gaining momentum lately. The Englishman has not won consecutive fights since besting Jason Miller in December 2011.
With another UFC event wrapped up, here are the fights that should be made for Kennedy, Bisping and the rest of the competitors on Wednesday's fight card.
Matchup: Cody Gibson
A contestant on The Ultimate Fighter 18, Tim Gorman may have needed a win over Mitch Gagnon in his Octagon debut to keep his UFC career going.
Landing 40 fewer strikes than Gagnon, though, Gorman came up short on the scorecards. While he didn't put together a winning performance, he did push the pace and made the contest fairly entertaining.
Now with a 3-1 UFC record, Gagnon isn't usually the kind of fighter a TUF contestant would debut against. That alone could mean Gorman gets one more shot inside the Octagon, which could come opposite Cody Gibson, who also lost in his first UFC outing.
Matchup: George Roop
Despite winning two in a row, Mitch Gagnon met UFC newcomer Tim Gorman on Wednesday.
Gorman pressured Gagnon constantly, but the Canadian had little trouble dealing with the aggression. More than doubling Gorman's strikes landed, Gagnon took a comfortable decision win.
Now with three straight victories, he deserves a more proven adversary. A bout with George Roop should bring some more attention to Gagnon's next outing.
Matchup: None (Release)
Despite losing in the quarterfinals on TUF Nations, Chris Indich was given another shot to earn a spot on the UFC roster on Wednesday.
Giving up four takedowns and absorbing more than 100 strikes, Indich lost to Richard Walsh in a decision. With a 5-2 MMA record, Indich won't be considered a very valuable asset in an already deep welterweight division.
At 27 years old, he has time to earn his way back into the Octagon, but he'll need to win some more fights with smaller promotions.
Matchup: Andreas Stahl
With his UFC future on the line, TUF Nations contestant Walsh did what he needed to do on Wednesday.
The 25-year-old scored four takedowns on fellow Team Australia fighter Indich. Controlling his opponent in the clinch and on the ground for a combined 10 minutes, Walsh cruised to a decision win, which should guarantee him a few more bouts with the world's top MMA promotion.
Andreas Stahl, who was forced out of his scheduled debut at UFC Fight Night 33 due to injury, would now be a good opponent for Walsh.
Matchup: None (Release)
A semifinalist on TUF Nations, Vik Grujic was given an opportunity to compete on the season finale.
The Australian was not prepared for the wrestling of Nordine Taleb, though. Taken down three times, Grujic spent 10 minutes underneath Taleb, which led to a decision loss.
Even had he won his UFC debut on Wednesday, Grujic likely wouldn't have had a long career ahead of him. At 37 years old, he competed under the biggest banner in MMA, and he can be proud of that accomplishment.
Matchup: Antonio Braga Neto
Despite appearing on TUF Nations and on TUF 19, which began airing on Wednesday, Taleb stepped into the Octagon for an official bout with the promotion.
Facing Grujic, he utilized his wrestling to secure top control and milk away his first UFC win.
After he was bounced from TUF 19 during the elimination round, Taleb's future is now cleared up. He should meet Antonio Braga Neto, who also recently picked up his first UFC win with grappling.
Mike De La Torre
Matchup: Steven Siler
Following an Evan Dunham injury, Mike De La Torre stepped up in weight class on short notice to make his UFC debut against Mark Bocek.
Though he was a heavy underdog against the UFC veteran, De La Torre gave Bocek a handful. A product of MMA Lab, "El Cucuy" showed big potential by taking Bocek to a split decision in a loss.
In all likelihood, De La Torre will now return to the featherweight division. With two straight losses, Steven Siler could welcome him to the UFC's 145-pound class.
Matchup: Michel Prazeres
After 17 months on the sidelines, Bocek was set up to meet Dunham. However, an injury led to Bocek meeting De La Torre on Wednesday instead.
With five minutes of top control in a tightly contested bout, Bocek did just enough to defeat his opponent on the scorecards. It wasn't Bocek's strongest showing by any means, but it got him going in the right direction again following a long hiatus.
Although he's competed against Frankie Edgar and Benson Henderson in the lightweight division, Bocek needs a few wins to get back to that level. A bout with Michel Prazeres will give him a chance to take another small step forward.
Matchup: Brian Bowles
Following a win over Jon Delos Reyes, it looked as though the promising Dustin Kimura was ready to start gathering some momentum.
Instead, he suffered another setback against George Roop. Only able to land seven significant strikes, Kimura was soundly defeated on the scorecards.
While Brian Bowles might be considered a step up in name value, the former WEC champion was submitted by Roop in his latest outing. The matchup would give Kimura a chance to bounce back in a big way while affording Bowles a realistic chance at avoiding a third straight loss.
Matchup: Mitch Gagnon
On the heels of a knockout loss to Francisco Rivera, Roop needed a win on Wednesday to remain within striking distance of the bantamweight contenders.
Spending nearly seven minutes on top and landing 46 more significant strikes than Kimura, Roop comfortably took a decision victory. Though Kimura is considered one of the more talented up-and-coming grapplers, Roop went to the ground with him and avoided submissions.
With Gagnon being only one fight removed from his own win over Kimura, the Canadian seems like a logical matchup for Roop.
Matchup: Anthony Perosh
Replacing Steve Bosse on Wednesday's fight card, Sean O'Connell wasn't ready for an opponent of Ryan Jimmo's level.
In the final minute of the first round, O'Connell got caught with a right hand while moving forward. The punch knocked him down and left him with a 0-1 UFC record.
As he looks to find success inside the Octagon, he could be matched up with Anthony Perosh, who is not far removed from his own knockout loss to Jimmo.
Matchup: Hans Stringer
Heading into his UFC career, Jimmo had built a reputation as a somewhat boring fighter. The Canadian is quickly shedding that stigma now that he's scored two highlight-reel knockouts inside the Octagon.
A UFC newcomer, O'Connell wasn't a top-notch opponent, but Jimmo took care of business on Wednesday and stopped him in the first round.
Having lost two out of three fights heading into his bout with O'Connell, Jimmo needs to go on a run before he faces light heavyweight contenders. A bout with Hans Stringer would allow him to gain some momentum.
Matchup: Shayna Baszler
Sarah Kaufman is a tough opponent to begin a UFC career against in the women's bantamweight division, but it was a foot in the door for Leslie Smith.
Filling in for Amanda Nunes, who had replaced an injured Shayna Baszler, Smith had no answer for Kaufman's striking. Eating more than 200 significant strikes, Smith was defeated by a wide margin on the scorecards.
She wasn't ready for another fight with Kaufman. Oddly, neither was Kaufman's originally scheduled adversary, Baszler. If "The Queen of Spades" is on the shelf too long, she'd be an intriguing opponent for Smith.
Matchup: Miesha Tate vs. Liz Carmouche Winner
It was later overturned to a no-contest, but Sarah Kaufman's fight with Jessica Eye clearly left a bad taste in the former Strikeforce champion's mouth.
She came out much stronger on Wednesday, blasting Smith for three rounds. With her win over the UFC newcomer, Kaufman has officially only lost to Rousey in her past six outings.
While she is on the subject of rematches against opponents she's already beaten, a bout against the winner of a UFC on Fox 11 matchup between Miesha Tate and Liz Carmouche would be interesting. Kaufman scored a win over each while competing under the Strikeforce banner.
Matchup: Evan Dunham
Sam Stout has been in a pattern of alternating wins and losses and was hoping to break that with a second straight win in his bout with KJ Noons.
Before he had a chance to get going, Stout was blasted by a right hand and suffered his first knockout loss. The Canadian has had one of the better chins in the lightweight division over several years, so this result was especially surprising.
Coming off two losses, Evan Dunham would be an excellent opponent for Stout. They have combined for nine Fight of the Night awards and would put on an entertaining scrap.
Matchup: Ramsey Nijem
After likely saving his UFC job with a win over George Sotiropoulos, Noons needed a win over Stout in order to begin a run at title contention.
Noons scored an impressive victory. Although Stout has faced talented strikers like John Makdessi, Yves Edwards, Jeremy Stephens and others, Noons become the first man to stop the Canadian with strikes.
Ramsey Nijem might not seem like a step up in competition, but the TUF runner-up is riding much more momentum than Stout was. With another impressive win against Nijem, Noons might earn a fight with a Top 15 lightweight.
Matchup: Max Holloway vs. Andre Fili Loser
Akira Corassani had a tough draw on Wednesday, but a meeting with Dustin Poirier was also a big opportunity for him to make a move in the featherweight division.
In the first round, Corassani rocked Poirier but wasn't able to finish. Poirier rallied back and ended up finishing Corassani early in the second stanza.
Corassani has been fun to watch against strikers and should still meet a noteworthy opponent in his next outing. The loser of an upcoming bout between Max Holloway and Andre Fili would be an ideal adversary for him.
Matchup: Ricardo Lamas
Despite knocking out a TUF winner, Diego Brandao, in his previous outing, Poirier was matched up with a TUF veteran who didn't reach the finals.
Poirier started slow and found himself in trouble against Corassani early on despite being heavily favored. "The Diamond" battled back and recorded a knockout win in the second round, though, extending his winning streak to three fights.
He was due a big fight before Wednesday, so he should now see a highly ranked adversary. On the heels of a loss in a title fight, Ricardo Lamas will probably meet an opponent coming off a win, so a bout between "The Bully" and Poirier is a possibility.
Matchup: Kevin Lee
Olivier Aubin-Mercier failed to win the TUF Nations welterweight tournament on Wednesday, but the 25-year-old Canadian should still have a bright future.
Although he surprised with his striking, it wasn't enough against Chad Laprise. Landing only 22 percent of his takedowns, Aubin-Mercier was not able to get the fight where he wanted and had to stand with a quicker and more technical striker.
Prior to joining the 170-pound competition, Aubin-Mercier was competing in the lightweight division. Expect him to return to 155 pounds, which could mean a bout with Kevin Lee, who also recently lost in his first official UFC showing.
Matchup: Frank Trevino
Mixing his impressive striking with increasingly solid takedown defense, Laprise appears to be a solid find for the TUF series.
On Wednesday, he stuffed a majority of Aubin-Mercier's takedowns and stood right back up when he did get taken to the canvas. Although Laprise's edge in striking wasn't as wide as expected, he did enough to win the TUF Nations welterweight competition.
Laprise is now expected to return to the lightweight division, which could lead to a bout with Frank Trevino.
Matchup: Peter Sobotta vs. Pawel Pawlak Loser
Sheldon Westcott looked great during TUF Nations, but he ran into a potential star in the making in the finale.
After he came out swinging, Westcott began to fade on Wednesday, leaving an opening for Elias Theodorou to finish. "The Spartan" did just that, battering Theodorou with strikes to cause a stoppage in the second round.
Westcott will probably get another shot to prove himself in the Octagon. It may come at his more natural weight class of 170 pounds against the loser of an upcoming bout between Peter Sobotta and Pawel Pawlak.
Matchup: Luke Barnatt vs. Sean Strickland Winner
At 25 years old, Theodorou could be the next big thing for Canada in the middleweight division.
The Spartan remained undefeated on Wednesday and became the TUF Nations middleweight champion. With three takedowns and a knockout finish, he displayed a well-rounded game that could propel him into a solid UFC career.
Unlike Westcott, Theodorou will likely be sticking around at 185 pounds. A matchup with the winner of an upcoming bout between Luke Barnatt and Sean Strickland would be a good way to introduce Theodorou to the UFC middleweight class.
Matchup: Kelvin Gastelum vs. Nicholas Musoke Loser
On Wednesday, Kyle Noke returned from an 18-month layoff to meet fellow TUF Nations coach Patrick Cote at the finale.
Noke's striking looked solid, as he rocked Cote with a knee to the chin. However, the Australian had trouble staying upright, as he was taken down three times en route to a decision loss.
With one win in his past four fights, Noke needs to get back on track in a bad way. He may have to rebound against the loser of a bout between Kelvin Gastelum and Nicholas Musoke.
Matchup: Ryan LaFlare
At 34 years old, Cote is quietly putting together one of the better winning streaks he's had in MMA.
The Canadian had a slight scare on Wednesday when he was hit by a knee from Noke, but his outstanding chin held up and a few takedowns led him to victory. In beating Noke, Cote extended his winning streak to three fights.
If he can stretch his run to four against the up-and-coming Ryan LaFlare, he'd be deserving of a shot at a Top 15 welterweight.
Matchup: Cung Le
At 35 years old, Bisping may have finally hit a wall.
The British middleweight had been out of action for 12 months heading into his bout with Kennedy, and it showed. Usually excellent at defending takedowns, even against the likes of Chael Sonnen, Bisping was grounded multiple times on Wednesday.
It was a huge setback for him, who may never get a chance to fight for UFC gold. At this point, "The Count" should take a few fights with fellow big draws and see where they take him. A stand-up contest with Cung Le could be entertaining and would get a lot of attention.
Matchup: Mark Munoz vs. Gegard Mousasi Winner
Kennedy has worked his way into title contention in the middleweight division, but he still has some fighters to hurdle to get that shot at the championship.
On Wednesday, he looked excellent in a decisive victory over longtime contender Bisping. His five takedowns were more than any fighter has scored against the Brit inside the Octagon aside from Rashad Evans.
The line for a chance to challenge Chris Weidman is backed up right now, though. Kennedy will need to keep winning against solid opponents until his time comes. A win over the victor of an upcoming bout between Mark Munoz and Gegard Mousasi would keep Kennedy in the conversation.