'TUF Nations' Finale Results: 5 Key Takeaways from Quebec
The Ultimate Fighter: Nations had its finale on Wednesday night from Quebec City, and it was a decent night of exciting action.
Two new The Ultimate Fighter champions were crowned, Elias Theodorou and Chad Laprise, and coaches Patrick Cote and Kyle Noke battled in a season-ending duel in the co-main event.
Tim Kennedy bested Michael Bisping in a top-10 middleweight meeting in the main event to cap off the evening.
In total, the UFC gave us 13 fights on Wednesday. Not all were stellar, but most had some redeeming qualities.
The incredibly lengthy event kicked off a two-card fight week for the UFC and gave fans some midweek enjoyment. The card gave fans and pundits plenty to think about moving forward. Here are five takeaways from the finale.
Canadians Owned the Night
The Ultimate Fighter: Nations was controlled by the Canadians. All four finalists were Canadian born.
The nation finally got its first two TUF winners on Wednesday, but they were not the only Canadians to do work in the midweek event.
Mitch Gagnon and Mark Bocek dominated their early preliminary fights. Ryan Jimmo came with another vicious knockout on the Fox Sports 1 card. Sarah Kaufman stuck to the basics and inched closer to title contention with a decision win over Leslie Smith.
In the co-main event, TUF coaches Cote and Noke met. Cote made it a clean sweep for the Canadians on the show.
It was a good showing for the host nation on Wednesday.
KJ Noons Is an Underrated Lightweight
KJ Noons burst onto the scene in Elite XC but has since faded into obscurity a bit.
That changed on Wednesday with a blistering KO of the ever-tough Sam Stout. The bout happened at welterweight, but make no mistake, Noons is a lightweight.
Noons has had some down performances, but he has largely only lost to top-tier competition. He went three rounds with Donald Cerrone, Josh Thomson and Jorge Masvidal. Those are not terrible losses, and he was not stopped in any of those bouts.
With the win over Stout, Noons is on a win streak.
Noons has the ability to be something special in the division, and now is the time to put it all together. It will be interesting to see where the UFC takes him next, but make no mistake about it—Noons can compete at a high level in this division.
Women's MMA Still Has a Long Way to Go
Kaufman vs. Smith put on a fantastic battle last year, and while the rematch did not live up to the hype, it was also a fun fight. However, it showed just how far women's MMA has to go.
Kaufman has been one of the highest-ranked women for years, and she currently sits at No. 5 in the division. Smith has been around the block and recently battled for the Invicta FC Flyweight Championship.
Smith is a fun fighter because she moves forward with reckless abandon and throws down. It is not because she is a technical mastermind. Kaufman was able to stymie her with rudimentary boxing.
For being a bout between two of the top women in the division, this fight showed how much they still need to improve. It is clear how large the gap is between Ronda Rousey and the rest of the field. There are massive technical deficiencies with many of the top women in the sport.
Women's MMA is still in its infancy. That should not be forgotten. Having them in the UFC will only help the sport grow, and soon, we will begin to see a new wave of women fighters who supersede these ladies who helped lay the groundwork.
Dustin Poirier Is 1 of the Most Exciting Fighters Today
When was the last time Dustin Poirier was involved in a boring fight? Don't worry, I'll wait.
The young featherweight has consistently been one of the most exciting fighters in the UFC today. There are positives and negatives to that statement.
While being exciting will endear one to the fans more, it also means one is likely to be the object of some beatings, too. Poirier certainly got staggered against Akira Corassani on Wednesday night.
Poirier may have underestimated Corassani, or he may have just wanted to throw caution to the wind. Either way, it made for an exciting fight against an inferior opponent. Poirier settled in the second round to finish Corassani without much issue.
The kid is a very talented fighter with more big fights in his future. His exciting nature will keep him on the UFC roster for years to come.
Tim Kennedy Is an Elite Middleweight
For years, Kennedy has been in the second tier of middleweights.
He dropped a bout to Jason Miller and failed to capture the Strikeforce Middleweight Championship on two separate occasions. He was seen as a good, but not great, 185-pound fighter. That perception has to change following Wednesday.
Kennedy entered as the No. 8-ranked middleweight riding a three-fight win streak. He pushed that to four with an impressive dominating victory over No. 5-ranked Bisping.
Kennedy showed superior groundwork. He took Bisping down, passed his guard and was able to land some nice ground-and-pound. No one has ever been able to do what he did to Bisping on the mat. The Brit was known for his ability to easily get back to his feet against elite grapplers.
A much bigger fight has to be on the horizon for Kennedy. A shot at UFC gold is not too far off in the distance.