Live Blogging the Finale of TUF Season 11: Team Liddell vs. Team Ortiz/Franklin
Well, I swear I'm live from the Palms Casino Resort for The Ultimate Fighter: Team Liddell vs. Team Franklin finale. Unfortunately, the Internet isn’t cooperating so the “live” portion will have to come later.
We’re about 10 minutes away from the first bout, but I already feel like I’m back in the swing. Due to previous obligations, I missed the last Ultimate Fighting Championship event in Vegas (UFC 114) so it seemed a little foreign to be back.
Right up until the first bass-heavy refrain of the Eagles “Long Run.”
The first two fighters have entered the ring so we're about set.
Travis Browne vs. James McSweeney—Heavyweights
Don't know much about Browne, but "The Hammer" McSweeney is a TUF alumnus. The two fighters meet in the center of the Octagon to exchange some leg kicks and half-hearted strikes. Nothing much of consequence lands as the pair feel each other out.
Browne is the first to press the action and pushes the Brit up against the fence to no advantage.
Both brawlers land sincere shots and begin smiling at each other—a sure sign that the blows landed.
McSweeney is really emphasizing the kicks—both low and high variety, but he's not having a ton of success. The Perl Concert Theater at the Palms isn't very large and it's not quite full yet, so you can literally hear everything the corners are saying.
They were really thrilled about McSweeney's performance until Browne drops his adversary and begins pounding away from the top. The Brit is taking some serious damage although he seems to have worked out of the cobwebs.
Still, he's bleeding from somewhere on his head or face (as far as I can tell). That's never good.
Another big fist lands from Browne and McSweeney's on queer street. He's covering up and not responding as more and more thumps resonate from the cage.
The female referee (a first for me) steps in to save McSweeney.
Browne by TKO (punches) at 4:32 of the first round.
Kenny "KenFlo" Florian is handling Joe Rogan's duties and reveals this was Browne's debut. Pretty impressive showing for a first-timer.
Chris Camozzi vs. James Hammortree—Middleweights
Camozzi and "Sledge" Hammortree start much the same way as the big boys before them, which gives me time to pan the crowd and spot Rich "Ace" Franklin in Hammortree's corner rocking a cast on the arm Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell broke.
Some strikes have started landing from Hammortree and Camozzi actually looks a little scared, like he wasn't expecting anyone to be punching him.
The action has picked up as Hammortree scores a takedown only to have Camozzi throw him off and scramble back to his feet. Camozzi still looks a little uncomfortable and takes an awkward step in retreat that rolls his ankle.
The fighter seems to shake it off as he re-engages and the pair end up against the cage. Nice exchange, but both Camozzi and Hammortree use movement to avoid the worst shots.
The first round ends in a half-clinch. Call it 10-9 for Hammortree.
Hammortree comes out peppering his jab to close the distance. Camozzi continues to wince and close his eyes when the strikes come, but he's gamely firing knees back in retaliation.
They clinch and move to the cage where...nothing happens. A couple pokes to the kidney from Camozzi score some points, but don't appear to have much effect.
Hammortree's left eye is swelling really badly so the ref (Josh Rosenthal) stops the action to check on it. Apparently, Hammortree says something about Vaseline getting in the eye; didn't know that could cause a goose egg like the one he's got under his peeper.
Oof, Camozzi lands a huge knee to the body and it looks to panic Hammortree a bit. Now more knees are landing and both warriors seem to have their dander up. Hammortree wades in with wide-arcing punches and secures a takedown.
Sledge continues to work some strikes as he tries to pass Camozzi's guard. He decides a different approach is called for so he stands up and delivers some kicks to Camozzi's legs before allowing his opponent to his feet.
There's a moment's respite as the athletes catch their wind before resuming pleasantries.
Camozzi is clearly concentrating on Hammortree's body with knees and punches. He goes for a trip (unsuccessfully) and the round ends against the cage.
Tough one to score, but I'd give it to Camozzi 10-9.
This is a truly bizarre fight—both guys are being aggressive yet they look a tad anxious whenever an attack lands.
Hammortree comes out the aggressor to open the round before Camozzi rallies in defense. Perhaps a little too haphazardly as he lands a kick to Sledge's junk.
Rosenthal gives Hammortree the allotted time to recover and the pair re-engage just off-center of the Octagon.
Knees and fists are flying with abandon; these guys are putting on a good show even if it's not the cleanest technical display you'll ever see.
Camozzi looks to have lost a little steam, but—just as I type that—he lands another crushing knee to Hammortree's body and seems to gain confidence as he wades back into another violent back-and-forth.
Big knee lands on Hammortree's jaw as sweat (and possibly brain cells) go flying into the cageside crowd. Sledge's game might need some polish, but his chin is beyond dispute.
Not only did he stay standing, he didn't even look to be wobbled. But the knee landed; blood is pouring from Hammortree's nose or upper lip.
Yikes, perhaps overconfident from the knee, Camozzi essentially leans right into a standing guillotine. Hammortree takes it to the ground in hopes of finishing the fight, but the round ends.
I have no idea how to score that—Hammortree was the aggressor, but Camozzi landed the bigger shots. I'll err on the side of damage and give it to Camozzi, 10-9.
That would give him the unanimous decision on my card; we're waiting on official word.
Camozzi by unanimous decision.
Entertaining fight, probably could've gone either way except Hammortree looked like he lost.
Josh Bryant vs. Kyle Noke—Middleweights
It sounds like we've got a little break before the next action starts, so I figure this would be a good time to mention how intimate the venue is—I'd be staggered to hear this place held more than three grand.
Consequently, the media is jammed together like sardines, which would be a lot worse except for one critical detail—I'm sitting right next to the Richter-hot Arianny Celeste.
If I can figure out what my name is, I might even venture a word or two (to be totally accurate, we're separated by the table on which I'm working).
The Palms is having some technical issues—first the Internet was balky, then I walked by some fire marshals basically trying to kick in a door because the electronic key wouldn't work, and now the intro music cut out in mid-note.
Okay, here come the fighters. Tough not to root for Noke after the Australian enters to Men at Work's "Down Under."
The female ref is back in charge, still haven't caught her name.
"The Beast" Bryant just doesn't look like he should be able to compete at the top level of a combat sport, but the dude is relaxed and apparently tough as nails. That's a formidable combination.
Nothing much is happening as the two test the waters so I'll pass along this little tidbit—"KO" Noke used to be a bodyguard for the Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin. I'd make a joke about stingrays not being in the job description, but that seems tasteless.
And there's no need as the action picks up, beginning with a nice body kick from Noke. His striking looks infinitely better than it did on the show and Bryant doesn't appear to be ready for it.
A questionable kick lands close to Bryant's groin and he doubles over with his hands on his knees, but the ref isn't having any of it (which seems a little unsympathetic). More jabs land from Noke as Bryant is still trying to find his range.
Noke almost hasn't been touched and he definitely hasn't broken a sweat. Meanwhile, the legs kicks are beginning to be trouble for Bryant as the round ends.
Easy 10-9 for Noke.
Bryant comes out kicking, but the reach disadvantage is proving fatal. Even when he lands, it seems to be with the vapors of the strike.
Noke, on the other hand, is having no problem finding a home for his artillery. Some big straights and more feet land on Bryant's body as this is quickly becoming a one-sided affair.
The Aussie is just sniping away at his adversary, sending him cowering to the cage. This is not the Kyle Noke we saw on the show; he is literally having his way with one of the tougher guys from Season 11.
But give Bryant credit, he's wearing the worst of the blows and not going anywhere. Plus he's forced a sweat from Noke.
Good LORD—an enormous front kick from Noke drives the Beast into the cage and he's not recovering from that. Bryant immediately covers, absorbs a little extra punishment, and goes to the ground where the ref steps in.
Noke by TKO (punches) at 3:12 of the second.
Consider me thoroughly impressed by the winner. To be he labors in the same division as Anderson "The Spider" Silva.
Florian's back on the mic. I wonder what Camozzi did to KenFlo.
Seth Baczynski vs. Brad Taveras—Middleweights
Ahhh, now we're getting into some legitimate intro music. To this point, it's all been a mishmash of generic rap with Noke's brilliant choice the lone example.
Baczynski breaks the pseudo-monotony by selecting Bon Jovi's "Wanted Dead or Alive." C'mon, that's money.
Taveras revives the rap, sounds like Lil' John or Lil' Wayne or maybe Lil' John Wayne. Who cares—it's catchy and won't even be a memory in 18 months.
The UFC reminds us this is a highly anticipated rematch. Okie-dokie.
Herb Dean gets the action.
The customary feeling out period is abbreviated as Tavares barrels his way through Baczynski and gets the takedown, but he's not able to turn it into much of an advantage. The two fighters are back on their feet.
While right from Baczynski misses and they clinch before Seth shifts for a single leg that is unsuccessful.
Baczynski locks in an leg triangle and Taveras tries to channel his inner Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, but the power bomb doesn't have a whole lotta power. Nevertheless, it creates the necessary room and the Hawaiian is able to eventually wriggle free.
Now he's on top of his opponent and Baczynski opens a window for Tavares to take his back, which he does. The hooks aren't snugly in, though, so the position is more tentative than threatening.
Uh oh, Tavares trades semi-hooks for a body lock and Baczynski is in a rough spot. Luckily for him, time is bleeding out on the first. With 10 seconds to go, he's gonna escape.
Momentarily, because that was a clear 10-9 for Tavares.
Holy smokes, Tavares comes out throwing absurd bombs and even lands a big right that temporarily stops Baczynski. Another big shot lands and Tavares takes advantage of a competitor on tilt to hop into a standing, hook-in guillotine.
He suddenly realizes this might not be the best idea and lets it go, only to have Baczynski fall into guard while attempting a choke of his own.
The Hawaiian fighting out of Vegas is having none of it and re-establishes control. Baczynski looks to be out-classed in this one as Tavares transitions from his opponent's back and then possibly into a kimura attempt.
Seth briefly assumes the dominant position, but Brad shakes him and ends up in half-guard. Tavares doles out some additional pounding before the round ends.
Another 10-9 for Tavares. He's gonna need a stoppage to take this bad rider.
The Minority Report's rep comes out to start the third as aggressively as before, perhaps too much so. He recklessly close to putting himself in a guillotine, but Baczynski seems too preoccupied with stuffing the takedown to do anything.
But the Hawaiian doesn't seem to be aware of the danger because he pushes forward and ends up in a tight leg triangle. The crowd reaches a crescendo as they can smell an upset stoppage, but Tavares manages to battle his way out of a very precarious spot.
He uses the momentum to re-occupy Baczynski's back, but he might be a little tired as he's not as committed to the position. Seth must feel the energy leaving Tavares' body because he escapes and is pressing the action.
The replacement fighter from TUF takes top position and hands out some rare offense, but it's too late. The final horn sounds and a 10-9 round for Baczynski won't be enough.
Tavares by unanimous decision.
KenFlo back on the mic and he asks the victor how close he was to tapping while in the throes of the leg triangle. His response: "I was never close to tapping, but I was closing to going out."
Another timeout to stay on television schedule affords me another chance to scope the crowd. Still some empty seats, but the bodies are filtering in. Punkass and SkySkrape from Tapout as is TUF 11 alumnus Joseph "Leonidas" Henle.
Odd that he's not actually on the card.
Dana White makes his first appearance.
Mark Holst vs. John Gunderson—Middleweights
First entry of the night of participants who weren't on the show. I saw "Quick Guns" Gunderson at UFC 108 where he lost a unanimous decision to Rafaello Oliveira and he wasn't all that impressive.
I have no idea about Holst as a fighter—I do know he's Canadian and goes by the nickname "Boots."
So there's that.
Neither's intro music is familiar or particularly good.
Rosenthal's back in the cage.
The adversaries come out tentatively and Holst, particularly, looks very herky-jerky. That may be nerves or just his style; if it's the latter, it might actually help him.
It doesn't. At least not initially as Gunderson picks him up and semi-slams him to the ground. He's on top, but not doing a whole lot as Boots half-heartedly puts on a guillotine and immediately lets it go.
Quick Guns is still in his opponent's guard, but neither individual is doing much of anything. He moves to side mount and lands a couple half-shots, but still not much about which to ooh or aah.
Rampage must be on everyone's mind tonight because Gunderson goes for a power bomb of his own. It was neither powerful nor a bomb, but he's still controlling the fight.
With 10 seconds left in the found, Gunderson lands the first substantive shots with a nice elbow and then a big right. But a boring round nonetheless.
Call it 10-9 for Gunderson.
More of the same to open the second; Gunderson on top and in control, but that's it. Quick Guns doesn't have much of an issue moving from Holst's guard to side mount. You'd think the Canuck would be more determined to stay out of such position since it didn't go swimmingly in the first.
Boots must've figured it out because he puts Gunderson right back into guard.
FINALLY, referee Rosenthal stands the duo up and Holst takes immediate advantage of being sprung from ground jail. Granted, all he does is grab a takedown of his own, but it's the first sign of life from the Canadian.
It doesn't last long—Quick Guns evades, hops to his feet, and lands a big right that stuns Boots. Gunderson sees the opening and exploits it for another takedown.
Another ho-hum 10-9 for Gunderson.
Oddly, Gunderson opens the third content to stand and bang. His corner can't be thrilled about that considering he's got this baby won if he doesn't get stopped. Nevertheless, the exchanging on the feet continues to be the order of the third.
Quick Guns lands a nice left before hefting Holst off his boots (OK, bare feet) and is about to take him for a ride when Holst snaps in a guillotine, changing the plan. They go to the ground and, after a little scuffling, Holst emerges with a kimura attempt as a leverage point.
Gunderson doesn't look worried as he's not in immediate danger, but he's no longer calling the shots in this position. He's out of danger, though Boots won't give relent on the attempt.
Whoa, Holst has been losing the entire fight, but he's throwing together some pretty spiffy submission combinations. The kimura was abandoned in favor of a leg triangle, which never really got set. But then he rolled into a perilous armbar attempt.
Give Gunderson credit, he kept his wits about him and powered through the danger.
I'd have to give that round to Holst, 10-9, but it shouldn't matter. It doesn't.
Gunderson by unanimous decision.
That's it for the prelims—not a bad group.
The first four contests were quite satisfying and Gunderson/Holst might've been a snoozer, but an 80 percent approval rating will work. Especially when it's free (for me, I know this segment wasn't on Spike).
Ah, my favorite part of the main card is how they crank the sound system up. It starts at a volume you wouldn't think is healthy and then ratchets it up to insanity-inducing decibels.
Huh, the pre-fight hype reel has started on the big screen and the place goes bonkers for Court "The Crusher" McGee. I'm not so surprised that the crowd loves him because the warrior has a very sympathetic back story.
What surprises me is just how much louder his reception was than the rest of the main event entries.
The Spike camera is to my right and it's capturing those crowd shots where a bunch of people just scream into the lens. Well, it always looks awkward when I'm on the couch, but being in the arena right next to it confirms my worst suspicions.
Totally artificial and there's something extra depressing about a bunch of otherwise functional human beings so obsessed with fleeting "celebrity" as to freak out for no other reason than 10 random seconds on TV.
Rich Attonito vs. Jamie Yager—Middleweights
"The Raging Bull" Attonito comes out to more rap, which is out of my area of expertise. So, instead of musing about the who/what, I'll point out that this is the standard appearance of the TUF villain.
Yager was this season's "bad guy" despite the fact that both McGee and Kris McCray emphasized he was portrayed much worse than he actually was. To be honest, I thought Kyacey Uscola was a bigger ass—incidentally, a couple pit bulls apparently agreed because Uscola was mauled and suffered serious injuries, including to his penis.
I'd only wish penile injury on rapists and murderers so that's tough. Hope he recovers quickly.
Strong like bull.
Back to the action, "The Chosyn 1" Yager enters to more generic rap that's drowned out by the chorus of boos. Apparently, the crowd didn't read my last article.
Man, the crowd is NOT a fan of Jamie Yager. That's a little premature considering the magic of television editing.
Referee is Steve Mazzagatti.
The big afro stands tall in the center of the cage and immediately lands a short right that steals a little of the rage from the Bull. Yager, who was an accomplished high school athlete in multiple sports, looks much bigger and faster than his opponent.
So far, that's proving out as Attonito is on the receiving end of most of the punishment thus far. He does manage a takedown, but the Chosyn 1 has no trouble retaking his feet. The Raging Bull's strategy might be to stay out of danger until the latter rounds, given Yager's much publicized failure to answer the third bell in his fight against Bryant on TUF.
But it's not working; he narrowly escaped a couple of Jamie's bombs with his consciousness intact.
Attonito seems to be losing up and gaining confidence, although he doesn't have many points to show for it. It sounded like a "Pedro" chant just went up.
Not sure what that was all about.
Round one ends with neither fighter looking too worse for wear. I'll give it to Yager for his early work, 10-9.
For all of the Chosyn 1's raw tools, he seems to fall into a pattern of blasting from the gates and then severely gassing as the round wears on. That might work in the lower levels, but it's not a recipe for success up here.
And Attonito's showing him exactly why—the Raging Bull is showing no fear, hanging in the pocket and dodging the most savage strikes before landing some of his own. Yager might be getting a shade frustrated.
Nice right to the body lands from the Raging Bull and the Chosyn 1 has slowed noticeably. Attonito's left hook keeps finding Yager's face. Another shot to the body and Attonito begins to press for the finish.
Another fist puts Yager on the ground where Attonito manages to take his competition's back. A rear naked choke doesn't bear fruit so he begins to rain blows from above. Now he's got the Chosyn 1 flattened out and non-responsive.
It's over and a visibly disappointed Jamie Yager gives the Raging Bull a big, congratulatory hug. See, he's a big sweetheart.
Attonito by TKO (punches) at 4:24 of the second.
That was an imposing show of technical polish and composure from the Raging Bull. He didn't seem all that special on the show, but he's certainly one to watch until further notice.
I do feel a little bad for Jamie Yager—the crowd was merciless and it seemed to bother him. Tough to bag on a guy after a loss when he's obviously human.
But that mouth endorsed the check, even if the TUF film editors wrote in the amount.
Dennis Siver vs. Spencer Fisher—Lightweights
Siver's a Russian-German MMA fighter; I don't remember too many of those in the UFC. Further distinguishing himself, he enters to Papa Roach's "Last Resort." That's an underrated tune if you ask me.
Siver's coming off a loss to Ross "The Real Deal" Pearson and also has defeats against Melvin "The Young Assassin" Guillard as well as Gray "The Bully" Maynard. I'm not exactly sure what any of that means.
"The King" Fisher opts for Johnny Cash's "God's Gonna Cut You Down."
Great song, but that's not very Christian of Spencer.
Regardless, this has been the best combo of intro music.
As long as you don't look at his face, Siver looks like a miniature Brock Lesnar. Really miniature.
The two come out gently, but Fisher ends all of that with a big right leg square to the goodies of the German/Ruskie. With that background, you'd expect Siver to be a stout customer, but nobody's gonna walk through that kick.
At least nobody with testicles.
The action picks back up and Siver lands a nice front kick that doesn't do much carnage, but gets a rise out of the crowd. I'm not sure exactly when it happened and I don't think it was an intentional strike, but Denis has a good-sized gash over his left eye and it's bleeding.
Fisher's corner is telling him to "smell that blood," but the King isn't turning into a shark with chum in the water. Instead, he's taking his time and delivering some firm shots that should have a quality cumulative impact.
Siver's working with quite the gory visage, but he's standing tight in the pocket and accepting the challenge i.e. the blood doesn't seem to be getting in his way. As I type that, he lands a nice spinning back kick and Fisher responds with a kick of his own.
Another brutal round to score, both fighters were active and landing. Plus, we just got confirmation the gusher was from a headbutt. So I'll give it 10-9 to Siver for degree of difficulty.
Strange, but the second has opened up with a feeling out period. Granted, I don't know if you can call it that since they got a good sense of each other in the first, but there it is.
I just notice for the first time, but the King looks incredibly soft for a lightweight. Maybe he wasn't taking Siver too seriously, but he is now as his opponent maintains dominion over the center of the cage.
Siver's landing low kicks and kicks to the body despite Fisher's corner's insistence that their fighter is nullifying them.
The King takes a seat on the canvas rather than his throne after a big shot from Siver, but the bigger fighter doesn't pursue the matter. That might've been a mistake because Fisher proceeds to spring to his feet and land a couple kicks of his own.
Ugh, Siver lands a big right leg flush to Spencer's ample gut (for a 155-pound fighter, the guy's not fat).
Spinning backfist from Fisher looks pretty, but really doesn't find anything soft. The horn sounds on another 10-9 for Siver, this one was more cut-and-dry.
The final stanza opens with a flurry—high kick touches Siver's head and sends moisture into the air, but it didn't look like anything of merit. The subsequent groin shot from Siver was, however, and the action stops to give the King a chance to recover.
As the fight resumes, Siver continues to press the issue and Spencer has no answer for the body kicks. His corner wants him to move and counter, but how is that helpful advice?
Hey, don't let him hit you—gee, thanks.
Straight left lands from Fisher, but he needs to pile his strikes together as Siver is doing. Nice barrage from Denis pushes the King into the cage as this one's slipping way from him.
Damn, these guys are still bringing it and are throwing some genuine haymakers, but the keep missing by the slimmest of margins. The crowd is growing restless, which is odd because the pace is feverish.
The masses are making no secret of their affection for the American, but I don't think it's in the cards. Call it another 10-9 for Siver and a unanimous decision for the foreign-born gladiator.
Siver by unanimous decision.
Oh man, there are few things higher on the unintentional comedy scale than the heavy German accent even on its mother tongue. Good stuff.
The crowd isn't pleased, but that seemed like an easy bout to call.
Ten minutes 'til the next contest so, despite some excellent White Zombie on the PA, I'm hitting the head. Be back soon.
Aaron Simpson vs. Chris Leben—Middleweights
Alright, I'm back. What'd I miss? Oh, right, that's my job.
"The A-Train" Simpson waltzes to the Octagon with Jay-Z sampling Alphaville's "Forever Young." I think it would've been more poignant to go with the original classic, but I supposed the rap mogul gives it more street cred.
We are coasting along with the music—"The Crippler" Leben one ups his opponent using Damian Marley's "Welcome to Jamrock." I'm not a huge reggae fan and maybe Junior Gong's ditty doesn't qualify, but I've always dug it.
Jamie Yager can take heart because Leben started as a heel and now he's a overwhelming fan favorite. Despite the atrocious, flaming red hair.
Looks can be deceiving, but the Crippler looks SHREDDED.
Rosenthal mediates the hostilities.
No toes in the water on this one, both participants jump into the deep end. Simpson looks like a holy terror as he chases Leben to the fence and works for a takedown. The A-Train takes Leben up for the get down and, in his haste to recover his feet, Leben finds himself in a gnarly guillotine.
But it's not as gnarly as it looked because he has no qualm popping his head out and they're back exchanging.
Simpson seems to be suffering an adrenaline dump as his pace has slowed and Leben tries to take advantage, to no avail.
Big uppercut drops the Crippler, but he bounces right back and is quickly on his feet. We all know there's just more chin under Leben's chin. Simpson's taking the round thus far, but I doubt he wants to stand and bang for too long with the Crippler.
That's a confrontation not many will win, other than Anderson "The Spider" Silva. The round ends with the fighters clinched against the cage. A 10-9 round goes to Simpson.
Leben comes out with leg kicks and then drools all over Simpson's back. Gross.
Now they've resumed their clinch and nobody can find any room to work so they separate and the Crippler lands a one of his trademark wild-man punches that's momentarily shaken Simpson.
More wild, looping hooks fire without landing the brunt of the punch. Still, it's awakened the crowd as it breaks into a chant of "Leben, Leben." The A-Train catches another fist from the Crippler and the second round is going decidedly poorly for the undefeated American.
Front kicks connect nearly head on before another flurry that sees Simpson land his first big punch of the round. Leben proceeds to find homes for a series of strikes, drops Simpson, and pounds away with hammerfists.
The A-Train manages to survive briefly, but another salvo sends him reeling across the Octagon, head-first into the cage.
Like I said, trading in the pocket with a grizzled chin and power like Leben's is a BAD idea unless you're a truly elite striker. Simpson, apparently, is not.
Leben by TKO (punches) at 4:14 of the second (Knockout of the Night).
The Crippler, always one for a good quote, gave this good-natured gem when KenFlo asked him about the straight left that started the end:
"What am I supposed to say, I hit him in the face because that's my job."
That about covers it.
Keith Jardine vs. Matt Hamill—Light Heavyweights
Ladies and gents, it's time for the tete-a-tete about which I'm most excited. "The Dean of Mean" Jardine talked a wonderful game on the media conference call and he doesn't seem like one to bluster.
Count me intrigued.
So far, he's killing it—entering to House of Pain's "Jump Around" sampled with someone who is definitely NOT Johnny Cash singing "Folsom Prison Blues." How perfect is that for Jardine, a former bounty hunter who looks more than a little like he should've been a member of Everlast's gang.
(Quick note: Wikipedia has just informed me that it's actually Everlast singing, proving—once again—I'm not that bright.)
Ooh, "The Hammer" Hamill hints he won't go quietly by rustling up an auditory gem of his own, Cypress Hill's "Cock the Hammer."
Touche, Mr. Hamill, touche.
Herb Dean's back in the cage.
The Dean says he's figured out how to be orthodox or unorthodox, depending on what's working. So far, he seems to be true to his words—mixing effective counterstriking while camping in the pocket with some of his awkward striking as well.
Hamill is shrinking from the challenge, but he's not landing too much while Jardine is finding the right reception for his launches. Damn, a thwacking leg kick just landed from the Dean of Mean and it sounded like the dude who claps together plastic planes to signal 10 seconds left in the round.
The one-time top contender at light heavyweight is having his way with a game opponent, but Hamill's gonna have to step it up to survive. He's a tough customer, but there's no way he can simply wade into these vicious combos from Jardine.
Big left lands from the Hammer, which makes the score about 100-1. If there had been a knockdown, that would've been a 10-8 for the Dean. Instead, it's a boring 10-9.
Second starts with more tepid action and Hamill is the first to embrace the aggressor's role. He eats a smacking leg kick for his troubles. And another.
The Hammer fires back, but he seems strangely content to stand in front of Keith and swap a single strike for every four or five of Jardine's.
Hamill starts letting his hands go and settles for some nice jabs, but swallows another dose of medicine on his way out. Big right sticks from Jardine and then a kick from Hamill, now they're absolutely scrapping and throwing from the heels.
The crowd is beside itself until Hamill drops to the canvas holding his eye. As he does so, his mouthpiece comes tumbling out and, the way he went down holding his face, I thought it was his eyeball for one horrifying second.
The action stops and, in one of the more inexplicable decisions I've seen, Jardine gets a point deducted.
Keith has a nasty cut under his left eye and seems to be at sea now that the fur is flying. The Hammer is coming forward throwing bombs and Jardine appears to be looking at the big screen for a nonexistent clock.
The pair stand and trade, which leaves the Dean of Mean with an angrily bloody face. The round ends in the pocket. Call it a 10-8 for Hamill because of the point deduction.
Jardine has two bad cuts—one under his left eye and a real runner over his right brow. The right one is uncomfortably close to Keith's eye. Both competitors seem to be over the striking so Hamill shoots in and secures a takedown.
After some jostling for position, the action moves back to the feet where Dean hits pause to check the Dean's cuts/vision.
Upon the restart, his sight seems fine as he lands a nice shot to Hamill's face. The Hammer retaliates, but a lot of the verve is gone from both men. More trading of leather and Dean stops the momentum again to check on Jardine.
Good grief, the Dean is a gruesome, gory mess. But he's still coming for Hamill. Both brawlers look almost dead on their feet...until they get close enough to beat each other senseless.
Phew, the horn sounds with them toe-to-toe in the middle, which is quite fitting.
Unless the main event is a total burner, this is your fight of the night. I think the last round goes to Hamill, 10-9, which would give him a unanimous decision. Hope that's the call, otherwise we might have a draw due to the point deduction.
I was partially right.
Hamill by majority decision (Fight of the Night).
What a fight!
You gotta feel for Jardine. He absorbed/showed the worst carnage and didn't even get a W to show for it. Oh well, he put on another crowd-pleaser so he shouldn't be done.
Next up is the one for all the TUF marbles.
Kris McCray vs. Court McGee—Middleweights
"The Crusher" McGee look considerably different in his pre-fight reel—can't put my finger on it, but he looked thicker and more confident. That could've just been the increased production value, though.
"Savage" McCray enters to unknown rap while McGee opts for Neil Young's "Ohio." We're not in Ohio and McCray's from Germany by way of Virginia, so I'm not sure what that's about.
I guess we'll find out.
The finalists come out of the chute and meet in the middle of the cage for some cautious striking. Neither lands much of anything before there's a clinch and the scrap goes to the ground courtesy of the Crusher's takedown.
He can't turn it to his advantage and Savage bucks to his feet, only to go back down on his back. McGee's in his guard and then makes a nice escape to momentary side mount before McCray establishes half-guard.
Savage gets back to his feet, although I'm not so sure that wasn't Court's plan. McCray gets a couple strikes off and lands one to McGee's dome before trying to take his adversary down. He succeeds, but ends up on his back with the Crusher on top.
Still, McCray is beginning to assert himself in the contest.
Oof, snapping straight shot lands from McGee as McCray insists on throwing very wide hooks. Another difficult five minutes to score, but I think McGee eked it out with the takedowns and effective sniping.
Call it 10-9 in his favor.
McCray is demonstrating more power, but he's not landing as accurately as McGee so Court seems to be getting the better despite not being as intimidating a presence.
The trading is brief as McGee moves the tilt to the ground and locks in an side choke, but he's not in position to finish it efficiently so he lets it go. The concession doesn't cost as he maintains top position and control of the second round.
Seeing nothing from McCray's guard, he moves to his back and ultimately gets shirked off as they resume pleasantries on the feet. For a couple seconds.
The Crusher clearly wants this title decided on the canvas so he scores a particularly bruising tackle and then works for a rear naked choke. He's almost got it, but readjusts his hooks for better position and finds it.
That's all she wrote, folks.
McCray is forced to tap and he looks devastated. Still, the dude has little formal training so his future isn't as gloomy as it feels right now.
McGee by submission (rear naked choke) at 3:41 of the second (Submission of the Night).
Touching scene in the Octagon as McGee was accepting his trophy and figurative UFC contract. While trying to dedicate the win to anyone struggling with substance abuse as well as his family, he broke down into tears at which point McCray gave him a hug and Liddell (who'd been hiding somewhere, but was in the Octagon with his trainee) also offered support.
Fitting way to end a thrilling and uplifting evening of barbarism.
Just the way I like it.
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