Following one of the most violent MMA events ever, the TUF Finale had big shoes to fill.
Rather than go the violent route, it went for a more surprising theme.
Both underdogs won in the Finals, Junie Browning looked incredible, and Dave Kaplan came out to "Tenderness" (read into the phrasing as much as you want).
Looking back, I'm not as shocked Nover lost. He was a virtual unknown prior to the show then a couple months later he's got Nogueira and Dana White comparing him to Anderson Silva. Stuff like that can ruin a young fighter who has not dealt with expectations yet. There was also the fact he trained with Escudero on the show, so he probably was not all that worried about the fight.
I think he will still be a solid fighter and possibly a great one. His biggest mistake last night was rushing in and not taking his time (during Silva's last bout against Cote, people blamed him of the exact opposite). He clearly had the better stand-up and could have attacked at a distance all night.
On the flip side, Escudero showed tremendous heart. It reminded me a lot of the first fight between Randy Couture and Chuck Liddell.
Liddell was the popular pick going into the fight because of his exciting style. Couture countered Liddell's superior striking brilliantly and used take downs to control the fight. Escudero went with a similar plan. He countered with punches a few times, but mostly it was a series of counter-take downs that did in Nover.
Vinny showed again that he lacks intelligence inside the cage. Rather than force Bader into taking him down, he stood with him and ultimately was knocked out. The guy is probably one of the five best jiu-jitsu specialists in MMA, yet he stubbornly refuses play to his strengths.
Prior to the fight he mentioned how his striking had improved and Bader would be surprised. Well, I don't think you surprised him too much, Vin.
His trainers need to tape him to a chair and pop in Royce Gracie's fights on an endless loop.
Before we get Junie Fever, it should be mentioned that Dave Kaplan is not a top fighter. The only people who seem to think so are Frank Mir and Kaplan. I'd like to see a rematch with Escudero before I proclaim Junie "The Next Anderson Silva."
It will also be a test to see how he handles winning his first UFC fight. Coming into the fight he had a lot to prove. How will he handle things when the doubters are more quiet?
Jules Bruchez needs to find a new line of work. He might have an excellent work ethic, but his talent is lacking. If someone asked me yesterday what they should do with a trillion dollars, I would have told them to put it on Eliot Marshall.
Other than Marshall and Junie, the only other non-finals fighter I see sticking around is Krzysztof. He looks cool and has moderate talent, which should translate to 2-3 fights on under cards before he gets cut.