TUF Final Upset May Be More Revealing Than Surprising
The Lightweight Final of the The Ultimate Fighter Season Eight featured two undefeated fighters but the odds seem heavily in Phillipe Nover's favor, his athleticism and stand up looked outstanding and he earned his black belt in BJJ in between the show and the final.
Meanwhile Efrain Escudero quietly wrestled his way through Sean Nealson and out struck a mentally beaten Junie Browning. The match up seemed to be a good one but the outcome was not really in doubt.
That was until the two of them touched gloves and the actual fight began. Efrain had spent his time between the show and final at Extreme Couture with Forrest Griffin, and he came out with the hall marks of an Extreme Couture fighter. Efrain was very focused on his main strength, wrestling and using it to neutralize Nover's advantages in stand up and BJJ. He also came out with excellent cardio and pushed the pace of the fight from start to finish.
Efrain moved very well on his feet, hands always up and all to happy to throw a counter hook when Nover got too daring, but his main stratigum was slipping the Nover hooks into take downs and in the clinch catching Nover's throw knees and working it into a single leg take down.
I have never been so arrogant to compare myself to professional athletes because of how hard what they do actually is. By definition anyone in the UFC is OUTSTANDING but on the night of the final I was tempted to say "I think I could take Nover down."
Nover has been compared GSP because of his well roundedness and over all athleticism and I was very tempted to crown him a super star like Dana White. This fight shattered that image with the exposure of Nover's extremely weak wrestling and take down defense, he didn't slip one of Efrain's take downs.
This said I was tempted to asked for a four round of that fight because Nover is such a warrior and clearly won the final round in which he trapped Efrain in the rubber guard and rained elbows down on his ribs and worked for submissions while Efrain did nothing, obviously killing clock. But this is a stretch and Efrian clearly won the fight and looks like he could be a very good fighter in the Lightheavy Weight division.
Nover still has the talent but with this clear hole in his game exposed he will have to work very hard to shake the image of Efrian taking him down at will and Nover's contender status is put on hold until he has several signature wins.
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