The results of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 9 Finale are in, which aired live from "The Pearl" at the Palms Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Spike TV tonight (June 20).
TUF 9 final competitions at welterweight and lightweight resulted in unexpected victories, and the remaining main card fights resulted in the promotion handing out an unexpected (and unprecedented) three "Fights of the Night."
It was an entertaining evening of mixed martial arts action to say the least.
Vying for the top contender spot in the lightweight division, Diego Sanchez outlasted a determined Clay Guida in a three-round, absolute war that, honestly, could have gone either way. While Sanchez won the night via split decision (29-28, 29-27, 28-29), Guida showed tremendous heart in the back-and-forth battle.
Widely considered the favorite in the fight, Sanchez came out to take an early lead, landing a tremendous right head kick that rocked Guida and helped "The Nightmare" control the action in the first round.
The consummate warrior, Guida returned to action in the second round, securing an early takedown and maintaining control of the fight for a significant portion of the round. Near the end of the round, as Guida hovered over Sanchez, blood started flowing, and it was unsure who it was from. Sanchez looked like a bloody War Machine. As the round came to a close, it became clear the cut was the Carpenter’s.
The final frame began with Guida bleeding clearly from the nose. He got the better of the early exchanges, but Sanchez quickly turned the tide, landing several counter strikes and controlling the remainder of the round.
At the end of the day, Sanchez secured the victory and very likely his place among the top of the UFC’s lightweight division, along with Gray Maynard and Frankie Edgar, who anxiously await the results of UFC 101, where reigning champion BJ Penn squares off against current number one contender Kenny Florian.
Also in the lightweight division, two UFC top 10 lightweights, Joe Stevenson and Nate Diaz, looked to get back on track from recent losses inside the Octagon. The story of the night was a determined Joe "Daddy" Stevenson, who battled back from three losses in his last four fights to out-point Diaz in route to a unanimous decision victory. Diaz — the TUF 5 champion who racked up five Octagon victories before dropping his last two — will now look to find his own place in the crowded 155-pound division.
Of course the purpose of the night was to honor the TUF 9 finalists from the United Kingdom and United States, namely U.K. lightweights Ross Pearson and Andre Winner, U.K. welterweight James Wilks and U.S. welterweight DeMarcus Johnson.
Johnson entered the event as the heavy favorite to win victory; however, Wilks quickly demonstrated why he was considered so dangerous on the ground and standing up, landing several combinations before rolling and eventually taking Johnson’s back and securing both hooks in. With fewer than eight second left, Johnson tapped, become the latest victim of Wilks’ underrated ground game, after slugger Frank Lester fell victim to it twice during the regular season.
In other TUF action, the lightweight finale resulted in another upset, as brawler Ross Pearson was able to out-weather favorite Andre Winner to secure the six-figure contract. The unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) was the result of a hard-fought matchup with both fighters trying to press the action to the cage. In the final frame, Pearson ended up showing more heart, trying for takedowns and landing the better of several exchanges on the feet.
Rounding out the televised portion of the card was a hard-hitting Chris Lytle against Kevin Burns. Always known for his standup wars, Lytle again delivered, while "The Fire" left nothing on the table other than pure heart. The final result was a well-received "Fight of the Night" honors for both fighters.
In fact, the UFC made a bit of personal history, awarding three separate fights with "Fight of the Night" honors, including Lytle vs. Burns, Sanchez vs. Guida and Stevenson vs. Diaz. In addition to $25,000 doled out to those six fighters, Tomasz Drwal earned "Knockout of the Night" honors over Mike Ciesnolevicz, while TUF 9 lightweight competitor Jason Dent secured "Submission of the Night" honors over fellow U.S. teammate Cameron Dollar.
All in all, it was a great night of fights, as the UFC looks to add a definitive top lightweight contender to its rankings in Diego Sanchez, along with several up-and-coming stars in TUF champions James Wilks and Ross Pearson.
So that's it from us -- what do you have to say about TUF 9 Finale? Sound off in the comments sections below. To check out complete TUF 9 Finale results can be found right here.