Fans of mixed martial arts were once again treated to an action-packed weekend chock full of fights thanks to three very different promotions putting on three very different events.
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) capped off its ninth season of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) with a thrilling Finale on Spike TV, Strikeforce showcased several up-and-comers in addition to well-traveled veterans with its latest "Challengers Series" on Showtime, and Bellator Fighting Championship (Bellator) concluded its 12-week inaugural season on ESPN Deportes by crowning two more champions.
In cased you missed it any or all of it -- or just want to keep the discussion alive -- we touched on the major storylines coming out of each show.
Let’s get to it. Feel free to also link to any event-related material in the comments section below ... it's wide open:
The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 9 Finale
TUF 9 Finale was supposed to be a night that focused on welcoming two more fighters to the TUF Hall of Champions; however, main event participants Diego Sanchez and Clay Guida flat out stole the show.
In fact, the lightweights might have stolen the "Fight of the Year" for the first half of 2009. It was an instant classic, which demonstrated the ever-improving skills of "The Nightmare" and the ridiculous chin, heart and desire of "The Carpenter."
Sanchez clearly got the better of the power shots when all was said and done, but Guida was able to hang in and score several big takedowns and control several points of the 15-minute brawl. In the end, Sanchez earned the split decision win, which was the subject of some controversy and sparked discussion about how fights should/should not be judged.
He takes home the win, regardless, and more than likely set himself up for a title shot later this year against the winner of BJ Penn vs. Kenny Florian at UFC 101: "Declaration" on Aug. 8. On the other hand, Guida intends to keep plugging away and has his sights set on landing a championship opportunity of his own in the near future.
Of course, the match between Sanchez and Guida earned "Fight of the Night" honors, but it wasn’t the only one. In an unprecedented move, the promotion also recognized the other televised bouts between Chris Lytle and Kevin Burns, as well as Joe Stevenson and Nate Diaz, as "Fight of the Night" worthy.
Sorry Ross and James. Get ‘em next time.
Get all of the round-by-round action as well as a complete list of winners here.
Strikeforce Challengers: "Villasenor vs. Cyborg"
What many fans see as the world's number-two mixed martial arts promotion also went on location with a mixture of recognizable names and a few fresh faces when Strikeforce Challengers stormed the ShoWare Center in Kent, Wa., on June 19 with "Villasenor vs. Cyborg."
In a night that promised fireworks in its main event, it was actually former UFC lightweight scrapper Jorge Gurgel who provided all the snap, crackle and pop in his three round war of attrition against gamer Conor Huen.
The former The Ultimate Figher (TUF) 2 contestant -- widely criticized for abandoning his jiu-jitsu game in favor of mediocre striking -- didn’t hear any complaints from the crowd at the ShoWare Center as he and "Hurricane" threw leather for the entire fight.
It was enough to get Gurgel the win and bring the crowd to its feet.
Unfortunately, the featured bout between Joe Villasenor and "Cyborg" Santos had some trouble living up to the ludicrous action between Gurgel and Huen, but it was a solid contest nonetheless.
After so much heat and a hands-on weigh in, most fans expected a fast-paced and violent opening round. Instead, things got off to a slow start, save for a last minute takedown by "Smokin" Joe to steal the first.
There was more of the same in round two and things really started to heat up in the final frame. By then it was too little, too late for Santos. Villasenor did just enough to squeak out the victory.
In other action, female powerhouse Sarah Kaufman rolled over Shayna Baszler on the judges scorecards and Army stud Tim Kennedy dishonorably discharged Nick Thompson from the win column.
Strikeforce continues to prove its mettle with a combination of smart matchmaking and formidable experience. The great news is that a deep roster exists within the San Jose-based promotion that will enable it to continue populating the larger events as well as the "Challengers" series.
All the results from last Friday's show can be unearthed here.
And last but not least, Bellator concluded its 12-week inaugural season on Friday, June 19, from the place where it all began at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida.
It was an exciting night of mixed martial arts action, which is typical when the promotion rolls into town. Just one fight went to a decision — Luis Palomino vs. Troy Gerhart — and it was really the lone dark mark on a very bright eight-fight card.
Stephanie Guimaraes set the tone with jaw-dropping knockout of Yvonne Reis less than one minute into start time, which once again provided the promotion with another YouTube.com highlight to add to its stellar collection.
Check out the bone-crunching knee bomb right here.
Fabio Mello and Sami Aziz battled back and forth for nearly three full rounds in what had to be the fight of the night. And two more champions, hard-hitting Eddie Alvarez – who was oddly three for three in the tournament with submissions -- and Hector Lombard, were crowned when all was said and done.
Alvarez pleaded with Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney to give him some time off to rest -- three fights in a 12-week span is a grueling accomplishment. Rebney approved his request almost immediately, but speculation has already surfaced that Alvarez has agreed to battle Gesias "JZ" Calvancante at Dream 11 in September.
That report, however, was quickly refuted by Alvarez honcho Monte Cox who said the Bellator champ is not competing at DREAM 11.
In the meantime, the next season for the promotion can’t come soon enough. And according to Rebney, the promotion plans to keep the train moving, which says a lot about the success of the ESPN-backed promotion.
However, expect a new wrinkle for the sophomore effort, including the new show participants battling for the opportunity to face the recently crowned champions. Sounds good to us.
It was a mighty weekend of mixed martial arts action and we still have "Ultimate Chaos" this Friday followed by UFC 100 just two weeks after that.
It's a good time to be a fight fan. Have at in the comments section, Maniacs. (Almost) anything goes ...