Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) officially brought season 15 of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) to an end tonight (Fri., June 1, 2012) at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada, with a fight card full of the show's participants.
That included early favorite Justin Lawrence taking on the unheralded John Cofer in a lightweight battle to kick off the main card of the evening. Lawrence entered the night as the biggest favorite on the card but he was favored big in his last TUF house fight too, which he lost.
Lawrence's big claim to fame is his flashy style, complete with spinning kicks and wild, frenetic pace. We saw that tonight, too, but he struggled early. No matter, because in round three he slapped a vicious head kick straight on Cofer's jaw that put him to sleep immediately.
Welcome to the UFC.
Lawrence came in with his flashy style early and immediately got taken down on a spinning back kick. He recovered nicely, though, and ended up on top raining down blows.
This time, unlike in the house, he played smart and got back to his feet.
It didn't do him a lot of good here, as Cofer landed a hard left hand that staggered Lawrence back. Again, though, Justin recovered and stayed right in the pocket exchanging punches. The fairly fast paced first round came to a close with Cofer's left hand proving problematic for Lawrence and his unorthodox style.
As they settled in to the second round, Cofer looked for a takedown or two early but Lawrence was well prepared. In fact, his game plan seemed to center around stopping those shots and staying on his feet, where he would have the advantage.
Cofer was having a great deal of trouble penetrating his opponent's defense, too, failing to get in close to clinch. He stayed with it, though, going punch for punch with Lawrence. Actually, with one minute to go, UFC showed stats saying Cofer had landed more strikes.
Then Cofer finally got the big takedown he was looking for. He went for Lawrence's back and slammed him to the mat. But when he went to put his hooks in and work for the choke, he was too high and Justin escaped out the back side.
Lawrence ended up on top to close the round.
The final frame didn't last long. Lawrence came out aggressive and after feinting a bit and pushing with a combination, he got Cofer to back out and put his hands down. With precision and incredible timing, he launched a head kick that hit right on the button for a clean knockout.
Good night, "Sin City," hello, contract.
Remember, too, to check out MMAmania.com's complete ongoing coverage of the TUF 15 Finale by clicking here.