An opportunity to crown the next Ultimate Fighter occurred last night (June 1, 2012) as Washington grappler Michael Chiesa took on Ring of Combat veteran Al Iaquinta in the co-main event of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) Live Finale in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Chiesa was a true comeback story this season, overcoming the odds and paying off against the favorite on two prior occasions. He knew exactly what he had to do to win and he pulled the trigger one last time.
Al Iaquinta was Urijah Faber's number one pick and was expected to pull out the win last night.
So how was Chiesa able to dominate instead? And what happens next for both young men?
The fight always starts standing, and this was where Iaquinta was expected to hold a tremendous edge, but Chiesa held his own against his foe in the stand-up department, throwing some short leg kicks and then even mixing in some punches on the feet.
It was one of Chiesa's kicks that set up the finishing sequence, and it didn't happen the way you'd expect. Iaquinta caught a kick from Chiesa and pressed forward, wining a huge haymaker and nearly knocking himself off his feet in the process.
Chiesa immediately pounced on his opponent's lack of positional awareness, attempting a takedown before transitioning to a back body lock on the feet. From there, he dragged Iaquinta to the ground and it was time to start the cars.
With both hooks firmly in place, Iaquinta began to despair as Chiesa was hunting big time for the rear naked choke. Eventually, he snuck his hands through perfectly and Iaquinta was too proud to tap, instead choosing to go unconscious as Chiesa was crowned the next "Ultimate Fighter."
For Al Iaquinta, it was one mistake that cost him the fight and that was diving too aggressively with a big power strike. He left himself completely exposed with that strike attempt and Chiesa took full advantage so more props to him. I think a lot of this can be attributed to simply being a bit outworked on the ground as well as the fact that the poor New York native had to battle three times in three weeks to be here and it showed.
For Michael Chiesa, this was one of the more improbable runs in the show's history. He took out an extremely game Justin Lawrence in the quarterfinals and also beat the favored James Vick to advance to the finals. In the finale last night, his striking looked the best it had ever been and his big kicks were a perfect set-up for Iaquinta to catch one and give Chiesa an opportunity to take him down and finish the fight. Once on the ground, he continued to show tremendous killer instinct.
So what did you think, Maniacs?
Were you surprised with the ease of Chiesa's victory once the fight went to the ground. Did you expect Chiesa to continue the run he's been on based on his story with his father? Can he be a player someday in the 155 pound division?