Kelvin Gastelum, fresh off winning a $25,000 bonus for "Submission of the Season," challenged Uriah Hall, himself fresh off winning a $25,000 bonus for "Knockout of the Season," at tonight's (Sat., April 13, 2013) The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 17 Finale at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. All that was on the line was the $100,000 contract with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), a glass trophy, and the right to become the next Ultimate Fighter.
No big deal.
Hall was favored all throughout the season for his superior, well, everything. Gastelum, meanwhile, came in as the underdog, a role he got used to while in the house and fighting his way to the final.
Hall spent a lot of the first round doing his best Anderson Silva impression, keeping his hands low and allowing himself to be pushed back against the fence while refusing to throw punches. He even offered little resistance when Gastelum shot in for a takedown with two minutes left in the opening frame.
It was bizarre.
Once he got back to his feet, Hall finally started unleashing his trademark offense, firing off a few powerful kicks. He surprised with a late takedown, but that may have been a lame attempt at evening up the scoring.
He wasted no time putting in work in the second but Gastelum countered with another takedown, forcing Hall to work off his back. Boring? Sure, but it was an effective strategy for a fighter who wasn't given much of a chance in the biggest bout of his life.
That is until Hall reversed position, got back to his feet, and got a takedown of his own. They battled back-and-forth from there, but Uriah put an exclamation point on his work for the round by hitting a big suplex before the horn sounded.
An errant knee to the jewels kicked off the final frame. Once they restarted, they traded takedowns but it was Hall who came harder, nearly finishing the fight with some vicious ground-n-pound. Gastelum, as he's done so often before, somehow survived the assault and went back to battling for the upset.
He landed a takedown with roughly one minute left in the round. It didn't matter. Both guys were firing hard shots, either from top or bottom position. They scrambled and fought and scratched and clawed all the way to the horn.
And it was Gastelum who came away with the split decision victory and all the accolades that come with winning TUF.
Which isn't to say much, really.
For complete results and blow-by-blow coverage of the entire TUF 17 Finale fight card click here.