The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) wrapped up yet another season of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) reality show on Saturday night (April 13, 2013) as The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale went down from the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Former World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) champion and two-time UFC title challenger Urijah Faber earned his second victory inside the Octagon in the span of 49 days with a fourth-round submission over fellow bantamweight contender Scott Jorgensen in the main event of the evening in "Sin City."
In a sport like mixed martial arts (MMA), each bout can only have one winner and one loser. Earning a victory inside the world-famous Octagon is the highest of highs while suffering a defeat in front of millions of viewers can be the lowest of lows.
Every competitor who steps foot in the cage is looking for that moment of glory. Some capture it, others don't.
There were several shining stars on the The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale fight card as well as an equal amount of disappointments. With that said, it's time to name the biggest winner and biggest loser from the event in Las Vegas.
The Biggest Winner
Going into The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale, everyone knew what was at stake between Cat Zingano and Miesha Tate when they squared off in the second-ever female fight in the UFC.
Zingano simply wanted it more as she defeated Tate in impressive fashion to officially become the No. 1 contender in the women's bantamweight division.
On top of a UFC title shot that will come later this year, "Alpha" earned the opportunity to coach opposite current UFC women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey on The Ultimate Fighter season 18 in what will be the first-ever co-ed season of the long-running reality show.
It is going to be a historic season with a mixed cast of genders and the first-ever set of female coaches. The show is going to garner a tremendous amount of attention from fans and media and for a relatively unknown fighter like Zingano, it's the type of exposure that is going to take her career to the next level.
Casting for TUF 18 begins this month and the show will film over the summer, air in the fall and Zingano will challenge Rousey for the title at an event in the winter.
It's going to be a long wait until she gets her title shot, but after the win over Tate to kick off her UFC career it's guaranteed Zingano's life is going to be drastically change from hereon out.
Season 17 of TUF was arguably one of the most talent-rich editions of the reality show ever and Kelvin Gastelum proved to be the best of the best as he defeated Uriah Hall to earn the coveted six-figure UFC contract after a long and grueling middleweight tournament.
As one of the youngest fighters to ever compete on the show, Gastelum was an underdog from the outset, but that didn't stop him from running the gauntlet, as he defeated Bubba McDaniel, Collin Hart, Josh Samman and finally Hall to win the tournament crown.
The 21-year-old sacrificed time away from his friends, family and other loved ones to spend six-weeks locked away in the isolation of the TUF house purely for the chance to achieve his goal of becoming a legitimate UFC fighter. He accomplished that goal and did it in emphatic fashion.
With so many seasons of TUF going on these days it's rare to get the vibe that one of the guys could truly have a special future in the UFC. Gastelum gives off that vibe and his next fight will be one to keep an eye out for.
Travis Browne got back on track after his first career defeat to Antonio Silva last October with a devastating first-round knockout of Gabriel Gonzaga in the lone heavyweight bout on The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale fight card. Browne's knockout came in unique fashion as he connected with a series of elbows while "Napao" had him pressed against the cage looking for a takedown. Despite some of the shots appearing to connect on the back of Gonzaga's head, "Hapa" picked up a brilliant "Knockout of the Night" victory and showed strong character by rebounding from his first loss.
The Biggest Loser
It wasn't for a lack of trying, but Miesha Tate squandered a massive career by losing to Cat Zingano.
What was on the line when Tate and Zingano faced off doesn't need to be revisited, and despite giving it her all and taking a hellacious beating, "Cupcake" will not be the one coaching on the historic TUF 18 opposite her rival Ronda Rousey and moreover, will not be fighting for a UFC title anytime soon.
At just 26 years of age, Tate missing out on the title fight isn't the worst thing in the world as she has plenty of time to build herself back up to the top of the weight class. It's the once-in-a-lifetime popularity and financial gains Tate would have received from coaching TUF that hurt most.
Whether or not she agrees with the stoppage, it's time for Tate to go back to the drawing board, as they say.
"Uriah Hall is a top-10 middleweight," "Uriah Hall should fight Anderson Silva," "Uriah Hall is the greatest fighter ever." Those were the worlds of MMA fans leading up to The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale.
Unfortunately, when the bright lights of the UFC shined down on him, the most hyped fighter to ever come out of TUF could not deliver the goods and was outpointed to a split decision by heavy underdog Kelvin Gastelum in the TUF 17 middleweight finals.
By no means did Hall put in a horrific performance, but from the talk of the MMA community he should have obliterated Gastelum within one round. The fight did not go that way, though, as Gastelum used his wrestling and improved stand-up abilities to control Hall for a majority of the fight.
The 29-year-old still has a future in the UFC; however, the defeat was a significant set back for Hall's standing in the organization and his performance in the high-pressure bout proved he still has a lot of work to do and the expectations coming into the fight were over the top.
Scott Jorgensen had his moments against Urijah Faber in the TUF 17 Finale headliner, but once again "Young Guns" squandered a major opportunity in a fight that could have taken his career to the next level. Jorgensen put in a commendable performance against the No. 2 ranked bantamweight on the planet; ultimately, though, he couldn't get the job done and suffered his third defeat in his past four fights.
Who were your biggest winner and loser from The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale? Let us know in the comments in the comment section below.