In like a lion, out like a lamb.
If the ageless battle between Forrest Griffin vs. Stephan Bonnar on the inaugural season of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) was the gold standard for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) mixed martial arts (MMA) reality series on Spike TV, then its final nondescript, sloppy main event on the network between Michael Bisping vs. Jason Miller last night (Dec. 3, 2011) ranks significantly lower on the all-time memorable fights list.
In fact, the clash between the middleweight coaches at TUF 14 Finale at The Palms in Las Vegas, Nevada, which was scheduled for five rounds, was a straight up let down. And it's all because "Mayhem" came prepared to fight for five minutes or less.
Miller started off well, taking down "The Count" in the first round and looking to impose his will on the ground, where his biggest winning advantage existed, even though Bisping has never been submitted in his 24-fight professional career. However, that was the lone bright spot for the "Bully Beatdown" host, who completely ran out of gas the moment Bisping rose to his feet.
From the point forward, Bisping was able to stuff Miller's repeated takedown attempts and punish him for his efforts, all the while easily avoiding the telegraphed, wild looping strikes from his spent counterpart. Miller began to quickly show the effects of Bisping's accuracy, bleeding from his eye and developing a nice mouse underneath it.
As the third round began, it seemed as though Bisping was just getting going, while Miller appeared to require a respirator. He could barely keep his hands up, much less mount any sort of effective offensive attack. Bisping capitalized, nailing him with combinations, while Miller literally just ate them with a shit-eaten grin on his face.
Fortunately, the referee finally saw (not) enough from Miller and waived off Bisping in the third round when his hapless, "hit me with everything you got because I can't get up turtle position" just wasn't meeting the definition of intelligent defense.
In the post-fight press conference, UFC President Dana White called it "one of the most lopsided fights he'd ever seen" and simply "didn't know" if Miller would be invited back to compete inside the Octagon in the future. Meanwhile, Bisping continues to roll, registering his fourth consecutive win and falling right in line behind the winner of Chael Sonnen vs. Mark Munoz in the number one 185-pound division contender picture.
Is 2012 finally the year Bisping gets the title shot he's been yapping about all these years?
The good news is that there were several other fights featured on the main card, including the finals of the 135- and 145-pound elimination tournament bouts that took place on the show. And both bouts captured the spirit of Bonnar-Griffin 1, leaving us with just a little bit of nostalgia before the promotion takes its TUF show on the road next year and beyond on FOX-run networks.
Brazilian firebrand Diego Brandao, who smashed through the competition like a bull in a china shop to punch his ticket to the Finale, collided with Dennis Bermudez. He promised to come out crazy and leave everything he had inside the Octagon, which was an awesome strategy from a fan's perspective, but one that nearly cost him dearly.
Bermudez met him in the center of the cage, refusing to be bulled and let Brandao set the furious pace. He latched onto a standing guillotine choke alongside the fence early in the fight that, in hindsight, was its most placid moment. Shortly after the break, all hell broke loose with both fighters exchanging and scrambling at a dizzying clip.
Brandao at this point was clearly the agressor, but it was Bermudez who was landing the better shots. In fact, on two occasions, Bermudez dropped the Greg Jackson-trained fighter, but as promised, he simply would not be denied the opportunity of a lifetime.
After getting dropped with a short right, Brandao went into survival mode as Bermudez swarmed for a potential finish. In the chaotic scramble, Brandao isolated the left arm of Bermudez, rolled and locked in an arm-snapping (literally), fight-ending armbar.
It was fast. It was furious. It was ferocious.
In the 135-pound final, T.J. Dillashaw vowed to shut up the outspoken John Dodson. The soft-spoken (by comparison) Team Alpha Male-trained fighter planned to use his superior wrestling and ground-and-pound to nullify Dodson's unpredictable striking game.
"The Magician" pulled a few tricks out of his hat, including a big left hand that landed early. However, it was another, much bigger left hand that would ultimately do-in Dillashaw. Dodson connected with a looping forearm to the face, which dropped Dillashaw to the floor 90 seconds into the match.
It was ALL OVER seconds later.
Dodson followed up with a brutal barrage of strikes that appeared to have Dillashaw dazed. He was clearly in trouble, and with Dodson pouring it on thick, the referee moved in before things got ugly. Dillashaw seemed disappointed with the stoppage, while Dodson (back) flipped out, literally, from pillar to post across the cage in celebration.
Great finish -- Dodson talked the talk and walked the walk.
TUF 13 winner Anthony Ferguson vs. Yves Edwards was another lightweight scrap between one of the most up-and-coming prospects in the division, "El Cucuy," and one of the sport's most experienced veterans, "Thugjitsu Master." It was a very close fight, one in which both fighters had their share of success, but in the end the judges sided with Ferguson (read the FightMetric report here).
Ferguson had Edwards hurt on several occasions early in the fight, however, he was able to weather the storm and find a home for his head kick, as well as his array of dynamic strikes, in response. Ferguson's tough chin appeared to be the difference maker, absorbing shots and not even flinching.
That's now two consecutive wins for Ferguson over fighters with more than 100 wins combined between them (Aaron Riley is the other), which is quite the accomplishment for a TUF guy who has just 15 pro fights thus far on his resume.
That's enough from us -- now it's your turn to discuss TUF 14 Finale in the comments section below. Sound off, Maniacs. Let's hear what you have to say.
For complete TUF 14 Finale results and detailed blow-by-blow commentary of the televised main card fights click here.