With fascinating match ups filling the card from top to bottom, the event was viewed as the best TUF Finale the organization has ever put together. And it sure delivered, as nine of the 11 bouts on the card ended before the judges could have their say.
Roy Nelson took out Matt Mitrione in the main event of the evening while the undercard saw Colton Smith upset Mike Ricci to win The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 16 welterweight crown. On top of Nelson and Smith's victories, several undercard fighters picked up stock-raising victories at the event.
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 chasing that moment of glory. Some capture it, others don't.
There were several shining stars on The Ultimate Fighter 16 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 of the night was Rustam Khabilov, who made one of the most impressive UFC debuts of any fighter in quite some time with his complete ragdolling of Vinc Pichel that was capped off by a rare slam knockout.
The 26-year-old was dominant in a way that may change Pichel's psyche forever. From the opening bell it was a series of violent slams by Khabilov, and Pichel had no answer other than absorb the damage as best he could.
After crushing Pichel with back-to-back slams, the third time was a charm for Khabilov as he effortlessly lifted Pichel over his head and face first into the mat. Pichel appeared to be out cold from the suplex, but that didn't stop Khabilov from landing a few more vicious blows for good measure.
While he will surely be the recipient of one of the UFC's infamous "locker room bonuses," Khabilov was utterly robbed by Pat Barry for "Knockout of the Night."
If the UFC can't give the young Russian the post-fight bonus for his memorable effort, the least we can do is name him biggest winner of the night.
Speaking of Barry - boy, oh, boy did "HD" ever land a powerful right hook to the jaw of Shane Del Rosario. Aside from the incredible knockout finish, Barry's grappling defense was the biggest takeaway from the fight. Del Rosario put him in a number of dangerous positions where a less experienced Barry would have folded. Great performance by one of the UFC's most likely characters.
A tip of the hat must got to Roy Nelson, who proved once again standing with his him is an unwise idea with a knockout of Matt Mitrione. While Nelson winning via a right hand to the chin was a predictable outcome, he managed to take out a game opponent in Mitrione and now has back-to-back wins for just the second time in his UFC career.
Dustin Poirier rebounded from a heartbreaking loss to "The Korean Zombie" Chan Sung Jung with a decisive victory over the always-tough Jonathan Brookins. "The Diamond" displayed a well-rounded arsenal of striking and grappling, ending the fight with a tight D'Arce choke with less than a minute left in the first round.
Many wondered how Poirier would come back after his one-sided loss to Jung, and his performance showed that fight was only a bump in the road on the way to bigger things.
After suffered two defeats in his first three UFC appearances, Pyle has won six of seven fights, including first-round (T)KO's in his last three. The lone loss in that span comes to welterweight wrecking-machine Rory MacDonald, which is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.
What makes Pyle's run all the more spectacular is the fact he is 37 years old. "Quicksand" is certainly deserving of a top-10 opponent after his performance last night.
TJ Waldburger spoiled Nick Catone's UFC welterweight debut with a sweet second-round triangle choke victory on the "Prelims" portion of the card. It's not often you see a fighter choked completely unconscious with a triangle, but Waldburger did just did that, leaving Catone snoring face-first on the mat.
The biggest loser of the night was Mike Ricci. The Canadian had a lot of hype around him coming off his stint on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 16, and unfortunately, his lackluster showing against Colton Smith in the tournament finals did not live up to expectations.
After an impressive run on TUF, Ricci could not clear the final hurdle and win the six-figure contract with the UFC. Smith was a roadblock Ricci could not find his way around and he was utterly dominated for all 15-minutes of the biggest fight of his life, offering essentially nothing in terms of offense.
Ricci was pegged as the next big thing to come out of the Tristar gym alongside Georges St. Pierre and Rory MacDonald, but his loss tonight proved he has a long, long way to go before being mentioned in the same sentence as such prominent names.
Shane Del Rosario also falls into the loser category for his knockout loss to Pat Barry. Del Rosario had Barry on the ropes, inches away from securing several submissions in the first round, but never able to finish. Del Rosario was exhausted when the bell rang for the second round and from then on, Barry's victory was inevitable. The loss drops Del Rosario to 0-2 in the UFC and if given another shot, he needs to show up in the best shape possible.
Jonathan Brookins suffered his third defeat in his last four fights and found himself on the wrong end of a Dustin Poirier submission in their featherweight bout. Brookins displayed improved offensive striking at moments in the fight, but in the same story as many of his losses, poor defensive tactics cost him. Brookins needs to win a fight soon or he could be the latest TUF winner to find himself on the chopping block.
Jamie Varner and Melvin Guillard were both losers tonight after their fight was scrapped just hours before it was scheduled to take place. Doctors pulled Varner from the lightweight contest after "The Worm" was reportedly suffering from the stomach flu. On the bright side, both men received their "show" money from the UFC and UFC President Dana White announced the match up has been rebooked for UFC 155 later this month.
Reuben Duran, Vinc Pichel, Marcos Vinicius Borges Pancini, James Head, Shane Del Rosario an Matt Mitrione were on the losing end of tonight's fights in a big way. All six men were on the receiving end of highlight reel knockouts that won't be easy to rebound from. Back to the drawing board after a rough night.
Who was your biggest winner and loser from The Ultimate Fighter 16 Finale? Let us know in the comments section below.