The main card of today's (Sat., Mar. 1, 2014) The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) China Finale from the CoatiArena in Macau kicked off with a featherweight battle pitting the wildly disappointing Hatsu Hioki could have should have been top contender Ivan Menjivar.
It wasn't pretty.
It was grimy, really, and that's not a bad thing, not for Hioki at least. He was able to work his strong grappling game to stifle Menjivar's offense for the first two rounds, throwing submissions along the way. He couldn't get the finish but after winning the first two rounds, he didn't need it.
He just needed to avoid getting finished himself in the third.
That's exactly what he did, fending off late submission attempts to earn a unanimous decision on scores of 29-28 across the board.
There was no need for the judges in the next bout, a heavyweight slugfest between struggling artist Matt Mitrione and the always entertaining Shawn Jordan. The UFC booked this knowing they would throw heavy hands and one of the two would fall down.
After a somewhat tentative opening frame, Mitrione landed hard and turned the heat up in the final minute. He hurt Jordan badly but briefly eased off the gas with 10 seconds left until the horn. That gave some hope that "The Savage" would last to the second.
"Meathead" moved in for the kill and got just that by unloading a barrage of punches until Jordan dropped and the referee stepped in with just one second left in the round.
Capping off the main card action was the TUF China welterweight final showdown to crown the next TUF guy: Wang Sai vs. Zhang Liepang.
Well congratulations, Liepang.
The fight started nice and slow (not so nice for the Macau audience who showered them with boos) with neither fighter all that willing to engage. Patience is one thing, but the crowd was not enamored with this inactivity.
Then, Liepang snagged a takedown and took Sai's back, locking in a rear-naked choke that appeared to come dangerously close to stopping the bout. Sai, somehow, battled back and popped his head out, landing on top and scoring some offense from there.
The second round played out largely the same. Heavy grappling with Sai having to fend off submission attempts and ending up on top working from there after doing so. The story remained the same in the third.
The judges were called on to decide it and they did so with the following scores: 29-28, 27-30, and 29-28.
For complete TUF China Finale results and blow-by-blow coverage of all the night's action click here.