Jared Cannonier's (9-1) Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight debut was a successful at The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 24 Finale earlier tonight (Dec. 3, 2016) inside Palms Resort Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Cannonier, 32, defeated Ion Cutelaba (12-3 1NC) via unanimous decision, earning three 29-28 scores from the judges. Now on a two-fight win streak, the Anchorage, Alaska, native showcased excellent cardio and utilized some timely striking over the course of the three-round battle to earn his second UFC victory.
Cutelaba attacked earlier with big punches, but Cannonier did a good job of covering up in defense. The Moldovan continued to be aggressive, but Cannonier eventually pressed him up against the fence. However, Cutelaba soon countered with a throw to send Cannonier down to the canvas. Cutelaba maintained control for a bit before Cannonier swept him to get back up to his feet. Using double overhooks, Cutelaba showcased his grappling skills and scored a nice outside trip to take down "The Killa Gorilla" to the mat for a second time. Cannonier was able to make it back to his feet before the round ended.
In the second, Cannonier began to land early and Cutelaba began to bleed. The former Sambo champion took down Cannonier once more soon after. Once he got back to his feet, Cannonier landed several big punches on "The Hulk," who went in on a takedown and landed it, avoiding any further damaging punches. Cannonier made it back up to his feet and attempted a suplex, but Cutelaba was able to counter. However, in the ensuing scramble, the Alaskan ended up on top and landed several big punches during the final minute of the round.
In the final round, Cannonier began attacking with leg attacks and circling Cutelaba, who looked to be tiring. "The Hulk" landed another takedown, but could not hold Cannonier on the ground and the former Heavyweight made him pay with some more big punches. Cannonier remained on the attack as Cutelaba retreated and he continued to have success in the standup. With just over two minutes left, Cannonier landed two big punches, but Cutelaba showed his toughness, refused to go down, and tied up his opponent in hopes of another takedown. Cannonier continued to stalk -- this time with his hands down talking and asking Cutelaba to engage -- and landed a few more punches before the horn sounded.
It was an excellent win for Cannonier, who weathered the grappling storm of Cutelaba in the first round and took control in rounds two and three to get the win in his 205-pound debut. Cutelaba looked good early, then faded late, and should be back in the Octagon before too long.
For complete TUF 24 Finale results, including play-by-play updates, click here.