(photo taken from ufc.com)
The Ultimate Fighter 8 Finale has come to a conclusion as Efrain "Hecho en Mexico" Escudero and Ryan "Darth" Bader defeat their opponents to become the new ultimate fighter champions. Both fighters moved on to receive their trophy and a six-figure contract with the UFC.
Team Nogueira roommates Escudero (11-0) and Phillipe Nover (5-1-1) battled it out both toe to toe and on the mat, but in the end it was Escudero who dominated the rounds as he acquired the unanimous decision victory. Escudero quickly started winning the first two rounds with his impressive wrestling skills. He scored most of his points with numerous takedowns along with ground and pound. With the recent black belt Nover acquired in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, the young Filipino simply had difficulty attacking on the ground as he planned on doing as part of his gameplan. It was in the third round where Nover began to apply his strategy upon the young Mexican-American. Nover had a couple of submission attempts including a very close omoplata that he wasn’t able to secure toward the final seconds of the last round. Following Escudero’s win, he talked about winning the TUF 8 Finale and dedicated the victory to his father that recently passed away:
"It was a great advantage, but Phillipe knew my strengths and
weaknesses, so it just made me a better fighter by going into the gym and working harder because he knew what I had…I had
to be superior at those levels…I dedicate this to my father that passed away before I left before the show…To everybody who lost someone special, do the best for them. … Do right by them."
The battle of the light heavyweights was completed as well. Ryan "Darth" Bader became the Ultimate Fighter 8 Finale winner when he defeated Vinicius "Vinny" Magalhaes via TKO-strikes at 2:18 in the first round. Vinny, the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu expert, wasn’t able to apply his ground work upon the hard-hitting Bader. Instead, Bader controlled the fight by keeping the fight on their feet. Two minutes and 18 seconds later, Bader crushed Magalhaes with a looping right hook that partially landed on the left side of his skull. The hit was so hard that it dazed Magalhaes and sent him straight to the mat. The 23-year old Magalhaes couldn’t quickly recuperate and Bader continued to rain bombs until the referee came in to stop the fight. Here’s a snip from Bader immediately after the fight:
"My right hand is pretty powerful…I’ve just been working on my boxing. I’m not just a wrestler, and I hope people see that…Vinny’s a stud on the ground, and you guys saw that (TUF 8 season)…Props to him, but yeah, I kept it on my feet. I’ve been working on my
boxing at Arizona Combat Sports with the Lally brothers, and it paid off a lot."
After a disappointing ending between Kevin Burns and Anthony "Rumble" Johnson at UFC Fight Night 14, both fighters agreed to a rematch. During the third round of the UFN 14 bout, Burns accidentally poked Johnson in the eye. Unfortunately, referee Steve Mazzagatti did not catch the accidental eye-poke and the fight continued. Seconds later, Johnson could not proceed any further and Burns was awarded the victory.
Five months later, they met again at the Ultimate Fighter 8 Finale. The rematch bout was action-packed as both fighters came in fighting strong in the first round. Although Burns was thrown to the mat by the very powerful Johnson on several occasions, Burns was able to dominate at times off of his back. In fact, Burns nearly acquired a triangle choke but Johnson was able to escape the attempted submission.
In the second round, Johnson continued to gain some more points as he dominated it with ground and pound fashion. Burns kept trying to slip in submissions, but Johnson was able to sneak out of the attempts and went on to throw some more punches and elbows at full-guard position.
In the third round, Johnson stopped the fight for good as he blasted Burns in the face with a beautiful left leg kick. Johnson attained his rematch victory and this time no eye-poking was involved. Prior to the fight, Johnson had stated that he was training with Strikeforce middleweight champion Cung Le. Le is popular for his stand-up skills that consists primarily of kicks due to his San-Shao fighting style. Here’s what Johnson had to say about the win he acquired using his perfectly-timed leg kick:
"I just really started working on my kicks two months ago…It just happened. I decided to throw it, and it connected."
Here are the rest of the TUF 8 Finale results:
- Efrain "Hecho en Mexico" Escudero defeated Phillipe "The Filipino Assassin" Nover via a unanimous decision
- Ryan "Darth" Bader defeated Vinicius "Vinny" Magalhaes via TKO-strikes at 2:18 in the 1st round
- Anthony "Rumble" Johnson defeated Kevin Burns via Knock Out at 0:28 in the 3rd round
- Wilson Gouveia defeated Jason "The Athlete" MacDonald via strike-submission at 2:18 in the 1st round
- Junie "The Lunatic" Browning defeated Dave "Diamond" Kaplan via an armbar submission at 1:32 in the 2nd round
Preliminary Fight Card:
- Krzysztof "The Polish Experiment" Soszynski defeated Shane Primm via a kimura submission at 3:27 in the 2nd round
- Eliot "The Fire" Marshall defeated Jules "Cotton Mouth from the South" Bruchez via a rear-naked choke submission at 1:27 in the 1st round
- Tom "Filthy" Lawlor defeated Kyle "Kingsbu" Kingsbury via a unanimous decision
- Shane Nelson defeated George Roop via a split decision
- Rolando "Roli" Delgado defeated John "Buckets of Blood" Polakowski via a guillotine choke submission at 2:18 in the 2nd round