by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
Humility could be the most common theme among the three
fighters who made their way to "The Ultimate
Fighter" season eight finale post fight press
conference. As Ryan Bader,
Efrain Escudero and Phillipe Nover spoke to the media, all three took in stride
what just went down to crown two of them the new TUF champions and marked the
third as a rising star in the sport.
For Bader’s part, it was probably the first time in his
young career that he has been placed as an underdog, which he was going into
his match-up against Vinny Magalhaes. The former Arizona State wrestler still
knew his advantages and how his coaches prepared him going into the fight.
"I definitely thought I had the better stand-up,"
Bader said at the post-fight press conference. "I haven’t showed my stand-up game at all in any of my
fights. I came from wrestling. I
was thrown in there pretty quickly and I relied heavily on my wrestling. It takes some time and some ring experience
to get in there and feel comfortable while your throwing punches.
"We’ve been working at Arizona Combat Sports and the
Lally brothers have helped me a lot and just really improved my game for the
Where stand-up was the dominant factor in the finish between
Bader and Magalhaes, it was the ground and pound attack unleashed by Efrain
Escudero that got him to the lightweight title in The Ultimate Fighter Finale. The pre-fight hype had already pegged
his opponent, Phillipe Nover, as the next big thing, but it’s a good thing
Escudero had full confidence in his strategy heading into the bout.
"There was a lot of saying about him being the next
Anderson Silva and I wish him the best, but I knew that stepping in (Saturday
night) he wasn’t going to be the next Anderson Silva. I knew that it was going to be Phillipe Nover and me in the
cage, so I just strapped them on and went out there and did exactly what I had
to do," Escudero commented.
"When he threw that overhand right, you know, took him
down and after a while, I knew he was going to catch on to it. So I allowed him
to throw that knee and I would just catch that leg."
Facing the first loss of his career, Nover already
recognized the problems he had in the fight against Escudero and understands
the shortcomings that cost him the fight.
Regardless of the loss, it’s an attitude that understands misgivings
that will make him a great fighter in the future.
"We both had our gameplan. He knows that I had strong
hands and he didn’t want to trade punches, he wanted to shoot in. I did hook up
with the wrestling team and I’ve been working how to defend it, but I guess I
kind of over-committed my shots and strikes and he timed it," Nover
Now Bader and Escudero become the latest in the line of
Ultimate Fighter champions, while Nover will work just as hard to get back to
the Octagon and make his next opponent pay for the displeasure of facing him.