by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
In what ended up being one of the best night of fights that the UFC has produced on Spike TV, the winners of The Ultimate Fighter 3 were crowned, and another contender was put near the top of the list for a title shot in the UFC’s lightweight division.
When he was fighting at 185 pounds during the first season of The Ultimate Fighter, everybody knew that Kenny Florian was fighting out of his weight class, but he still managed to make it to the finals, where he lost to Diego Sanchez. After moving down to 170 pounds, Florian still looked impressive, but with his debut at 155 pounds in the main event of the TUF 3 finale on Spike TV, Kenny Florian demonstrated just how dominant he can be.
Kenny Florian took on Canadian stand-out Sam Stout in a battle of top contenders in the UFC’s newly reformed lightweight division. For the second bout in a row, Florian’s opponent said in the pre-fight interview something to the effect of, “He’s never going to be able to take me down, and I’m going to knock him out.”
As the fight began, Florian was quick to press the action and had Stout pressed against the cage. After an effective heel trip, Florian landed on top of Stout and began to work for position, while landing some good punches from inside Stout’s guard. With effective movement on his side, Florian gained the full mount. Stout eventually turned his back, prompting Florian to sink in his hooks and secure a rear naked choke. Despite a valiant effort, Stout had to tap out, which gave Kenny Florian the submission victory in a one-sided fight.
Ever since the fight between Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar on the season finale of TUF 1, the bar has been set very high for TUF finalists, and both of TUF 3′s final fights lived up to the hype.
Kendall Grove, who continued to train with Tito Ortiz and Team Punishment after TUF 3 finished filming in February, looked very impressive. Grove appears to have added a whole new skill-set while training for his middleweight finale fight with Team Quest member Ed Herman. In all three rounds of this nfight, Kendall went for submission after submission, and seemed to be able to bother Herman with his extreme length, coming in at 6’6″ tall. He used his height and his submission skills to lock on armbar attempts and triangle chokes multiple times throughout the fight.
Ed Herman, who was the favorite to win the fight against Grove, also looked impressive. The first round belonged to Herman, as he took Kendall to the ground and proceeded to dominate the round by pounding the Hawaiian fighter on the ground. In the latter stages of the fight, it looked as if Herman was getting very fatigued, but at no point did it appear that he came close to giving up. Herman was able to withstand many submission attempts from Grove, and even locked in a few of his own, including a triangle choke that many thought would end the fight.
After three very close rounds, all three judges scored the bout 29 to 28 in favor of Kendall Grove. It was such a close and exciting fight that Dana White again made the gesture of giving Ed Herman the “TUF 3 winner’s contract” to fight in the UFC as well. Both fighters should be extremely proud of their efforts.
In the light heavyweight finals of TUF 3, Michael “The Count” Bisping showed why he was one of the favorites going into the competition and why that tag was well deserved. Bisping looked much more crisp on his feet than Haynes, as he truly picked his shots, landed good jobs, and hurt Haynes every step of the way.
Haynes looked a bit like Ross Pointon did when he fought Bisping on the show, throwing haymaker after haymaker, looking for the knockout on every punch. At an early point of the fight, Bisping made the mental mistake of throwing a big knee to Josh’s head while Haynes had his knees on the mat. The illegal knee brought a stop to the action, and it looked for a minute like Haynes was out. However, after Haynes took a moment to recover and referee John McCarthy took a point away from Bisping for the foul, the fight continued and the rest of the first round played out with Bisping in control.
In the second round, it was all Michael Bisping. He unleashed a flurry of punches and even threw another knee strike, which seemed to buckle Haynes. Punch after punch landed on Josh’s already bloodied face, and all he could do was throw a few strikes back in an attempt to keep his opponent temporarily at bay. A couple more heavy shots, including another knee strike to the head, put Josh on the ground. Bisping attacked like a shark that smells blood, throwing a few more shots before McCarthy stepped in and called a stop to the action. Michael Bisping was dominant in the fight and is now the TUF 3 light heavyweight winner.
At the same time, Josh Haynes continued to battle through every second of the fight and deserves all the credit in the world. Even after eating an illegal knee, Haynes got back up and threw punch after punch, and was able to stave off Bisping’s attacks for much of the fight. In the post-fight interview, Haynes announced his intention to move down in weight, all the way to 170 pounds. If you think it sounds unlikely that Haynes could drop from 205 to 170 pounds, keep in mind that he weighed over 300 pounds in his first MMA fight.
The first bout on the live Spike TV broadcast was a battle between Greg Jackson student Keith Jardine and American Top Team member Wilson Gouveia. While Gouveia seemed to surprise Jardine with his superior stand-up in the first round, it looked like Gouveia just ran out of steam in the second and third rounds. Jardine’s leg was hobbled by repeated leg kicks from Gouveia, but Jardine was still able to land more punches and also came back with some good leg kicks of his own. All three judges scored the bout 29 to 28 in favor of Jardine, who got back on the winning track after a controversial split decision loss to Stephan Bonnar in his previous bout.
In the middle of the three-hour broadcast, Randy Couture was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame and was interviewed by Joe Rogan. At the end of the broadcast, there was a little bit of extra time due to the fact that the main event ended so quickly. The UFC chose to fill this time by airing the prelim fight between Matt Hamill and Jesse Forbes, which took place earlier in the evening. This was a one-sided fight that Hamill dominated with strikes from the clinch and on the ground. The fight ended in a referee stoppage/TKO victory for Hamill after a continuous stream of ground and pound that Forbes was unable to defend.
Overall, the show was absolutely top-notch. Every fighter truly looked like they were competing for a dream come true. While there were winners and losers, no one should hang their head because all of these fighters put on an impressive show and deserve to be brought back.
Main Card Results
-Keith Jardine def. Wilson Gouveia by unanimous decision
-Kendall Grove def. Ed Herman by unanimous decision
-Michael Bisping def. Josh Haynes by TKO (referee stoppage) at 4:14 of Round 2
-Kenny Forian def. Sam Stout by submission (rear naked choke) at 1:46 of Round 1