by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
LAS VEGAS – More than 5 years have passed since Jens Pulver shocked the world by defeating the heavily favored and highly regarded BJ Penn in their UFC lightweight title fight. Since that time both fighters left the UFC, both fought overseas, and both returned to the UFC to coach on season five of The Ultimate Fighter. The rivalry grew during the season and finally came to a culmination on Saturday night during the finale show
As the bout began, Penn took the fight to Pulver as he landed a big punch early on and then took the fight to the ground. Penn worked and passed Pulver’s guard and after gaining the mount went for an armbar. It looked like the fight was finished, but Pulver battled out and rolled over into Penn’s guard but was caught again, this time by a triangle choke.
Again, Pulver battled out and worked some ground and pound, but Penn got loose and the fight stood back up. Once on the feet, Pulver tried to work some dirty boxing as Penn defended well and the round ended.
The second round began with Penn again taking Pulver down and passing his guard. Once in the mount, Penn showed his dominant ground skill, forcing Jens to roll to avoid the shots. The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt flattened his opponent out and proceeded to reign down heavy punches. Pulver tried to maintain, but he eventually succumbed to the pressure and got caught in a rear naked choke forcing the tap out.
BJ Penn gets his redemption as he submitted Jens Pulver in the second round of their rematch.
After the fight, it looked like the grudge had finally been settled and Jens announced his official move to 145 lbs., assuming the approval of UFC President Dana White, and a likely future in the WEC while it seems BJ may move back to 170 lbs. to try to reclaim a title and losses to Matt Hughes and Georges St. Pierre.
Team Pulver teammates Nate Diaz and Manny Gamburyan squared off in The Ultimate Fighter Finale for the guaranteed UFC contract and both were determined. Manny got the early takedown and while Diaz tried furiously to lock on any submission he could try for, it was the Armenian born Gamburyan who worked a good ground and pound attack, landing a barrage of strikes from within Diaz’s guard. Diaz never seemed hurt but much like all of the opponents he faced on the Ultimate Fighter show, Manny’s strength seemed to be too much and he controlled the fight as the first round ended.
The second round started with Manny again shooting in for a takedown, but he almost instantly was tapping out. Gamburyan rolled over in obvious pain and afterwards revealed that he separated his shoulder, while Nate Diaz celebrated the biggest fight of his young career. Gamburyan was visibly upset at the loss as Nate Diaz got his trophy from UFC President Dana White crowning him The Ultimate Fighter season five winner.
During his post fight comments, Nate made multiple mentions about his brother Nick who was not allowed to corner him due to a suspension that Nick is still currently serving. The suspension stems from a positive drug test that resulted in a six-month suspension for the elder Diaz brother.
Thales Leites showed again why he has a very bright future ahead of him by submitting Greg Jackson student, Floyd Sword in the first round. Ever since a shaky start in the Octagon with a loss to Dutch hitman, Martin Kampmann, Thales Leites came out and dominated his next two opponents.
Leites showed tremendous Brazilian Jiu Jitsu skill controlling Sword at every turn on the ground and after gaining mount, it was Sword who turned and gave up his back. Leites moved Sword exactly where wanted him and after Sword rolled again, Leites locked on a head and arm triangle choke forcing the submission. Leites is just another example of an ever-growing middleweight division in the UFC.
Roger Huerta, coming off the media coverage from making the cover of Sports Illustrated recently, came into The Ultimate Fighter Finale against relative unknown fighter, Doug Evans out of Alaska.
Huerta struggled mightily in the first session getting caught with punches on the feet from Evans. After the fight made it to the ground, it was Evans who took his back and worked for a body triangle while trying to apply a rear naked choke. Huerta persevered, but looked overwhelmed in the first round.
Huerta came out like a totally different fighter in round two, as he swung immediately, pushing the fight and taking it to Evans. After a move to the ground, it was Huerta who got to mount position and then unleashed punches from everywhere to which Evans could not defend and the referee stopped the fight.
Roger Huerta remains undefeated in the UFC and will wait for his next match-up in the lightweight division, arguably the most stacked division in the sport.
Due to the length of many of the main card bouts, fans watching at home were treated to a great many of the undercard fights that took place prior to the telecast. Joe Lauzon dominated a weight challenged Brandon Melendez en route to a triangle choke submission in the second round. Cole Miller high kicked Andy Wang to the head in the first round of their match-up and then followed up with ground and pound that stopped the fight, giving Miller the win.
In the most controversial fight in the UFC in some time, Gray Maynard and Rob Emerson fought to a no contest in a very strange ending that saw both men finished in one way or another. Emerson, who was fighting a rib injury, tapped out when he was taken down early in the second round, but Gray Maynard slammed his own head into the canvas in the process of getting the takedown and was rendered unconscious. Maynard argued afterwards that he was never out, but the replay showed over and over again that he was obviously wobbled and couldn’t get up on his own power after the fight was finished.
Emerson clearly tapped, but the Nevada State Athletic Commission instructed referee Steve Mazzagatti to call it a no contest instead.
In untelevised action, Leonard Garcia made a successful return to the UFC after putting on a possible fight of the year with top contender Roger Huerta at UFC 69. Garcia submitted The Ultimate Fighter season five competitor Allen “Monstah” Berube via rear naked choke in round one. Also on the card, Matt Wiman finished off former housemate Brian Geraghty by TKO due to strikes on the ground in the first session.
The Ultimate Fighter season five may go down as one of the best seasons ever, but unfortunately the final between Diaz and Gamburyan didn’t live up to the hype due to the injury that forced Manny out of the bout early in the second round. BJ Penn proved his dominance by dispatching of Jens Pulver and Roger Huerta almost became the latest upset victim before getting it together and putting away Alaskan Doug Evans.
MMAWeekly’s Fighter of the Night award goes to BJ Penn, who showed tremendous skill and heart in defeating Jens Pulver. Fight of the Night goes to Huerta and Evans who had the most compelling bout of the evening.