by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
The fourth season of The Ultimate Fighter came to a close on Saturday night and two more TUF winners were crowned, but this time around the winners are guaranteed a title shot, putting more up for grabs than ever before.
When all was said and done, it was Travis Lutter and Matt Serra who emerged with guaranteed title shots at the UFC Middleweight Title and UFC Welterweight Title, respectively.
In the highly anticipated welterweight finale, Chris “Lights Out” Lytle took on Matt “The Terror” Serra in one of the most even match-ups to ever take place in the UFC. It was this similar style and skill level that unfortunately led to a very unexciting main event.
Lytle was pressed against the cage for the majority of the bout, defending against Serra’s takedowns, but he was never put into any real danger. The Indianapolis native did manage a solid takedown in the first that put Serra on his back, but once again, no real action developed. Much of the fight was spent in the clinch with both fighters trying to gain the upper hand and Serra landing a lot of foot stomps. Serra landed a nice spinning back fist as well as a takedown late in the fight, but Lytle’s defense was undeniable and he negated any offense from the Renzo Gracie black belt.
After three lackluster rounds in a very close fight, it was Matt Serra who won a split decision, giving him a fight against the winner of the upcoming Matt Hughes/Georges St. Pierre fight and the title of Ultimate Fighter Season Four Champion. Serra had a few harsh words for UFC Welterweight Champion Matt Hughes after the fight.
The middleweight final was much quicker and was extremely decisive. Just as everyone expected, Travis Lutter, the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, moved in quickly on his opponent, Patrick Cote, and went for a takedown. Lutter put Cote on the canvas fairly quickly, and it didn’t take long for Lutter to pass guard and eventually take Cote’s back, putting the Canadian in a world of trouble. Transitioning from a rear naked choke to an armbar, Lutter’s superior ground skill showed in the fight, and Cote had no choice but to tap out with his arm fully extended and Lutter pulling with all his strength.
Travis Lutter looked very impressive in victory and will now go on to face UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva in a title fight, tentatively set for February. The ground specialist will once again hope his game is turned all the way up, and it will have to be when he takes on arguably the best pound-for-pound striker in the world, Anderson Silva.
Moving down in weight from welterweight to lightweight , Rich “No Love” Clementi and Din Thomas put on an action packed fight, as the 155-pound fighters usually seem to do. The fight remained standing for a big part of the first round with Clementi throwing heavy shots but Thomas was the definitively better striker, landing the crisper punches throughout.
In the 2nd round, the action was moving at a feverish pace and Thomas was able to truly display how much his stand-up game has advanced when he picked Clementi apart. After a few heavy shots, Thomas moved to take Clementi’s back, where he secured a rear naked choke, forcing the submission and getting the win. Din Thomas is just another very dangerous opponent in an already stacked UFC lightweight division, but he made no bones about who he wants next when he called out UFC Lightweight Champion Sean Sherk, saying that Sherk had his title.
In the opening bout on the live TV card, Massachusetts native Jorge Rivera stepped in to take on Edwin “Bam-Bam” Dewees in a middleweight bout. Both were looking to get back on a winning track after being eliminated from the show by eventual finalist Patrick Cote. In the opening moments, Rivera threw a good leg kick that landed flush on Dewees’ leg, putting him on his heels instantly.
A big fan of the clinch game, Rivera tried to open up with some knees, but Dewees was able to defend effectively. Eventually both fighters opened up with some good punches but Rivera’s hands landed flush and dropped Dewees to the mat. While Rivera wasn’t able to knock Dewees out, he did follow up with a number of strikes on the ground, and the referee was forced to stop the action when “Bam-Bam” was unable to improve his position while enduring the punishment. Jorge Rivera picks up his third win in the Octagon, this time by TKO in the first round.
In what was one of the most exciting fights in recent UFC history, Scott “Hands of Steel” Smith squared off with his good friend from the show, Pete “Drago” Sell. This fight was taped as a preliminary bout earlier in the night and aired during the Spike TV broadcast.
On paper, it seemed like Sell would want to take the fight to the ground, where he would have the advantage over Smith, but it was much the opposite as these two threw everything, including the kitchen sink, at each other while standing up. They both smiled continuously as they pounded on one another and at the end of the first round, they hugged and almost looked like they were going to the same corner after the round.
The second round saw much of the same but with a couple of minutes remaining, Pete Sell landed a very big shot to Scott Smith’s ribs, causing him to buckle and stumble towards the corner. Just as Smith fell to one knee and “Drago” moved in for the kill, the former WEC Light Heavyweight Champion mustered just enough strength to throw one more punch, and in dramatic fashion he absolutely floored Sell with the shot. Just barely having the strength to jump up and finish the fight, Smith instantly crumbled afterwards, holding his stomach in obvious pain. There’s not much of a chance that the UFC won’t bring back both of these fighters after what has to be considered fight of the night.
In another preliminary fight that aired on Spike TV, Thales Leites faced Martin Kampmann. Heavily hyped fighters can have a huge impact on the sport (Anderson Silva), while others are just that… hype (Sean Gannon). Thales Leites had quite a bit of hype coming into his bout with Martin Kampmann, but the Brazilian was unable to live up to the fans’ anticipation after gassing out late in the first round and getting knocked around for the remainder of the fight.
Kampmann looked very good with his stand-up, and to Leites credit, he withstood a world of punishment in the second and third rounds without being finished. At the end of the day, Martin Kampmann is the fighter walking out still undefeated in the UFC, while Leites heads back to Brazil to figure out what went wrong.
All in all, with the exception of the Serra-Lytle fight and the Kampmann-Leites fight, every bout on the three-hour Spike TV broadcast was very action packed and solid from start to finish.
Travis Lutter and Din Thomas dominated, while the fight between Scott Smith and Pete Sell simply stole the show. Congratulations must go to Matt Serra for pulling out the win. The Ultimate Fighter 4 may not have been the best season of the show, but the finale was phenomenal on almost all levels.
-TUF 4 Welterweight Final: Matt Serra def. Chris Lytle by split decision
-TUF 4 Middleweight Final: Travis Lutter def. Patrick Cote by submission (armbar) in Round 1
-Din Thomas def. Rich Clementi by submission (rear naked choke) in Round 2
-Jorge Rivera def. Edwin Dewees by TKO (referee stoppage due to strikes) in Round 1
-Scott Smith def. Pete Sell by KO in Round 2
-Martin Kampmann def. Thales Leites by unanimous decision
-Charles McCarthy def. Gideon Ray by submission (armbar) in Round 1
-Pete Spratt def. Jeremy Jackson by submission in Round 1