1) Kenny Florian (competed on season 1 of TUF) beat Kit Cope early in the 2nd round with a rear naked choke. Florian had Cope in an armbar as the 1st round ended and Cope tapped just after the horn. The ref noted the tap was after time and so the fight went on to the 2nd round. Cope's muay thai was heavily touted but he didn't have any answer to Florian's moves on the ground.
2) Joe Stevenson beat Luke Cummo by unanimous decision after 3 rounds, winning the welterweight TUF division, UFC contract, new car, etc. Cummo held his own on the ground with Stevenson, who was all blowed up for the latter half of the fight. Neither man did that much damage to the other. They traded moves and position on the ground over and over. A very good fight. Crowd was really behind Cummo, I have to imagine UFC will give him another shot.
3) Rashad Evans beat Brad Imes by split decision after 3 rounds to win the TUF heavyweight division, UFC contract, the car. Mostly on the feet. Rashad had sharper skills but Brad just kept coming and coming, not giving Rashad much room to breathe. Rashad could pick his shots at times because Brad has so little technique and experience comparatively. Still, he showed a lot of guts. Rashad got really winded and the last round was much like Jorge vs. Jason on TUF this year, guys trading ugly punches, just going on fumes and heart. Another very good fight. Not pretty but it had a lot of action.
4) Diego Sanchez (TUF season 1 middleweight winner) beat Nick Diaz by unanimous decision after 3 rounds. This fight took place at 170, 1 weight class down from Diego's class on TUF. The whole show built around how Diaz hated Sanchez for getting all the fame from TUF and they made it clear they didn't like each other when at the center of the octagon just before the bell. This was another ground battle like Stevenson & Cummo. Sanchez attacked constantly on the ground but didn't do much damage in the beginning. It was a grappling clinic at points with reversals on top of reversals. Diaz got cut a little, but was able to open up Sanchez with a good-sized gash in round 3. Sanchez was in the dominant position most of the time, but he had to work really hard to get much out of it. Excellent fight. A very even match up, I'd love to see them fight again.
If all you heard was that 3 of 4 fights went to decision you may think it wouldn't be a good show. You would be wrong. Definitely try to catch a replay if you can, this was a very strong show with tons of action.
First off, I thought both the finale fights were very good. Lotta heart & desire (plus all the guy-words like "balls" & "guts"). Good work.
So why do I just have this sense that many of the TUF guys have trouble with the last little bit of oomph to go all in & get the big, clean win? It's entirely possible that it's a completely normal thing at their skill (&/or experience) level. Maybe they're not quite comfortable enough with their skills. Maybe they're so used to sparring that they have trouble stepping up to the next competitive level. (It's good to have scored all the points, but you'd still really rather get the clean win.) Thinking too much? "Whatever you do, don't do something stupid", so they hold back. Or maybe *I've* just been seeing too much of the top guys who are so good that cleaning house is standard operating procedure. Thoughts?
The downtime between the bouts took freakin' forever, but the actual fights were amazing. Sanchez is so damn quick; his reversals and matwork with Diaz (no slouch himself) was like watching a tightly-choreographed Malenko/Mysterio match.
"Oh, gosh, you know, I'm not much on speeches, but it's so gratifying to leave you wallowing in the mess you've made. You're screwed, thank you, bye."
Rankings after UFC on Fuel 9 - with the card taking place in Stockholm, notice the big influx of European folks making their debut on the voting panel - we'll see if they stick around... Here are the 72 making up the voting panel this time around: