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UFC welcomes two new “Ultimate Fighters” to the family

Two deserving “Ultimate Fighters” were crowned in Las Vegas, as Efrain Escudero and Ryan Bader won their matches to cap off a fantastic season of The Ultimate Fighter.

In the main event, Escudero defeated Phillipe Nover via unanimous decision, in which many considered a slight upset. Escudero controlled the fight from the very start. He consistently ducked under Nover’s strike attempts and went straight for the takedown. From there he was able to control the action and neutralize Nover’s jiu-jitsu, as it never really came into play.

Escudero twice successfully thwarted major submission attempts by Nover throughout the fight. If there is a weakness in Nover’s game, it’s his takedown defense, and it was exploited by Escudero tonight. Coming into this fight Nover had been compared to a young George St. Pierre or B.J. Penn, a huge honor for any fighter, but on this night the cards didn’t fall in his favor.

Still undefeated in his MMA career, Escudero will have a bright future in the UFC. His wrestling skills are a solid base for his fighting style and is stand up is seemingly always improving. In due time we should see Escudero become a main player in the lightweight title picture.

Despite the loss Nover will surely rebound as he is still growing into becoming a completely well rounded fighter. His name will probably be mentioned with the likes of Kenny Florian and Chris Leben, as a fighter who used his experience to become one of the top fighters in the UFC.

Bader proved to the world that he was worthy of being Nogeuira’s first overall pick on this years show. The two time All-American wrestler from Arizona State defeated world class BJJ black belt Vinicius Magalhaes via KO at 2:18 of the round 1.

Despite Bader’s wrestling background he knew he had to keep this fight standing, and did just that. Magalhaes looked hesitant to get in close to pull guard or clinch, possibly fearing Bader’s raw power, which lead to his downfall in this bout. Bader connected with a right hand to the temple which dropped Magalhaes to the mat. He followed with several hammer fists to capture the light heavyweight Ultimate Fighter title.

Even at this point in his young career, Bader will pose a huge threat to anyone currently in the UFC’s light heavyweight division. Although not displayed in this fight, his double leg takedown in one of the best in the game, and once he has you on the ground he is relentless with the ground and pound. Bader’s ability to end a fight standing or on the ground is a tough to defend against

As for Magalhaes, being a four-time world champion in BJJ at the tender age of 24, shows the raw talent he posses. The sky is really the limit and he Brazilian native will be back in the Octagon soon enough.

This season’s ultimate bad boy Junie Browning, defeated fellow teammate David Kaplan in a statement match for the troubled fighter. Browning looked like a completely different person than we saw on the show and he’s greatly improved his game inside the octagon. After dominating the first round with his improved striking and kicks, Browning caught his opponent with an arm-bar at 1:32 of the second round for the victory in his UFC debut. If Browning has truly turned his life around and dedicated himself to the sport, look for him to stay with the UFC for some time to come.

In a rematch, Anthony Johnson got his redemption with a KO victory over Kevin Burns via a spectacular head kick. The kick conjured up flashbacks to Gabriel Gonzaga’s KO of Mirko Cro Cop. Their last fight ended controversially when Burns accidentally poked Johnson in the eye. The poke was so bad the fight was forced to stop and Johnson had to have surgery. Johnson now has three very impressive KO wins in the UFC. Look for his stock to rise in the coming months in the welterweight division.

Despite his opponent not making weight, Jason MacDonald still agreed to fight Wilson Gouveia. MacDonald was looking to move up the middleweight division’s food chain with a win, but fell short in that attempt. He was caught by Gouveia with a straight right, followed by a short left and was dropped. After eating several harsh elbows, MacDonald was busted open and forced to tap-out at just 2:18 of the first round. Because he still agreed to fight Gouveia, MacDonald will receive 20% of his opponent’s purse for the fight, small compensation for a tough loss.


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