For the most part, the Ultimate Fighter 18 Finale was a forgettable event rather than the historic showcase it seemed would be in store for fans when the season’s concept was first announced. The undercard underwhelmed, the respective finals weren’t competitive, and Gray Maynard laid an egg against Nate Diaz in the main event. Some quick thoughts: Ryan Benoit getting $50,000 of opponent Josh Sampo’s bonus money based on coming in heavy sent a fitting message to fighters on the UFC roster about making weight but, unfortunately, came at the cost of depriving a needy fighter of 4X his normal pay day for being 1.5 pounds over / Maximo Blanco-Akira Corassani needs to re-booked so the MMA world can move on from the illegal knee ending the latter’s night / Raquel Pennington is surprisingly raw and didn’t show any real growth since being on the show / Chris Holdsworth has the most potential of any TUF winner in some time / Julianna Pena already has the sport down in terms of being exciting in the cage combined with self-marketing / Nate Diaz’s power was unexpectedly awesome / Gray Maynard could end up in Bellator or WSOF by year’s end unless he gets back to his roots and stops trying to strike with superior stand-up artists. Nate Diaz has gone on record as saying he’s open to sitting around and waiting for a title-fight to fall into his lap. If that’s the case, Diaz better have a very comfortable couch, because his phone won’t be ringing anytime soon. Even though fans can absolutely expect a top 155er to withdraw from a planned pairing over the next six months, the odds of the situation involving a top contender are rare and even in that instance Diaz doesn’t deserve another crack at the belt without a few more wins in his back pocket. His victory over Gray Maynard came on the heels of back-to-back losses with neither being particularly competitive. Shane Del Rosario’s fight to survive over the past week has been awe-inspiring. The UFC heavyweight was initially written off as being dead based on a lack of brain activity stemming from a huge heart attack. In fact, ESPN even went so far as to report the matter. However, Del Rosario’s loved ones never gave up hope and apparently his body never gave up either. He has since shown some significant signs of recovery and is no longer on life support. It’s an inspirational situation to say the least. UFC welterweight Jake Ellenberger’s withdrawal from a headlining tilt against Tarec Saffiedine was initially concerning based on the veiled circumstances surrounding his decision. However, news has since surfaced stating he injured his hamstring during training and will be out 6-8 weeks but won’t need surgery to correct the issue. On one hand, it’s always a good thing when an individual can avoid going under the knife. On the other, it stinks to have lost a solid scrap in Ellenberger-Saffiedine. Fortunately, Hyun Gyu Lim has been pegged as a replacement. For quick reference, Lim is 12-3-1, is on a seven fight winning streak, and has scored stoppages in all but one of his victories including knockouts in both of his Octagon appearances. Despite looking more violent, there are plenty of people who would tell you soccer kicks/stomps are less dangerous than elbows. One person in that camp is Mauricio Rua. The former UFC champion was one of PRIDE’s biggest stars during the Japanese company’s run and utilized soccer kicks/stomps en route to victory on more than one occasion. He recently spoke out on the matter, stating he’d love to see the techniques embraced by the UFC and mentioned his skill-set had suffered under the organization’s banner based on the rule prohibiting said strikes. My opinion isn’t informed enough to say Rua’s right or wrong, but I’d personally love to see soccer kicks/stomps allowed as long as there is some actual evidence explaining why they are necessary and “safe” in the context of prizefighting. The UFC is attempting to embrace the modern age by providing a subscription-based digital network in 2014 aimed at allowing users to look at content from the company’s library and catch international shows live rather than on tape delay. It’s an interesting idea, but one destined for failure in the long term as it’s highly unlikely a large number of fans will be interested in paying for lackluster lineups that start at six in the morning stateside. Nothing is official yet, but all signs seem to indicate former Bellator champ Ben Askren will sign with ONE FC rather than be brought on board by the UFC. It’s a shame, really, as Askren is extremely talented and has a knack for talking trash. He’s essentially a younger Chael Sonnen with better wrestling and an inferior gift of gab. However, because he’s associated with taking opponents down and keeping them there, the UFC apparently isn’t interested in bringing the unbeaten former Olympian on board. In reality, Askren has finished as many opponents as he’s outpointed including TKOs in his last two tilts. I used to think the UFC’s goal was to bring the best fighters in the world on board and prove whose style/skill was superior. Now I’m not so sure. The match-up might not seem to make a lot of sense considering Rafael Dos Anjos has been mentioned as a potential title-contender. Still, some digging shows that the matchmaking team got things right. Rustam Khabilov is on a six-fight winning streak including three victories under the UFC banner and was most recently seen picking up a decision over Jorge Masvidal. Meanwhile, Dos Anjos has found success in five straight Octagon appearances with names like Donald Cerrone and Evan Dunham in the bunch. However, his last four fights have gone the distance, so he still needs to prove himself to an extent before getting the nod to challenge for a championship. Beating an up-and-comer like Khabilov may not wow average fans that aren’t wholly familiar with the hard-hitting Russian grappler, but it will definitely improve his overall stock in the eyes of people who understand all the involved factors (including his employers). UFC star Chael Sonnen has had plenty of nasty things to say about Brazil in the past, especially when it came to promoting action against fighters from the South American nation. However, he’ll be on his best behavior over the next few months while taping TUF Brasil alongside rival Wanderlei Silva based on some concerns about his well-being. Sonnen’s behavior understandably upset a number of Brazilians and the country isn’t exactly known for a high standard of safety. Fortunately, Silva has said he’s willing to use as much influence as he has to ensure Sonnen exits Brazil unscathed…at least until “The Axe Murderer” can get his hands on him and enact revenge for years of trash-talk aimed in his direction. It’s been a year since the UFC made a stop in Australia so it’s nice to see the organization pay back their patience with a lineup like as the one attached to UFC Fight Night 33. In addition to featuring stars like Ryan Bader, Pat Barry, and Mauricio Rua in action, the headliner between Mark Hunt-Antonio Silva is almost sure to end in highlight-reel fashion. The card is also solid beyond the biggest names, featuring fights like Nam Phan-Takeya Mizugaki, Clint Hester-Dylan Andrews, and Nick Ring-Caio Magalhaes. Were that not enough, Julie Kedzie is also set for action in the Octagon, as are some exciting undefeated newcomers like Alex Garcia (7-0), Krzysztof Jotko (13-0), Bruno Santos (13-0), Ben Wall (7-0-1), and Justin Scoggins (7-0). UFC Fight Night 33 is a great way to end the week (or start the weekend), so make sure to tune in. Chances are high you WON’T be disappointed!
Welcome back to the 10-Point Must! Every week I’ll give my thoughts on ten topics from the past seven days with hopes the readership will contribute their takes as well in the Comments section. This time around, subjects range from
‘s safety in Brazil to Chael Sonnen to UFC Fight Night 33 ‘s desire to see soccer kicks in the Octagon (and much more in-between). (Photos by USA Today Sports Images) Mauricio Rua