TUF 24 Finale’s Biggest Winners

Brandon MorenoWith a strong ending to the TUF 24 Finale, there were many noteworthy performances which saw fighters’ stock rise. Jay Primetown takes a look at the key performers and what’s next for them. Jared Cannonier Overview: After making the move down from heavyweight to light heavyweight, it was difficult to know what kind of success Jared Cannonier would have in the UFC. In an intriguing clash with Ion Cutelaba, Cannonier weathered the aggressive storm. Once he started to figure out Cutelaba’s timing, Cannonier began to land heavy shots with consistency in this bout. What was even more impressive was his movement in this bout. He was able to see Cutelaba’s punches coming and was able to move his head out of the way especially late in the fight. He battered his opponent in the final couple minutes of round three to secure the round and the fight on the scorecards to get his first victory at light heavyweight. What’s Next: In a division in need of new talent, Cannonier is someone to keep an eye on. He’s an athletic fighter with good speed. He can certainly take a punch and his movement will give him opportunities to land against slower opposition. I do question his ability to defend takedowns and more so his ability to defend submissions against quality opposition. Next up I’d like to see him take on next week’s Corey Anderson Sean O’Connell winner. If it’s Anderson, Cannonier will need to show he can stuff takedowns from a good athlete. If it’s O’Connell, he will need to be able to contend with a fighter who has 15-minute cardio. Tim Elliott Overview: It’s not often that one of the big winners from a fight card is someone who lost their bout, but Tim Elliott is a rare exception.  There were minimal expectations for Elliott for his title match against Demetrious Johnson. Elliott had previously been in the UFC and was unable to earn a title opportunity against Johnson. By winning TUF 24, he earned himself a right at Johnson. Elliott took it to the champion early in this fight seriously challenging with a guillotine choke attempt and even dropping Johnson with a punch in the early portion of this fight. Sure the champion dominated the last couple rounds, but it was the most offense anyone has been able to muster against Johnson in years. That alone is a major victory. What’s Next: Elliott certainly exceeded expectations with his performance against Mighty Mouse in the main event. He showed major improvements from his first stint in the UFC with improved striking and a much better scramble based grappling game. He showed enough to me that he’s a sure fire top 10 flyweight in the world. With Zach Makovsky and Dustin Ortiz scheduled to fight next weekend, the winner of that bout would be a good test. Elliott needs to show he can beat wrestling first fighters. If Elliott can win that matchup, then he should face a top five opponent. Brandon Moreno Overview: Perhaps the most surprising development from The Ultimate Fighter 24 season has been the development of Brandon Moreno. Ranked 16 out of 16 fighters on the show, Moreno has now won his first two fights in the UFC and has done so in different ways. The 22 year old flyweight stunned Louis Smolka with a submission and then followed it up with a complete performance against Ryan Benoit. He combined takedowns with a nice kicking game to win a clear decision. Given his age and steady improvement, his ceiling is high. What’s Next: Moreno is one of a number of Mexican born fighters who has recently made waves in the UFC. I think this is the beginning of a trend over the next few years in which a number of Mexican fighters start to do well in the UFC as quality training becomes more readily available in Mexico. Moreno is one of the youngest fighters in the UFC and given his all-around ability, he’s certainly one of the brightest prospects in the division. I’d like to see him matched up against a true veteran of the division. Neil Seery has stated he would like to fight once more prior to retiring from the sport. A matchup of grizzled veteran and quality prospect makes for a compelling fight on paper.

Written by Jay Primetown

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