Rating the Card: TUF 21 Finale (7/10)

willie-gates-02 On the heels of an epic UFC 189 event, the expectations were fairly low for the TUF 21 Finale, which happened at the same arena, in the same city, on the very next day. But while the TUF 21 Finale wasn’t getting as much buzz as UFC 189, and while most considered the bouts on the cards “leftovers” from the night before, it still turned out to be a pretty decent event overall. The first fight of the night took place on Fight Pass and it featured a flyweight matchup between Darrell Montague and Willie Gates. Although Montague was the favorite in most bettors’ eyes, Gates came into the fight with a chip on his shoulder and it showed, as he demolished Montague for a first-round stoppage win. But perhaps the most memorable moment of the fight actually came afterwards, when Gates got onto the microphone and begged the UFC for a bonus check to feed his six children. He never got the check, but it was still a memorable moment. Then it was time for the televised prelims. First was a welterweight fight between George Sullivan and Dom Waters. This fight wasn’t anything special, but both men did fight hard for 15 minutes so you have to give them credit. Still, it wasn’t a fight to watch a second time. The same could be said of the next two fights, a welterweight fight between Dan Miller and Trevor Smith and a bantamweight bout between Russell Doane and Jerrod Sanders. Both fights were grinders, with fans going out for smoke breaks during these bouts. Thankfully, though, the “main event” of the prelims, a welterweight bout between Josh Samman and Caio Magalhaes, was pretty solid. Samman earned a first-round tapout win and after the fight controversy ensued as Magalhaes spit blood on his opponent. A solid fight with some controversy is always good for the fans, so overall it was a nice way to cap off the prelims, which, as a whole, were fairly dull. Thankfully, though, the main card was exciting. The opening fight saw more controversy as Maximo Blanco earned a first-round knockout on Mike De La Torre in a fight that referee Yves Lavigne stopped far too early. It’s hard to rate this fight because the stoppage was so bad, but good for Blanco to pick up another win, although his callout of Conor McGregor was obviously quite silly. The next fight, a women’s strawweight bout between Michelle Waterson and Angela Magana, went pretty much like most expected it to, with Waterson winning decisively, earning a third-round tapout. Then it was a welterwweight bout between Cezar Ferreira and Jorge Masvidal, with Masvidal earning a terrific knockout in his UFC 170lbs debut. The next bout, a welterweight matchup between TUF 21 alum Mike Graves and Vicente Luque, was a snoozer, but at least the other TUF 21 welterweight fight, between Kamaru Usman and Hayder Hassan, featured a nice stoppage win from Usman. The main event, though, was the crowning achievement of this card, as Stephen Thompson earned a beautiful first-round KO of Jake Ellenberger with a spinning wheel kick and punches. Thompson really lived up to his “Wonderboy” nickname in this fight, as not many fighters can throw the types of moves he can. It was the best knockout of a weekend full of them, and a terrific way to cap an awesome weekend of fights. Overall, I gave the TUF 21 Finale a 7/10 rating. The main card was awesome, but the prelims were, for the most part, a bunch of snoozefests, which really hurt the overall rating of the card. If I had to rate just the main card, I’d give it an 8/10 or perhaps an 8.5/10, but with a bunch of grindfests on the prelims I had to lower the score of the card. Still, for an event that wasn’t getting much love it turned out to be a pretty decent night of fights. And now, on to UFC Fight Night 71: Duffee vs. Mir.

Written by Adam Martin.

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