The UFC’s latest event is in the books as Vegas hosted ‘The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale’ at the Mandalay Bay Events Center last night. The main event featured Bantamweight star Urijah Faber looking for another win that gets him closer to a final title run. Faber was a heavy favorite at the sportbooks, closing at -450 (bet $450 to win $100), and though opponent Scott Jorgensen was game enough to last into the 4th round, Faber finished his second fight in a row by submission. Whether you are a fan or not, Faber has separated himself again from the 135 lb pack and will likely be in another title shot against Dominick Cruz, Renan Barao, or Eddie Wineland by the end of the year.
While Jorgensen was competitive but ultimately defeated, another large underdog did come through on the card. Kelvin Gastelum earned a Split decision over heavy favorite Urijah Hall to claim the TUF 17 title. Hall had earned a big reputation after creating a highlight reel of stunning KOs during the season, while Gastelum flew under the radar the entire series and was in fact an underdog in every one of his matches. Nevertheless, Gastelum earns the win and the $100k contract with a gritty, workmanlike win. The ladies put on another statement fight proving they belong in the big leagues, as Miesha Tate and Cat Zingano waged war for nearly three rounds before Zingano landed a series of vicious knees that spelled the beginning of the end for Tate. The fight was not without controversy however, as a borderline illegal knee looked to start the finishing sequence of the fight, and referee Kim Winslow appeared to stop the bout while Tate was shooting for a takedown. The win propels Zingano to number one contender status, as she now gets a slot on season 18 of the reality series opposite bantamweight champ Ronda Rousey. Their season of TUF starts in early September, so look for the Zingano vs Rousey bout to go down in December.
In heavyweight action, Travis Browne took less than 2 minutes to wipe out Gabriel Gonzaga in a loss that snapped the Brazilian’s three-fight winning streak. Browne looked aggressive in bouncing back from the lone loss of his career, but his next fight will be a critical one if he wants to keep climbing the UFC ladder. This was another fight with some controversy involved, as a minimum of two of the elbow strikes landed by Browne in the finishing sequence were clearly to the back of the head. Browne will step back up the heavyweight ladder in an attempt to earn a title shot, so perhaps Roy Nelson would be a suitable opponent if he can get past Cheick Kongo later this month at UFC 159. Overall, the Gastelum upset made the event potentially lucrative for some bettors, while the rest of the event went pretty much as planned for the favorites. The UFC is now two events in to its run of cards on four consecutive weekends, and now we’re getting in to the business end of that stretch. This coming weekend’s UFC on Fox 7 event featuring Ben Henderson vs. Gilbert Melendez and numerous other “UFC vs. Strikeforce” fights certainly bears watching, and once again it’s free as the main card airs on Fox.