TUF18 Finale – Diaz vs. Maynard – Results & Thoughts

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As usual, a low key card delivered some impressive fireworks.  In the TUF tournament finals, the favourites Julianna Pena and Chris Holdwsorth held up their end with relatively comfortable victories and earned their cheques and motorbikes.

The fighters who produced the best match on the show also earned wins with Jessamyn Duke and Raquel Pennington taking solid decisions via their more aggressive approach over Peggy Morgan and Roxanne Modaferri respectively.

The main event didn’t pan out as expected as Gray Maynard drops to 1-3 in his last four after being decisively beaten up by a relentless Nate Diaz in the first round.

Gray is surely in the wilderness at 155lbs now, outside the top ten and seemly unable to arrest his decline, while Diaz inserts himself back into contention following back to back losses and seems again resolved to stay at Lightweight, which is good seeing as we know he’ll get wrestled into boredom at Welterweight.

On the undercard we got some cracking scraps between Josh Sampo & Ryan Benoit and Tom Niinimaki & Rani Yahya, while Jared Rosholt took advantage of Walt Harris gassing out to earn a decision win and Sean Spencer liberally beat up late replacement Drew Dober, who proved to have all the heart in the world and a chin of iron.

Lastly, the promising bout between Akira Corassani and Maximo Blanco was cut short when Blanco pasted Akira with as blatantly intentional knee to the head while Akira was in a downed position.

The crowed boo’d the DQ, Keith Kizer jumped into the cage and attempted to undermine his referee and Blanco’s corner attempted some nonsense about Akira ‘being on the way up’ to justify his fighter’s foul but Mario Yamasaki made the right call and stood firm.

Not only was Akira definitely grounded (with one hand and a knee on the ground*) but Blanco had held Akira’s right arm in position (posted on the ground, stuck against the fence) with his left hand as he threw the knee, ensuring that Akira could not block the knee.

Illegal and premeditated.  Not a great way for Akira to win, but Blanco doesn’t even deserve a No Contest on his record after that egregious lack of regard for the rules and his opponent’s safety.

Great decision by Mario.

* The rule regarding a downed opponent has nothing to do with ‘3 points of contact’ rather if you have your weight on anything but the soles of your feet, then you can’t be kicked or knee’d in the head.  It’s not difficult and it horrifies me how many MMA officials, fans, fighters and media just can’t grasp this…

Main Card

Nate Diaz def. Gray Maynard via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 2:38
Julianna Pena def. Jessica Rakoczy  to win “TUF 18” women’s tournament via TKO (strikes) – Round 1, 4:59
Chris Holdsworth def. Davey Grant to win “TUF 18” men’s tournament via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2, 2:10
Jessamyn Duke def. Peggy Morgan via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) – Round 3, 5:00
Raquel Pennington def. Roxanne Modafferi via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28) – Round 3, 5:00
Prelims

Akira Corassani def. Maximo Blanco via disqualification (intentional foul) – Round 1, 0:25
Tom Niinimaki def. Rani Yahya  via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27) – Round 3, 5:00
Jared Rosholt def. Walter Harris via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) – Round 3, 5:00
Sean Spencer def. Drew Dober via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) – Round 3, 5:00
Josh Sampo def. Ryan Benoit  via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2, 4:31

OTN Bonuses

Knock Out – Nate Diaz $50k
Submission – Chris Holdsworth $50k
Fight of the Night – Joshua Sampo vs. Ryan Benoit – as Sampo missed weight, Benoit earned both men’s bonus, netting $100k for a losing effort.  That’ll take the sting off…

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