The Ultimate Fighter 14 Finale Recap: Bonuses

Screencap from UFC website.

The Ultimate Fighter 14 Finale took place Saturday, December 3, in Las Vegas. Compared with the huge PPV events, these fights on free TV sound like they’re taking place in a pool hall or ballroom rather than an arena, which can be confounding, but this didn’t keep Dana White from putting on another well-produced event with many stellar fights.

TUF season 13 winner Tony  ‘El Cucuy’ Ferguson (13-2)* beat up experienced Yves Edwards (41-18-1) in a back and forth battle that saw both utilize strong movement and heavy fists and kicks. Yves Edwards threw a lightning-fast left punch-kick combo, and Ferguson connected with a flying knee that began eight feet from his opponent. Both men gassed in the third.  Ferguson extended his win streak and street cred with a unanimous decision over a grizzled vet.

Johnny ‘Brutal’ Bedford (18-9-1) easily beat Louis ‘Goodnight’ Gaudinot (5-2) in a one-sided match that displayed his polish. Bedford showed crisp, technical striking and total ground control, but was unable to finish the fight till a 3rd round TKO , which the ref should have implemented  much sooner. Gaudinot had not intelligently defended himself for some time, yet the ref allowed Bedford to soccer kick and knee to the body long after needed.

Miller team member John ‘The Magician’ Dodson (12-5)  TKOed  Bisping fighter TJ Dillashaw (4-1) in the bantamweight final. Showing a less annoying, more mature demeanor, Dodson weathered Dillashaw’s fluid movement and patience, and dropped the Team Alpha Male fighter. Dillashaw was still purposefully scrambling when halted, the fight ending faster than a scuffle in the church basement. Dodson was rightfully happy he won, and had every right to celebrate as he did---with back flips and schoolgirl giggles---but when a UFC fighter wins, he ought to act like he’s done it before and will again.

Team Bisping’s Brazilian fighter, Diego ‘Ceara’ Brandao (14-7), submitted Team Mayhem’s Dennis ‘The menace’ Bermudez (7-3) in the featherweight final, and said he will use his six figure prize to buy his mother in Brazil a house---your TUF 14 feel good moment #1. Brandao had used explosive speed and power to overwhelm and KO opponents through season 14, but was well-matched with Bermudez, a high-level wrestler who was able to scramble up from a downed position and keep Brandao at bay by pushing forward with solid strikes.

Brandao rocked Bermudez more than once, but got caught with a short, perfectly placed right to the mandible that put the Brazilian  down. Bermudez swarmed, trying to finish the fight with ground and pound and hammer fists. In the flurry, The Menace left his arm open for Brandao to transition to an armbar, demonstrating how a good submission can be as crushing as any KO.

Michael ‘The Count’ Bisping (22-3) soundly defeated Jason ‘Mayhem’ Miller (23-8) as the coaches of season 14 squared off. Bisping entered the octagon looking focused and calm. In contrast, Mayhem looked as nervous as an audit victim, his mouth a quivering zigzag. He looked especially edgy as the fight was announced.

Mayhem used  awkward, lethargic stand-up and good ground control early to confuse and eventually semi-mount Bisping and eek out the first round. In a prefight interview, Miller had called Bisping “a British point fighter who jabs and jogs”, which isn’t entirely wrong. But Mayhem soon tired and could not hang with Bisping’s technical striking, punches in bunches and take down defense.

Each fighter is unlikable in his own way---Bisping can be a whiner and Mayhem a childish prankster--- so this fight was doomed to feel empty once it was over and a hand raised, and in that it didn’t disappoint.  Both men were surprisingly respectful and polite, though, after a heated season coaching upstarts.

Refereeing UFC events cannot be easy, but knowing when to stop a fight needs to be top priority: stop it too soon and the efforts of the losing fighter are lost; stop it too late and you risk injury. Refs are fallible, but fans and fighters have their tolerances. Improper refereeing and judging have to be limited.

$40,000 bonuses were awarded to Dodson for KO of the night, Brandao for submission of the night and to Bermudez and Brandao for fight of the night. A point of interest is that Dodson and Brandao are good friends and train together with Greg Jackson in Albuquerque NM---your TUF 14 feel good moment #2.

This Season had some of the best fights in the show’s history. For the first time, fans were allowed to vote best KO, best submission and best fight of the show. The $25,000 bonuses voted by viewers were:

Best KO: John Dodson for his knockout of Johnny Bedford.

Best submission: Denis Bermudez for his submission over Akira Corassani

Best fight: Dustin Pague and Louis Gaudinot in Pague’s win early in the show.

*All fighter’s records include fights from December 3.

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