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Pulver’s Return Made Official,
Couture a Hall of Famer at TUF 3 Finale
By Derek Callahan
Even with the announcement that Jens Pulver will return to the Octagon once more, the highlight of the night had to be the induction of Randy Couture into the UFC Hall of Fame. If someone were to try and find something negative to say about the former two-time heavyweight, and former light heavyweight champ, they would never be bored because the search would be endless. With the induction, Couture was given nearly immediate recognition for a career well done, and any less wouldn’t have cut it. He hasn’t been retired long, but the impression that he’s made on the sport will last.
The Ultimate Fighter Season 3 finale was a lengthy card that showcased nine bouts, and continued to separate the levels of talent that the popular Spike TV show had to offer. As with any season, the men were separated from the boys, with all five dark bouts failing to leave the first round.
The night started with TUF 3 veteran Mike Nickels taking on the undefeated Wes Combs. At 3:10 into the first round, he became the previously undefeated Wes Combs. Nickels landed a throw from the clinch, and convinced Combs to show his back after some solid striking. After trying without success to secure a rear naked choke, Nickels went another route and teed off, prompting a submission due to strikes.
Cornered by Tito Ortiz after sharing a training camp at Big Bear, Matt Hamill finished Jesse Forbes for his third professional MMA victory. The Olympic-caliber wrestler and Rochester Institute of Technology grad showed some dangerous dirty boxing in the beginning of the bout. After a takedown, he found himself in Forbes’ guard. Referee Yves Lavigne wasn’t satisfied with the level of activity, and stood the pair up. After some rapid-fire uppercuts, Forbes slipped to guard. Standing over him in Forbes’s open guard, Hamill unleashed punches and elbows. In his corner, Ortiz was silent and emphatic as he gestured instructions to Hamill, a competitor deaf since birth. At 4:47 into the first round, Lavigne stopped the bout. Hamill had to make sure that it was his win, and not the end of the round that halted the action, and he got the good news shortly.
Coming off of a win in the Apex Championship Fighting show north of the border, Luigi Fioravanti landed a picture perfect left hook to floor Solomon Hutherson at 4:15 of the first round. Coming out hyper-aggressive and eager to trade, Hutcherson was looking to be in good position when Fioravanti turned the fight around. Escaping from Hutcherson’s side mount, it was Luigi who came out on top with crisper striking and that laser of a left hook.
Danny Abbadi didn’t bring enough to the table to stop Kalib Starnes in their match-up. Avoiding an early takedown attempt, Abbadi was taken down and secured half guard. Starnes landed and got the mount, with Abbadi understandably not liking the position. He rolled and showed his back in the process, and Starnes pulled in a rear naked choke to end the bout 2:56 into round one.
In what may have been the most explosive fight of the night, Rory Singer weathered a quick storm from Ross Pointon. He was floored early on, but from the guard hit a triangle choke that ended Pointon’s night a mere 44 seconds in. It was quick, it was toe-to-toe, and had the crowd primed for the night’s main features.
The first televised fight was what Joe Rogan described on air as, "…a leg kick contest." American Top Team fighter Wilson Gouveia came out strong in the first round against TUF 2 contestant Keith Jardine. Gouveia got the best of Jardine in the first round, but Jardine came on stronger as the bout wore on. Both landed several leg kicks, but activity was the x-factor here. Jardine came on more aggressive in a bout that was fought almost entirely on the feet, and it paid off. Fighting through an increasingly bloody nose, Jardine mixed up his shots standing. A varied attack saw one-twos follow leg kicks, and it led to a three round unanimous decision win.
In one of the show’s closest finales, middleweights Ed Herman and Kendall Grove fought back and forth throughout three rounds. Round one belonged to Herman who secured takedowns by closing the distance. Grove gave a good attempt at an armbar, but Herman defended and was able to land more accurate shots on the ground. The pace continued in round two with Herman, a Team quest rep, taking the bout to the mat. In Grove’s guard, Herman fought his way out of two very close triangle attempts from Grove. As the second round closed, they flip-flopped positions of dominance, each landing punches to go with their sub attempts.
The third round was noticeably slower with each fighter beginning to gas. Grove landed a flying knee courtesy of a 6’6" frame, but was promptly taken down. Herman took his back, and with one hook secured, flowed with Grove’s resistance to an armbar. They continued to grapple, and Grove ended up extending Herman in an all-out rear naked choke. Remarkably, the clock ticked to zero with Herman still fighting, peeling Grove’s arms off of his neck. Almost as remarkably, all three judges saw it one way: 29-28 for Kendall Grove, who became the newest UFC middleweight. He wouldn’t hold that title very long though, as Dana White announced that Herman would be getting a contract as well. With a fight is that close, maybe the next contract they each sign will be for a rematch.
The light-heavyweight final was not nearly as competitive as the Grove/Herman bout. Michael Bisping took Josh "Bring the Pain" Haynes’s nickname pretty literally. Showing osme good instincts by transitioning from strikes to grappling and back, Bisping dominated every aspect of the bout. His punches were more accurate both standing and on the ground, and his only aberration from dominance was an illegal knee to a downed Haynes. It didn’t matter much as Haynes was right back into the action, and pressing Bisping with some constant haymakers. Midway through the second round, Bisping went for an arm lock that turned into bad news for Haynes. Although he avoided any real submission threats, Haynes ate a lot of leather, prompting John McCarthy to stop the fight at 4:14 of round two.
At his more competitive weight of 155-pounds, Kenny Florian put the crowd through a brief clinic on jiu-jitsu. He took Sam Stout down, got his back, and sank in a rear-naked choke. Weathering no offense whatsoever, Florian induced a tap out at 1:46 of round one.