US Army Combatant instructor Colton Smith (3-1) has become The Ultimate Fighter Season 16 champion with a three-round unanimous decison win over Canadian Mike Ricci (7-3) at the TUF 16 Finale from The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

The judges awarded the fight unanimously to Smith (30-27, 30-27, 30-26).

The fight went to the ground early, after Ricci just missed with a leg kick and followed up with ground and pound. Smith returned to his feet and tied the fight up with a body lock controlling Ricci and got the takedown.

Smith took Ricci’s back and locked in his underhooks before switching to ground and pound, looking to flatten Ricci out. Ricci escaped the choke and the fight returned to the feet, but after little action Smith scored another takedown to end the round.

Ricci was kicked low in the opening stages of round two, but after the referee took no action and refused to step in, the fight continued with Smith securing another takedown. As Ricci looked to stand back up, Smith took his back, attempting to lock in a rear naked choke, but again Ricci broke free.

Smith once again took him back to the mat where Smith controlled to the bell.

With a Ricci knockout needed in the final frame, Smith had other ideas, slamming Ricci against the cage, scoring another takedown, again switching it up between ground and pound and submission attempts.

Ricci scrambled, taking Smith’s back inside the final minute and locked in an armbar, but Smith escaped, holding on for a decision win.

“It’s sweet. I wanted to finish the fight, but Ricci is tough as nails and I couldn’t finish him,” commented Smith after the fight, before adding, “What the troops do overseas is hard, this is easy.”

(Follow @AndrewPMMA on Twitter)

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