Many believed The Ultimate Fighter 19 Finale had only one or two relevant, interesting matchups. However, Sunday’s card from Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay Events Center actually turned out to be quite fantastic.
Seven knockout or submission finishes out of 11 fights means high action, and two split decisions means competitive matchups.
That’s all UFC fans can really ask out of the organization these days, and now that another night of UFC action has come and gone, here are our three stars for the TUF 19 Finale.
Third Star – Derrick Lewis
The UFC heavyweight division is seriously lacking fresh talent, so when a fighter like Derrick Lewis (11-2 MMA, 2-0 UFC) enters the organization with two first-round knockout victories, it stirs up some excitement.
Lewis is on the right side of 30 and has finished every single one of his opponents by knockout or submission. He has also never been stopped in either of his two losses. That’s a pretty solid resume, especially since he holds a career win over Jared Rosholt, who is on a roll of his own since joining the UFC.
“The Black Beast” looked utterly terrifying in his first-round knockout of Guto Inocente (6-3 MMA, 0-1 UFC) and has the potential to make some serious noise in a thin heavyweight division.
Second Star – Corey Anderson and Eddie Gordon
The two “TUF 19” champions share the second star because they put forth such similar performances. Corey Anderson (3-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) and Eddie Gordon (7-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC) both starched their respective opponents in just over one minute, earning stoppages just 10 second apart.
Anderson’s 61-second finish in particular, though, marked the fastest stoppage ever in a “TUF” final, which is a record he may hold on to for a very long time. Gordon needed just 10 seconds longer to put his opponent away, which was the second fastest win behind his Team Edgar teammate.
UFC President Dana White may have called “TUF 19” the worst season of the reality show to date, but when it mattered the most and the world was watching, Anderson and Gordon made a statement to the world.
First Star – Frankie Edgar
It’s somewhat unfortunate Frankie Edgar (17-4-1 MMA, 11-4-1 UFC) isn’t getting the credit or notoriety he deserves for his shellacking of B.J. Penn (16-10-2 MMA, 12-9-2 UFC). It’s understandable the MMA community wants to celebrate the career and legacy of “The Prodigy” after announcing his decision to retire from the sport, but to almost ignore Edgar entirely isn’t fair at all.
“The Answer” didn’t let Penn in the fight for a single moment. He dominated the action from the opening bell to the time Herb Dean pulled him off a bloodied and battered Penn in the third round. Even if Penn is completely shot at as a fighter, that’s incredibly impressive.
Edgar improved to 3-0 against his rival with the victory, making him just the second fighter in history to defeat a single opponent three times under the UFC banner. That’s a big deal and something that Edgar should be proud of, especially because it came against a former two-division UFC champion and guaranteed Hall-of-Fame inductee.
All the talk going into the fight was about Penn. “Is he motivated? Is he going to return to championship form? Is 145 pounds the weight class he should have fought at all along?” The lack of focus on Edgar going into the fight was borderline disrespectful, but as he has done throughout his entire career, he came out and made people take notice of him where it matters most: inside the octagon.
For complete coverage of the TUF 19 Finale, stay tuned to the UFC Events section of the site.