Roy Nelson (right) lamped Matt Mitrione in Las Vegas. | Jim Kemper/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images
Nelson (18-7, 5-3 UFC) dispatched the Blackzilians representative with a crushing three-punch combination and follow-up ground strikes in the first round of their main event at “The Ultimate Fighter 16” Finale on Saturday at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
It was over 2:58 after it began.
Mitrione (5-2, 5-2 UFC) did well for a time, as he belted the former International Fight League champion with heavy kicks to the arms, body and legs. However, Nelson’s punching power made its appearance a little more than midway through round one, as he floored Mitrione with a right uppercut-left hook-overhand right combination. “Big Country” -- whose original opponent, Shane Carwin, withdrew from the event with a knee injury -- finished it with a series of jackhammer right hands on his turtled adversary.
“I used to submit everybody when I first started, but when I got my first knockout, I said, ‘Man, this is so much easier than this wrestling and jiu-jitsu stuff,’” Nelson said. “I was looking to pick him apart in the second and third and show all the critics that a fat boy can go five rounds.”
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Smith (top) blasted Ricci.
Ricci, a natural 155-pound fighter, entered the cage with all the fanfare, but had no answer for what he encountered. Smith delivered takedowns and transitioned to the Canadian’s back in all three rounds, threatening with chokes and peppering him with light but effective punches and elbows. The 25-year-old Des Moines, Iowa, native benefitted from an inadvertent low blow in the second round that went unnoticed by referee Steve Mazzagatti. It was an advantage he did not need.
Smith controlled virtually every minute of the bout. Ricci made one last bid for victory late in the third round, where he reversed into top position and transitioned to an attempted armbar. Smith defended, freed his arm and moved out of danger.
“It’s sweet. I wanted to finish the fight,” Smith said. “Ricci, first of all, is a 155-pound fighter. He’s tough as nails, and he whooped the crap out of everybody in the house. I knew he was a very dangerous opponent, and I had to be careful with him.”
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Barry left del Rosario down and out.
Barry (8-5, 5-5 UFC) wandered into danger in the first round, as del Rosario struck for a takedown, transitioned to his back and threatened him with a series of submissions. The rear-naked choke, the armbar and the omaplata all failed, and Barry survived to see round two.
Once there, the New Orleans native wasted no time in getting down to business. He rocked del Rosario with a left, pursued him with more heavy artillery and finished him in violent fashion.
“It’s a rough ride coming out here,” Barry said. “Anybody who says they don’t get nervous before a fight is a liar, or they’ve never been hit in the head. There have just been a lot of ups and downs.”
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Poirier blew Brookins away.
Poirier (13-2, 5-1 UFC) engaged in a wild early exchange with the Floridian and weathered several clubbing right hands. As the fight deepened, Poirier slowly established his superiority. He buckled Brookins with a right hand of his own with a little more than a minute to go in the first round, swarmed with punches against the cage and cinched the choke on an ill-advised takedown attempt.
“I knew Brookins had a solid cross,” Poirier said. “He hurt me early on against the fence, but, luckily, I clipped his chin and made him back up a little bit. I watched his last fight a lot, and he got caught against the fence with an anaconda. When he gave it to me, I thought, ‘This is unreal. He’s not doing it again.’ Sure enough, it was in there.”More TUF 16 Finale » • ‘The Ultimate Fighter 16’ Finale Prelims: Mike Pyle Knee Sinks James Head
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