The seventeenth season of the hit reality TV series, The Ultimate Fighter, has come to an end and now we wait for what appears to be one of the best TUF finale cards ever. The finale will be complete with a bantamweight bout between Urijah Faber and Scott Jorgensen, and a scrap for the UFC women's bantamweight title number one contender slot (and the chance to coach against Ronda Rousey in the next season of TUF), between Meisha Tate and Cat Zingano.
This season's dark horse, Kelving Gastelum, shocked everyone in every single one of his fights by not only getting the win, but stopping all three of his opponents. Gastelum, Chael Sonnen's last pick, was the underdog throughout the whole season. Uriah Hall, the fighter UFC president Dana White was rambling about all the guys in the house being scared of, was Sonnen's second pick in the draft and I don't think anyone had any doubts about him making it into the finale.
Hall provided the show with highlight moments that we are sure to see in UFC promos for a long time coming. Gastelum provided a lot of young athletes in the audience with hope. But the biggest winners this season were the fans who got not only the best season ever presented in terms of production quality, but also got a season free of thug-wannabe morons acting like fools, trashing the place, and giving all professional combat athletes in the world a bad name.
If having a more mature set of fighters in the house wasn't enough, having witness such a civil exchange between coaches Jon Jones and Chael Sonnen (especially when everyone from UFC and the last of the MMA fans watching were waiting for a season filled with Sonnen's pro wrestling-fueled rants against Jones), was utterly refreshing. Everyone was expecting another Evans vs. Rampage, but the coaches took a higher road and the work ethics were the order of the season.
The Ultimate Fighter: Team Jones vs. Team Sonnen goes in the book as the best season ever presented right when a lot of people were losing faith in the series and ratings had been dropping for the last couple of seasons. Visual and production quality were at an all time high, the new format was a hit from the get go along with the change from Friday nights to Tuesday nights. The outcome; a total success.
The Ultimate Fighter Finale goes down this Saturday, April 13, from the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, and will air LIVE on FX at 9pm ET/6pm PT.
To coaches Jones and Sonnen, thank you for showing the world how to professional athletes can coexist, even in the midst of having to fight each other (and all of Sonnen's tweets and comments against Jones), to inspire a group of young athletes to succeed.
To the athletes who showed how to live in this environment without tainting the reputation of a the sport and its participants, thank you, we the fans salute you!
So, who you got? Hall or Gastelum? Faber or Jorgensen? Tate or Zingano? Leave your picks and comments in the comment section. and thank you for reading.
Team Jones vs. Team Sonnen's results:
Luke Barnatt (1-1, TKO win over Gilbert Smith in episode 2, TKOd by Dylan Andrews in episode 10)
Uriah Hall (3-0, KOd Adam Cella in episode 3, KOd Bubba McDaniel in episode 11, TKOd Dylan Andrews in episode 12)
Zak Cummings (0-1, lost a UD to Dylan Andrews in episode 8)
Tor Troeng (0-1, TKOd by Josh Samman in episode 6)
Jimmy Quinlan (1-1, submitted Clint Hester in episode 7, tapped to strikes from Josh Samman in episode 11)
Kevin Casey (0-2, lost a UD to Collin Hart in episode 4, lost via TKO [failure to answer to bell] to Bubba McDaniel in episode 9)
Kelvin Gastelum (3-0, submitted Bubba McDaniel in episode 5, defeated Collin Hart by TKO in episode 10, submitted Josh Samman in episode 12)
Clint Hester (0-1, submitted by Jimmy Quinlan in episode 7)
Josh Samman (2-1, TKO win over Tor Troeng in episode 6, TKO win over Jimmy Quinlan [tapped to strikes] in episode 11, submitted by Kelvin Gastelum in episode 12)
Bubba McDaniel (1-2, submitted by Kelvin Gastelum in episode 5, defeated Kevin Casey by TKO [failure to answer to bell] in episode 9, knocked out by Uriah Hall in episode 11)
Gilbert Smith (0-1, TKOd by Luke Barnatt in episode 2)
Collin Hart (1-1, defeated Kevin Casey by UD in episode 4, TKOd by Kelvin Gastelum in episode 10)
Adam Cella (0-1, KOd by Uriah Hall in episode 3)
Dylan Andrews (2-1, defeated Zak Cummings by UD in episode 8, defeated Luke Barnatt by TKO in episode 10, TKOd by Uriah Hall in episode 12)