The UFC concluded its most anticipated The Ultimate Fighter season in history last night on Spike TV. The TUF 10 finale featured a TUF final as well as fights featuring fighters from the show. Roy Nelson and Kimbo Slice were the headliners from the show, both winning their UFC debuts. Slice beat Houston Alexander, while Neslon won the TUF finals and a six-figure UFC contract.
Don’t kid yourself into thinking that The Ultimate Fighter Season 10 wasn’t about Kimbo Slice. Slice was all over pre-show advertisements and even had a grand entrance into the show. The hype worked, as TUF turned out to be the most successful season in show history. On top of that, the first-round fight between Kimbo Slice and former IFL champion Roy Nelson was a massive ratings success. Between the first airing and subsequent replay, their fight drew an estimated 6.8 million viewers. Unfortunately the hype machine ended when Kimbo lost and was exposed to the more experienced Nelson.
[adinserter block=”1″]The fight immediately put Roy Nelson on the radar of casual MMA fans. Casual fans didn’t give Nelson a chance due to his misleading physique. However, longtime MMA fans knew exactly what Nelson was capable of. On paper, it was almost unfair to the other inexperienced fighters to put someone as experienced as Nelson in the house. I wrote two months ago that the advantage was so huge in Nelson’s favor, that I suspected that Nelson was a ringer. Whether he was a ringer or not, the game plan worked as Nelson wound up coasting to the finals.
Nelson came into the fight last night against Brendan Schaub. Schaub, a former NFL player (practice squad) with little experience was no match against Nelson. Nelson is not only a former IFL champion, but is a high degree Brazilian Jiu-jitsu black belt withAbu Dhabi experience to boot. Schaub is a striker, who won all four of his professional MMA fights by either TKO or KO due to strikes. Nelson never showed any of his standup on the show, going to the ground in all of his fights. This one looked like a rematch of Slice vs. Nelson on paper, but Nelson showed a side at the TUF finale that his fans had been waiting for.
Schaub pushed the fight early on. Schaub came at Nelson with several flurries of punches. Nelson looked stunned a few times and took down Schaub to break his momentum. Schaub was able to power out and come back with more strikes. Nelson remained patient and nailed Schaub with a beautiful punch to the jaw, knocking out Schuab. The knockout earned Nelson a six-figure contract and a career as a UFC heavyweight. The knockout also earned Nelson the Knockout of the Night bonus.
The scene after the fight was interesting. Dana White boldly stated during the TUF show that he didn’t like Roy Nelson. He wasn’t impressed by Roy’s wins and felt Nelson was cocky. Nelson to his credit told White that he wanted to pace himself in a tournament and would let it fly if it was a one-match deal. Nelson let it fly in his one-match deal and stood by his word. White didn’t look very happy at all to present Nelson with the award. Coach Rashad Evans also publicly pulled for Schaub as well. Nelson had some fun words with Evans and seemed to take the whole thing in jest. Dana White did not look nearly as happy as he did in previous TUF finales.
Kimbo’s fight wasn’t nearly as exciting. Slice was booked against Houston Alexander purposely to deliver a standing slugfest. Alexander looked afraid to engage Slice and that did not go over well with the crowd. Alexander’s game plan was to leg kick Slice’s bad knee from a distance which while effective, is not very exciting. Slice was able to engage several times, including some exciting takedowns in the second round. Slice showed a whole new side to his game with some tremendous ground skills in the second round. Alexander was able to nail Slice with a leg kick that took Slice off of his feet in the third round. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough for Alexander and Slice won his first UFC match via decision.
The fight brings up something interesting from the show. The show is so invasive to the fighters, that it exposes the fighter’s weaknesses. Kimbo’s bad knees were discussed on the show, where he was told by a doctor that he had bad arthritis in one of them. Alexander said before the fight that he was going to concentrate on that bad knee, which he did. I almost felt that it was a little unfair to Kimbo and opened up an easy game plan for all of his future opponents.
[adinserter block=”2″]So what are the futures of Kimbo Slice and Roy Nelson in the UFC? I think Nelson has a great future in the UFC. He can match his ground game with just about anyone, and showed he has the standup game to go toe-to-toe with anyone. While I don’t think he is beating Brock Lesnar anytime soon, I do think he is capable of beating just about anyone else in the division. As for Slice, I don’t think he has a big future and it comes down to his exposed weakness. Every fighter will target his bad knee and after about two-three more fights of absorbing leg kicks, I don’t think he will have a knee left to fight on. Honestly, I think Slice’s big appeal at this point is as a character in the UFC Undisputed 2010 game.
At the same time, as long as these guys are drawing six-million viewers neither are going anywhere.
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