The Ultimate Fighter 18 Finale is over. There were some explosive moments tonight in Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay Events Center, with the first female athletes from the The Ultimate Fighter combat sports reality show competing on the main card, as well as the resolution of a trilogy of fights between UFC veteran lightweights Nate Diaz and Gray Maynard. Here is a play by play of the major action tonight:
Julianna Pena (5-2) vs. Jessica Rakoczy (31-3-1)
Julianna Pena became the first female combatant from The Ultimate Fighter television program to earn a contract from the UFC by stopping opponent Jessica Rakoczy at 4:59 of the first round. Pena, twelve years the junior of her boxing specialist adversary, used her superior ground fighting and wrestling abilities to control the bout.
After Rakoczy lands a solid right cross, Pena propels her to the fence and manages to secure a takedown. Pena works from half-guard in an attempt to pass and mount, but Rakoczy manages to get to her feet.
After absorbing some damage from Rakoczy, Pena secures another takedown and ends up in a half-guard position once again, unable to pass the guard of the less experienced grappler. Pena is able to score a solid right of her own and advances into side-control.
Pena achieves the mount and proceeds to ground-and-pound her opponent viciously. Pena is overwhelmed by the flurry of strikes and is forced into a totally defensive posture.
With just moments left in the first round, UFC referee Mario Yamasaki stops the fight due to Pena being unable to effectively defend herself. This stoppage gives Pena a historic victory by TKO.
Nate Diaz (17-9) vs. Gray Maynard (11-3-1-1)
The younger, but no less effective and opinionated, of the Diaz brothers secures a victory by TKO at 2:38 of the very first round. This rubber match between the two experienced UFC fighters leaves Diaz with two wins to Maynard’s single victory.
The battle begins with a solid right hook from Diaz connecting with Maynard’s chin, forcing Maynard to shoot for a single-leg takedown. Maynard is able to score the takedown and ends up in the strong guard of Diaz.
Maynard crushes Diaz against the fence of the octagon and rains down blows, but the tough-as-nails Diaz is able to climb the fence and regain his feet. The two athletes land several solid shots on each other, but when Maynard moves in for a second takedown attempt, Diaz blasts him with a powerful right hook.
Maynard is wobbly after the power punch and Diaz seizes the advantage. Diaz rushes in and begins a flurry of blows that Maynard is unable to counter or defend. After Maynard is unable to effectively respond to the numerous strikes delivered by Diaz, the referee stops the contest and awards the victory to Diaz.
Chris Holdsworth (6-0) vs. Davey Grant (8-3)
Holdsworth, an up-and-coming submission specialist as demonstrated during his victories on The Ultimate Fighter, racks up yet another win by submission over Davey Grant at 2:10 of the second round.
Grant showed a good deal of striking ability in the opening of the fight, landing several solid leg kicks and punches to his opponent. Holdsworth attempted but was unable to secure the first takedown, but was able to reverse a takedown performed by grant with 30 seconds left on the clock in the first round. The round ends with Holdsworth in the dominant position.
The second round kickstarted after the first minute, when Grant fails a choke attempt, allowing Holdsworth to begin working his back and move towards choke position himself. After a struggle, Holdsworth is able to sink in a deep rear naked choke and force Grant to tap out.
Holdsworth secured the men’s title for The Ultimate Fighter 18, winning a valuable UFC contract as well as a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Grant had been on an eight fight winning streak prior to his loss Saturday night. Holdsworth remains undefeated in his mixed-martial arts career.
By Mark Clarke