In the end, Spike TV got what perhaps it wanted out of its final UFC card: an explosive night of action. That’s the best way to describe the final “The Ultimate Fighter” to air on the cable channel after 14 seasons; over the years a plethora of talented combatants have gone on to bigger and better things in the Octagon. And in a fitting way this season’s finale featured strong fight quality and a big finish rate.
Only Marcus Brimage and Tony Ferguson won their fights by decision Saturday night. The highlights of the show were the two newest "TUF" winners, Diego Brandao and Johnny Dodson, who turned in veritable star-making performances in their first live fights in the UFC. And in the main event, Michael Bisping dismantled opposing Season 14 coach Jason Miller.
Brandao, pegged by some as perhaps the next Jose Aldo, came out and had one of the wildest rounds in "TUF" history with Dennis Bermudez. In an intense bout where it appeared either fighter was on the verge of ending it, Brandao pulled off a beautiful armbar when it looked like he was about to be finished in the featherweight tournament. A product of Jackson’s MMA in Albuquerque, N.M., Brandao’s stated purpose for joining “TUF” — buying his mother a home in his native Brazil — just got a bit easier.
Dodson, his teammate at Jackson’s and fighting up a weight class at bantamweight from his more natural flyweight (where he’s been ranked as high as No. 5 in the world), needed two minutes to finish T.J Dillashaw from Urijah Faber’s Team Alpha Male. It seemed like an early stoppage, until Dillashaw nearly fell down under his own power after the fight ended. Dodson will now perhaps be on the waiting list to become a contender for the UFC’s first flyweight championship (to be introduced next year).
The biggest story, though, is Bisping’s win over Miller in the main event. After Miller took the first round with some impressive displays of grappling acumen, Bisping’s takedown defense and striking overwhelmed the “Bully Beatdown” host and the fight was stopped in the third after Miller seemed to have been broken by Bisping’s relentless offense. Bisping, who was booed seemingly at every phase of fight week, was gracious in defeat when plenty of other fighters wouldn’t have acted that way.
With the UFC moving to FOX for major events, and “The Ultimate Fighter” to FX next year (with some major changes along the way), the Season 14 finale marks the end of an era. Spike TV is in the rear view mirror and a strong, finish-filled card seems only appropriate considering the UFC’s first card was the same way.