The Hit List: Top 5 moments from ‘TUF Nations’ finale
On Wednesday night, Quebec turned into Brazil, as Canadian fighters dominated the one-on-one pairings with fighters from other countries, posting a 6-1 mark in those match-ups while earning a clear sweep of the TUF Nations contests.
As impressive as the Canadian contingent was, a trio of American competitors stood out even more.
Here’s a look at the Top 5 Moments from Wednesday’s TUF Nations Finale.
This is The Hit List.
The first right hand K.J. Noons threw ended Sam Stout’s night. In a flash, the former Elite XC champion and Strikeforce staple dropped an overhand right on the Canadian veteran that knocked him into next week.
How badly was Stout rocked? Once the bout was stopped, he tried to grab a guillotine on referee Philippe Chartier.
This was far and away the best Noons has looked in a couple years. After a dicey ending to his time in Strikeforce, he was beaten by Donald Cerrone in his UFC debut, putting him in jeopardy of being released. But after earning a dominant win over George Sotiropoulos last time out, the 31-year-old Hawaiian turned in a stellar performance, melting Stout early and re-establishing himself as a threat in the deep lightweight division.
“The Diamond” Continues to Shine
Dustin Poirier keeps showing steady improvement every time he steps into the Octagon. Wednesday night against Akira Corassani, the 25-year-old American Top Team representative turned in another stellar performance.
After a big right hand put him tilt momentarily in the first, Poirier found his footing and started turning up the pressure, coming forward behind stinging combinations to rock the Ultimate Fighter 14 alumnus. The late barrage from “The Diamond” opened up Corassani, and early in the second, an uppercut broke his nose and brought the fight to a close.
Already ranked in the Top 10 and boasting 8 wins under the UFC banner, Poirier has tremendous finishing instincts and continues to tighten up his striking combinations. He’s in the hunt at the top of the featherweight division, and could still have his best performances ahead of him.
When you actively pursue a fight as hard as Tim Kennedy pushed to face Michael Bisping, it’s imperative that you come away with the victory. Kennedy did just that in Wednesday night’s main event, out-working “The Count” over 25 minutes to earn the biggest win of his career.
The Army Ranger played to his advantages right out of the gate, using his wrestling to control Bisping on the canvas. While the British veteran rebounded in the second, Kennedy used timely takedowns and solid counter striking to cruise to a unanimous decision win.
Though he told Jon Anik in his post-fight interview that he was disappointed with not getting the finish, Bisping has always been a tough out and Kennedy’s performance was fairly complete. He’s now into the upper tier of the middleweight division, joining fellow Strikeforce alums Luke Rockhold and Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza in pursuit of Chris Weidman and top spot in the weight class.
Big Finish from The Big Deal
Ryan Jimmo has struggled to find consistency since arriving in the UFC, alternating wins and losses through his first four fights. Wednesday night in Quebec City, that trend continued, as “The Big Deal” got back into the win column in a big way.
Squaring off with newcomer Sean O’Connell, whom he first met when they were both hopefuls on Season 8 of The Ultimate Fighter, Jimmo landed a massive right hand in the waning seconds of the opening round to earn the victory.
This was one of those out of nowhere endings, as the two had settled into a solid grind on the cage leading up to the ending. When the referee broke them off the fence, O’Connell charged forward and Jimmo uncorked a blistering right hand, connecting flush and catching O’Connell with his elbow on the follow through.
A physical specimen with a solid all around skill set, this was a great finish for Jimmo, who gets back into the mix at the tail end of the light heavyweight Top 15 with the victory.
Home court advantage never seemed like something that factored into the equation in the UFC, but over the last few years, fighting on home soil has become a major advantage, and it was never more obvious that Wednesday night in Quebec City.
Canadians went 8-3 overall, but two of those losses came in the welterweight and middleweight finales against other Canadians. Going to Brazil to face a Brazilian fighter has been considered a tall task, but coming to the Great White North to face a Canuck appears to be becoming a more daunting task.
While several veterans delivered solid performances, it was the next generation of Canadian talent that really shone on Wednesday, as Elias Theodorou and Chad Laprise both turned in dominant efforts to win their respective finales and punch their tickets into the UFC.
Even though the country’s top mixed martial arts talent is currently on the mend and on sabbatical, there is still a strong Canadian presence in the UFC and the future looks bright as well.