The Ultimate Fighter Finale: What (Three-Round) Wars Say About Us
Jeanette Rankin, the first female United States congressional representative, said, “You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake.” That was not the case for Saturday night’s three-round war between Diego Sanchez and Clay Guida.
The two tireless fighters went back and forth for the majority of the bout, earning their fight of the year candidate status alongside Torres vs. Mizugaki, Brown vs. Faber II and Smith vs. Radach. Sanchez nearly finished Guida more than once. The Chicagoan, though, demonstrated grit that would impress Robert DeNiro.
Victory for Sanchez makes him a candidate for the lightweight strap. Should Kenny Florian take the gold from B.J. Penn at UFC 101, there’s a rematch plotline for Sanchez who defeated Florian easily at The Ultimate Fighter Season One finale. If Penn retains his title, a battle of two technicians who prefer dog fights would be an easy sell. Despite only two wins at 155 pounds, Sanchez is on a four fight-win streak and its unlikely a fight with any other contender like Frankie Edgar or Gray Maynard would give him half the momentum as his war with Guida.
Guida too benefits immensely despite the ‘L’ on his record. In reviving the brawling caveman style that propelled him to stardom in December 2007 against Roger Huerta, Guida proves a truth a bout mixed martial arts: no one can take away from you what happens in the cage. Just like the heart that Jon Fitch showed in his lopsided loss to Georges St-Pierre earned him greater notoriety, Guida will benefit in the long run. He is only losing to the division’s best, and he is competitive and exciting in every loss so he’ll always be a major win or two away from a title shot.
Sanchez was a reality TV star when he entered the UFC, but like Guida, his legend will be made in the cage.
James Wilks thrashed welterweight tournament favorite DeMarques Johnson in one round. The California-based Brit made the best of his reality show appearance, opening a gym prior to the bout. It’s a gamble that paid off and a fast, decisive win in the finale has proved to be an indicator of future success for a la Diego Sanchez and Michael Bisping.
Ross Pearson became the sixth “Ultimate Fighter” to enter the UFC’s lightweight ranks. His aggressive style and wrestling ability will serve him well in the division. Andre Winner’s technique should see him sticking around too.
Chris Lytle bested a vastly improved Kevin Burns. Lytle is the quintessential slugger and continued his seesaw swing, alternating wins and losses in his last six fights. Burns’ penchant for surprising audiences should cease here as he proved to be a strong opponent for all.
Joe Stevenson realized what many fighters seem to forget after a long tenure in the sport—the basics work. Joe “Daddy”’s wrestling helped the Robert Drysdale black belt out-point Cesar Gracie brown belt Nate Diaz. Stevenson’s new trainer and cornerman Greg Jackson really screwed Stevenson’s head on right. Meanwhile, Diaz suffers consecutive losses for the first time in his young career. At 24-years-old, his UFC road is a long one that should see him get back in the driver’s seat soon enough.