Artem Lobov had the opportunity to make Ultimate Fighter history on Friday night at The Ultimate Fighter Finale. But Ryan Hall had other plans.
In a rare season when both fighters sported a loss entering the finale, Hall’s wizardry and ground-game prevailed as he defeated Lobov by unanimous decision (30-27 and 30-26 twice) to earn a contract with the UFC.
“I had a lot of challenges in this camp,” Hall said. “Artem has incredible shots. It’s an honor and I want to thank all of my coaches and the fighters from the house that took the time off to help me. Next, I want to rest and then I’ll be ready for whatever comes my way.”
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Hall fell to Saul Rogers in the semifinals by decision and when Rogers couldn’t participate in the finale, Hall answered the bell. He nearly finished Lobov in Round 1 and avoided “The Russian Hammer’s” powerful left hand by taking the fight to the ground for all three rounds.
“What can I say? Tonight was not my best fight or my best performance,” Lobov said. “It was a crap fight for the fans. But Ryan did what he had to do … If the UFC gives me another chance I'll give the fans something to cheer for.”
Lobov joined elite company by becoming just the fourth fighter in Ultimate Fighter history to record three knockouts. Diego Brandao, Uriah Hall and Tony Ferguson also had three and Ferguson added a fourth in his finale fight.
More from the TUF fighters on Friday night
EROSA VS. WRZOSEK
Julian Erosa and Marcin Wrzosek won all three of their fights on The Ultimate Fighter before falling in the semifinals. Erosa rebounded from a knockout loss to Artem Lobov and earned a split decision win.
Erosa had the support of the crowd. And with a minute left in the final round chants of “Juicy J” overtook the arena.
“I have about 100 friends and family here from my hometown, not to mention the fans I don’t know that I’ve gained from The Ultimate Fighter,” Erosa said. “It’s been surreal having fans ask me for pictures and autographs walking around the hotel. It feels great to be able to get this win for all of them. I’m going to drop to featherweight after this, but I’m ready for anybody as soon as next week.”
GRUETZMACHER VS. LLOVERAS
The Ultimate Fighter Finale prelims kicked off with quarterfinalists Chris Gruetzmacher and Abner Lloveras. Gruetzmacher faced criticism during the season for not producing an entertaining fight in his Ep. 2 win. But “Gritz” pushed the pace throughout on Friday in what was mostly a stand-up affair with Lloveras.
“I thought about this moment a million times before I got here,” Gruetzmacher said.
His future remains unclear, though the 145-pound fighter is willing to continue at 155 if it means more opportunities in the UFC.
“I’d like to go back down but if I have take one more fight at 155 I will,” Gruetzmacher said. “As long as they keep me around I’m happy to do it.”
Jon Gagnon is a digital producer and writer for UFC.com Follow him on Twitter at @jgagnonUFC