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Read below for the TUF 14 Finale Main Card report..
LAS VEGAS, December 3 - He made a name for himself on The Ultimate Fighter 14 series because of his devastating knockout power, but Diego Brandao reminded everyone of his ground prowess Saturday at The Pearl at The Palms with a stunning armbar that forced Dennis Bermudez to tap at 4:51 of round one and crowned Brandao as featherweight winner of TUF 14. See post-fight interview
The submission that secured a six-figure UFC contract was all the more impressive given that just moments earlier Brandao had been clobbered by a monstrous right hand counter that dropped him to the canvas. Smelling the finish, Bermudez feverishly punched away but paid dearly for his ultra-aggression as Brandao, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, locked in a super-tight and swift armbar and exploded on the joint. When it was all over, Bermudez, a New Yorker and former Division I wrestler, laid on the canvas, writhing in pain and holding his left arm.
“I fell down and I (could) feel I was in a bad position,” said the 24-year-old Brandao (19-7), who was born and raised in Brazil and now trains under Greg Jackson in New Mexico. “I felt his punches and waited for the right moment to do an armbar. I felt him off-balance and I went the other way and it worked well. Now I’m going to be able to buy a house for my mom in Brazil, baby.”
The fight was fast and furious from beginning to end, and Brandao – a dynamite-fisted admirer of Wanderlei Silva and Mike Tyson who had knocked out all three of his previous TUF 14 foes – put Bermudez on the deck early with a sizzling right hand and suplex slammed him for good measure. Bermudez (8-3) survived and later turned the tables.
In the night’s other finale, John Dodson and T.J. Dillashaw battled for the TUF 14 bantamweight title. Dodson had accused Dillashaw of ducking him not once, but twice, during the season. But in the finale, with a six-figure UFC contract on the line, the Greg Jackson protégé finally got his long-awaited shot at Dillashaw and put him away with punches at 1:54 of the opening frame. The end was set in motion with a super explosive left hook that dropped Dillashaw. A few blows later, referee Herb Dean intervened and spared the Team Alpha Male fighter from further damage, causing a jubilant Dodson to rip off consecutive backflips. See post-fight interview
“Words cannot describe how I feel right now,” said the animated and outspoken University of New Mexico criminology student, whom Dillashaw had called “a clown” leading up to the fight.
Branded a traitor on the show because he tipped off the opposing team about his own team’s strategy, Dodson (13-5) made it abundantly clear once again that he relishes the role of villain and is unfazed by fan disapproval.
“You guys have no idea how great it is to be here,” he said. “Thank you to everybody who was booing me, cheering me – I don’t care. Just watch me please!”
Dillashaw, a former collegiate wrestling standout who punched his ticket to the finals with three straight wins on the show, fell from the ranks of the unbeaten to 5-1. He seemed unable to keep up with the lightning quickness of Dodson and, immediately after the fight had been stopped, looked up at the big screen to see a replay of what had just happened.
The pair of Greg Jackson fighters also dominated the post-fight bonuses. Brandao vs. Bermudez earned Fight of the Night honors, with Brandao also securing Submission of the Night. John Dodson took home Knockout of the Night. Each bonus was worth $40,000.
YVES EDWARDS VS. TONY FERGUSON
The Ultimate Fighter 13 winner Tony Ferguson notched his sixth straight victory, edging UFC pioneer Yves Edwards in an entertaining kickboxing match filled with hard exchanges aplenty and technical precision. Both lightweight fighters tested the other’s chin over the course of three rounds, with Ferguson stunning the Texan late in the first but Edwards weathering the storm. See post-fight interview
Though some had wondered whether the 35-year-old Edwards might be on the downslide of his career, the Bahamas-born southpaw dispelled those suspicions, repeatedly landing high kicks and hard right hands. Both men showcased a lot of variety in their attacks, but the judges may have been swayed by Ferguson’s booming right hands as they awarded the knockout specialist a unanimous decision by scores of 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28.
“I take off my hat to Yves,” Ferguson (14-2) said afterward. “I didn’t think it would go all three but I’m glad it did. I learned a lot and I had a hell of a good time … I thought I had him a couple of times and then I went to hit him but he kind of snapped out of it.”
JOHNNY BEDFORD VS. LOUIS GAUDINOT
TUF 14 semi-finalist Johnny Bedford returned to his winning form, overwhelming New Jersey’s Louis Gaudinot with takedowns and a ferocious ground and pound assault en route to a third-round TKO victory. Each round seemed a carbon copy of the previous, with the 28-year-old Bedford dominating his green-haired foe on top. Gaudinot (5-2) managed to survive until the third frame, when Bedford plowed through him in the Muay Thai clinch, causing Gaudinot to retreat to the canvas and cover up in the fetal position until referee Steve Mazzagatti had seen enough the 1:58 mark. See post-fight interview
With the win, Bedford improved to 18-10-1.