Friday’s TUF 28 Finale event is in the books, and now that the dust has settled in Las Vegas, it’s time to go to the scorecard to see who the big winners were at The Pearl at The Palms.
1 – Kamaru Usman
Kamaru Usman told us a couple fights ago that he was a problem. If you were unconvinced, his Friday win over Rafael Dos Anjos should have removed any doubts. Against his toughest test to date and in a main event setting, no less, “The Nigerian Nightmare” stepped up and delivered. How one judge saw the fight 48-47 is a mystery to me, because Usman was in control from start to finish against a former world champion. That was a statement-making effort, and it sets up quite an interesting 2019 campaign for a young man who is a serious threat to the welterweight throne.
2 – Macy Chiasson
With just four pro fights, Macy Chiasson is a TUF winner, a UFC fighter, and a fighter who could be knocking on the door of a featherweight title shot by this time next year. That’s quite a resume, and the New Orleans native is only getting better. Speaking of interesting 2019 campaigns, Chiasson is on her way to one in a growing division that is boosted significantly by her arrival.
3 – Juan Espino
With a six-fight winning streak heading into season 28 of The Ultimate Fighter, Juan Espino was likely to get a call from the UFC, but at 38 years old, the clock was ticking on the Gran Canaria native. Enter TUF, and Espino’s strong and steady run through the field has him in the UFC with the opportunity to make some noise in 2019. Yes, the clock is still ticking, but at least he will get to capitalize on this time in the biggest promotion in the world.
4 – Joseph Benavidez
No, Joseph Benavidez didn’t get two win bonuses for his victory over Alex Perez, but a Performance of the Night bonus will do after a fight in which he saw an apparent TKO win disappear due to a bad call by referee Yves Lavigne. Benavidez shook off the call, got back to work and finished Perez for real a few moments later, but it could have been a disastrous night for the longtime flyweight contender, who instead used his moment to make it clear that he’s in for the long haul at 125 pounds, and he hopes that the rest of the division is with him.
5 – Maurice Greene
After a controversial run on TUF 28, Maurice Greene could have mailed it in on Friday night. He could have just picked up a check and a loss on the way back to the regional circuit, where he could make a living as “that guy” from the reality TV series. Instead, he showed his dedication to the game and let his fighting do the talking, as he submitted former Olympic wrestler Michel Batista. Now we’ll see where “The Crochet Boss” goes in a wide open heavyweight division.