South Florida bragging rights went to the Blackzilians Sunday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, as Kamaru Usman submitted American Top Team’s Hayder Hassan in the second round to give his team the Ultimate Fighter team trophy and a $300,000 prize, wrapping up season 21 of the reality series.
“It was a long road, I’ve been working so hard for this, and my manager (Glenn Robinson) believed in me when most didn’t,” Usman said. “I’m glad he decided to trust me and put me in a position to represent my team and get the job done, because I knew I could get the job done for us.”
Not surprisingly, Usman scored a takedown in the opening minute, but Hassan bounced up quickly, putting the fight back on the feet. He wasn’t able to get off his power shots there, and soon he was on the deck again. This time, Usman landed with hard shots as he took his opponent’s back briefly, and he continued to dominate the action on the mat, wrapping up an impressive round.
Hassan finally got his offense in order as round two opened, and though he briefly staggered Usman, the “Nigerian Nightmare” put the bout back on the mat and sunk in an arm triangle choke. Hassan tried to escape, but he was eventually forced to tap out at the 1:19 mark.
With the win, Usman, who also received a Harley Davidson motorcycle, improves to 6-1; Hassan falls to 6-2.
American Top Team won the regular season title, worth $200,000, on TUF 21.
GRAVES vs. LUQUE
In a welterweight bout UFC President Dana White selected for the finale card, American Top Team’s Michael Graves won a three-round unanimous decision over the Blackzilians’ Vicente Luque.
Scores were 29-28 across the board.
Graves got the bout to the mat seconds in, and he landed some hard strikes before Luque got to his feet. Graves did get in an elbow before the two broke, and every strike he threw was designed to end the bout. Luque began to get into a rhythm while standing, but Graves broke that with another takedown. Once back on the feet, Graves kept the pace high, and whenever Luque began having any success, it was another trip to the canvas courtesy of the American Top Team member.
The dominance of Graves continued in round two, with Luque having no response for the Ohio native’s wrestling and ground game.
Early in the third, a Graves takedown attempt gave Luque some daylight as he sought a choke after sprawling, but after a long spell of trying to sink the finisher in, Graves reversed position and bulled the Brazilian to the fence. Luque got to his feet, but he wasn’t able to break the grip of his opponent.
With the win, Graves moves to 5-0; Luque falls to 7-5-1.
MASVIDAL vs. FERREIRA
Former lightweight contender Jorge Masvidal made a successful return to the welterweight division, knocking out former Ultimate Fighter Brazil winner Cezar “Mutante” Ferreira in the first round.
“I feel great,” Masvidal said. “My speed and energy were much better and I actually enjoyed the weight cut this time around. I give up a little size, but I’ve got a lot of heart so it doesn’t mean a thing to me. I think that was the longest I’ve been on my back in my life, but I was able to rally and pull off the win. I think I demonstrated my ability in this division and I’ve got a lot left to show so I’m ready for a top-ten guy next. I’d love to fight Matt Brown or Dong Hyun Kim in Japan because I know I have a big following there and it would be a great fight for the fans.”
Ferreira gave a good account of himself in the early stages of the bout, but after he landed some hard kicks and scored a takedown, it appeared to wake Masvidal up, as “Gamebred” roared back into the fight. “Mutante” tried to use his size advantage to control matters against the fence, but a left elbow followed by a right hand jarred Ferreira and sent him to the mat. There, Masvidal unleashed a combination of blows, with referee John McCarthy stepping in to stop the fight at the 4:22 mark of the first round.
Masvidal improves to 29-9 with the win; Ferreira, a former middleweight who was making his welterweight debut, falls to 9-5.
WATERSON vs. MAGANA
“The Karate Hottie” displayed a lot more than striking in her highly-anticipated UFC debut, as Michelle Waterson excelled in all aspects of MMA before submitting Angela Magana in the third round of their strawweight bout.
Magana (11-8) flurried her way into a clinch with Waterson against the fence, trying to make it ugly. A minute and a half in though, Waterson threw Magana to the mat, putting her ground game to work. Magana worked for her opponent’s arm and nearly got it, but Waterson escaped and got to her feet briefly before throwing the TUF 20 alum to the mat again. This time, Waterson almost got the arm bar before the horn intervened.
Albuquerque’s Waterson (13-4) got to show off some of her striking in the first 90 seconds of round two before the fight went back to the mat. The former Invicta FC atomweight champion went for Magana’s arm again before moving into the mount position and firing off ground strikes, dominating the frame.
In complete control, Waterson kept pouring it on in the final round, rocking Magana with kicks and then throwing her foe to the mat once more. Taking Magana’s back, Waterson used her strikes to soften the San Diegan up before sinking in the rear naked choke that ended the bout at the 2:38 mark.
“In the first round I had a bad case of the Octagon jitters,” Waterson said. “They started to go away in the second and by the third I finally found my rhythm. I think I needed her to try to submit me to wake me up and make me realize I was in a fight, after that, I was good. I spent a lot of time studying her and watching her to get her movements and habits down so there would be no surprises in there. The armbar she had me in wasn’t that close, my elbow wasn’t on her hip so it didn’t hurt, it was just a bit uncomfortable. As far as my next opponent goes, I’m going to take some time to bask in this victory. I’m very glad I was able to perform in my debut and I’m looking forward to whatever the UFC has next for me.”
DE LA TORRE vs. BLANCO
Featherweight prospect Mike De La Torre wasn’t happy with the final call by referee Yves Lavigne in the main card opener, but his stoppage loss at the hands of Maximo Blanco stood, giving the Venezuelan his third consecutive victory.
The fight was over almost as soon as it began. The 145-pounders engaged immediately, both looking for the quick finish, and Blanco got it. After Blanco dropped De La Torre with a right hand, Lavigne immediately stepped in to halt the bout, even though the Arizonan was grabbing Blanco’s leg and looking for a takedown. The official time of the stoppage was 16 seconds, making it the third-fastest finish in UFC featherweight history.
“Next time, I want the fastest finish,” Blanco said. “Next time it will be in four seconds. I put a lot of emphasis on my wrestling in this camp because I knew he was a striker and I wanted to be able to counter that. I want Conor McGregor. I want to fight the best guys; no more fighting guys that are below me.”
“I think it was an early stoppage,” De La Torre said. “I don’t know what to say, it was early. My last fight I was hurt like that and they let me fight. The ref didn’t even give me the chance to fight. I’m really upset right now.”
With the win, Blanco, who came into the fight overweight at 148.5 pounds, improves to 12-6-1 with 1 NC; De La Torre falls to 13-5 with 1 NC.