The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale: Taylor Earns Redemption, Gaethje Dazzles In Debut

by Jason Howard Kelly

What better way to spend a Friday night than watching a full slate of free UFC fights? Your boy is having himself a low-T Friday night, so let’s do a live blog!

Prelims:

CB Dolloway vs. Ed Herman:

This was a fight that held a lot of intrigue for the light heavyweight division. These two are veterans in the UFC and they have both fought some of the biggest names in the division throughout the years.

Herman came out strong, immediately landing a big right hand to the jaw of Dolloway which rocked him for a few seconds. However, Dolloway did a nice job recovering and countering with his wrestling skills. From that point on the fight became a wrestling/grappling battle between Herman and Dolloway. At one point in the second round Dolloway even had a heel hook locked in on Herman. Luckily for Herman he was able to wiggle out of it and returned the favor with a few heavy shots from within Dolloway’s guard.

Dolloway controlled most of the third round by keeping Herman on his back and hitting him and sharp elbows from the top. Both fighters were noticeably fatigued, but Dolloway did a nice job and pushing through and landing damaging blows from a dominant position.

Winner: CB Dolloway by unanimous decision

 

Tom Gallicchio vs. James Krause

Our next fight featured two fighters from season 25 of The Ultimate Fighter. Both James Krause and Tom Gallicchio had impressive runs on the show. However, both men were unsuccessful at landing a spot in the finals.

This was an odd match-up, stylistically speaking, since Krause is a superior striker while Gallicchio is more of a wrestler.

Krause started aggressively by coming out, taking the center of the octagon, and immediately landing a strong kick to the sternum of Gallicchio. After shaking off the kick, Gallicchio responded by shooting on Krause and taking him down to the mat. In this exchange Gallicchio came very close to securing a rear naked choke on Krause, but James was able to squirm his way out of the hold and get back to his feet.

Krause stuck to his strengths throughout the fight. He kept Gallicchio at a distance and relied on his technical striking to ward off any potential takedown attempt. It was clear that Gallicchio had improved his stand-up game overall, as he was able to land a few decent strikes of his own against the technically savvy Krause.

Nevertheless, Krause remained poised all the way into the third round, tagging Gallicchio with sharp jabs and powerful head kicks. In the final minute Krause landed a booming head kick on Gallicchio which had him looking like he was on dream street. Gallicchio also ate a heavy knee right to the jaw just as the clock was winding down. Had the fight gone another thirty seconds or so Krause could very well have knocked Gallicchio out.

Overall, this was an entertaining fight, but there was no doubt that Krause came in with the superior game plan which he executed to perfection.

Winner: James Krause by unanimous decision

 

Angela Hill vs. Ashley Yoder

The women’s strawweight division was well-represented tonight. With Tecia Torres winning earlier in the night, we were now treated to a fight between two up and coming strawweight contenders in Angela Hill and Ashley Yoder.

Yoder started strong in the first round, securing a takedown on Hill within the first minute. Hill was able to get back on her feet, albeit with Yoder hanging onto her like lint. Eventually the two fighters separated and engaged in more of a stand-up battle. Neither fighter landed any really damaging strikes, however, and the the round ended with no further action.

Yoder started the second round exactly the same as she came right out and took down Hill with ease. Yoder then did a nice job of keeping Hill on her back as she worked on ground control. Hill did eventually get back to her feet, and she was able to keep Yoder at a distance with her kicks and fast strikes.

Yoder, ever the model of consistency, started the third round with yet another takedown on Angela Hill. This time, however, Hill was able to slide her way out and get back to her feet. Hill then put on a leg kick clinic for the remainder of the round, landing hard shots to the legs of Ashley Yoder and mixing in some good boxing combinations as well. Yoder struggled defending against Hill’s quick offense, but she did mange to fire back with some decent combinations of her own.

While Yoder had the advantage in takedowns she was unable to mount any significant offense from the top position. Angela Hill succeeded in turning the volume up on her offense later in the fight, and she clearly did more damage in total.

Winner: Angela Hill by unanimous decision

 

Marcel Fortuna vs. Jordan Johnson

Jordan Johnson put his undefeated record on the line against the equally dangerous Marcel Fortuna. Both men are known for their ability to finish opponents quickly, and with power, so this was definitely one of those, “don’t blink or you’ll miss it” type of fights.

Fortuna felt Jordan Johnson’s power early on, as he ate a strong counter right hand after landing a low leg kick, which dropped him to the ground. Fortuna was able to fight out of trouble and get back to his feet. Johnson and Fortuna spent a lot of time feeling each other out, occasionally landing sharp strikes here and there. Johnson was able to take down Fortuna, although Fortuna soften the landing by grabbing the top of the fence on the way down. No point was taken away, but it was a blatant grab of the fence that undoubtedly favored Fortuna in that situation.

Early on in the second round Fortuna stung Johnson with a crisp right hand behind his ear. Fortuna attempted to follow up with a takedown but Johnson was able to shrug him off. Later in the round Fortuna struck with another powerful right hand to the head of Johnson which stunned him a bit. Johnson quickly recovered and countered with a combination to back up Fortuna. Johnson ended the round by landing a swift leg-trip takedown on Fortuna.

The third round was all Johnson. He prevented Fortuna from being able to close the distance and go for take downs by using his striking to keep him at bay. As the round came to a close both men fired off strong shots. Fortuna landed a strong kick to the head of Johnson, while Johnson came back with a head-body combination of his own.

This was a close fight, but ultimately Jordan Johnson’s striking and defense gave him the edge over Marcel Fortuna.

Side note: Jordan Johnson had the worst post-fight interview ever

Johnson: “Hey! What up!”

Crowd: *utter silence*

Johnson: “Aw, I wanted a USA chant. That’s all I got.”

 

Yuck…

 

Winner: Jordan Johnson by unanimous decision

 

Brad Tavares vs. Elias Theodorou

This fight is a classic case of two fighters who both fit into the, “show me more” category. They both have impressive records and pedigree, but neither have been able to make the leap into contender status.

Theodorou started off as the aggressor in round one, moving fluidly and mixing in leg kicks against Tavares. Tavares quickly got back into the fight by closing the distance on Theodorou and taking him down briefly. Theodorou’s kicks were a focal point in this round, as he used them to initiate offense as well as to counter the offense of Brad Tavares.

Tavares showed off his shear power in round two as he was able to reverse an attempted takedown by Theodorou and regain the advantage. Both men landed solid strikes in this round, but there was no clear advantage one way or the other. It was a close fight heading into the third round.

Theodorou started round three with a hard-earned takedown on the stronger Brad Tavares. Tavares powered his way back to his feet, fighting against Theodorou’s pressure the whole way. Any time Theodorou took him down Tavares found a way to power himself back up, and eventually worked his way onto Theodorou’s back looking for a rear naked choke. Theodorou used all the energy he had left to roll with Tavares and keep himself out of any dangerous submission holds. The round ended with both men rolling in and out of dominant position, which was fitting for such a close fight.

Brad Tavares would earn the win by unanimous decision, likely because of his advantage in significant strikes landed, as well as the late takedowns in the third round.

Winner: Brad Tavares by unanimous decision

 

Jared Cannonier vs. Nick Roehrick

Jared Cannonier is an exciting light heavyweight to keep an eye on. When this guy lands with his punches he does some serious damage. His original opponent, Steve Bosse pulled out of the fight just days before the event. Nick Roehrick, an undefeated newcomer, stepped in on very short notice and took the fight.

Both men started the fight trying to find their range with striking combinations. Cannonier landed the first big combo of the fight, lighting up Roehrick with several crisp and hard punches to the face. Roehrick was opened up early but he kept his feet under him and fired right back at Cannonier. As the round ended Roehrick attempted a takedown on Cannonier, eventually driving him to the fence. Cannonier smartly defended the attempt and avoided a late takedown at the end of the round.

Cannonier established his jab in the second round and things started to look incredibly grim for Nick Roehrick. Cannonier torched him with some really heavy lefts and rights which eventually buckled Roehrick to his knees. Give a big tip of the cap to Reohrick, however, because he hung in there and got right back to his feet, eventually responding with some decent strikes of his own. There is not much more Cannonier could have done against Roehrick without knocking him out. He dominated the second round.

Cannonier smelled the blood in the water at the start of round three, and he wasted no time closing in on the battered and bloody Roehrick. He hit Roehrick with a nasty front kick which wobbled Roehrick and backed him up to the fence. Cannonier followed up with a vicious knee to the face and a right hand to follow that. Roehrick slumped to the ground and Cannonier rained down heinous elbows to the temple of Roehrick. Mercifully, the referee stepped in and called the fight for Cannonier. Nick Roehrick deserves a tremendous amount of credit for not only taking the fight on such short notice, but also for keeping his head up and hanging in there against an incredibly dangerous opponent.

Winner: Jared Cannonier by TKO

 

Marc Diakiese vs. Drakkar Klose

As yet another fighter with an accent whom has been dubbed a, “sensation” with a hype train as long as the English channel, Marc Diakiese comes into this fight with a lot of expectations. Diakiese has a lot of skill, but often times makes things harder on himself in the octagon going for style points. Klose excels in the clinch and at methodically wearing down his opponents.

Klose engaged Diakiese quickly with some sharp leg kicks, then looked to lock Diakiese into the clinch after that. Diakiese nicely countered Klose’s clinch and brought him to the ground. Neither man was able to keep the other down as they both used their athleticism to pop right off the mat after any takedown. Klose eventually hit Diakiese in the calf with a powerful leg kick, which caused Diakiese to buckle and eventually fall on his back. Klose followed him to the ground and attempted to grapple with him, but Diakiese did a nice job rolling out of trouble and preventing any further offense from Klose. Diakiese was seen limping to his corner at the end of the round, so that calf kick may have done some really significant damage.

The second round started with Klose closing in (or more like KLOSE-ing in, eh? Eh? No? Okay, nevermind) on Diakiese and forcing him into the clinch. Klose landed some good knees to the body but eventually Diakiese created space and was able to get himself off the fence and back to center of the octagon. Klose attempted a flying kick which was caught and defended by Diakiese. He then moved Klose into the clinch and struck him with a knee below the belt, which forced the referee to stop the fight to allow Klose to recover. No points were taken and the fighters were reset at a 50-50 position in the center of the octagon. Klose wasted no time getting Diakiese back up against the fence in the clinch, but just couldn’t keep him there. In the last ten seconds of the round Klose hit Diakiese with another kick to his calf which caused him to immediately buckle and fall to the ground. The left leg of Diakiese was clearly compromised.

Round three started with Diakiese coming out in a southpaw stance, trying to hide his injured left leg. He did manage to land a switch kick to the face of Klose but it didn’t do much damage. Klose later picked his spot and landed a clean takedown on Diakiese as he was going for a kick. Klose continued to use his wrestling prowess to stifle the flashy offense of Marc Diakiese.

Drakkar Klose was much more composed throughout the fight, sticking with his strengths and never allowing Diakiese to relax and get into any kind of rhythm. That composure flew out the window once the decision was read, however, as Klose had to be restrained from Diakiese as he went over to taunt him. Klose even had the stones to say, “No disrespect to Michael Bisping (UFC Middleweight Champion) but all English people are bums!”

Well then….

Winner: Drakkar Klose by split decision

 

Co-Main Event: Jesse Taylor vs. Dhiego Lima – Ultimate Fighter Season 25 Final

After an entertaining season 25 of The Ultimate Fighter we finally get to see which man earns his redemption in the UFC octagon. Jesse Taylor vs. Dhiego Lima is another wrestler vs. striker type of match-up. Taylor excelled on The Ultimate Fighter in taking down his opponents and smothering them. He even earned a submission in the semi-final to clinch his spot in the finale. Dhiego Lima is a technical striker with a solid grappling game to go along with it. Both men have had a tendency to drift away from their fundamentals, which has led to some really ugly losses. Regardless, this had the makings of a really good fight.

Taylor started the round by immediately pressuring Lima and looking for the takedown. Lima defended well, but the stronger Jesse Taylor was relentless and eventually got Lima on his back. At one point Taylor had a rear naked choke locked in tight on Dhiego Lima, but Lima was able to cleverly rotate his chin and wiggle out of the choke. From that point on it was an all out mauling by Jesse Taylor, as he landed short ground-and-pound on Lima who was doing all he could just to survive the round.

Round two started with Dhiego Lima landing a beautiful counter left hand which brought Jesse Taylor to his knees. However, when Lima attempted to wrap him up on the ground Taylor slipped out and took Lima’s back. That was the mistake that Dhiego Lima couldn’t afford to make, as Taylor eventually sunk in the rear naked choke and Lima, unable to find a way out, was forced to tap.

Jesse Taylor is a phenomenal wrestler, and he showed that in this fight. Hopefully this is the start of a big resurrection in Jesse Taylor’s MMA career. With his skill set he could very well challenge for a UFC belt sooner rather than later. Hats off to Jesse Taylor, the ultimate redemption story, and now The Ultimate Fighter Season 25 winner.

Winner: Jesse Taylor by submission (rear naked choke)

 

Main Event: Michael Johnson vs. Justin Gaethje

At last we get to see the UFC debut of Justin Gaethje, a man carrying a 17-0 professional record in MMA. Gaethje is an incredibly skilled fighter who has several impressive finishes on his resumé from his time at The World Series of Fighting (now The Professional Fighters League). Gaethje definitely has a entertainment-first approach to fighting, which could be his biggest weakness against a UFC veteran. Michael Johnson is coming off a rough stretch in the UFC, having lost three of his last four fights. However, Johnson is still regarded as one of the top talents in the lightweight division, and he could give Gaethje a tougher test than he might be expecting.

Michael Johnson brought on a collective gasp when he tagged Gaethje early on in the first round, backing up the young phenom. Gaethje, though, laughed it off and motioned to Johnson to, “keep coming”. Both men exchanged fast, crisp combos until Gaethje eventually landed a 1-2 of his own, followed by a knee to the face, which rocked Johnson up against the fence. Johnson recovered, and was still able to get in plenty of shots of his own. Gaethje didn’t seem to mind eating a few punches just to get in one of his own, as he clearly had the power advantage over Johnson. However, Gaethje was in big trouble in the final ten seconds of the round as Johnson rocked him with a big right hand and followed up with some heavy combos. Gaethje was saved by the bell in round one.

The second round was an all-out slugfest, and it was truly amazing. Both men just continued to walk forward and hammer each other with clean, powerful shots. Johnson rocked Gaethje with a right hook that had Gaethje looking spaghetti-legged. Gaethje might have been on planet zippy at that point, but he kept walking forward and pressuring Johnson. He eventually landed big shots of his own and Johnson was clearly fading. At one point Johnson was knocked down by a flurry of strikes from Gaethje, and it took him a solid three or four seconds to struggle back to his feet. Eventually Gaethje finished the job as he pushed Johnson against the cage and unleashed a barrage of uppercuts, knees, and right hooks which forced referee John McCarthy to step in and call the fight.

It is not hyperbole to say that this was, to this point, the fight of the year in the UFC. The trash-talking, the momentum swings, and the non-stop action made this fight everything MMA fans had wanted and more. Justin Gaethje came into this fight with a lot of hype behind him, and somehow he exceeded his incredibly lofty expectations. Justin Gaethje fights are now officially, “Appointment television”.

Winner: Justin Gaethje by TKO

 

Well, that was fun! Thanks for reading and following along. Nothing better than six hours of gratuitous violence on a Friday night, right?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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