All those big imposing athletes and personalities, and who made it to the Season 11 "Ultimate Fighter" Finale? The guys who wanted it the most and dealt with adversity the best. Even though each lost a fight during the season, Court McGee and Kris McCray will meet at TUF 11 Finale in Las Vegas next weekend. McGee won a back and forth fight against Brad Tavares closing with a flurry to score a submission via rear-naked choke with less than a minute left. McCray's aggressive approach stymied Josh Bryant's power punching leading to a unanimous decision win, 30-27, 29-28 and 30-27.
The middleweights will meet on June 19 at the Palms where the main event pits two former TUF alum's Keith Jardine and Matt Hamill. McCray (5-0) set a record on TUF by fighting five times in five weeks. McGee (8-1) comes with lofty credentials as well. His only career loss came against 108-fight veteran Jeremy Horn. McGee lost during the season to Nick Ring, but he impressed Dana White by immediately asking to take a fight when Rich Attonito when down with an injury.
McCray was also out of the competition at one point, having lost to tonight's opponent Bryant. In that fight, he gassed badly by working too quickly. This time around, new coach Rich Franklin told him to slow everything down and not waste so much energy constantly efforting the takedown. McCray did that.
The takedown was the eventual goal but not the only weapon in his arsenal. McCray slowed the pace of the fight by moving it to the cage and scoring via Octagon control. He was super effective when the fighters locked up in the clinch in the middle of the cage. There he landed the heavier uppercuts and knees. McCray's jab is pretty rudimentary but his pace is tough to deal with and he's strong for the weight class.
In his semifinal matchup, McGee did a great job of dictating the pace. Tavares, the more classic striker, had trouble getting off while he was backing up throughout. McGee even landed the heavier strikes through the first two rounds. Down 2-0 in the third, Tavares had to go for broke and paid the price. McGee landed an excellent left hook that momentarily put Tavares on his rear end. The stunned Tavares jumped up quickly but was dumped again by a nice McGee double-leg. On the ground, McGee wasted no time in taking Tavares' back and latched on a rear-naked choke. Tavares, who refuses to tap to anything, was put to sleep. He was out. When he awoke a few seconds later, completely stunned, he had blood all over his mouth.
As interesting as the final may be, the casual fan may be more interested to see if trash-talker Jamie Yager is brought back for the finale. Yager certainly has a sellable personality but he also quit on his stool during a quarterfinal loss to Bryant.
Yager had another chance to step up on this week's episode and back up his bark. Instead, he chose to hide in his room. During tonight's two-hour show, before showing the second fight, Spike featured a Yager prank. He decided to hide some of Team Liddell's shoes. Then he and Brad Tavares bombarded James Hammortree, who was sunbathing in the backyard, with a mixture of rice and beans. When Hammortree got up to storm into the house, Yager then threw a full bag of flour at him. That set off a near brawl in the house.
Not only did Hammortree want a piece of Yager, then Kyacey Uscola and Clayton McKinney stepped up to call him a [expletive]. In the end, McKinney and Hammortree calmed down but Uscola was so incensed he told Yager to meet him in the backyard to fight. Yager looked out the back window as Uscola waited downstairs for a few minutes, and decided to pass on the backyard brawl.
Update - MMAJunkie reports these are some of the TUF 11 fighters invited to the Finale:
Jamie Yager v. Richie Attonito
Chris Camozzi v. James Hammortree
Brad Tavares v. Seth Baczynski
Update II - A Spike release also lists this fight:
Kyle Noke v. Josh Bryant
What was the most shocking moment of this final episode featuring fights? Seeing Forrest Griffin, who was added to the fold along with Gray Maynard and Tyson Griffin as Team Franklin assistants. Griffin, who recently had shoulder surgery and tends to put on weight in between fights, looked like the two UFC lightweights put together.
The big fella admits to liking his cookies. He had to be tipping the scales at 255-plus and threw in a gnarly beard.