As "The Ultimate Fighter" finales go, this one Saturday in Las Vegas holds up very well against the others.
We're only grading winners from the TV fights -- and even then not all of them -- so I wanted to touch on TUF 17 prospects before diving into the top names.
The latest TUF winner, Kelvin Gastelum, is physical and determined. At a certain point, probably soon, that won't be enough because a better wrestler or a hard veteran will get in his way.
The impossibly hyped Uriah Hall fell short for a couple of reasons: (1) Gastelum was going to make sure of it; (2) Hall's style is fine against guys who can't take him down and are generally slow. Looking like a world champion against the likes of Adam Cella and Bubba McDaniel isn't much of an accomplishment.
Josh Sammon showed tremendous spirit against Kevin Casey, whose ground work made him an early threat. Bottom line on this one: Sammon wanted it more than Casey. That attitude will serve him well in the UFC, but he'd be well served not to get in such deep waters so early in a fight.
(Also, there was some discussion about whether "Slammon" Sammon was playing by the rules when he dropped Casey on his head while defending an armbar. The answer is yes, nothing wrong happened. Casey was on offense and the one in control of the fight. He could have released the hold to defend himself -- so no foul there.)
Clint Hester looked like a guy who can hang around the Octagon for a while, and against cement-footed Bristol Marunde he proved his point. Hester's clean standing knockout from an elbow was a thing of beauty.
And Luke Barnatt survived an early onslaught by Collin Hart, but it didn't do much to change my mind that the slow Brit is a limited prospect. Still, Barnatt made good on a promise to himself that he'd join the UFC by the age of 25. He turned a quarter century old on Saturday. Well done.
Even with all the TUF guys, who likely won't do much in the UFC, the fight card turned out beautifully -- one of the best of the year so far for UFC.