"The Ultimate Fighter 15" champion, Michael Chiesa (Photo courtesy of mmanytt.se)
As season 15 of “The Ultimate Fighter” came to a close Friday night, the 22nd champion of TUF was ready to be crowned.
A new feature of the show for this season was a bonus structure voted on by fans, where the fighters had the opportunity to earn an extra $25,000 for their efforts. Announced during the main card, Joe Proctor was selected for Submission of the Season for his rear-naked choke win over Chris Tickle, and Al Iaquinta was the winner of both KO of the Season in his victory over Andy Ogle and Fight of the Season for his battle against Myles Jury.
With an emotional start to the season, Michael Chiesa proved to be as mentally strong as he was physical. After seeing his son fight on live television, and successfully secure his spot in the TUF house, Mark Chiesa, 53, lost his battle with leukemia.
Promising his father that he would be “The Ultimate Fighter” champion, Chiesa went on to do just that by defeating Iaquinta by first round submission.
Following in his footsteps was Martin Kampmann who knocked out Jake Ellenberger, Charles Oliveira submitted Jonathan Brookins, Max Holloway beats Pat Schilling in unanimous fashion and Justin Lawrence puts John Cofer to sleep with a head kick.
After being guaranteed $50,000 as a result from his performance on the show, Iaquinta was ready to take the TUF title, but Chiesa snuck up from behind to spoil his show.
Chiesa fought off Iaquinta’s immediate blitz when the bout started. Iaquinta came out with a sense of urgency, taking the center of the Octagon applying pressure to Chiesa. But when the taller Chiesa closed the distance, he brought the match to the ground and took the back of Iaquinta.
Before he knew, the New York native was fast asleep and Chiesa was crowned the “The Ultimate Fighter” season 15 champion.
As typical, “The Juggernaut” was coming to inflict pain and make quick work of his opponent, but that went astray when the veteran, Kampmann, regained composure.
Ellenberger appeared to have a TKO victory locked up and ready to take home early, but Kampmann somehow managed to slow the pace and find his range. Bloodied and battered, the Danish fighter rocked Ellenberger with a right hand and ultimately finished him with a knee, dropping the American to the mat.
The win for Kampmann now sets him against Johny Hendricks in a welterweight title eliminator bout and brings Ellenberger’s six fight win streak to an abrupt halt
Coming off of a submission of the night performance, Oliveira looked for a way to cash in another bonus check.
Oliveira became very comfortable early in the fight and started to out-strike his American counterpart, Brookins. However, after Brookins attempted a guillotine-choke, Oliveira quickly escaped and then returned the favor, forcing the tap from “The Ultimate Fighter” season 12 winner.
The win now puts the Brazilian on a two-fight win streak.
Not in a rush to finish the fight, Holloway, put on a striking clinic at the expense of Schilling.
Schilling spent a lot of the later rounds on his back, as a result of the vicious body shots delivered by Holloway. While Holloway couldn’t stop Schilling, the judge’s unanimously decided that he did enough to level his record to 1-1 in the UFC.
Starting out the broadcast with UFC on FX was a bout between the first overall selected TUF contestant Lawrence against the underrated Cofer.
Both fighters were able to exchange control on the ground, but Cofer managed to strike first, by stunning Lawrence with a left hook that sent him backing in to the cage.
In the end, Lawrence gave his opponent something to think about when he finished a combination with a head-kick, instantly turning out Cofer’s lights. Lawrence stays undefeated at 4-0 and finds a new home with the UFC.