LAS VEGAS — Urijah Faber proved once again that he is one of the world’s best bantamweight fighters with a fourth-round submission over Scott Jorgensen on Saturday in the headlining bout The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale.
Faber and Jorgensen, who are both represented by the same management firm and count an 11-year friendship, didn’t hesitate to engage. The pair traded punches in the pocket and engaged in rousing grappling scrambles from the opening bell. But Faber always seemed to be just a touch quicker getting in and out of the exchanges.
A few powerful knees punctuated the work, and Faber claimed the opening three rounds on all three judges’ cards.
Faber sealed the win in the fourth round.
Shooting in for a takedown, Faber transitioned briskly to his opponent’s back and locked in a rear-naked choke. Jorgensen tried desperately to outlast the hold, but the arm was firm on the neck, and he was forced to tap at the 3:16 mark of the frame.
“I’ve known for a long time how tough Scott is, but I got to taste that firsthand just now,” Faber said after the win. “He got me with some good punches. We were going back and forth, and just incremental things at the highest level. He made a small mistake, and I was able to capitalize. He’ll be back. Hopefully we’ll fight for a belt some day.”
In the second-ever women’s bout in UFC history, undefeated underdog Cat Zingano (8-0) scored a third-round stoppage win over former Strikeforce champion Miesha Tate (13-4) and will now face UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey (7-0) later this year.
Tate used a wrestling-based attack to control much of the action in the opening two rounds, but Zingano battled back with a brutal barrage of punches and knees to earn a TKO win at the 2:55 mark of the final round. Both fighters shared in the evening’s “Fight of the Night” bonus and pocketed and extra US$50,000.
“To be honest, I looked up to Miesha since I started this sport,” UFC newcomer Zingano said after the win. “I was scared to death of her.”
Zingano, who openly wept on her way to the cage, will also serve opposite Rousey as coach on The Ultimate Fighter 18, which debuts later this year and precedes the pair’s championship bout.
In the night’s co-feature, 21-year-old Kelvin Gastelum (5-0) became the youngest winner of “The Ultimate Fighter” in the series’ 17-season history with a surprising split-decision win over heavy favorite Uriah Hall (7-2).
Hall insisted throughout the contest’s pre-fight buildup that he was not buying into the hype created by his four devastating wins on The Ultimate Fighter 17 TV series, but that didn’t seem to be the case as he repeatedly dropped his hands and shuffled his feet in showboating fashion.
Gastelum wasn’t bothered by the antics, and he consistently worked a clinch game and wrestling attack to manoeuvre into dominant positions.
When the fight was upright, Hall proved repeatedly that he was the faster, more powerful striker. But he was never able to land clean, and Gastelum continuously pushed the action to the canvas, where he racked up points from top position. With the crowd on its feet throughout the 15-minute affair, the action went back and forth until the final bell, where an emotional Gastelum was awarded a split-decision win, earning him the “TUF 17” tournament win and a six-figure UFC contract.
“I can’t even put it into words,” Gastelum said. “I knew he was a good striker, and I was confident in my striking. I worked a lot on it during camp, and you see the results.”
Also on the card, heavyweight Travis Browne knocked out Gabriel Gonzaga and Bubba McDaniel submitted Gilbert Smith.
Five of the seven preliminary fights ended in either a KO/TKO or submission and Saturday’s event drew a reported 5,549 fans for a live gate of $569,000 according to UFC president Dana White.