The Ultimate Fighter 18 Finale fight card kicked off with five preliminary bouts and was headlined by a featherweight bout as Akira Corassani defeated Maximo Blanco by disqualification in the first round.
Blanco came out with a flurry of punches and took the fight against the fence. Corassani was a downed opponent against the fence and Blanco landed an illegal knee. Referee Mario Yamasaki immediately came in to pause the fight.
Corassani told Yamasaki that he could not see and the cage side doctor came into look at Corassani. The fight would end up being stopped and Yamasaki ruled the fight a disqualification due to the illegal strike, as he deemed it as an intentional strike.
Corassani (12-3, 1NC) is now 3-0 in the UFC since being a contestant on The Ultimate Fighter as his previous wins in the organization had come by decision.
Niinimaki wins his UFC debut by decision over Yahya
In what would end up being a three round grappling fight, Tom Niinimaki won his UFC debut with a decision victory over UFC veteran Rani Yahya.
The bout opened with Yahya getting a takedown, but Niinimaki was able to reverse the position. However, Yahya attacked the leg of Niinimaki. He would be able to escape the submission attempt and he remained in top position on Yahya. As the round was coming to the end, Yahya transition to the back of Niinimaki and attempted a rear-naked choke. The attempt was unsuccessful and Niinimaki ended the round in top position.
They continued their grappling battle in the second round as Niinimaki scored a takedown at the start of the round. As Niinimaki scored the takedown, Yahya went for a guillotine choke. Niinimaki escaped and they scrambled on the ground. They would end up getting stood up by the referee and Yahya attempted another unsuccessful guillotine choke as Niinimaki went for a takedown.
The fight moved into the final round and Niinimaki scored a takedown. Once again, the referee would stand them up. After the stand up, Yahya went for a guillotine choke as Niinimaki looked for a takedown. The submission attempt would be unsuccessful and they would scramble on the mat. Yahya would end the fight in top position and the scorecards would decide the winner.
The judges had the fight 29-28, 28-29, and 30-27 for Niinimaki (21-5). He has now won 12 fights in a row and five of those wins have come by decision.
Rosholt survives early attack and defeats Harris by decision
In a heavyweight bout of two fighters making their UFC debut, Jared Rosholt weathered an early storm to score a decision victory over Walt Harris.
Harris best moment of the fight would come early in the fight as he landed a combination that dropped Rosholt to the mat. Harris was unable to get the finish and Rosholt worked his way back to his feet. The remainder of the opening round would be on the feet with Harris landing the more effective strikes.
Rosholt was able to get back into the fight in the second round as Harris appeared to be slowing down. He was able to land his strikes throughout the round, but Harris did land several big strikes. In the final round, Rosholt scored a takedown in the second minute of the round and kept the fight on the ground for the entire round.
All three judges had the fight 29-28 for Rosholt (9-1) and he has now won five in a row. Three of those wins have come by decision, with the other two wins coming by knockout in the first round.
Spencer wins second straight with decision over Dober
Sean Spencer has won back to back fights in the UFC welterweight division as he used his effective striking to earn a decision victory against Drew Dober.
As the opening bell sounded, Spencer opened up as the aggressor and began to land his right hand. Dober attempted to get the fight to the ground, but Spencer was able to stop the attempt. They began to swing away near the fence, with Spencer landing the more significant strikes. The would continue striking until the end of the round and the bout moved into the second.
Dober opened the second round by landing several body kicks and went for a takedown attempt, which was unsuccessful. They continued their striking battle with Spencer finding a home for his straight right jab. Their striking battle would continue in the third round, with both fighters having failed takedown attempts. In the final minute of the fight, Spencer landed several significant strikes but Dober was able to stay on his feet. Dober attempted to get the fight to the ground, but his attempts failed.
All three judges scored the fight 30-27 for Spencer (11-2) and he has won seven of his fights by decision.
Sampo wins UFC debut by second round submission
The opening bout of The Ultimate Fighter 18 Finale was a catchweight bout as Josh Sampo won his fifth straight fight with a rear-naked choke submission victory in the second round over Ryan Benoit.
As the fight opened, Sampo came out and immediately took control of the cage. While Sampo was able to land a couple of strikes, Benoit was able to counter the strikes with his own punches. Sampo would end up getting the fight to the ground and eventually passed to the mount position. Benoit was able to reverse the position and the round ended with the fighters exchanging strikes on the feet.
In what would end up being the final round, Sampo was able to get the fight to the ground earlier in the second and went for various submissions. Benoit was able to survive the submission attempts and reverse the position. He got on the back of Sampo and looked for a rear-naked choke. Sampo was able to survive the submission attempt and reverse the position. He was able to lock in his own rear-naked choke submission and Benoit would tap out.
Sampo (11-2) has now won six fights by submission and it’s the third time he has won by rear-naked choke. His last rear-naked choke win came in 2010 in his second career bout. Benoit (7-3) had never been defeated by stoppage before tonight and he has lost two of his last three fights.
The Ultimate Fighter 18 Finale Results:
Akira Corassani def. Maximo Blanco via DQ (illegal strike) – Round 1, :25
Tom Niinimaki def. Rani Yahya via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)
Jared Rosholt def. Walt Harris via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Sean Spencer def. Drew Dober via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Josh Sampo def. Ryan Benoit via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2, 4:31