By Thomas Gerbasi
LAS VEGAS, June 19 – Kyle Noke may not have won season 11 of The Ultimate Fighter, but on the finale card at The Pearl at The Palms, he showed why he was seen as an early favorite on the show as he scored an impressive second round TKO of semifinalist Josh Bryant in middleweight action Saturday afternoon.
Noke dominated the opening stanza behind a series of kicks to the body and legs, and his assault really took its toll on Bryant in the second, with the Oklahoma product even switching stances to avoid the incoming fire. Eventually, it was a right punch to the head and a kick to the stomach that spelled the beginning of the end, with the Australian’s final series of ground strikes prompting referee Kim Winslow to halt the bout at 3:12 of the second round.
"We work real hard at the game plan,” said Noke. “We work the hands and then the legs. I didn't want to get too over excited and concentrate on that leg because he still has a lot of power in his hands."
With the win, Noke improves to 17-4-1; Bryant falls to 10-2.
Their first bout on The Ultimate Fighter 11 was one of the most memorable of the season, and the second time around, Brad Tavares put an exclamation point on his second win over Seth Baczynski, scoring a three round unanimous decision win.
Scores were 29-28 across the board for Tavares, who improves to 5-1; Baczynski falls to 11-6.
"I wanted to mix it up,” said Tavares. “Everyone thinks I'm a striker. ... It was a war."
After some leg kicks to start the bout, Baczynski – who was disqualified for an illegal kick in his TUF11 bout with Tavares - shot for a takedown but got reversed on the way down by his opponent. After a brief spell on the mat, the two rose. The next time the bout drifted south, Baczynski looked for the submission, but Tavares powered his way out and took his foe’s back. Baczynski’s defense was solid though, and he was able to ride things out to the bell.
Tavares rocked Baczynski with punches to the head early in the second, and followed up with a thudding slam to the mat. The Hawaiian remained in control there throughout the round, looking to improve his position while tossing in ground strikes that bloodied his foe.
The bout went back to the mat in the third, and it looked like Baczynski was going to pull off the comeback win as he locked in a triangle on Tavares. But eventually, Tavares broke loose and took Baczynski’s back again. This time, the Arizonan got loose and made it back to his feet, but they found their way to the mat again, with Baczynski firing away with ground strikes until the bell.
Las Vegas lightweight John Gunderson spoiled the UFC debut of Ottawa’s Mark Holst, winning a clear-cut three round unanimous decision.
Scores were 30-27 across the board for Gunderson.
Gunderson dominated matters on the mat in the first two rounds, rendering Holst’s standup attack ineffective. Gunderson showed off his own standup in the final round, scoring with a quick 1-2 before taking the Canadian back to the canvas. And he continued controlling the bout until a late, but unsuccessful, armbar attempt by Holst.
With the win, Gunderson improves to 23-7; Holst falls to 8-2.
TUF11 middleweights Chris Camozzi and James Hammortree put on an entertaining three rounder, with Camozzi emerging victorious via unanimous decision.
Scores were 29-28 and 30-27 twice for Camozzi, who improves to 13-3; Hammortree fals to 5-2.
Camozzi was sharp with his kicks in the first round, with Hammortree coming up just short with his return counters.
The second was more of the same, with Camozzi now adding close-range knees to his attack that bruised Hammortree’s face. The Florida product wouldn’t go away though, kicking off the second half of the round with a takedown and ground strikes. With 1:30 left, the two rose, with Camozzi again scoring with knees, one producing an audible groan from Hammortree.
The action slowed in the third as fatigue set in, but it picked up at the end, as Camozzi’s sporadic flurries jarred Hammortree and bloodied his nose, and Hammortree locked in a guillotine choke just before the bell rang, getting a rise out of the appreciative crowd.
"I knew he was going to go for the guillotine,” said Camozzi. “He had it timed. My shoulder popped out at that point.... but with ten seconds left I'd rather go dark than tap."
In the heavyweight opener, Octagon rookie Travis “Hapa” Browne kept his unbeaten record intact with a first round stoppage of veteran James McSweeney.
McSweeney started out strong behind effective movement and a solid shot to the face, but Browne stayed cool under fire, got his opponent on the mat, and from there it was just a matter of time, as he got the mount position and fired away, forcing referee Kim Winslow to halt the bout at the 4:32 mark.
With the win, Browne improves to 10-0; McSweeney falls to 13-6.