By Thomas Gerbasi
LAS VEGAS, December 13 – Interim UFC heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira saw his fighters sweep honors at The Ultimate Fighter: Team Nogueira vs Team Mir Finale Saturday at The Pearl at The Palms, as lightweight Efrain Escudero and light heavyweight Ryan Bader both kept their perfect records intact at the expense of Phillipe Nover and Vinicius Magalhaes, respectively.
Both Escudero and Bader earned six figure UFC contracts with their victories, which came after six weeks on Spike TV’s The Ultimate Fighter reality show.
It was a battle between friends and teammates in the TUF 8 lightweight final, with Escudero pounding out a disciplined three round unanimous decision over Brooklyn’s Nover.
Scores were 29-28 across the board for Escudero.
After some tentative early moments, Nover attacked, only to be taken down by Escudero. Nover fought his way back up, but Escudero put him back on the mat and took his back in the second minute. Escudero then gave up the position and instead fired off strikes from the top. But as Escudero got over aggressive, Nover went for the submission. He wasn’t able to get it, but he did find the opening he needed to stand back up. Escudero didn’t let him stay there for long though, and with the crowd chanting his name, he kept the pressure on with ferocious ground strikes. With 30 seconds remaining, Nover was able to get back to his feet, yet he was unable to get untracked as Escudero pinned him to the fence until the bell sounded.
Looking to get untracked, Nover took the fight to Escudero again in the second, but the result was the same as it was in the previous frame. Once the two rose again, Nover was able to score with some knees as he pinned Escudero to the fence, but nothing that hurt the Mexico native. Escudero was even holding his own standing as he was able to avoid enough incoming fire while firing back to get close for more takedowns. As the situation looked more dire for Nover, the fans started chanting his name, but he was unable to escape Escudero’s ground grip, and even when they stood up in the final seconds, Escudero finished the round with an emphatic slam at the bell.
Nover needed something big to happen in the final round if he wanted to get the victory, and to his credit, he came out looking to set up a finisher. But he had no answers for Escudero’s takedowns. As the round progressed, Nover locked Escudero up and fired off elbows as he looked for a submission, but Escudero stayed calm as he held on and tried to avoid a fight ending mistake. With 30 seconds left, he escaped, and though Nover was still battling at the end, it wasn’t enough for him to pull off the victory.
The win lifts Escudero’s perfect record to 12-0; Nover suffers his first loss, falling to 6-1-1.
Team Nogueira’s 205-pound representative – ‘Darth’ Bader, didn’t even need to use his All-American wrestling skills against Team Mir’s Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace, Magalhaes. Instead, the Reno native’s standup attack was sufficient to stop Magalhaes in the first round and become The Ultimate Fighter season eight light heavyweight winner.
“I was comfortable wherever the fight went,” said Bader. “But I wanted to keep it on my feet.”
The opening moments were tense, as both fighters pecked at each other and looked for fight ending openings. Bader’s strikes were harder though, and they quickly reddened Magalhaes’ face. Around a minute later, Bader finished things, rocking and dropping Magalhaes with a right hand. As the Brazilian fell awkwardly, Bader pounced with a ferocious follow-up assault that forced a halt to the proceedings by referee Herb Dean at 2:18 of the opening stanza.
The win ups Bader’s perfect pro record to 9-0. Magalhaes falls to 3-3 with 1 NC.
Big Nog The Big Winner as Escudero and Bader Become Ultimate Fighters
Thomas Gerbasi, UFC - Interim UFC heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira saw his fighters sweep honors at The Ultimate Fighter: Team Nogueira vs Team Mir Finale Saturday at The Pearl at The Palms, as lightweight Efrain Escudero and light heavyweight Ryan Bader both kept their perfect records intact at the expense of Phillipe Nover and Vinicius Magalhaes, respectively.