June has not been a great month for decisive finales.
After fans of “The Sopranos” were left staring at a blank screen at the conclusion of the series, viewers of “The Ultimate Fighter” saw the mixed martial arts equivalent of the fade to black in the season’s championship bout Saturday night at the Palms.
After controlling much of the first round, Manny Gamburyan suffered a dislocated shoulder going for a takedown and was forced to tap out, making Nate Diaz the winner of season five of the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s popular reality show.
The injury was not a new one to Gamburyan, who said he suffered the same injury during his semifinal bout.
The main event provided more excitement and a decisive ending but pretty much went as expected as the two coaches battled on the season finale for the first time in the show’s five seasons.
While both contestants in the finals of the 16-man tournament were coached by Jens Pulver on the show, B.J. Penn proved to be superior to his rival coach in the octagon.
Penn controlled the action in the first round and nearly finished with an armbar.
In the second round, Penn worked Pulver to the ground once again and finally finished him with a choke at 3:12.
“You never know when you’re really winning because a fight is a fight,” Penn said. “When you get out of the cage and people say, ‘You really dominated that fight,’ but you don’t know that when you’re in there.”
It was the finish that Penn had hoped for in 2002 when he entered the octagon as a big favorite to beat Pulver but left on the short end of a decision. Since then, the loss has been Penn’s biggest motivation as a fighter.
“Honestly, I’ve been fighting this last five years just to beat Jens Pulver,” he said. “That was the thing that made me hungriest.”
None of the nine bouts on the card, which were slated for three five-minute rounds, made it to the judges’ scorecards. That doesn’t mean the night lacked controversy.
Las Vegan Gray Maynard participated in one of the most interesting finishes in recent UFC memory.
After an entertaining opening round in which Maynard appeared to injure the midsection of Rob Emerson, Maynard lifted his opponent and slammed him to the mat 35 seconds into the second round.
The slam severely hurt Emerson, and he immediately tapped to signify a submission. After several chaotic minutes, the fight was ruled a no contest when it was decided that Maynard had knocked himself unconscious when he slammed Emerson.
“I was not unconscious. He’s done right there,” Maynard said while viewing a replay of the final moments.
Several fighters put a definitive stamp on the season finale.
Roger Huerta earned his fourth straight win with a second-round TKO over Doug Evans, Joe Lauzon earned a second-round submission win over Brandon Melendez, Thales Leites and Leonard Garcia earned first-round submission wins, and Matt Wiman and Cole Miller won by first-round TKOs.