Yes, that’s an extremely flippant and dismissive ideology, but hear me out. The Ultimate Fighter tournament of champions has been one of the most entertaining seasons in the show’s history from a pure talent perspective. The flyweights featured this season showed exactly why they were champions in their respective organizations and why they belong in the UFC. Each of them is professional, scrappy, and are dead set on becoming the man to challenge flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson. Here’s the catch. None of them ever stood a chance.
Tonight is the final fight in the tournament that features the unpredictable Tim Elliott and the fairly predictable Hiromasa Ogikubo. Both men are tough and talented, each of them with their own strengths and weaknesses. Hiromasa has a great ground game, tenacity with his takedowns, and some serviceable striking on the feet. He’ll most likely be looking for the takedown on Elliott once again, but will have to be cautious in doing so. Elliott is a complete wild card and is just as likely to keep the fight standing as he is to take things to the floor. From a game planning perspective, Elliott will want to keep things standing, but the likelihood of that outcome is cloudy at best.
But whoever is shown to be the tournament champion tonight will have the unfortunate task of fighting for the flyweight belt. I say unfortunate because the man the winner must face for the strap has very few weaknesses. Elliott and Hiromasa both have clear weaknesses for the champion to exploit which makes defeating Johnson a tall task for either man. While this season’s format was certainly entertaining, by the end of it all it seemed that there was truly only one man who would have been capable of contending with Demetrious Johnson and that was Eric Shelton. Unfortunately for Shelton he was eliminated in a closely contested match with Elliott who himself thought had lost.
Elliott is perhaps the best bet to give Johnson a challenge because of his unique style, but he gets too wild and could likely end up on his back because of it. Hiromasa on the other hand doesn’t have the speed or style to deal with a fighter of Johnson’s caliber. While his ground game is tight and his striking decent, Johnson is blindly fast and adept at adapting on the fly, exploiting his opponent’s weakness and turning it into a strength.
In any event, the tournament experiment to produce a challenger for Demetrious Johnson proved to be thoroughly entertaining. The professionalism of the fighters, their backgrounds, and passion for competition made this a very watchable season of television. It’s just unfortunate that most of these combatants never stood a chance of giving Johnson a worthy challenge. What is fortunate is that viewers will be sure to tune in for the next season of the long running reality series. If the fights are exciting as the ones featured this season, how could you not be enticed to see more.
Do you think tonight’s TUF winner can defeat Demetrious Johnson?
Jonathan Salmon is a writer, martial arts instructor, and geek culture enthusiast. Check out his Twitter and Facebook to keep up with his antics.
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