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Katona, Trizano big winners of The Ultimate Fighter: Undefeated

TRIZANO vs GIANNETTI

The 27th season of The Ultimate Fighter came to a close at The Palms in Las Vegas on Friday night, with Michael Trizano winning the series’ lightweight tournament with a three-round split decision over Joe Giannetti.

With a series of takedowns and solid ground control, the first round belonged to Giannetti, but early in the second, it was New Jersey’s Trizano taking the top position on a trip to the mat. After a couple interesting scrambles, the two settled into a stalemate position that got the crowd restless, but neither strayed from that position until the horn ended the frame.

Trizano remained the aggressor in the third, and while neither fighter made the push to take the fight over and close the show, Trizano did enough to take the round and the fight via scores of 29-28 twice and 28-29.

With the win, Team Miocic’s Trizano moves to 8-0. Team Cormier’s Giannetti falls to 7-1.

KATONA vs CUCCINIELLO

Brad Katona capped off an impressive run on The Ultimate Fighter by winning the reality series’ featherweight tournament with a shutout three-round decision over Jay Cucciniello.

Scores were 30-26 across the board for Team Cormier’s Katona, now 8-0. Team Miocic’s Cucciniello falls to 9-1.

The first round was competitive and waged entirely on the feet, and though Cucciniello got his cracks in, the sharper blows were coming from the fists and feet of Katona, who capped off the round with a knockdown of Cucciniello in the final minute.

Another left by Katona put Cucciniello on the deck early in round two, and the Canadian followed it up with a takedown as soon as his foe rose. For the rest of the round, Katona swarmed from the top position, keeping Cucciniello grounded and unable to escape.

The third was all Katona on the mat, and Cucciniello had no answers, making it an easy job for the judges as they crowned a new Ultimate Fighter.

CACERES vs BRAVO

After going 1-3 in his previous four, featherweight veteran Alex Caceres got a much needed win against Martin Bravo, as he defeated the TUF LATAM 3 winner via split decision in an entertaining three-rounder.

Scores were 29-28 twice and 28-29 for Caceres, now 14-11 with 1 NC. Bravo falls to 12-2.

The first round saw Caceres use his speed and movement to potshot his foe throughout, but a series of takedowns from Bravo kept him close to “Bruce Leeroy” on the cards.

In the second, Caceres hurt and dropped Bravo with a left hand in the opening minute but was unable to finish on the mat. When the two rose, the now bloodied Bravo still looked wobbly, and Caceres was jarring him every time he landed the left. Bravo kept marching forward, but the scoring gap was getting wider.

Bravo took Caceres to the mat early in the final round, and while Caceres got up quickly, Bravo continued to take the fight to his foe, prompting the veteran from Miami to look for his own takedown. Bravo stuffed it, and suddenly, it became a war of attrition with both getting their shots in, much to the delight of the fans that rose in appreciation as the final horn sounded.

MODAFFERI vs HONCHAK

Women’s MMA pioneer Roxanne Modafferi got her long-awaited first UFC win and avenged a 2001 loss at the same time, stopping fellow flyweight veteran Barb Honchak in the second round.

Modafferi controlled the bout from the time it hit the mat, breaking up some close standup action with a takedown midway through the first frame.

In the second, Honchak tried to turn the tables with her own takedown, but Modafferi countered and landed in the mount. From there, Modafferi dropped a series of unanswered elbows on her opponent until referee Marc Goddard halted the bout at 3:32 of round two.

The No. 8-ranked Modafferi improves to 22-15 with the win. The No. 7-ranked Honchak falls to 10-5.

DI CHIRICO vs MARQUEZ

Italian middleweight prospect Alessio Di Chirico picked up his second consecutive win in the main card opener, taking a hard-fought split decision over Julian Marquez.

The first round was tough to call, simply because both fighters were winging bombs that hit their mark on more than one occasion. Di Chirico played sharpshooter from long range, with a kick to the body being his biggest shot of the round, but if scoring was done based on damage, Marquez did stagger Di Chirico twice before the end of the frame.

Marquez came out more aggressively for round two, and he nearly finished the fight with a guillotine similar to the one that ended Darren Stewart’s night in Marquez’ last bout. Di Chirico got loose, though, and with a little over two minutes left, he took his foe to the mat. Marquez got up quickly and opened fire again, landing a few hard shots before getting taken down again.

The back and forth action continued throughout round three, with Marquez’ heavier blows being matched by Di Chirico’s volume and takedown attempts. Ultimately, it was the Italian’s work rate that proved to be the difference maker as he picked up the win via scores of 29-28 twice and 27-30.

With the win, Rome’s Di Chirico moves to 12-2. Las Vegas’ Marquez, who came in overweight at 190 pounds, falls to 7-2.

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