The Ultimate Fighter 18 Live Finale kicked off with a five fight preliminary card at the Mandalay Bay Event Center on FOX Sports 1. In the final prelim, Akira Corassani would defeat Maximo Blanco due to a disqualification. In other action, Tom Niinimaki, Jared Rosholt, Sean Spencer, and Josh Sampo would all notch victories in tonight’s opening action.
Blanco DQ’d Against Corassani
Tonight’s featured preliminary fight ended the prelims in anticlimactic fashion tonight as Maximo Blanco was disqualified for an intentional foul (illegal knee) against Akira Corassani. Blanco caught Corassani against the cage, while the Swede had a hand and knee down, with a vicious knee that floored Corassani and left him unable to continue. The referee reviewed the knee and confirmed his initial call, bringing the preliminary card to a close.
Niinimaki Edges Yahya in Fun Fight
UFC newcomer Tom Niinimaki picked up a big debut victory over Rani Yahya in a fun fight on FOX Sports 1. The two men engaged in a back-and-forth ground battle that saw both men have their moments. In the end, the Finnish fighter would get the nod with great submission defense and superior top control. Niinimaki has now won eleven straight fights.
Rosholt Rebounds to Defeat Harris
It looked like it would be a short night in the heavyweight division as Walt Harris unloaded on Jared Rosholt and appeared to have the fight on ice before the former Oklahoma State Cowboy rallied. Rosholt would find success in second and third rounds via different means that rendered good results as he out-struck a waning Harris in the second and out grappled him in the third. Rosholt has now won five straight fights since losing to Derrick Lewis in 2012.
TUF 18 Live Finale Prelim Results:
- Akira Corassani def. Maximo Blanco via DQ (illegal knee) at 0:25 of Rd. 1
- Tom Niinimaki def. Rani Yahya via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)
- Jared Rosholt def. Walt Harris by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Sean Spencer def. Drew Dober via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Josh Sampo def. Ryan Benoit via submission (rear-naked choke) at 4:31 of Rd. 2*
*-Fight aired via online stream