The Ultimate Fighting Championship returned to The Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada tonight for The Ultimate Fighter 24 Finale. The card was headlined by a UFC Flyweight Championship bout between dominant champ Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson and challenger Tim Elliott.
In the co-feature, Joseph Benavidez took on rival TUF 24 coach Henry “The Messenger” Cejudo at 125 pounds. Jake “The Juggernaut” Ellenberger battled Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal in a welterweight showdown between hard-hitting strikers. MMARising.com has live play-by-play for the card.
UFC Flyweight Championship
Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson vs Tim Elliott
Johnson took Elliott down right away, but Elliott reversed position on the ground and struck from top position. Elliott secured a guillotine choke in a scramble and transitioned to a Brabo choke. Johnson escaped to his feet and threw a head kick before pulling Elliott down to the mat with a guillotine choke of his own. Elliott stood and punched his way free from a clinch. He slowed way down and began to breathe very heavily, but still landed a flurry to the body and stunned Johnson with a left hook. Elliott took Johnson down and finished the round on top. 10-9 Elliott.
Johnson opened round two with kick-punch combos and he took Elliott down against the cage. He worked for a rear-naked choke and then moved to side control. Johnson attempted a straight armbar and Elliott countered with elbows. Johnson trapped him in a top-side crucifix and landed short left hands before looking for another straight armbar. Elliott got back to his feet, but he ate right hands on the way up. Johnson stayed on his back and Elliott threw back elbow strikes. Johnson dragged him down, but Elliott wound up on top as time expired. 10-9 Johnson.
After an exchange of strikes on the feet, Johnson took Elliott down in round three and he transitioned from a rear-naked choke to a guillotine choke. Elliott took top position and tried to prevent Johnson from standing up. Johnson got back to his feet and ate punches and hammerfists for his efforts. He got Elliott down into side control and peppered him with short right hands. Elliott postured for a triangle choke and Johnson passed back to side control again. Elliott regained full guard, but Johnson landed ground and pound until the bell. 10-9 Johnson.
Elliott pressured Johnson with flashy kicks and a one-two in the fourth round, but Johnson responded by taking him down into side control. He threatened with rear-naked chokes and finally locked one in, but Elliott fought his way free. Johnson returned to side control and landed elbows from a top-side crucifix, but Elliott pulled his arm out and punched from the bottom. Johnson attacked with a straight armbar and switched to a kimura, but Elliott initiated a scramble and he stood up in the final ten seconds. 10-9 Johnson.
Elliott opened the final round with a takedown and he looked to set up a guillotine choke in a scramble. Johnson escaped and he struck from the top in side control. Elliott defended well from the bottom, but Johnson kept him pinned down and he eyed an arm-triangle choke from half-guard. Elliott scrambled again and he rolled for a kimura, but Johnson countered with an armbar. He tried for one final kimura before the end of the fight. 10-9 Johnson.
Winner: Demetrious Johnson by Unanimous Decision (49-45, 49-46, 49-46) after five rounds. He improves to 25-2-1 and remains the UFC Flyweight Champion.
Joseph Benavidez vs Henry “The Messenger” Cejudo
The fighters traded hard punches early on and Cejudo rocked Benavidez with a right hand. Benavidez dropped to a knee and Cejudo flurried with punches, but Benavidez recovered and stood. Cejudo continued to score with punches until time was called when Benavidez was kicked in the groin. Action resumed and Cejudo threw a kick-punch combo. Both men threw head kicks and Benavidez was inadvertently kicked in the groin again. Cejudo was docked one point and he took Benavidez down after the restart. More head kicks were exchanged and Cejudo also targeted the body with knees. Benavidez scored with another head kick late in the round. 9-9.
Cejudo cracked Benavidez with right hands in the second round and Benavidez returned fire with a kick behind the ear. Three punches and a knee landed for Cejudo, and he continued to target the body. Benavidez landed a huge right hook, but Cejudo was unfazed. The fighters exchanged punches and both missed with knees. Big kicks landed for both men to the body before time expired. 10-9 Cejudo.
Cejudo briefly held back control in the feet in the final round after landing a flurry early on. One-twos and body kicks landed for both men until Cejudo backed Benavidez up with a combination. Benavidez landed two of his best punches of the fight, but Cejudo continued to score with body kicks. He jumped in with a knee to the liver and both men flurried to the body and head. The fight ended with an exchange of hard punches. Close round. 10-9 Cejudo.
Winner: Joseph Benavidez by Split Decision (30-26, 29-27, 27-29) after three rounds. He improves to 25-4-0.
Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal vs Jake “The Juggernaut” Ellenberger
Masvidal caught a body kick and punished Ellenberger with counter kicks and punches in round one. Ellenberger fired back with punches of his own, but Masvidal backed him up with a series of relentless punches, knees and elbows. Ellenberger wilted and fell, but he weathered the storm and battled back to his feet. Masvidal caught another kick and landed a left hook. Ellenberger connected with a knee and a right hook, but Masvidal threw a spinning hook kick that led to a big exchange. Ellenberger got his foot caught in the cage and fell, and time was called as Masvidal landed punches. The commission entered the cage and waved off the fight, giving Masvidal a bizarre and controversial TKO victory.
Winner: Jorge Masvidal by TKO (Punches) at 4:05 of round one. He improves to 31-11-0.
Jared “The Killa Gorilla” Cannonier vs Ion “The Hulk” Cutelaba
Cutelaba pressed forward aggressively with power punches right away and Cannonier countered with single hooks. Cutelaba landed another combination and he threw Cannonier down to the ground. Cutelaba stood over Cannonier and dropped heavy right hands until Cannonier used an ankle pick to trip Cutelaba and get back to his feet. A right hand and a knee to the body scored for Cutelaba, who took Cannonier back down with a lateral drop. Cannonier stood and narrowly evaded a head kick. 10-9 Cutelaba.
Cutelaba secured a takedown in the second round and landed right hands on the way up. He got Cannonier down again, but Cannonier used upkicks to get back to his feet. He spun Cutelaba around with right hooks and Cutelaba responded by shooting in for a takedown. Cannonier scrambled up again and took Cutelaba’s back. He pulled him down to the mat and postured up with punches and elbows from half-guard. 10-9 Cannonier.
Cannonier opened round three with kicks and punches, and he quickly got back to his feet after Cutelaba briefly took him down. Big punches were exchanged on the feet and Cannonier landed one-twos. Cutelaba fired back with punches and a knee, but he ate an uppercut for his efforts. Hard shots landed for Cannonier and Cutelaba began to bleed from a cut below his right eye. Cannonier dropped his hands and let Cutelaba hit him, and he backed Cutelaba up with a flurry at the bell. 10-9 Cannonier.
Winner: Jared Cannonier by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) after three rounds. He improves to 9-1-0.
Sara McMann vs Alexis “Ally-Gator” Davis
Hard right hands were exchanged right away and McMann followed with a five-punch flurry. She took Davis down and Davis countered with elbows from her back while working for a triangle choke. McMann freed her arm and dropped short punches and elbows from the top. She postured up and landed harder shots with 75 seconds to go. Davis trapped her in a triangle choke and punished her with more elbows until the bell sounded. 10-9 Davis.
Davis flurried with punches in round two and McMann took her down. Davis looked to set up a leg submission, but McMann easily avoided danger and worked from the top in half-guard. She secured an arm-triangle choke and passed Davis’s guard to side control. Davis tried to hold on, but she was forced to submit.
Winner: Sara McMann by Submission (Arm-Triangle Choke) at 2:52 of round two. She improves to 10-3-0.
Brandon “The Assassin Baby” Moreno vs Ryan “Baby Face” Benoit
Moreno landed a head kick and took Benoit down in round one. Benoit stood and fought off a takedown attempt. Moreno closed the distance again and took his back against the cage. He landed knees to Benoit’s thighs until Benoit broke free. Time was called after Benoit was kicked in the groin. The fight continued and Benoit countered a head kick with looping hooks. A vicious body kick landed for Benoit and he followed with a one-two. Big punches were exchanged and both men landed late in the round. 10-9 Moreno.
Moreno stuffed a takedown in the second round and he clipped Benoit with counter left hooks and a one-two. Benoit dropped him with a left hook, but Moreno immediately returned to his feet and pressed forward with punches. More hooks landed for Benoit and Moreno slammed him down to the mat. He struck from the top and took Benoit back down after the fighters briefly returned to their feet. Moreno peppered Benoit with left hands until the bell. 10-9 Moreno.
Both men landed power punches in round three and Moreno hurt Benoit with a looping hook. He missed with a jumping switch knee but landed with a head kick. The fighters traded one-twos and Benoit connected with a lead left hand. Moreno targeted the body and Benoit blatantly grabbed the fence in order to fend off a takedown. He landed a hard left hook and Moreno fired back with a right. 10-9 Moreno.
Winner: Brandon Moreno by Split Decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29) after three rounds. He improves to 13-3-0.
(Undercard results and play-by-play on Page Two.)