Grove Bests Tanner, Sadollah Wins TUF Crown

By Mike Sloan Jun 22, 2008
LAS VEGAS -- In what was the most important fight of his professional career, Kendall Grove (Pictures) defeated Evan Tanner (Pictures) on Saturday during the main event of "The Ultimate Fighter 7" at the Palms Casino Resort. After two consecutive defeats, Grove, a Hawaii native, knew his days as a UFC fighter could be over with another loss. Tanner was a sturdy test, but Grove passed with flying colors to keep his UFC career afloat.

"I got embarrassed [in my last two fights]," he said. "But I grew up as a fighter during those loses. I didn't know how to lose in the UFC. Patrick Cote (Pictures) and Jorge Rivera (Pictures), I thank you guys. Even though you guys kicked my ass, I thank you. You guys made me mature as a fighter."

Grove wound up battering the former UFC middleweight champion from the outset and most in attendance felt he won a landslide decision. However, though "Da Spyder" bloodied Tanner, thwarted most of his takedown attempts and dished out several stinging right hands, the judges were inexplicably split. Two judges scored the fight 30-26, but Judge Al Lefkowitz somehow saw the lopsided mugging 29-28 in favor of Tanner.

"Depends on who's looking at it," Grove said of the dubious scoring totals. "He did good recovering [and] putting me against the cage. He was strong, like I expected. Like I was taught, if he takes me down, get up. Pressure him and get him up. I knew he was going to get tired."

And Tanner did get tired. The bearded one continually pressed for the body lock and takedown, but the lanky, Vegas-based TUF 3 champion defended well. Even in the rare instances where Tanner was able to bring Grove down onto the canvas, the 6-foot-6 middleweight eventually found a way back up to his feet.

TUF 7 Finale

Amir Sadollah had a much easier time against CB Dollaway (Pictures) in the TUF 7 finale. Sadollah was taken down by the bigger Dollaway but the eventual champion locked on a tight armbar at 3:02 of the first round.

After Sadollah torqued his hips to extend the elbow, Dollaway tapped on Sadollah's leg. Referee Herb Dean (Pictures) quickly stopped the bout, but Dollaway, angrily protested that he did not tap. Multiple replays from all angles showed Dollaway making one clear tap.

"[I'm] trying to think of funny stuff to say but it won't come out," Sadollah said afterward. "So I'll just say that I'm blown away by the fact that, that just happened, and I'm talking to Joe Rogan."

Sanchez Highlights Main Card

Diego Sanchez (Pictures) displayed much-improved striking to beat Luigi Fioravanti (Pictures) by a third-round technical knockout, but not before Fioravanti showed his trademark toughness.

Using accurate and compact punches, Sanchez floored Fioravanti on several occasions, but the American Top Team fighter usually found ways to rebound and return to his feet.

In the third round, the TUF 1 champion staggered Fioravanti with a left kick to the head. Sanchez added a flying right knee to Fioravanti's jaw and immediately pounced on his fallen foe. After a short flurry of punches, the fight was stopped at 4:07.

"People have always underestimated [my] striking ability," Sanchez said. "I keep working on it. [Former opponent] Joe Riggs (Pictures) wasn't a fluke. And I'm back, baby. I'm back."

Dustin Hazelett (Pictures) and Josh Burkman (Pictures) electrified the crowd with a memorable clash that was dubbed "fight of the night." Burkman tried everything he could to offset Hazelett's dazzling array of submissions, but was eventually caught in an armbar at 4:46 of the second round.

Hazelett tried an omoplata, rear-naked choke, anaconda choke and guillotine choke before transitioning from a whizzer to an armbar and forced the tapout. The move was awarded "submission of the night" honors.

Spencer Fisher (Pictures) won a hard-fought, but well-deserved unanimous 29-28 decision over Jeremy Stephens (Pictures). It was a classic MMA chess match but Fisher's aggression and assertiveness carried him through the rounds.

In another three-round decision, Matt Riddle outworked and out-hustled Dante Rivera (Pictures) to win 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28.

McFedries Returns to Form

Drew McFedries wasted no time with dangerous Marvin Eastman (Pictures), punching his way to a technical knockout at 1:08 of the first round. McFedries hurt Eastman with a right uppercut seconds into the fight and followed by unloading nearly every punch in his repertoire. Eastman never regained his bearings and eventually was knocked down, prompting referee Stave Mazzagatti to end the bombardment.

Matt Brown stopped Matt Arroyo with an impressive second-round technical knockout due to strikes. Brown had Arroyo pinned along the fence and unloaded a series of punches before referee Herb Dean (Pictures) stepped in at 3:40 of the second round.

Once again, Dean Lister (Pictures) proved his jiu-jitsu is among the world's elite as he executed a textbook guillotine choke on long-time MMA veteran Jeremy Horn (Pictures). Lister locked it up after a scramble and forced the tap at 3:52 of the opening stanza.

In the first bout of the card, Rob Kimmons (Pictures) won his UFC debut by submitting Rob Yundt (Pictures) with a guillotine choke at 3:58 of the first round.
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