's Guide to TUF 7

By Scott Holmes Jun 19, 2008
After covering "The Ultimate Fighter" since day one, I figured I'd seen it all. But the 90-minute finale this season was probably the best episode yet.

Alternating between blood and tears, it was an emotional rollercoaster fueled by some amazing fights.

"I've had three dominant performances, and now I'm going to have a fourth," CB Dollaway (Pictures) predicted before his semifinal match with Amir Sadollah.

Dollaway had steamrolled through his opponents. Most figured that he'd do the same to Sadollah, who had almost no ground experience to counter the wrestler. Although Sadollah is one of the least experienced fighters on the show, he's clawed and kneed his way into each fight.

A very raw and touching moment occurred for both fighters as their respective coaches gave them some final advice before they entered the biggest fight of their lives. Quinton Jackson (Pictures) leaned in and looked Dollaway in the eye.

"You're the future of this sport, man," Jackson said. "And I want you to know that and go ahead and prove that today."

While Jackson confirmed to Dollaway what he already knew, Sadollah was still overwhelmed after coming so far with such little experience to rely on. Forrest Griffin (Pictures) had reassuring words: "You haven't broken once since you've been here. You belong here. It's OK. No matter what happens, you're going to leave it out there. You know that, I know that."

Amir connected with a round kick that dropped Dollaway early. Sadollah rushed in on the downed opponent only to get picked up and dumped hard. After the takedown, Dollaway worked for some ground-and-pound, but Sadollah has picked up a serviceable guard during his training with Griffin and kept the damage at a minimum. Back on the feet, Sadollah threw a superman punch, and the two traded shots until the round ended on the ground.

Dollaway picked up the pace to start round two, scoring with some nice kicks to Sadollah's ribs. However, Sadollah landed a devastating push kick that crumpled Dollaway back into the fence. Again Sadollah rushed in and gave the better wrestler a chance to recover. Dollaway then wrestled him back down and opened a cut with an elbow to Sadollah's left eye.

After being stood, Sadollah connected with some more good shots until he unwisely rushed in too close with a knee. Dollaway grabbed a body lock, and Griffin saw the writing on the wall for his fighter.

"This takedown is the fight!" Griffin yelled.

Sadollah put forth a good effort, but Dollaway completed the takedown. On the ground, Sadollah gave up his back to avoid blows and eventually turned into Dollaway to escape a choke. During the transition that followed, Sadollah finally stuck an armbar that caused Dollaway to tap immediately.

Sadollah couldn't believe he had won. His team erupted while he raced around the ring screaming through a bloody face.

"He's one of the toughest cats I've ever seen in my life," said Jesse Taylor (Pictures) after changing his mind about Sadollah.

"If you lined up the four guys I fought here -- Steve Byrnes (Pictures), Gerald Harris (Pictures), Matt Brown and CB Dollaway (Pictures) -- and said you have six weeks to fight and beat all of them, I would look at you and say, ‘No.'"

After the fight, things turned even more serious. Dana White received some troubling news from the security staff at Palace Station casino. He looked on with concern as he watched footage of finalist Jesse Taylor (Pictures) kicking out the window of a limousine. After the filming of the show was over, several of the fighters had gone out for a night on the town and Taylor was drunk and out of control.

White heard that Taylor drunk-strutted into the hotel and harassed some women until he was approached by security. The UFC president said Taylor was rowdy and disruptive before asking, "Do you know who I am? I'm a UFC fighter."

Uh oh.

White and the coaches brought in Taylor for a chat. His answer to White's question of what had happened was a little too simple: "I drank a little too much."

Taylor looked like a whooped dog while White rolled into a "It's my town" speech. Then White leaned forward and took the scolding up a notch.

"Bro, you're not even f---ing famous yet!" he told Taylor. "What the f--- are you going to be like when you start making money and everyone wants your autograph and all the f---ing girls want to hang out with you? What's going to be going on with you? You're going to be a f---ing lunatic."

Taylor's face was ashen.

"Probably the worst moment of my life right there," he said, tearing up. "I just want to disappear for a while."

"I think we made the best decision we could make," said White of the unique situation of having to kick off someone after the show was done filming.

The decision was to bring back Tim Credeur and CB Dollaway (Pictures) to hash out who would replace Taylor. White asked them if they wanted another shot, and both looked at him as if he were crazy to think they wouldn't.

Dollaway and Credeur are just sick enough to wish that they had fought each other on the show anyway, so they were all prepared to get at it.

The fight was a slugfest that had more action than I can type. Credeur and Dollaway decided to duke it out in the first round, exchanging with several flurries. Credeur sported a pink side early from Dollaway's kicks to the body, but he was effective when he could keep Dollaway on the end of his punches. In fact, Credeur floored his opponent at one point but wasn't able to capitalize before the round ended.

In the second, Dollaway returned the favor by knocking Credeur down with a punch of his own. Dollaway came alive, leveling Credeur and following up with a ton of hard shots that looked as if they would finish the fight. Credeur somehow weathered the storm, though, and punched his way back to his feet and into the fight, ending the second round on top of Dollaway.

Dollaway busted up Credeur with some hard shots to start the final round, but again he found himself on the end of Credeur's shots while resting a bit. Dollaway's kicks were impressive, and Credeur finished the fight looking out of his right eye because the left had swollen shut.

Credeur put forth a very valiant effort in a seesaw battle, but Dollaway's superior wrestling and beautiful kicks earned him the unanimous decision.

Now Dollaway will get a second chance at Amir Sadollah on Saturday, as both are one fight away from becoming -- wait for it -- the Ultimate Fighter.

White also gave both guys 10K for returning and putting on such a good show. So there you have it, season seven in the can. I take my hat off to all the contestants for truly fighting their asses off. A new standard seems to have been set for the future.
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