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'The Ultimate Fighter 8 Finale' Recap

The TUF 8 Finale came to us all live from the Pearl at the Palms in Las Vegas, Nevada on December 13, 2008. As is the case with all such finales, two competitors would receive six figure UFC contracts by the end of the night. The question, of course, was which two fighters? Would it be Ryan Bader or Vinicius Magalhaes? Further, would Efrain Escudero come through or would it be Phillipe Nover?

Here goes.

"I honestly believe most people are going to tune in to watch me and David fight, to watch me completely dismantle him," said Junie Browning coming into the first fight of the night against David Kaplan. Of course, he'd fallen short of his verbalizations during the TUF 8 show. So would he fall short once again?

Browning started the fight off utilizing angles on his feet in outstanding fashion, connecting with punches and low kicks with ease. From there, he connected with several punches, a nice knee, and more before slipping to the canvas. Though Kaplan took the top when that happened and began to look for an ankle lock, Browning took advantage of his efforts by taking his opponent's back. Still, he was unable to follow through on the move as Kaplan eventually got to his feet.

Browning did very well while the fight stayed upright, connecting with solid shots along the way. The two then traded takedowns. The difference was, Browning took Kaplan's back and nearly won via rear naked choke when he got his chance. When the attempt fell by the wayside, the two ended up on their feet trading before the bell.

A good round that clearly went to Junie Browning.

Browning shot in and took Kaplan down early in the second stanza. After some work, he moved to side control and then stepped over and sunk in the armbar.

Junie Browning wins via armbar at 1:32 of round two. He looked like a far better fighter in this one than when he was on the show.

Next up was a fight between Eliot Marshall and Jules Bruchez.

Early on, Marshall landed a huge right hand plus a flurry that clearly left Bruchez confused. Soon after, he took his opponent down and fell right into side control. Then came the mount and moments later, the rear naked choke.

That's that.

Eliot Marshall wins via rear naked choke in round one.

Next up was a very interesting fight between Wilson Gouveia and Jason MacDonald. Unfortunately for everyone involved, Gouveia didn't make weight, meaning he lost a percentage of his purse and MacDonald had to fight a heavier man. Still, MacDonald was confident, reminding the masses that, "anyone that watches my fights knows that I'm always looking for a finish."

Early on, MacDonald took his opponent down. But Gouveia almost immediately got up. After some trading, a right- left combination by Gouveia floored his opponent. From there, MacDonald took multiple punches and hard elbows on the ground from Gouveia until the onslaught caused him to tap.

Great performance by Gouveia.

Wilson Gouveia wins via submission due to strikes at 2:18 of round one.

Next up was a rematch between Kevin Burns and Anthony Johnson. Who would win? More importantly, would there be any eye poking?

Kevin Burns started off strong with awesome low kicks and fast punches. But soon after, Johnson took him down. Eventually, Johnson took side control but almost got caught in an unorthodox triangle from there. However, he got out and started in with some mild ground and pound within Burns' guard.

After the referee stood them up to a perceived lack of action, Johnson hit home with a nice body kick and hard right hand that combined with a leg grab compelled Burns to the canvas. After spending some time in the bicycle, Burns was allowed up by the referee and took a couple of hard shots from Johnson before the bell for his efforts.

This was a very close round.

The second round saw both guys come out aggressively, each connecting with solid shots. Then Johnson took him down. Burns grabbed Johnson's arm in a kimura attempt, but Johnson pulled his arm out. Later, Johnson connected with some very nice elbows in ground and pound fashion. Burns returned a similar favor from the bottom soon after. But the ground and pound from Johnson continued to both the body and face. This wasn't mild stuff, either. He was throwing down, and it continued until the end of the stanza.

Johnson took this round for sure.

In the third, Johnson connected with some nice kicks and jabs. Then came an awesome head kick that knocked Burns out cold.

Anthony Johnson wins via knockout after 28 seconds in round three. This is a guy to watch.

Next up was one of the bouts we'd all been waiting for: Ryan Bader vs. Vinicius Magalhaes. "Since we left the house," Magalhaes said, "I've been thinking about Bader every single second of my life. Every single day, so there's no other result for me but beat Bader up." Of course, Bader's wrestling skills and athleticism might make that harder to do than to say.

Early on, Bader hit home with some low kicks and punches; Magalhaes connected with a nice body kick. From there, Bader began to exert his will on his feet to an extent. Then came a huge right hand that floored Magalhaes. A couple of strikes on the ground later and it was all over.

Bader is one powerful dude.

Ryan Bader wins via knockout at 2:18 of round one.

Next up was a match between Krzysztof Soszynski and Shane Primm. Early on, Soszynski connected with two hard lefts but his aggressiveness allowed Primm to drop a level and take him down. Soon after, however, Soszynski pushed off with his legs and got right back to his feet. There he landed a combination, sprawled out of a takedown, and ended up on top in Primm's guard. After slamming his way out of an early stage triangle attempt, Soszynski stood up again, where he got the better of the striking for a period of time. Then Soszynski was once again called on to sprawl out of a takedown attempt, which left him on top in side control twice (he got up and then went right back down to it). Unable to pull off the kimura he was looking for from that position, Soszynski stood up and then came down with a big punch. Soon after came the bell.

Soszynski won the round.

The second round was more of the same at the outset. Eventually, this landed Soszynski in Primm's half guard where he managed to pull off the kimura he had looked for during the initial stanza.

Krzysztof Soszynski wins via kimura at 3:27 of round two.

"I'm gonna have to crush him, just like any other opponent I ever face," said Phillipe Nover before taking on Efrain Escudero in the other finale match. That philosophy had worked quite well for him on the show. Would that streak continue?

Nover came out and connected with a nice right hand, causing Escudero to take him down. Though Nover pushed him off with his legs and got to his feet, Escudero connected with a flurry that stunned him on the way up, allowing him to take Nover's back momentarily. Nover did a good job of moving to guard but took some hard ground and pound shots in the process. That's when Nover started looking for an armbar/ kimura, which caused Escudero to let him up. Soon after, Escudero took him down again. When Nover started looking for a submission again, Escudero got up.

This is a great round.

After connecting with a nice high kick, Nover was taken down again. Escudero isn't exactly doing a lay and pray job here, either, while standing over a downed Nover. Then Nover came inside and kneed Escudero after being allowed up once more. Then the bell.

Escudero took the first round in outstanding fashion. His ability to take Nover down is apparent.

Early in the second, Nover came out aggressively, connecting with a solid shot, and was taken down for his efforts. Escudero found himself in side control, but when Nover moved to guard, Escudero stood up and started landing leg kicks to his opponent's legs while down. Then Nover got up. While in the clinch, Nover connected with a nice elbow. Both traded shots and then Nover was tripped to the canvas along the cage wall. From there, came some mild ground and pound until Nover got to his feet after Escudero pulled out of a leg lock attempt. Though he connected with a strong body kick at that point, Escudero took him down violently. Then the bell.

Right now it would appear that Nover needs a stoppage in order to win.

The third round saw Escudero take Nover down again after getting hit with some jabs. This time, Nover found himself in the beginning stages of an omoplata. While Escudero held his right leg which kept the hold from going through, he got hit with a ton of elbows to the side of the face and shoulder for his efforts. Eventually the move allowed Nover to turn Escudero over. After some ground and pound, he achieved side control. Then some more punches.

Then the bell.

Got to think that Nover lost this fight by a round after a solid round three. The judges agreed.

Efrain Escudero wins via unanimous decision.

In the end, the TUF 8 Finale was a fun night of fights. The Escudero- Nover fight was excellent. Further, the knockouts achieved by Anthony Johnson and Ryan Bader were of the highlight reel variety. Finally, Wilson Gouveia once again proved to be a very good fighter that doesn't get the respect he deserves.

Preliminary Bouts:

1. Lightweight Bout
Roli Delgado def. John Polakowski via submission (guillotine choke) - R2 (2:18)

2. Lightweight Bout
Shane Nelson def. George Roop via split decision

3. Light Heavyweight Bout
Tom Lawlor def. Kyle Kingsbury via unanimous decision

4. Light Heavyweight Bout
Eliot Marshall def. Jules Bruchez via submission (rear-naked choke) - R1 (1:27)

5. Light Heavyweight Bout
Krzysztof Soszynski def. Shane Primm via submission (kimura) - R2 (3:27)

Televised Bouts (Spike TV):

6. Lightweight Bout
Junie Browning def. David Kaplan via submission (armbar) - R2 (1:32)

7. 189-lb. Bout (Gouveia didn't make weight)
Wilson Gouveia def. Jason MacDonald via submission (strikes) - R1 (2:18)

8. Welterweight Bout
Anthony Johnson def. Kevin Burns via KO (head kick) - R3 (0:28)

9. TUF 8 Light Heavyweight Final
Ryan Bader def. Vinicius Magalhaes via TKO (strikes) - R1 (2:18)

10. TUF 8 Lightweight Final
Efrain Escudero def. Phillipe Nover via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

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