Updated 06:17 AM EST, Sat, Dec 05, 2020

UFC The Ultimate Fighter 18 Finale Results, Live Blog, & Preview: Gray Maynard Vs. Nate Diaz in Main Event

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Lightweight match: Nate Diaz def. Gray Maynard via TKO (strikes) in the 1st round 
Season 5 TUF winner Nate Diaz took on Gray Maynard in the main event. Maynard started off strong using his superior wrestling skills getting Diaz down with single-leg takedown, attempting a head and arm triangle before Diaz attempted to flip Maynard off of him, forcing the fighters to stand back up. Maynard attempted another takedown and ate a Diaz right hand. Diaz took quick advantage, smothering Maynard with punches, scoring blows at will. Maynard tried to hang on but the referee stops the fight, giving Diaz the victory over Mayard.

Women's Bantamweight TUF Final: Juliana Peña def. Jessica Rakoczy via TKO (strikes) in the 1st round
Julianna Peña controlled the match right from the start, tripping Jessica Rakoczy early on, with Peña working her opponent off a half-guard. Rakoczy bucked Peña off but Peña swarmed her against the fence. Peña tripped Rakoczy, once again gaining top-position, and rained a vicious ground-and-pound attack for the rest of the round, forcing the referee to stop the match with a second left to end the 1st round. Peña wins the first UFC TUF championship in the organizations.

Men's Bantamweight TUF Final: Chris Holdsworth def. David Grant via submission with a rear naked choke in the 2nd round
David Grant starts the match connecting on Chris Holdsworth, before pressing him to the fence. Holdsworth controls the tempo along the fence sneaking in strikes. Both fighters attempted takedowns battling along the fence with Holdsworth hitting Grant with knees to wear him down. Holdsworth grazed Grant with a head kick to start the 2nd round and was almost taken down but Holdsworth escaped, taking down Grant into side-control. Grant tried to scramble out, only to give up his back, allowing for Holdsworth to wrap his arms around Grant's neck to cinch a rear-naked chokehold for the tap-out victory to win the men's bantamweight TUF 18 title. 

Women's Bantamweight: Jessamyn Duke def. Peggy Morgan via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Jessamyn Duke started out strong attempting a choke-hold midway through the 1st round, attempting a guillotine but could not lock it in. She attempted a triangle towards the end of the round, throwing elbows at Peggy Morgan to finish strong. Duke and Morgan traded shots to start the 2nd Round with Duke landing a left hook. Duke closed the 2nd round with a takedown to steal the round. Duke nailed body kicks to start the 3rd round, taking control of the match before ending up on her back after failed choke attempt. Duke defended herself in her guard before the officials stood them up, with Duke ending the round with hard punches to take the victory over Morgan. 

Women's Bantamweight: Raquel Pennington def. Roxanne Modafferi via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Roxanne Modafferi and Raquel Pennington started feeling each other out with Modafferi the busier fighter early on throwing combos midway through the round. Pennington ended the 1st round with a solid right before the bell rang. Modafferi was aggressive in the 2nd round but Pennington over-powered her getting top-control. Modafferi attempted an arm-bar but Pennington powered her way out, attempting a power-slam. Pennington landed an inside leg kick and a left hand. Modafferi started the last round aggressively but Pennington took control, punishing Modafferi with hammer-fists as her opponent was in her guard. Modafferi tried to steal the last round late with a guillotine but it was not enough for the victory, with Penningon taking the match by unnimous decision.

Preview
Gray Maynard and Nate Diaz headline Saturday's The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) Season 18 finale, in their third encounter since joining the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) roster.

Diaz and Maynard first clashed in the Season 5 semifinals of TUF, where Diaz made Maynard submit to move on to the finals, where he defeated Manny Gamburyan to win a UFC contract. The two would later meet a couple of years later at UFC Fight Night 20 with Maynard getting the best of Diaz in a close split-decision.

While striking is not the best part of Diaz's game, with most of his matches ending in submissions, Diaz is a voluminous puncher who likes to wear down opponents with quantities of punches over quality, coming at his opponents from different angles, mixing things up with kicks to add to his opponents' confusion. Maynard has fallen victim to consistent strikers in his last two bouts against Frankie Edgar and T.J. Grant and may be susceptible to the flurries of strikes that Diaz brings to The Octagon.

Maynard, a three time-time All-American wrestler at Michigan State University, has a distinct advantage in the wrestling department and is capable frustrating opponents like Diaz with his top control game that has earned him nine wins in the last 11 decisions.

Maynard must be careful if he does take the fight to the ground considering Diaz is a slick fighter off his back, having earned a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under long-time trainer Cesar Gracie. Diaz has won 11 of his 16 career wins tapping opponents out and can cinch the guillotine from various positions.

Diaz did submitted Maynard during the TUF semis, first and only time ever in his career, but Maynard used his wrestling background to his advantage for the decision victory at UFC Fight Night 20 in the second bout, which may make stamina the key factor in their third fight. Maynard has proven he can go into later rounds, having gone five rounds with Edgar at UFC 125. But Diaz runs triathlons for hobby and tends to get stronger as the match wears on.

In the under-card, two TUF bantamweight winners will be determined in three round matches. In the men's bantamweight division, Chris Holdsworth, representing Miesha Tate's team, faces David Grant, fighting for Ronda Rousey's team. In the women's bantamweight final, Team Tate's Julianna Peña will take on Team Rousey's Jessica Rakoczy.

Rousey and Tate, who will co-main event UFC 168 with Rousey defending her Ultimate Fighting Championship women's bantamweight title against Tate, coached this season's TUF contestants in preparation for their December bout.

Their UFC 168 title match is a rematch from their 2011 Strikeforce women's bantamweight championship bout, in which Rousey defeated Tate with a vicious arm-bar that forced Tate to tap out and lose her title. Both fighters have expressed a dislike for one another, with Rousey head-butting Tate during the weigh-ins prior to their Strikeforce match, and both competitors trading barbs during the filming of TUF, through the media.

"They bring the worst out in each other," said UFC president Dana White during the promotion TUF. "These two bring the absolute f-king worst out of each other. They both look like f-king lunatics."

 

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