The Ultimate Fighter 1 Finale
|The Ultimate Fighter: Team Couture vs. Team Liddell Finale|
|Promotion||Ultimate Fighting Championship|
|Date||April 9, 2005|
The Ultimate Fighter: Team Couture vs. Team Liddell Finale was a mixed martial arts event held by the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) on April 9, 2005. Featured were the finals from The Ultimate Fighter 1 in both the Middleweight and Light Heavyweight divisions.
Even though the main attraction of the event was Rich Franklin vs the UFC Hall of Famer Ken Shamrock the spotlight was stolen by the incredible bout between Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar. Hailed as one of the greatest fights in MMA history by many, Forrest and Stephan produced a 3 round stand up war that went the distance. Although Forrest Griffin would take the decision both men were given UFC contracts for their amazing performance.
The Fight That Saved the UFC
Even though both Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar had good records at the time (Griffin 9-2, Bonnar 9-1), many were expecting this fight to be nothing more than filler before the main event between UFC legend Ken Shamrock and rising superstar Rich Franklin.
Both fighters had rough, controversial, and impressive wins to make it to the finale. In their first fights, Forrest defeated Alex Schoenauer by TKO but suffered what appeared to be a serious cut above his eye; Stephan earned a controversial decision win over perennial favorite Bobby Southworth. In the semi-finals, both fighters finished their opponents with Forrest defeating teammate Sam Hoger by TKO and Stephan defeating teammate Mike Swick by Submission.
Many fans expected a standard fight between 2 contrasting fighting styles--Forrest using his striking against Stephan's jiu-jitsu. Instead, many in attendance were surprised that Stephan chose to stand and strike with Forrest. For three rounds, they brought the crowd to their feet in raucous applause as they battled in a non-stop, knock-down, legendary battle. To many critics and fans, this fight showed the true heart of not only UFC fighters but of all who participate and appreciate MMA.
UFC President Dana White credits this fight as being the driving force behind the future success of the UFC, often stating that it was due to the fight that Spike TV offered them a second season of the show. In reality the second season had already been confirmed (and was in the casting stages) prior to the fight. In 2013 both Griffin and Bonnar were inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame, and whilst Griffin went on to win the UFC Light Heavyweight title, this fight is still considered the highlight of both fighters' careers.
- Welterweight bout: Alex Karalexis vs. Josh Rafferty
- Karalexis wins by TKO (strikes) at 1:40 of the first round.
- Swick wins by KO (strikes) at :20 of the first round.
- Quarry wins by TKO at 3:17 of the first round.
- Middleweight bout: Josh Koscheck vs. Chris Sanford
- Koscheck wins by KO at 4:21 of the first round.
- Middleweight bout: Chris Leben vs. Jason Thacker
- Leben wins by TKO at 1:35 of the first round.
- Hoger wins by unanimous decision.
- Sanchez wins by TKO at 2:46 of the first round, to become the first Middleweight winner of The Ultimate Fighter.
- Griffin wins by unanimous decision (29–28, 29–28, 29–28) in what is described as one of the best fights in the history of the UFC. He wins the first Ultimate Fighter Championship in the Light Heavyweight division, but Dana White grants Bonnar a UFC contract as well after his performance (see Forrest Griffin vs. Stephan Bonnar).
- Franklin wins by TKO at 2:42 of the first round.
- "Ultimate Fighter I Finale". Ufc.com. Retrieved 2009-03-05.