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The Ultimate Fighter’ finale blog: Martin Kampmann rallies for another victory

Mike Chiesa wins fifth fight in three months to take lightweight tournament

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Martin Kampmann hits Jake Ellenberger during the first round of their welterweight bout at The Ultimate Fighter 15 Friday, June 1 2012. Kampmann won with a second round knockout.

Updated Friday, June 1, 2012 | 8:59 p.m.

TUF 15: Kampmann vs. Ellenberger

Martin Kampmann raises his arms in victory after defeating Jake Ellenberger in their welterweight bout at The Ultimate Fighter 15 Friday, June 1 2012. Kampmann won with a second round knockout. Launch slideshow »

TUF 15: Chiesa vs. Iaquinta

Mike Chiesa celebrates his submission victory over Al Iaquinta in their lightweight bout at The Ultimate Fighter 15 Friday, June 1 2012. Launch slideshow »

TUF Live Finale

Charles Oliveira hits Jonathan Brookins during their bout at The Ultimate Fighter 15 Friday, June 1 2012. Launch slideshow »

Note: Full results from the preliminary card available at the bottom of the page.

For his second straight fight, Martin Kampmann found himself at an early deficit.

For his second straight fight, Kampmann fought his way out of it and picked up an improbable victory. Kampmann showed off his flair for the dramatic once again in the main event of "The Ultimate Fighter Live" finale, scoring a TKO victory over Jake Ellenberger at 1:40 of the second round after getting rocked and possibly suffering a broken nose earlier in the bout.

"He caught me," Kampmann admitted in the octagon immediately after his victory. "He dazed me."

Ellenberger dropped Kampmann with a left hand seconds into their bout, sending the 30-year-old local fighter crashing to the floor against the fence. But Kampmann's instincts took over and he was able to get a hold of Ellenberger's neck for long enough to recover.

It didn't seem to matter, because at the beginning of the second round, Ellenberger continued to get the best of Kampmann. He rocked the Xtreme Couture product with a combination that bloodied his nose. Kampmann's face was covered in blood when he got Ellenberger in the clinch and threw the two knees that ended the fight.

The win marked Kampmann's third in a row and should place him among the welterweight division's elite. A bout with Johny Hendricks could make the most sense, as the winner could then meet the victor of a championship bout between Georges St. Pierre and Carlos Condit.

"I like Johny Hendricks," Kampmann said. "I used to train with him. I think me and him would make for a hell of a scrap."

Kampmann wasn't the only underdog to prevail at the Palms Friday night. Mike Chiesa won "The Ultimate Fighter Live" season by submitting Al Iaquinta in the first round.

Chiesa was around a 3-to-1 underdog.

"This is exactly what I wanted," Chiesa said. "It's been such a journey. I wasn't selling myself short by losing tonight. There was no way I was losing tonight."

Charles Oliveira and Justin Lawrence emerged as the night's other notable winners. Lawrence's head-kick knockout of John Cofer in the third round will enter Knockout of the Year discussions. Oliveira thoroughly dominated "TUF" 12 champion Jonathan Brookins before submitting him in the second round.

Check below for full round-by-round coverage of the main card and check back later for more from lasvegassun.com.

Jake Ellenberger vs. Martin Kampmann

Second Round A wild striking exchange from the beginning makes up for lost time in the first round. Ellenberger is hurting Kampmann badly, sending him circling around the octagon. He lands any variety of punch he wants and Kampmann's face is bloodied a minute into the round. Ellenberger has some blood on his forehead as well, but it's most likely Kampmann's. Blood is pouring out of Kampmann's nose, but he tries to keep his composure. He throws a kick and then clinches up after Ellenberger swings a wild overhand right. He fires two knees and Ellenberger is out. That's it. Martin Kampmann knocks out Jake Ellenberger at 1:40 of the second round.

First Round They're content to keep their distance for the opening 30 seconds before Ellenberger crashes in. Ellenberger wins the first exchange and comes back inside to drop Kampmann with a left hand. Kampmann stumbles back against the fence and Ellenberger is launching right hands into his forehead. Kampmann gets a hold of Ellenberger's neck, putting him in a position vulnerable enough to enable some recovery. Kampmann's back is completely against the fence now and he could look to wall walk to get to his feet. But Ellenberger pulls him away and transitions before throwing a couple ground-and-pound strikes. Kampmann keeps looking for chokes, but Ellenberger is pressuring him on top. Kampmann can't get out from under from Ellenberger. Kampmann threatens with a guillotine that nearly allows him to stand up. Ellenberger doesn't appear to be in any serious danger, but Kampmann has completely turned the tables and is now in control. They've been in the same position for more than two minutes before Ellenberger breaks out with an elbow. Kampmann stands up and throws some knees from the clinch. Kampmann tries to take Ellenberger down, but doesn't come close. Kampmann finished strong, but it's a clear 10-9 score in favor of Ellenberger.

Mike Chiesa vs. Al Iaquinta

First Round They touch gloves and Iaquinta swings right away. He hits Chiesa with a right. Chiesa answers with a left a few seconds later. Iaquinta catches one of Chiesa's leg kicks and tees off on him along the fence. Now Chiesa is the one looking for the takedown with one of Iaquinta's legs. He gets him on the ground for a second or two, but they are back up along the cage. Chiesa hits Iaquinta with a straight right. Chiesa hits Iaquinta with a leg kick. Iaquinta comes in with a combination, punctuated by an overhand right. Chiesa has Iaquinta's timing down, however, as he counters an advance. Chiesa fights off a takedown attempt from Iaquinta. Chiesa gets Iaquinta down himself. He's got Iaquinta's back with two hooks in. Chiesa is trying to sink in a rear-naked choke, but Iaquinta is valiant in getting Chiesa's hands away. Chiesa's got it now and Iaquinta can't do anything about it. He struggles for as long as he can before he taps out. Mike Chiesa wins "The Ultimate Fighter Live" by submitting Al Iaquinta at 2:47 of the first round.

Jonathan Brookins vs. Charles Oliveira

Second Round They trade kicks to start the round. Action is paused when Oliveira inadvertently hits Brookins in the groin. When they re-start, Oliveira lands a knee and a right hand. They clinch up, but Oliveira is getting the better of it. As they break out, Brookins hit Oliveira with a right hand and opens a cut on his face. Oliveira staggers Brookins a few seconds later with a combination. Oliveira shoots for a takedown this time, but Brookins gets a hold of his neck. Brookins is looking for a standing guillotine, but it's not tight. Oliveira lifts Brookins up and puts him on his back on the mat. Oliveira throws some ground-and-pound before looking for a guillotine of his own. Oliveira cranks on Brookins' head and he can't take it anymore. Brookins taps out. Oliveira defeats Brookins by submission at 2:42 of the second round.

First Round A solid 20 seconds pass without any action. Oliveira breaks the lull with a couple leg kicks. Brookins looks to clinch, but Oliveira moves away and throws a right hand on his way out. Brookins lands a Superman punch and straight shot to the body. Brookins gets Oliveira in the clinch and they trade knees. Oliveira rips a kick across Brookin's stomach as they break out. Oliveira continues to work his leg kicks. After they circle around, Oliveira hits Brookins with a flying knee. Brookins shoots in after the knee and gets Oliveira to the ground. Brookins can only supply a little ground-and-pound before Oliveira forces him to his feet. They're both back up with two-and-a-half minutes to go. Oliveira hits Brookins with a right hand against the fence. Brookins counters a couple of Oliveira's advances, but he's not landing with as much power. A right hand from Oliveira sends Brookins squatting toward the ground. But he's back up and OK. A left hand from Oliveira hurts Brookins, who goes crashing against the cage. But every time it looks like Brookins is in trouble, he shows quick recovery. Brookins charges forward and wins an exchange. Oliveira lands a Superman punch followed by a knee with 30 seconds to go. Another knee from Oliveira ends the round. Oliveira wins it 10-9.

Max Holloway vs. Pat Schilling

Third Round Schilling stalks forward like a zombie. He's got nothing left. He counters Holloway, but nothing is behind any of the punches. Schilling's face is bruised. His body can't feel much better as Holloway rips another right hand against his stomach. Schilling would still like to get the fight to the ground, but Holloway is continually sprawling his takedown attempts and getting away. They meet at the center of the octagon and Holoway's jabs connect with Schilling's chin. Holloway is now pointing his finger at Schilling, who awakes with a left hand. Holloway gets the better of an ensuing exchange, though. Schilling is circling away, but Holloway finds a way to track him down with another right hand to the body. Holloway's combinations continue to pester Schilling. He tries a front kick, but it's not there. Holloway advances and follows a punching combination with a knee. Schilling drops in for a takedown, but Holloway pushes him away. Holloway drops Schilling with a right hand. He hits him with one more strike, but won't follow him to the ground. Holloway has no intention in following Schilling to the ground in search of a finish. Now Schilling's nose is bleeding everywhere, as Holloway hits him with a straight right. Schilling keeps striking late, but Holloway wins another round with ease to take the fight 30-26 on the Las Vegas Sun scorecard. Holloway defeats Schilling by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).

Second Round Holloway jabs to open another round. He's bothering Schilling, who looks for another takedown. It looks promising with Holloway off-balance, but the Hawaiian uses the cage to brace himself. He's out now and dishing combinations to Schilling. Holloway lands a big right hand, and it looks like there's some swelling under Schilling's left eye. Schilling leg kicks, but Holloway counters a punch with a right hand and wobbles him. Schilling goes to the ground, but Holloway doesn't want to follow him. Holloway presses Schilling against the cage and tees off from the clinch. A knee hurts Schilling, as does a right hand when he circles away. Schilling looks for a takedown, but he's unsuccessful again. Holloway is punishing Schilling with body shots. Schilling goes for a single-leg takedown that he can't complete. He falls over again as Holloway pelts him with a combination. Schilling has no offense until he catches one of Holloway's kicks and gets him down for a couple seconds. Holloway pops right back up and Schilling looks doomed as he eats consecutive jabs. Another takedown attempt from Schilling has nothing behind it. Holloway's body shots are really hurting Schilling, who looks exhausted. Schilling scores some before the end of the round with a head kick, but Holloway drops him. The bell saves Schilling. Holloway takes a 10-8 round and leads 20-17.

First Round Schilling strikes first with a straight right. Holloway's first strike, a head kick, is blocked by Schilling, who moves forward with an overhand right. Schilling shoots for a takedown. He gets one of Holloway's legs, lifts him in the air but can't finish the job. Schilling now presses Holloway against the cage. He gets Holloway down momentarily, but he's back to his feet. Schilling works his jab. Holloway keeps whiffing with kicks. Holloway rushes in for a nice combination, but Schilling counters. Holloway goes the body and sprawls away from a takedown attempt. The fight is starting to change in his favor. Schilling is having trouble tracking him down, as Holloway is light on his feet and elusive. Schilling runs in again and hits Holloway with a right hand. He grazes Holloway's temple with a spinning back fist. Holloway switches to the aggressor after that, mixing his body shots with combinations upstairs. Schilling blocks another head kick with his arm. Schilling lands an uppercut. Schilling gets inside again, but has to eat a counter right from Holloway. Holloway gets away from another takedown attempt. Schilling gets back to his feet and tags Holloway with a right hook. Holloway lands a head kick and a flying knee with 15 seconds to go. They clinch up against the cage. Schilling pulls guard working on a heel hook, but the bell sounds. Round was close, but Holloway takes it 10-9 on this scorecard.

Justin Lawrence vs. John Cofer

Third Round Cofer throws another kick to Lawrence's body to start things. Lawrence answers with a punching combination. A few seconds later, Lawrence kicks Cofer right across the chin. The noise ricochets across the room as Cofer goes limp. Lawrence runs into the octagon walls in celebration. He turned a close fight into an amazing finish. Justin Lawrence knocks out John Cofer at 19 seconds of the third round.

Second Round They touch gloves and Cofer hits Lawrence in the body with a kick. Cofer lands a few more strikes, before Lawrence comes in with his jab. Cofer is pushing the action so far. But Lawrence scores with a right hand and kick to the body. He shakes off a takedown attempt from Cofer. A change of pace now, as Lawrence is coming forward. But Cofer is quick and getting away from a lot of Lawrence's strikes. Lawrence is making them count when they land, however, pounding his opponent with a right. The crowd gasps as Cofer connects cleanly with his leg on Lawrence's stomach. Lawrence is unfazed and feeds Cofer a couple jabs. Cofer looks more fresh midway through an even round. But Lawrence lands a right hand that makes Cofer backtrack. Straight left from Lawrence breaks a spell without much striking. Cofer continues to land his leg kicks, but Lawrence is putting more behind his punches. They clinch up and Cofer hits Lawrence with a knee. Lawrence hits him back to even the exchange. With a minute to go, Cofer wraps his arms around Lawrence and slams "The American Kid" to the mat. He's not able to improve his position and Lawrence wiggles out. Lawrence is on his feet when he winds up one huge strike of ground-and-pound. But Cofer gets control from his back after that to secure the round. It's all even heading into the final five minutes.

First Round Lawrence attacks and throws a leg kick, but Cofer catches it and deposits "the American Kid" on his back. Lawrence is looking for a kimura, but Cofer is throwing ground-and-pound. Cofer gets to his feet and Lawrence tags him. Now Lawrence takes Cofer to the ground before standing back up. His corner implores him to allow Cofer to stand up. Lawrence tags Cofer with a right. Cofer answers a few seconds later with a straight right. Cofer comes in and Lawrence checks a kick. Cofer lands a combination. Lawrence connects with a hook. He's finding his rhythm countering Cofer's advances now. Lawrence is getting loose as he peppers Cofer with a combination. Cofer misses with a head kick. Another combination comes from Lawrence, but Cofer dodges most of the strikes. Cofer runs in for a flying knee. Lawrence is retreating quickly, not allowing Cofer to score many points or get any damage. But it's still a close fight. Cofer is landing as much as Lawrence with a minute to go. They exchange and a right hand wobbles Cofer. Lawrence lands three more and Cofer is in trouble. He shoots for a takedown, but Lawrence shoos him away. Cofer catches Lawrence with an uppercut to get back on track with 30 seconds to go. He also knocks Lawrence's knee with a kick. Lawrence finishes stronger with a combination and knee before the bell. Lawrence takes the round 10-9.

Mike Chiesa and Al Iaquinta endured an excruciating three months to reach The Pearl at the Palms for “The Ultimate Fighter Live” finale tonight.

Viewers had become accustomed to watching how tough it was for fighters to make it through “The Ultimate Fighter” experience in the reality show’s first 14 seasons. This year’s live edition, the 15th season overall, took it to a new level.

The 16 fighters who officially made the cast were sequestered in the “TUF” house for 13 weeks, more than double the length of any previous season. Despite the increased commitment, the rules stayed the same.

No television. No Internet. No phones. No going out. No contact with the outside world. All the fighters were allowed to do was train, fight and interact with each other in the house.

Chiesa and Iaquinta, the two finalists competing for a six-figure contract tonight, will fight for the fifth time since March 9 this evening. The toll on their bodies is evident.

Chiesa sported black eye this week, while Iaquinta’s face was marked with cuts and bruises. Their matchup may come down to who is best prepared to survive early and stay fresh late.

The winner will realize his dream, assuring a large payday and promising future in the UFC. Recent “TUF” winners have failed to reach a championship-level like their earlier counterparts.

But several are still trying. “TUF” 12 winner Jonathan Brookins fights for the third time in the UFC’s featherweight division tonight against submission artist Charles Oliveira.

Brookins dispensed wisdom for whoever goes on to win “TUF Live” earlier this week, suggesting they stay focused on training and not go into celebration mode after winning the show. It’s a mistake Brookins feels he made two years ago.

The most important fight of the night has nothing to do with “TUF.” Jake Ellenberger and Martin Kampmann will scrap in a welterweight main event.

The winner has a legitimate case to be the No. 1 contender in the 170-pound division after Georges St. Pierre and Carlos Condit meet in a championship bout later this year.

The two other bouts on the main card, which starts momentarily, have nothing close to title implications. Max Holloway and Pat Schilling meet in a featherweight battle between two fighters who are on the chopping block after unsuccessful octagon debuts.

The first overall pick of “TUF Live,” Justin Lawrence, opens the card with a bout against fellow cast member John Cofer. Lawrence is a heavy favorite, but Cofer has the wrestling to test him.

Chiesa, another wrestler, was the fighter who eliminated Lawrence on the show.

Stay tuned to lasvegassun.com for a round-by-round live blog of the main card and look below for the results from the preliminary action.

Daron Cruickshank scored a unanimous-decision victory (29-27, 29-27, 29-27) over Chris Tickle in a lightweight contest. Cruickshank surprisingly out-wrestled Tickle, who lost a point due to a penalty for an illegal upkick in the first round.

Myles Jury submitted Chris Saunders at 4:03 of the first round in their lightweight bout. Jury got under Saunders' chin and locked in a guillotine choke that forced him to tap out.

World-class Brazilian jiu-jitsu fighter Cristiano Marcello failed on numerous attempts to take his fight with Sam Sicilia to the ground. With the bout taking place where he wanted it, Sicilia knocked out Marcello at 2:53 of the second round.

Joe Proctor is known as a grappler, but it was the Boston native's striking that stood out at "TUF Live" finale. Proctor knocked out Jeremy Larsen at 1:59 of the first round when he caught his lightweight cast mate with a knee in the clinch.

Erik Perez defeated John Albert by submission at 4:18 of the first round in their bantamweight bout. Perez used a sweep to lock in an armbar, but the ending was controversial because it didn't appear that Albert had tapped out when referee Kim Winslow stepped in to stop the fight.

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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