The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale took place Friday live from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. In the co-main event of the evening, TUF 25 finalists Dhiego Lima and Jesse Taylor went to war with the TUF: Redemption title, UFC contract, and a quarter of a million dollars on the line. Both men were seeking redemption, Taylor after getting the boot from The Ultimate Fighter Season 7 (when he drunkenly kicked out the window of a limo), and Lima after failing to go all the way after TUF 19.
Taylor, otherwise known at JT Money, certainly had the nostalgia factor and a heck of a story behind him, but storylines don’t win fights. So who would take the victory Friday?
The pair touched gloves and were off. Taylor shot in, with Lima landing some hammer fists as JT Money stayed on his leg like a bear trap. Lima was able to defend admirably, but Taylor stayed on him and worked for the back. Leech, bear trap, seat belt, velcro, Taylor stayed on Lima like just about any analogy you could make. Working from Lima’s guard, he landed some ground strikes, while Lima inched his way towards the fence. Before he could wall walk up, however, Taylor moved to the back, looking for the choke, but Dhiego Lima escaped.
Jesse Taylor, however, dragged him back down and took the back again, once again trying for a rear naked choke. Lima turned in, but wound up eating a number of elbows to the head, and those strikes were very clearly being used to soften up Lima so Taylor could sneak in a submission. Lima survived the round, but it was all Taylor early.
Round two got off to an explosive start when Dhiego Lima dropped Taylor with a left hook! Just when you thought it was all over for JT Money, however, he kept his composure, took the back of Lima who had followed him to the ground, and went right to work looking for the rear naked choke. It didn’t take long for Taylor to sink it in tight, and get the tap!
With that, Jesse Tayor truly earns redemption, the memory of season seven is all but erased, and he’s a cool quarter mil richer (actually $290,000 counting all his earnings).
“This goes out to all the people who have messed up in life, and never given up. Keep going, just keep going!” Taylor said after the fight.
Jesse Taylor def. Dhiego Lima by submission (rear-naked choke), Round 2, 0:43