Usman, Sanders, Smith winners at TUF 21 Finale

Former college wrestlers went three-for-four at The Ultimate Fighter 21 Finale at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas Sunday night, with University of Nebraska-Kearney mat champ Kamaru Usman, Oklahoma State All-American Jerrod Sanders and former Iowa State wrestler Trevor Smith winning their matches, while former University of Nebraska-Omaha wrestler Jake Ellenberger was knocked out in the first round of his top-of-the-card fight.

Kamaru Usma
Usman submitted his opponent Hayder Hassan via arm triangle choke at 1:19 of the second round, while Sanders and Smith each earned unanimous decisions over their respective opponents. In the main event, Stephen Thompson KO'd Ellenberger at 4:29 of the first round.

In the welterweight co-main event, Usman -- an NCAA Division II champion in 2010 -- used repeated takedowns on Hayder Hassan throughout the first round of their bout. Early in the second round, Hassan scored an uppercut, but then surrendered a takedown from the former UNK Loper who then advanced to full mount, locked on a choke, and forced Hassan to tap out less than a minute-and-a-half into Round 2. Usman, who has won five straight fights, is now 6-1 overall in his mixed martial arts career, and 1-0 in UFC fights. With the loss, Hassan is now 6-2 in his MMA career, and 0-1 in UFC. described Sanders as "one of the bigger underdogs" vs. Doane, but "he had great moments on the ground and in the standup game to get the nod with a pair of 29-28s and a 30-27" in their bantamweight bout in the preliminary portion of TUF 21. "A back and forth fight that was a hard call for the judges," reported "Both men had their moments in another top notch wrestling match. At the end of the day, Sanders won by unanimous decision."

With the win, Sanders -- 2003 NCAA Division I All-American for Oklahoma State at 149 pounds -- is now 15-3 overall in MMA, and 1-2 in UFC competition, while Doane drops to 14-5 in MMA, and 2-2 in UFC.

Trevor Smith, a National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) All-American at Highline Community College who later wrestled at Iowa State, earned a unanimous decision over Dan Miller, 30-25, 30-25, 30-26, in a middleweight match-up.

"For the first five minutes of his fight with Trevor Smith, Dan Miller looked like he hadn't missed a beat after two years away from the UFC's octagon," reported."Then reality set in. As the fight went into the second and third rounds, Miller found out just how taxing it is to fight on the world's most competitive MMA stage, and Smith did him no favors."

With the win, Smith climbs to an overall MMA record of 13-6 and 3-3 in UFC, while Miller drops to 14-8 overall MMA, and 6-7 in UFC fights.

As for the main event ... painted a "Tale of Two Fighters" whose careers are on completely different trajectories, writing, "On one side the rising star of Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson, a fighter with a 10-1 professional mixed martial arts (MMA) record and four fight winning streak, took on Jake Ellenberger, a 30-9 veteran who had dropped three of his last four outings. This fight did nothing to reverse the fortunes of either man as Thompson used his vastly superior stand up to obliterate the normally durable 'Juggernaut' inside of a single round." completed the picture in its report: "(Stephen) Thompson wiped out Jake Ellenberger with a spinning hook kick and follow-up punches."

With his loss to Thompson -- his fourth in five outings -- Ellenberger, who wrestled one season for the now-defunct NCAA Division II Nebraska-Omaha mat program, is now 30-10 in his MMA career, and with a 9-6 UFC record. By contrast, Thompson is now 11-1 overall, and 6-1 in UFC, and has notched six straight wins in the past three years.


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