LAS VEGAS – Stephen Thompson stopped Jake Ellenberger with a spinning heel kick with 31 seconds left in the first round of their welterweight bout Sunday night at the finale of “The Ultimate Fighter.”
The UFC wrapped up the 21st season of its long-running reality competition show in the same MGM Grand Garden Arena where Conor McGregor won the interim featherweight title and Robbie Lawler defended his welterweight belt at UFC 189 on Saturday.
Thompson (11-1) badly hurt Ellenberger with several high kicks in an exciting round. Ellenberger (30-10) also floored Thompson with an early punch, but Thompson bloodied Ellenberger’s nose with a kick moments later.
Moments after crumpling Ellenberger with another big kick, Thompson’s second spinning hook knocked an already woozy Ellenberger senseless on his back.
“He was standing right in front of me, wasn’t doing a whole lot of movement,” Thompson said. “My coach said to do it again, so I did it again. … I felt his punch. One of those flash knockdowns, but I didn’t give up. That’s what happens when you don’t give up.”
The win was the fifth straight for Thompson since his only career loss to Matt Brown in April 2012.
Ellenberger, once a 170-pound title contender, has lost four of his last five fights.
This season of “The Ultimate Fighter” matched welterweights from American Top Team and the Blackzilians, two prominent South Florida training camps.
In the penultimate fight of Sunday’s card, Kamaru Usman beat Hayder Hassan by arm-triangle submission in the second round, winning a $300,000 prize for the Blackzilians in a meeting of arguably the camps’ top two prospects.
“I knew I could get the job done for us,” Usman said.
ATT’s Michael Graves beat the Blackzilians’ Vicente Luque by unanimous decision in the only other fight between the teams on the finale.
During the telecast, the UFC announced McGregor will coach a team of European fighters against an American team led by Urijah Faber on the show’s 22nd season.
Earlier on the show, former Invicta 105-pound champion Michelle Waterson won her UFC strawweight debut, submitting Angela Magana in the third round.