The dominant performance by Colton Smith at Saturday night's The Ultimate Fighter 16 finale surprised many who pegged the former Army Ranger as the heavy underdog.
Constantly pressuring TriStar product and early favorite Mike Ricci with take downs, inside strikes and slick submission attempts, Smith convincingly took home the unanimous decision victory as well as the welterweight tournament title.
With a big win over such a highly touted MMA prospect like Ricci, Smith is poised to become one of the show's more successful alumni.
While only time will tell if Smith can reach the stardom attained by some of the earlier winners such as Rashad Evans or Michael Bisping, this win instantly stacks him up well against some of the more recent TUF alum.
If Smith can mimic this type of victory in his next fight, he will instantly rank near the top among the recent TUF winners.
In terms of his finale performance itself, the previous two seasons proved to be more exciting as winners John Dodson, Diego Brandao and Michael Chiesa all finished their opponents in impressive fashion.
I'd say Dodson may be the brightest TUF star over the past few years considering he's already set to challenge flyweight champ Demetrious Johnson.
Smith has the potential to reach the success of these winners, but as of now, he probably falls a bit ahead of the likes of a Court McGee or Jonathan Brookins, who both have tapered off a bit since winning their seasons of TUF.
Even if Smith has a string of boring, but effective wins, he'll probably rank ahead of the past alum who never hit their stride after winning the show.
It may be a bit too early to predict how far this kid will go, but if Smith can keep up the great wrestling and variety of attacks, then he definitely has the potential to be a star.
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