NORMAN Parke will fight for a $100,000 UFC contract after taking out fellow countryman Brendan Loughnane in The Ultimate Fighter: Smashes semi-final.
The Bushmills man fought Loughnane in the first lightweight semi-final of the Australian reality TV series. He won by unanimous decision and will now fight in the finale on December 15.
“I can’t find the words to describe how I actually feel. It’s unbelievable,” said the 25-year-old after the bout.
“I have achieved what I came here for that was to get to the finale. It’s a great feeling.
“The fight was definitely the hardest of my career. He has given me my toughest test to date.
“I have a goal to make it to the UFC. Words couldn’t describe what it would be like to get a UFC contract. I’ll being doing all I can to make sure it’s me who gets that six-figure contract.”
In the semi showdown, Parke took Loughnane down to avoid his striking and controlled the fight well on the ground.
Team UK coach Ross Pearson couldn’t pick between his two team members, so he watched the fight from the stands.
“It was hard for me emotionally to watch it. I wanted to see both guys win, but I didn’t want to see a loser,” said Pearson afterwards.
“Norman has worked hard this whole season and he has done what it takes to be where he‘s at…100% he deserves it.”
The first round saw Loughnane using his reach and jab to keep Parke at a distance for the first half of the round. Eventually, Parke go a hold of Loughnane and dragged him down. They were not down for a huge amount of time before Loughnane got up and fired strikes until the round was over.
In the second, Parke shot early on Loughnane, clinching and eventually putting him on his back. Parke used some good ground-and-pound, including nasty elbows, to cut open Loughnane on his forehead. Eventually, Loughnane got up, but would again be taken down. Parke had a hard time holding him down, as Loughnane returned to his feet for the rest of the round, staying behind his jab.
In the final frame, Loughnane used his striking to push forward on Parke. They started slugging it out, with Parke occasionally looking to clinch or shoot for a takedown. The two slug it out for the rest of the round before the bell.
Parke was given the unanimous decision by the judges.
With the win, Norman joins Brad Scott in the finale representing Team UK. Both men are currently awaiting opponents in the finale.