Thursday, April 11, 2013

TUF 17 Finale Preview

Even during the week leading up to their fight
in Vegas, Faber and Jorgensen are good friends.
On Saturday, April 13th the world will watch two best friends slug it out in a huge 135lb fight, the next TUF coach and opponent of Ronda Rousey will be decided, and the TUF 17 middleweight winner will also be determined.  Throw in a match of talented heavyweights Travis Browne and Gabriel Gonzaga and you have some must see TV.

This season of The Ultimate Fighter has been infinitely more entertaining than the last season for many reasons.  First and foremost, Jones and Sonnen are far more intriguing coaches than Shane Carwin and Roy Nelson were.  Sonnen has come on to TUF and shown his true colors.  He will still always have that arrogant yet comical persona surrounding him.  However, in this season of TUF he has shown the ability to be a sincere and pleasant guy who really knows the sport of mixed martial arts and really cares for the kids on his team.  He has given some of the most inspiring speeches I have ever heard that were never really present in previous seasons of TUF.  Like Dominick Cruz did a couple seasons ago, Chael Sonnen has gone from a guy many people hate to a guy who people admire and respect due to his abilities as a coach.  Jones has not been an awful coach, but Sonnen clearly beat him in that department.  This is also evident in the fact that the two men competing for this season's crown, Kelvin Gastelum and Uriah Hall, are both from team Sonnen.

That brings me to my next point, the talent pool.  The Carwin/Nelson season of TUF had nobody on it that I see as a legitimate title contender.  Mike Ricci and Coltin Smith were the only fighters of note in that entire season.  This season had some serious talent.  Most notable among these fighters is the man most people are expecting to win on Saturday, Uriah Hall.  Chael made it a point a couple times to ask, "where did this kid come from and how did the UFC not find him before?"  Hall has been nothing short of spectacular winning his fights with devastating knockouts.  His professional record entering the show was 7-2, with the two losses being to guys rated in the top 5 of the middleweight division right now, Costa Philippou and Chris Weidman.  Many people have criticized Chris Weidman saying he does not deserve a title shot against Anderson Silva due to lack of competition.  Uriah Hall's success on this show is helping Weidman claim he has fought top talent and won.  Costa is in the mix for a title shot in the future too, so Hall's success could help him as well.

So that brings me to the fun portion of writing, the predictions.  As with most non PPV or Fox cards, I will only be doing predictions for the main card:
  • Bubba McDaniel and Gilbert Smith went a combined 1-3 in the house since Bubba received the wildcard bid from his coach and friend Jon Jones.  Despite him losing two fights, I am taking Bubba to win this fight.  He unimpressively defeated Kevin Casey and lost to the two guys in the Finale, so I will give him the benefit of the doubt and pick him to win against an unimpressive Smith.  To be honest, this does not deserve to be on the main card of any event, even one on FX.  Bubba via boring decision.
  • Following the outspoken Bubba's fight will be a huge heavyweight fight.  Travis Browne was unbeaten in his career headed into his last fight.  He injured his leg in a fluke accident during that fight before eventually being finished off by the current heavyweight top contender Bigfoot Silva.  I see him getting back to his winning ways by defeating a resurgent Gabriel Gonzaga.  Although he is coming off of three straight submission victories and is on the rise, I do not see Gonzaga having the chin to handle Browne's shots.  I see the giant wrestler taking Gonzaga to the ground and finishing him in the 1st.  Browne via TKO.
  • A huge matchup of women's bantamweights will follow the massive heavyweight fight and the stakes are large.  Miesha Tate and Cat Zingano are not just fighting for a title shot, but also the chance to be coaches of men and women on season 18 of The Ultimate Fighter.  Many people are hoping Miesha wins just so the Tate vs Rousey rivalry continues to grow into a very anticipated rematch.  Cat is looking to ruin those plans and make a name for herself.  Tate is a dominant wrestler who is tough as nails.  Cat is undefeated and has finished 6 of her 7 opponents with both submissions and KOs.  The only reason I am taking Tate over Zingano is because of her size and experience advantage.  Tate is the former Strikeforce Champion and Zingano is a fighter used to fighting at 125, not 135.  Unfortunately for her, the UFC only has one division so she will be slightly undersized and the powerful wrestler Miesha Tate should come out on top.  Tate via unanimous decision.
  • The co-main event of the night features the finalists of season 17 of The Ultimate Fighter.  Kelvin Gastelum was the last pick on Sonnen's team and an underdog in every fight so far.  He is undefeated and turning heads as he continues to surprise people.  Barring a miracle, he will not surprise again.  Uriah Hall has been a killer in the house and is looking to be an immediate factor in the middleweight division following his final TUF fight.  I expect another beautiful Uriah Hall win via KO.  After this win he should jump right in the thick of things.  He should look to make his next fight against a top 10 middleweight or somebody with name recognition, like Nick Ring or Brian Stann.  Uriah Hall could be the next big thing in the UFC.
  • Finally comes the main event, a bantamweight fight scheduled for five rounds with big implications.  Urijah Faber has always been at the top of the heap his entire career.  He is going to be up against a top 10 bantamweight and a good friend of his on Saturday night.  After a title fight between Johnson and Moraga fell through, Faber and Jorgensen stepped up to be the main attraction of the night.  Scott Jorgensen has said many times before that Urijah Faber is the one who got him in the fight business, and Scott has never looked back.  It was only a matter of time before these two had to face one another and the time will come on Saturday.  Since 2009, Jorgensen has compiled an 8-3 record but his losses have come to the best of the division.  The current champ Dominick Cruz, the interim champ Renan Barao, and the current top contended Eddie Wineland are the three who defeated Jorgensen.  Cruz and Barao have also both bested Urijah Faber, so they share common enemies.  The pupil eventually surpasses the master in most things, but I do not think Jorgensen is about to dethrone Faber just yet.  The big kicker in my decision making process with this fight is very simple, Faber does not lose non-title fights.  His 6 career losses have been for the UFC, WEC, or Gladiator Challenge (way back in 2005) titles.  It is also worth noting that Faber did defeat Eddie Wineland back in his 2011 UFC debut.  As much as I admire Scott and think he is an excellent fighter, Urijah Faber should win this fight.  Faber via submission of the night! (guillotine choke)
Side notes:
3 stars from the Fuel TV card last Saturday:
  1. Conor McGregor
  2. Brad Pickett
  3. Reza Madadi
My career predictions entering Saturday night: 42/81 (52%)

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