Fresh off an extremely successful night of fights last weekend on FOX, the UFC is bringing another action packed weekend of fights. After UFC on FX 6 on Friday night, live from the Gold Coast in Australia, the UFC brings another exciting event to the free television airwaves with The Ultimate Fighter Finale. The event airs on FX live from The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
A heavyweight clash headlines the event in what was originally scheduled to be a coach’s battle, an injury to Shane Carwin forced his withdrawal from the event and Matt Mitrione has stepped in to fight opposing coach Roy Nelson. The co-main event of the evening features the Welterweight finale of the show as Canadian Mike Ricci takes on Colton Smith. Other main card bouts include a Featherweight bout between Dustin Poirier and Jonathan Brookins, a Lightweight bout between Melvin Guillard and Jamie Varner as well as a Heavyweight tilt between Pat Barry and Shane del Rosario.
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Flyweight Bout: Jared Papazian vs. Tim Elliott
Jared “The Jackhammer” Papazian is a 24-year-old fighter from West Hills, California. Papazian is a member of the Gracie Barra Gym in Encino, California who will be making his Flyweight debut. He holds a career record of 14-8, with 1 No Contest. Tim Elliott is a 25-year-old fighter from Wichita, Kansas. Elliott is a member of the Grindhouse MMA Gym in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. He holds a career record of 8-3.
Quick Pick: Tim Elliott via Unanimous Decision
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Lightweight Bout: Mike Rio vs. John Cofer
Mike “The Wolverine” Rio is a 31-year-old fighter from Miami, Florida. A member of TUF: Live he is a member of the Zen Jiu Jitsu Gym in his hometown. The former NAIA Wrestler holds a career record of 8-1. John Cofer is a 28-year-old fighter from Athens, Georgia. A member of the Hardcore Gym in Athens, the former NCAA wrestler was also a cast member of The Ultimate Fighter: Live. Cofer holds a career record of 7-2.
Quick Pick: Mike Rio via TKO in Round Three
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Bantamweight Bout: Reuben Duran vs. Hugo Viana
Reuben “Hurricane” Duran is a 29-year-old fighter from Chula Vista, California. He is a member of the Pinnacle Jiu Jitsu and MMA Gym in Redlands, California. He holds a career record of 8-3-1. Hugo “Wolverine” Viana is a 30-year-old Brazilian fighter from Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. A cast member on the first season of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil, he is a member of the Champion Fight Team in Brazil. He holds a perfect career record of 6-0.
Quick Pick: Hugo Viana via Unanimous Decision
Preliminary Card (Fuel TV): Welterweight Bout: TJ Waldburger vs. Nick Catone
TJ Waldburger is a 24-year-old fighter from Temple, Texas. He is a member of the Grappler’s Lair Fight Team in Belton, Texas. He holds a career record of 15-7. Nick “The Jersey Devil” Catone is a 31-year-old fighter from Brick Township, New Jersey. The former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler trains out of his own gym, the Nick Catone MMA Academy in New Jersey. He holds a career record of 9-3.
Quick Pick: TJ Waldburger via Submission in Round One
Preliminary Card (Fuel TV): Lightweight Bout: Vinc Pichel vs. Rustam Khabilov
Vinc “From Hell” Pichel is a 30-year-old American fighter from Simi Valley, California. Pichel was a cast member of The Ultimate Fighter: Live who trains at Big John McCarthy’s Ultimate Training Academy in California. He holds a perfect professional record of 7-0. Rustam Khabilov is a 26-year-old fighter from Makhachkala, Russia. He is a former Combat Sambo world champion who is a member of the Legion Sport Club Fight Team. Khabilov also splits his training time at Greg Jackson’s MMA Academy in New Mexico when he is in the USA. He holds a career record of 14-1.
Quick Pick: Rustam Khabilov via TKO in Round One
Preliminary Card (Fuel TV): Bantamweight Bout: Johnny Bedford vs. Marcos Vinicius
“Brutal” Johnny Bedford is a 29-year-old fighter from Woodville, Ohio. Like many of the fighters on this card he is a former cast member of The Ultimate Fighter, appearing on the fourteenth season of the show. He trains out of the Fitness Fight Factory in Fort Worth, Texas. He holds a career record of 18-9-1. Marcos “Vina” Vinicius is a 33-year-old fighter from Sao Jose dos Pinhais, Brazil. He was a competitor on the first season of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil who trains at the Striker’s House Gym in Curitiba, Brazil. He holds a career record of 20-3-1.
Quick Pick: Johnny Bedford via Unanimous Decision
Preliminary Card (Fuel TV): Welterweight Bout: Mike Pyle vs. James Head
Mike “Quicksand” Pyle is a 37-year-old fighter from Dresden, Tennessee. A brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Pyle is a member of the Xtreme Couture Gym in Las Vegas, Nevada. He holds a career record of 23-8-1. James Head is a 28-year-old fighter from Highland, Illinois. A member of the Lovato Jiu Jitsu Gym in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma he holds a professional record of 9-2.
Quick Pick: James Head via TKO in Round Three
Main Card (FX): Featherweight Bout: Dustin Poirier vs. Jonathan Brookins
Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier is a 23-year-old fighter from Lafayette, Louisiana. He was one of the top prospects in the Featherweight division, but a loss to Chan Sung Jung has dropped his stock slightly. Poirier is a tough and well-rounded fighter who has decent technical striking, but is also very dangerous on the ground. Poirier is a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu who now trains with the American Top Team in Louisiana. He holds a career record of 12-2, including 10 stoppage victories.
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Jonathan Brookins is a 27-year-old fighter from Portland, Oregon. Brookins is best known as a cast member and the eventual winner of the twelfth season of The Ultimate Fighter. Brookins is a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu who trains out of the Gracie Barra Gym in Orlando, Florida. Despite winning the show at Lightweight, he is a natural Featherweight fighter, who is 1-1 inside the UFC since making the cut back to Featherweight. Brookins holds a career record of 13-5.
Analysis and Prediction: Poirier was formerly a top contender in the Featherweight division before Chan Sung Jung ran him over. Poirier is a talented boxer who is very active on the feet (even in his loss to Jung.) Poirier is also a talented grappler, despite only having a purple belt. Brookins’ striking isn’t great and he usually does his best work on the mat. Brookins is taller and is probably going to be the larger fighter on Saturday night. Poirier was unable to stop the takedowns against Jung and Brookins is a talented wrestler, but he’s likely been drilling takedown defense in preparation for this fight. Poirier is the better striker who will win most of the striking exchanges and if he’s worked on his sprawl well enough, he should be able to fend off most of Brookins’ takedowns. It’ll be close, but he’s probably got enough in the tank to take a decision. Dustin Poirier via Unanimous Decision
Main Card (FX): Lightweight Bout: Melvin Guillard vs. Jamie Varner
Melvin “The Young Assassin” Guillard is a 29-year-old fighter from New Orleans, Louisiana. Guillard was a competitor on the second season of The Ultimate Fighter. Since his time on the show Guillard has had mixed results inside the octagon, but his natural athleticism and striking power make him one of the toughest match ups in the UFC’s Lightweight division. A brown belt in Judo, he now trains with the Blackzillians at the Jaco Hybrid Training Center in Boca Raton, Florida. Guillard holds a career record of 30-11-2 with 1 No Contest.
Jamie “The Worm” Varner is a 28-year-old fight from Phoenix, Arizona. Varner is a former WEC Lightweight Champion who is coming off of a Fight of the Night performance against Joe Lauzon. Varner is a member of the AMA Fight Club training in Whippany, New Jersey. Varner is best known for his wrestling, often using his takedowns and ground and pound to control his victims on the mat. However, Varner has never been one to shy away from a brawl and often gets drawn into standup exchanges, even when it is to his detriment. He holds a career record of 20-7-1 with 2 No Contests.
Analysis and Prediction: By the match up the advantage here should go to Varner. Guillard has always struggled against talented wrestlers who can take him down and control him on the ground. Unfortunately Varner has never met a brawler he didn’t want to throw down with, and that’s going to put him right into Guillard’s wheelhouse. If Varner plays it smart, he uses constant pressure, takedowns and ground and pound to search for a submission opening and tap Guillard. The more likely outcome is he stands and brawls for two and a half rounds, before he gets blasted in the third and knocked out. Either way, he’ll probably stay employed if he does that and might even earn Fight of the Night honors, he still won’t win the fight though. Melvin Guillard via TKO in Round Three
Main Card (FX): Heavyweight Bout: Pat Barry vs. Shane del Rosario
Pat “HD” Barry is a 33-year-old fighter from New Orleans, Louisiana. Barry is a striker who is a former professional Sanshou and K-1 Kickboxer. As a pro kickboxer he compiled a record of 18-6-1. He is quite short and compact for a Heavyweight fighter, standing at only 5’11”. His compact frame often leaves him at a reach disadvantage, but also allows him to generate a lot of power in his strikes. Barry is a member of Team Death Clutch, training at The Academy in Alexandria, Minnesota. Barry holds a professional MMA record of 7-5.
Shane “No Limits” del Rosario is a 29-year-old fighter from Orange County, California. Like his opponent he is also a former professional kickboxer. He is a very talented and well-rounded fighter who recently made the jump from Strikeforce to the ranks of the UFC. Del Rosario is a member of the Team Oyama Gym in Irvine, California. He holds a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and until his last bout was undefeated as a pro fighter. He holds a career record of 11-1, with his only loss coming against Stipe Miocic at UFC 146.
Analysis and Prediction: Barry is probably the more powerful striker, and I think that’s probably his only advantage. Despite his past as a pro kickboxer, Barry is facing another former professional striker and given del Rosario’s reach advantage, he’s probably going to be able to exploit Barry on the feet. Add to that Barry’s ground defense basically resembles him trying to be a fish out of water and del Rosario is actually a talented grappler and this one has bad news written all over it for Barry. Shane del Rosario via Submission in Round Two
Main Card (FX): The Ultimate Fighter Welterweight Final Bout: Colton Smith vs. Mike Ricci
Colton Smith is a 25-year-old fighter from Manassas, Virginia. He is relatively new to the MMA game, in fact before entering the house he bad never fought a fighter who wasn’t making his professional debut. Smith is a former member of the US Armed Forces who now resides in Ft. Hood, Texas. Smith is a member of the Vanguard Fight Team who made his way to the live finale by decisioning all of his opponents inside the house. Smith holds a professional MMA record of 3-1.
Mike “The Martian” Ricci is a 26-year-old Canadian fighter from Montreal, Quebec. He is a member of the famed Tristar Gym in Montreal, Quebec. Ricci is an accomplished fighter who has fought much tougher competition than his TUF Finale opponents, including the likes of Jordan Mein, Pat Curran and current UFC fighter Daron Cruickshank. Ricci is a diverse striker, but is well-rounded. He took two unanimous decisions on his way to the semifinals of the show before scoring a highlight first round knockout in his semifinal fight. He holds a professional record of 7-2.
Analysis and Prediction: Smith is a feel good story from the show, but he’s probably going to be overmatched by Ricci in almost every way here. Smith is a grinder, who isn’t really great at anything, but isn’t awful in any particular area. Unfortunately for him, Ricci is better anywhere that the fight goes. Ricci has more big fight experience, he’s fought a better caliber of competition throughout his career and he’s from a better training camp outside of the show. Ricci wins this one in pretty dominant fashion. Mike Ricci via TKO in Round Two
Main Card (FX): Heavyweight Bout: Roy Nelson vs. Matt Mitrione
Roy “Big Country” Nelson is a 36-year-old fighter from Las Vegas, Nevada. Nelson is a veteran of the MMA game, with 24 career fights. He was a member of and the eventual winner of the tenth season of The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights. Nelson’s bout on that season against Kimbo Slice is currently the 2nd-most watched MMA fight in history. Nelson is a talented grappler with a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Nelson is a decent albeit sometimes sloppy striker who also has big power in his hands and an incredibly durable chin, having been knocked out only once in his professional career. Nelson is a former IFL Heavyweight Champion and has also fought for notable promotions like EliteXC and BODOG Fight. Nelson holds a career record of 17-7.
Matt “Meathead” Mitrione is a 34-year-old fighter from Springfield, Illinois. Mitrione is a former NFL player who played for the New York Giants and the Minnesota Vikings. Like his opponent for this bout, he was a cast member of The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights. Mitrione is currently training at the Jaco Hybrid Training Center Florida with the Blackzillians, while also spending time at Duke Roufus’ Roufusport Gym in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Mitrione has fought all of his career bouts in the UFC and was beginning to gain recognition as an up-and-comer in the Heavyweight division, but that was derailed by a lackluster decision loss to Cheick Kongo. He holds a career record of 5-1.
Analysis and Prediction: Mitrione was once considered a rising prospect in the UFC’s Heavyweight division. He looked thoroughly unimpressive in his bout against Kongo though. Nelson hasn’t looked overly impressive in some of his more recent bouts either, but he has faced much stiffer competition as of late and throughout the duration of his career.
Mitrione does his best work when he’s able to strike freely, but against Nelson that’s not going to happen. Nelson is going to continually crowd Mitrione, and force him to work from in close. Nelson is also excellent in the clinch as his dirty boxing packs a lot of power. On the show Mitrione was exploited for how poor his defensive wrestling is on his season of TUF and I’m sure Nelson is preparing for that. Nelson earns a takedown from the clinch in the first round and absolutely batters Mitrione for a stoppage victory.
Roy Nelson via TKO in Round One
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