Most people rolled their eyes when leading up to this season of The Ultimate Fighter Dana White was calling this season the best season in a long time. I know I sure did. When the season aired over these past few weeks, we found out that for once, the president of the UFC wasn’t just speaking in hyperbole. Surely the bigwigs of the promotion were hoping for more bad blood between coaches Chael Sonnen and Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones, but even without the two Light Heavyweights spewing trash talk this season has proven to be highly entertaining. At the end of it all, it’s an all Team Sonnen finale, as underdog Kelvin Gastelum battles fan-favorite Uriah Hall for the title of The Ultimate Fighter.
The Ultimate Fighter Finale takes place at the Joint in the Hardrock Casino in Las Vegas, this Saturday night. The event airs on FX with preliminary bouts featured on Fuel TV and Facebook. In the main event of the evening Urijah Faber battles Scott Jorgensen in a bout that will try to keep each man near the top of the heap in the Bantamweight division. The co-main event of the evening will feature a Women’s Bantamweight bout that is extremely important for both ladies involved. Miesha Tate battles undefeated Cat Zingano for the chance to coach the next season of The Ultimate Fighter opposite UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey. The other main card bout features Heavyweight action as Travis Browne returns from injury to battle Gabriel Gonzaga.
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Featherweight Bout: Justin Lawrence vs. Daniel Pineda
Justin “The American Kidd” Lawrence is a 22-year-old fighter fighting out of Los Angeles, California. A former competitor on The Ultimate Fighter he now trains with the Black House MMA Gym. Lawrence holds a career record of 4-1. Daniel “The Pit” Pineda is a 27-year-old fighter from Houston, Texas. Pineda is a member of the 4oz Fight Club in Houston. He holds a professional record of 17-9.
Quick Pick: Justin Lawrence via TKO in Round Two
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Featherweight Bout: Sam Sicilia vs. Maximo Blanco
Quick Pick: Maximo Blanco via Unanimous Decision
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Featherweight Bout: Cole Miller vs. Bart Palaszewski
Cole “Magrinho” Miller is a 28-year-old fighter from Augusta, Georgia. Miller is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt who trains with the American Top Team in Coconut Creek Florida. Miller holds a career MMA record of 18-7. Bart “Bartimus” Palaszewski is a 29-year-old fighter from Warsaw, Poland. Palaszewski now lives and trains with Team Curran in Wonder Lake, Illinois. He owns a professional record 36-16.
Quick Pick: Bart Palaszewski via TKO in Round One
Preliminary Card (Fuel TV): Middleweight Bout: Clint Hester vs. Bristol Marunde
Clint Hester is s 26-year-old former professional boxer who was a member of Team Jones on the show. Hester is a member of the X3 Sports Gym in Atlanta, Georgia. He holds a professional record of 7-3. Bristol Marunde is a 30-year-old fighter from Fairbanks, Alaska. He is a former Ultimate Fighter cast member who now trains at the Throwdown Training Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. He holds a professional record of 12-7.
Quick Pick: Clint Hester via TKO in Round One
Preliminary Card (Fuel TV): Middleweight Bout: Dylan Andrews vs. Jimmy Quinlan
Dylan “The Villain” Andrews is a 33-year-old fighter from Gold Coast, New Zealand. Andrews was the final pick of Team Jones who scored a few impressive upsets on the show. He trains with Heartbreak Conditioning in New Zealand. He holds a professional MMA record of 15-4. Jimmy “Crash” Quinlan was a member of Team Sonnen and was his fifth pick overall. Quinlan is a wrestler who scored an impressive upset over Clint Hester in the opening round of the tournament, but then was stopped by Josh Samman. He holds a professional MMA record of 3-0.
Quick Pick: Dylan Andrews via TKO in Round Three
Preliminary Card (Fuel TV): Middleweight Bout: Luke Barnatt vs. Colin Hart
Luke “Bigslow” Barnatt was the first pick of Team Sonnen who is from Cambridge, England. He is a member of the Tsunami Gym, one of the bigger MMA gyms in England, and at 6’6” is a large and lengthy Middleweight. He holds a professional record of 5-0. Colin Hart was a member of Team Jones and was Jones’ 5th pick on the show. A former fighter for Tachi Palace Fights he trains with the Nor-Cal Fighting Alliance in Santa Rosa, California. He holds a professional record of 4-1-1.
Quick Pick: Luke Barnatt via Unanimous Decision
Preliminary Card (Fuel TV): Middleweight Bout: Josh Samman vs. Kevin Casey
Josh Samman is a 25-year-old fighter from Tallahassee, Florida. Samman was the 2nd pick of Team Jones and made it to the semi-finals of the show. Samman is a former Bellator fighter who scored a couple of impressive stoppages on the show. He is a member of the MMA Masters Gym in Florida, who holds a professional record of 9-2. Kevin “King” Casey was a member of Team Sonnen and was the 6th pick. He is a member of the Rickson Gracie Jiu Jitsu Gym in Hawthorne, California. He holds a professional record of 5-2.
Quick Pick: Josh Samman via TKO in Round One
Preliminary Card (Fuel TV): Middleweight Bout: Bubba McDaniel vs. Gilbert Smith
Robert “Bubba” McDaniel is a 29-year-old fighter from Wichita Falls, Texas. He was a member of Team Jones and as was established on the show is a training partner of the Light Heavyweight Champion at Greg Jackson’s Camp in New Mexico. McDaniel holds a professional MMA record of 20-6. Gilbert Smith was a member of Team Jones and was the champion’s 4th pick. Smith trains with Team Victory in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He holds a professional MMA record of 5-1.
Quick Pick: Bubba McDaniel via Unanimous Decision
Main Card (FX): Heavyweight Bout: Travis Browne vs. Gabriel Gonzaga
Travis “Hapa” Browne is a 30-year-old fighter from Oahu, Hawaii. Browne began fighting professionally in 2009 and began his career by going 14 fights without losing, going 13-0-1 in that time. He is a well-rounded fighter who has big time knockout power and a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Browne has fought for a number of MMA promotions including King of the Cage, Gladiator Challenge, and Bellator. He trains with Greg Jackson’s Camp in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Browne holds a professional MMA record of 13-1-1 with the lone loss coming to Heavyweight title challenger Antonio Silva.
Gabriel “Napao” Gonzaga is a 33-year-old fighter from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Gonzaga will forever be best known for his head kick knockout of Mirko Cro Cop at UFC 70. Gonzaga is one of the best Heavyweight grapplers in the world, holding a 4th degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Gonzaga retired briefly in 2010, choosing to focus on Brazilian Jiu Jitsu only. He returned to MMA in 2011 and has gone 3-0 since making his comeback. Gonzaga is a member of Team Link training out of Ludlow, Massachusetts. He holds a professional MMA record of 14-6, with all of his victories coming via stoppage.
Analysis and Prediction: It’s hard to take much stock in Browne’s first career loss to Antonio Silva since he suffered a fluke leg injury, that basically left him fighting on one leg. Gonzaga is a fairly mediocre striker and if he stands with Browne he’s going to have a miserable time. The question comes down to whether or not Gonzaga can take Browne to the ground and control him. Gonzaga’s striking defense is pretty bad and Browne has shown decent takedown defense in the past, so I expect he struggles to take the fight to the mat. As Gonzaga fails attempt after attempt, he’ll begin to tire and slow and from there Browne tags his chin and finishes with strikes on the ground. Travis Browne via TKO in Round Two
Main Card (FX): Women’s Bantamweight Bout: Miesha Tate vs. Cat Zingano
Miesha “Cupcake” Tate is a 26-year-old fighter from Tacoma, Washington. Tate is a former Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight Champion and is a former silver medalist at the FILA Grappling World Championships. Tate currently trains with her boyfriend Bryan Caraway at the Team Alpha Male Gym in California. Tate is a well-rounded fighter, but does her best work on the mat. She has strong takedowns and is excellent at controlling her opponents from top position. She holds a professional MMA record of 13-3.
Cat “Alpha” Zingano is a 30-year-old fighter from Broomfield, Colorado. Zingano is a talented grappler who is married to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt and coach Mauricio Zingano. In addition to fighting full time she runs her own Fitness Boot Camp and Gym in Colorado. Zingano has held a number of championships in her career including the 135-pound and 125-pound Women’s Championships in Ring of Fire and has also fought for the all-female promotion Invicta FC. Zingano has a perfect professional record of 7-0 and has gone to decision only once in her career.
Analysis and Prediction: This is a really tough fight to predict. Tate is a fairly well rounded fighter but she does her best work on the ground and her striking can be sloppy at times. Zingano is a very talented grappler and has shown some decent striking in her young career. I think Zingano might actually be the more talented fighter, but the thing that makes me want to pick against her is the absolute high stakes of this fight. Tate has been there before and won’t get caught up in the moment, Zingano I’m not so sure about. Miesha Tate via Unanimous Decision
Main Card (FX): The Ultimate Fighter Middleweight Finale Bout: Uriah Hall vs. Kelvin Gastelum
Uriah “Prime Time” Hall is a Jamaican fighter who now lives and trains in New York City, New York. Hall has a martial arts background in karate and also competed as a professional kick boxer in the World Combat League. Hall was the second pick of Chael Sonnen on the show and scored a number of highlight reel knockouts during his time on the show. Hall is a former Ring of Combat Middleweight Champion. Hall is a member of the Team Tiger Schulmann Gym in New York City. Hall holds a professional MMA record of 7-2, with his two losses coming against UFC Middleweights Chris Weidman and Costa Philippou.
Kelvin Gastelum was the 7th pick for Team Sonnen and scored a number of upsets during his time on the show. Inspired by UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey’s guest coaching, he defeated Robert McDaniel via submission, then knocked out Colin Hart before submitting Josh Samman in the semi-final. Gastelum is a member of the Arizona Athletic Club in Yuma, Arizona. Gastelum is a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and holds a perfect professional record of 5-0.
Main Card (FX): Bantamweight Bout: Urijah Faber vs. Scott Jorgensen
Urijah “The California Kid” Faber is a 33-year-old fighter from Isla Vista, California. Faber is a former WEC Featherweight Champion and was the poster boy for the WEC promotion for most of its existence. Faber is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from the University of California at Davis. Faber holds a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and is a technically sound striker. Faber is the founder and a team member of the Team Alpha Male Gym in Sacramento, California. Faber is one of the top ranked Bantamweight fighters in the UFC and has only lost to current champion Dominick Cruz and interim champion Renan Barao at the weight class. He holds a professional MMA record of 27-6, with 22 stoppage victories.
Scott “Young Guns” Jorgensen is a 30-year-old fighter from St. George, Utah. Jorgensen fights out of Boise, Idaho training at the Twisted Genetiks Gym. Jorgensen is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from Boise State University where he was a 3-time Pac-10 Champion. Jorgensen holds a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Jorgensen has improved his striking throughout his career, but still does his best work from top control on the ground. Jorgensen is a cardio machine, who uses a high work rate to try and tire his opponents and take control of the fight as they begin to fatigue. He holds a professional MMA record of 14-6.
Analysis and Prediction: Faber I think is firmly cemented in his place as the third best fighter in the Bantamweight division. He’ll probably never beat Renan Barao or Dominick Cruz, but I think he probably turns aside most other contenders. These two fighters are very similar both physically and in their approach to fighting. Unfortunately for Jorgensen, Faber is better at most everything that these two do well. Faber is the quicker and more technically sound striker and he has better striking defense than Jorgensen. Faber is also a strong counter-wrestler and his takedown defense is stellar, in addition to that, Faber excels at snatching limbs during scrambles on the mat, so getting close to him isn’t the smartest decision. I have a hard time seeing a path to victory for Jorgensen. He’ll be able to keep up with Faber, but he might start to slow near the end of the fight, and that’s when Faber can be very dangerous. Urijah Faber via Submission in Round Three
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