This Saturday night we will be treated to the 17th Finale event in the history of The Ultimate Fighter reality series. If you ask me, the formulaic nature of the show is getting seriously stale, but this last season was highly watchable for two big reasons; Zuffa dumped a ton of money into the production value of the show and Uriah freaking Hall. A fight fan can’t ask for much more than watching one of the most brutal knockout artists in the history of the series in crispy HD and super slo-mo every Tuesday night. (Unless you were asking for men and women to live in the house together, but your prayers have been answered.)
The fights this season were entertaining, but besides Hall, the talent doesn’t have me believing that any future champs are going to be making their Octagon debuts on Saturday night. Along with Hall’s TUF coronation fight against young scrapper Kelvin Gastelum, the rest of the card is surprisingly solid for a TUF event. We get to see Travis Browne return to the cage against Gabriel Gonzaga and the second ever women’s UFC bout will go down between Miesha Tate and Cat Zingano. The Main Event of the night is a Bantamweight brawl between perennial contender and company man Urijah Faber and Scott Jorgensen. As always, Faber is sniffing another title shot and will be looking to climb the 135 lb. ladder against friend and former training partner Scott Jorgensen. On to the preview!
Preliminary Card on Facebook (5:30 PM ET)
Sam Sicilia v. Maximo Blanco
Justin Lawrence v. Daniel Pineda
Cole Miller v. Bart Palaszewski
Prelims on Fuel TV (aka all the TUF 17 fighters) (7 PM ET)
Clint Hester v. Bristol Marunde
Dylan Andrews v. Jimmy Quinlan
Luke Barnatt v. Collin Hart
Josh Samman v. Kevin Casey
Main Card on FX (9 PM ET)
‘Bubba’ McDaniel v. Gilbert Smith
These guys are both TUF 17 house members, but I really have no idea why they are on Saturday’s Main Card. Neither guy had a great run in the house nor do I see them as UFC caliber fighters. Fighters on the undercard like Samman, Quinlan, Barnatt, and Hester all have seemingly bright futures in the promotion, but for some idiotic reason Bubba and Gilbert are getting the Main Card shine. I have a sneaking suspicion that this fight got booked on FX because Bubba trains with Jon Jones at Jackson’s. Prepare yourself for the announce crew to mention that fact 1800 times as this fight reaches an anticlimactic decision to kick off the show. I guess Bubba wins unanimously.
Travis Browne v. Gabriel Gonzaga
Last time out, Browne’s knee folded on him leading to a TKO loss to ‘Bigfoot’ Silva. Before that, Browne’s hype train was catching a head of steam and I think he will get back on track in stunning fashion against ‘Napao’. Gonzaga is coming off three wins, but none of those opponents are the same caliber as Travis. As I look into my crystal ball, (which is just an empy tequila bottle) I can see Browne taking this via TKO.
Miesha Tate v. Cat Zingano
These lovely ladies will be tangling in the cage for a spot to coach opposite Champ Ronda Rousey on the next season of The Ultimate Fighter. Along with that sweet reality TV cash, the winner will earn a shot at Ronda’s belt later this year. Tate has fought Rousey before and was clearly the Rowdy’s toughest test to date, a rematch would make sense between the two, but Zingano is looking to crap all over those plans. She has a well rounded game and an undefeated record to boot. Tate is a heavy Vegas favorite, but I think this one will be a whole lot closer than the wise guys think. Fans have heard Miesha’s name before, but are still pretty unfamiliar with Ms. Zingano. That being said, the general opinion of the MMA interweb collective is that the Tate is going to steamroll Zingano. Miesha will win, but by split decision in a back and forth war and early Fight of the Night candidate.
Uriah Hall v. Kelvin Gastellum
Uriah Hall is the best prospect to come out of the TUF house since the days of Forrest Griffin and Rashad Evans. Hall demolished every opponent in the house with Tekken inspired strikes and atomic power in his hands and feet. Kelvin is a 21 year old brawler that went on a heart and will fueled run through this season’s tournament. He has power in his hands and a rock solid ground game to back it up, but Hall is just on an entirely different level. Kelvin will likely try to take Uriah down and keep him there, but last time that happened Uriah finished the guy with strikes from his guard. It was unfreakinbelievable… Uriah is taking home the glass trophy and is well on his way to a solid UFC career. Hall by TKO.
Main Event: Urijah Faber v. Scott Jorgensen
So these two were supposed to fight back in the WEC days, but they were bros back then and had no desire to punch each other in the face. Urijah was the king of the little guy promotion back then and they pretty much did whatever his corn row capped mind wanted. Now Zuffa has forced the issue and tossed the two contenders in the cage for a hierarchical clash. Jorgensen and Faber no longer train together but remain friends, I doubt either will have an issue stepping over the other in order to climb a rung on the Bantamweight ladder. Urijah and Scott have very similar styles with a frenetic pace and strong wrestling pedigrees. Though in reality, Urijah is more polished at every facet of the game. He is faster, stronger, and has proven himself against top competition. Jorgensen has hovered around the top of the division for years now, but whenever he goes against a top flight athlete, he comes up short. (i.e. recent losses to Eddie Wineland and Renan Barao). Jorgensen is tough to finish but I think Urijah could get one late in this scrap when the Cali Kid’s motor wins him the fight. I’m looking at a fourth round submission for Faber.