The Ultimate Fighter 13 Finale: Preview, Picks and Breakdown
The Ultimate Fighter 13 Finale this Saturday presents an interesting contrast to the recent UFC 130 card that was considered a thorough disappointment. Whereas 130 had some very high-profile fighters in fights that were rather boring from a stylistic perspective, TUF 13 is much lighter on name power (and perhaps more importantly, on the scale), however the action should translate much more favourably to your eyeballs. Plus, free MMA is free MMA.
Heading up this card is
the Lightweight Title eliminator, the eliminator for a Lightweight Title eliminator, whatever the Clay Guida/Anthony Pettis bout is at this point with all of the shifting that’s gone on in the Lightweight division due to injuries and other issues. Pettis’ guaranteed title shot for beating Ben Henderson in December seems like a distant memory now. He first has to get past Guida – no easy task in itself – then await the conclusion of the Edgar/Maynard trilogy, then worry if the likes of Jim Miller or even Gilbert Melendez has jumped in front of him in the growing title queue.
Had Pettis not been guaranteed his title shot following WEC 53, nobody would bat an eyelash at his current plight, since Miller and Melendez are both more worthy challengers at this point. Still, Dana White should by this point in his promotional career not to guarantee things in public, as it often only results in backlash towards him. As it is currently, Pettis has developed quite a following and if he doesn’t get awarded a title shot with a win over Guida, Zuffa’s President will look the part of the fool once again in the eyes of the fans.
Even with the ample back story this fight provides, the fight itself may be more intriguing. Should Guida come willing to fight, rather than pin Pettis up against the cage for three rounds, we should be in for a treat. “Showtime” has one of the most complete skill sets of any fighter with his level of experience in all of MMA. He combines technical and flashy striking with a highly aggressive submission arsenal, and ever improving wrestling. Guida does have the ability to stifle all of Pettis’ offense by closing the distance and turning this into an ugly fight against the cage, and that is exactly what he needs to do to win, although for my own personal enjoyment I hope he doesn’t employ that strategy. If Clay does manage takedowns, I don’t think he can keep Pettis on the ground, unless Anthony chooses to stay down there, and on the feet he is simply outclassed in every category.
I have to think the deciding factor in this contest will be Guida’s ability to force the fight up against the fence, and Pettis’ ability to avoid that scenario using footwork and working to switch ad separate when Guida does take the fight there. I feel like Duke Roufus will have Pettis as well prepared as Greg Jackson will have Guida, and that means Pettis will have the chance to make his superior all-around skills count. Although my policy on breaking down fights has been shifting to consider what the judges think (and thus looking heavily at the wrestling aspect), Pettis is a unique fighter and I both want to see him succeed and believe he can due to his dynamic finishing ability from anywhere the fight may go. While I don’t think he’ll garner a stoppage over the durable Guida, he’ll make it clear he was the better fighter. Anthony Pettis via Unanimous Decision.
TUF Finale cards are great because we usually get some lesser known names along with some lighter weight classes featured, and those two factors usually result in more exciting matchups. The downside to TUF cards is that we have to sit through a couple of fights featuring guys from the show. I’ve personally always liked the idea of having TUF competitors fight some of the lower level UFC fighters already under contract to see if they really belong in the organization, but that has rarely, if ever, happened. Obviously the tournament final is an important fight to be aired on TV, but there is no reason we should be subjected to Chris Cope and Chuck O’Neil on the main card, even if it turns out to be a slugfest.
Speaking of the tournament final, Tony Ferguson and Ramsey Nijem were the class of the show from the outset – even if the coaches weren’t able to evaluate that right away – finishing all six of their combined opponents leading up to the final. With what the Ultimate Fighter has become, if a fighter wants to prove they really are UFC calibre, they should be finishing their opponents, or at least beating them with ease, and above everyone else on the show Ramsey and Tony accomplished that. I always struggle to break down fights with the guys from the show because of the drastic changes that can take place between filming and their actual fights, but I feel as though I have a pretty solid grasp on this fight.
Ramsey has some major issues with his striking that likely wouldn’t have been corrected in a few months of training. He showed in his semi-final fight that he throws looping punches and moves forward without using angles while keeping his chin very exposed. Cope was unable to capitalize on those flaws in his game, but Ferguson is much more talented. Nijem’s other major flaw is that he doesn’t set up his takedowns well, and while this is something that can be corrected with proper gameplanning, Ferguson is also a better wrestler than anyone Ramsey has faced up to this point. What this adds up to in my eyes is that unless Nijem has made some drastic improvements in a few areas of his game, Ferguson should be able to keep the fight on the feet and make his superior striking skills count emphatically. Tony Ferguson via Unanimous Decision.
How Tim Credeur-Ed Herman, Fabio Maldonald-Kyle Kingsbury, and Cope/O’Neil made the televised card ahead of Scott Jorgensen, who is a current top 10 Bantamweight and former WEC title challenger is beyond me, but further proves that the UFC will bury the lighter weight classes on undercards to instead show mid and low-level fights with TUF alumni. Jorgensen goes up against Ken Stone who apparently has finally awoken from the absolutely brain rattling slam Eddie Wineland laced him with at WEC 53. Stone is getting his second shot in Zuffa mostly as a courtesy after being thrown to the wolves against Wineland, but Jorgensen may be an even tougher task. While Stone has well-rounded skills (he’s finished 4 of 9 wins by TKO, and the other 5 by Submission), he’s never been in the cage with a fighter like Jorgensen, except maybe for Wineland. Scott Jorgensen via 1st Round TKO.
Tim Credeur and Ed Herman are both coming off extensive 18-month+ layoffs, and this will be a great barometer of where each fighter is at in their recovery. I briefly ran a series over at FightLockdown.com called the “Sloppy Slugfest”, and with two fighters who love to bang and haven’t been in a bout for as long as these two, I can definitely foresee this one turning into a fight of that nature. Who wins at that point is anyone’s guess, but I’m going to go with Credeur, since he’s shown a little bit more of an ability to withstand punishment and answer back in his previous fights. Tim Credeur via 2nd Round TKO.
The other fight that really belongs on the main card rather than some of the ones I mentioned earlier would be Josh Grispi vs. George Roop. Grispi was well on track to facing Jose Aldo before being derailed by Dustin Poirier, and Roop had turned his fortunes around at Featherweight, despite his recent blitzing at the hands of Mark Hominick. Roop isn’t great at any particular aspect of MMA, as he’s lost any time he’s faced a good striker (Hominick and Wineland), and been submitted on numerous occasions. That should give Grispi plenty of incentive to work his grappling game, which has shown to be vicious and efficient, without fear for what Roop offers from his back. Josh Grispi via 1st Round Submission.
Other fights on the card:
- Jeremy Stephens will wallop Danny Downes, and send the Roufusport product packing from the UFC. Jeremy Stephens via 1st Round TKO.
- Fabio Maldonaldo will have his wrestling exploited in a big way against Kyle Kingsbury, unless he manages to land a flashy strike first. Kyle Kingsbury via Unanimous Decision.
- Filed into the category of matches I have no interest in: Chuck O’Neil should be able to outstrike Chris Cope in a lukewarm fight with little offense. Chuck O’Neil via Unanimous Decision. Justin Edwards will take Clay Harvison down early, where the Georgian will offer little resistance to a submission. Justin Edwards via 1st Round Submission. Shamar Bailey, healthy back and all, will do little more than outwrestle Ryan McGillivray for three rounds. Shamar Bailey via Unanimous Decision.
- Finally, in what it almost guaranteed to be a match ending one fighter’s UFC stint, I have to favour Reuben Duran over Francisco Rivera, due mostly to the effort Duran produced against Takeya Mizugaki. Reuben Duran via 2nd Round Submission.