Urijah Faber and Scott Jorgenson will meet in the main event of the TUF 17 finale (Photo by Dave Mandel, Sherdog.com).
An Amazing Season Comes to a Close
Written by Chris Cox (@CoxFight), Contributing Writer
One of the best seasons in a while for The Ultimate Fighter is coming to a close this weekend. If you haven’t been watching this season, you need to make sure that you are home on Saturday. Watch the episodes, kick back and get prepped for the finale, because this is going to be one of the best in the show’s history.
I really like this card and the fighters who made it out of the house. The headliner is a great bantamweight fight, one which likely holds some title implications, but the matches before it may just steal the show. The UFC is off to a good start here for the month of April, and I know they intend to keep that momentum moving.
The first match of the night is a battle of two Team Jones fighters when Bubba McDaniel takes on Gilbert Smith, Jr. Both met defeat in the house in the first round, with McDaniel being picked for the wildcard match and getting to move on. The problem for Smith in this fight is the same problem he had in the house. McDaniel is going to own a major reach over him. Smith is a very short and stocky wrestler who was out-struck something fierce in the house by Luke Barnatt. He seems to be a great guy from the show, but he is going to face some problems when he meets taller fighters. I see McDaniel out-striking him and stopping his takedowns. Training out of Jackson MMA, he had a lot of wrestlers to help him get ready for this fight. I have McDaniel taking it by TKO in the 2nd round.
Next up, we see two heavyweights looking to establish themselves in the division when UFC veterans Gabriel Gonzaga and Travis Browne link up. Gonzaga is well known for his epic knock out of Mirko Cro Cop, but I like Browne in this fight. He is a monster and loves to bring the noise in the striking game. Of his 13 wins, nine of them are by knockout. He does not like to go to the decision, so he is always looking to put his opponent to sleep. Gonzaga is amazing on the ground, and I assure you that he is not going to want to exchange strikes with Browne. He is on the bad side of several knockout highlight reels, and, if he doesn’t get it to the ground, I feel he will be on another one. To that point, Browne knows how good Gonzaga is on the ground, and you can bet he worked on takedown defense in his preparation for this fight. In conclusion, I see the action staying on its feet, and Browne will put Gonzaga to sleep.
We then have Miesha Tate taking on Cat Zingano in the third fight of the night, and this one has me very excited. I love Women’s MMA. They are literally some of the best fights, and some of the best finishes come out of them. This fight in particular sets up MMA history because the winner gets the second coaching spot for the first-ever women’s competition on TUF, going opposite UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey. Tate has been a big part of the Women’s MMA movement since its start. She is a former Strikeforce Champion, with her title being taken by Rousey in one of the final shows for the promotion. She is an amazing grappler and won a Silver Medal in the FILA Grappling World Championships. She has six submissions in her 13 wins to go along with three knockouts. On the other hand, Zigano has never been handed a defeat, but she has not faced the same caliber of competition that Tate has. These women want to put Rousey on watch and show they can do just as much damage and be more exciting as her. As far as my prediction goes, I see Tate coming in and dominating this fight throughout. She is just the better fighter with better credentials, and I see her earning that TUF coaching spot and getting a rematch against Rousey.
The co-main event of the night ends the TUF season when we see two very good fighters coming out of Team Sonnen compete in Uriah Hall vs. Kevin Gastelum. A lot of people watching the show were looking forward to Hall against Josh Samman because they were considered to be the best two fighters in the house. Samman thought he could walk through Gastelum and into the finals, but he soon found himself at the bad end of a rear naked choke. Throughout the whole series, I was astonished by Hall every time he was in the cage. He is a physical specimen with power in every limb of his body. He is also very technical and just a monster overall. Every time he knocked someone out, I literally feared for the fighter’s life. Gastelum is undefeated in his pro career, and the only time he has even seen a decision was in his fight to get into the house. Hall is very seasoned and has also faced two current UFC vets when they were on the Ring of Combat circuit, suffering losses to Chris Weidman and Costa Philippou. He is going to have no problem preforming in front of the crowd and has already been in the spotlight from his performances on the show. He is the open favorite, and I looked for him to prove why. No one has been able to match up against him in that house, and I feel it’s going to be the same way here in the finale. I think he will come in and deliver another stunning knockout, preparing him to make an immediate splash in the middleweight division.
In the main event of the night, we have Urijah Faber taking on Scott Jorgenson in a battle of two former WEC superstars. Both of these guys were huge in the promotion, so it’s awesome that they are getting a chance at each other. Jorgenson is coming off two Fight of the Night performances and is becoming a crowd favorite because of his style. Faber is kind of an MMA golden boy. You really can’t help but like the guy, and he delivers when he steps in the cage. Jorgenson has always had trouble taking that next step in his career to propel him into contender status. The fight he always needs to win to validate him tends to conclude as a loss. Faber is a staple at the top of any division where he fights. Whether he has the belt or not, he is considered to be a top guy. He is coming off a beautiful standing rear naked choke in his last fight, and I think he is looking to rack up another dominant win. He wants the belt, and another big win like this could give him another shot at it. The ‘California Kid’ is a good all-around fighter, and he can win in a variety of ways. I feel with Jorgenson’s inconsistency, this one is going to go in favor of Faber. I see this fight going to decision, with Faber coming out as the winner and calling for another shot at the belt.
It’s going to be a good night on Saturday, and it’s going to be an amazing card. The greatest thing is that the month isn’t even over yet. We still have an amazing UFC on FOX card on the 20th, and the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship will be on the line the next week when champion Jon Jones defends against Chael Sonnen. April is MMA month, and it’s beautiful.