By Jaime Feal
The Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas will again host The Ultimate Fighter Finale this Saturday Night. The fight card was just unveiled Wednesday after the semifinals concluded on the final episode. Lighter weight classes will be the theme of the night: The Main Event between Bisping and Miller notwithstanding, every fight on the main card is 155 lbs. or less.
Bantamweight Division (135 lbs.):
Louis “Goodnight” Gaudinot (5-1) vs. Johnny “Brutal” Bedford (17-9-1)
Two fighters who were eliminated on the show are being given a second chance in a do-or-die match to kick off the main card. The loser of the fight is undoubtedly cut from the UFC roster immediately. We didn’t get to see much of Gaudinot as he had only two fights on the show: A brief clip of his fight to get into the house, and a loss/elimination in his first fight once in the house. The scrappy fighter out of Yonkers likes to use his wrestling to control the fight and beat up his opponents.
Viewers got to see a lot more of Bedford as he won his way onto the show via spectacular submission over Carson Beebee (Chase Beebee’s brother), then earned lots of TV time on his way to the semifinals. Bedford is a veteran of the sport and describes his style as one geared towards “breaking” people. He will attempt to wear down Gaudinot until Louis loses the will to fight back. Gaudinot’s loss on the show was to a submission and that is one of Bedford’s specialties. Ideally Bedford would like to grind down Gaudinot and submit him, but Gaudinot is likely to have too much heart and energy to allow that to happen. Expect a close fight where both bantamweights leave it all in the cage.
Prediction: Johnny Bedford wins by unanimous decision.
Lightweight Division (155 lbs.):
Tony “El Cucuy” Ferguson (12-2) vs. Yves “Thugjitsu Master” Edwards (41-17-1)
TUF Season 13 winner Tony is set to do battle with the dangerous and experienced Yves Edwards, and this will truly be a litmus test for how far Ferguson can go in the lightweight division. During his time on the show Ferguson displayed blinding speed, vicious striking, and a keen killer instinct in advancing to the Finale and then dispatching of his opponent to earn the UFC contract. Then at UFC 135 he broke Aaron Riley’s jaw with strikes en route to a TKO victory.
Now Ferguson faces a very experienced opponent in Edwards who will be competing in his astounding 60th fight as a professional. Edwards is still only 35 years old and has a lot left in the tank. Ferguson has been breezing through his latest fights but this one figures to be highly competitive. Expect a stand-up battle as both fighters will look to showcase their striking skills and exciting styles.
Prediction: Tony Ferguson wins by KO, Round 3.
The Ultimate Fighter Season 14 Bantamweight Finale (135 lbs.):
John “The Magician” Dodson (11-5) vs. T.J. Dillashaw (4-0)
Dodson is fresh off a savage KO of Johnny Bedford in the semifinals and is supremely confident. “The Magician” trains with Greg Jackson at Jackson MMA, possibly the most respected trainer/camp in the sport. Dodson is a cardio machine and a little ball of energy who is always bouncing around the cage. Facing a height disadvantage is almost every fight Dodson relies on athleticism to compensate.
The undefeated Dillashaw, who after only four professional fights stated he plans on winning the UFC title, is also extremely confident, and was even referenced as “cocky” by the show’s narrator. Dillashaw trains with Team Alpha Male, so he has incredible wrestling partners in Urijah Faber and Joseph Benavidez. A former collegiate wrestler himself, Dillashaw poses a matchup nightmare for Dodson, who has not faced a wrestler of Dillashaw’s caliber all season. Dodson’s best hope is to catch Dillashaw with a big shot on the feet and pounce for the finish. Otherwise Dodson figures to be grounded and pounded all fight.
Prediction: T.J. Dillashaw wins by unanimous decision.
The Ultimate Fighter Season 14 Featherweight Finale (145 lbs.):
Diego “Ceara” Brandao (13-7) vs. Dennis “The Menace” Bermudez (7-2)
Brandao has the best finishing skills of any of the cast members of this season. He literally struck fear into the opposition with his brutal knockouts on his way to the final. Brandao is also a Jackson MMA representative and is the quintessential Brazilian banger. He charges forward at the opening bell immediately looking to destroy his opponent. Coming from a very poor background in Brazil, he constantly speaks of his motivation to win the UFC contract and help his family and others in his native country by giving them the good life.
Dennis Bermudez has to weather the early storm that Brandao will bring. Bermudez’s style is wrestling-based, so his gameplan should be to take Brandao down as much as possible. In the semifinals we saw Brandao dispatch of an excellent grappler in Brian Callaway, but Callaway appeared very intimidated by Brandao before and during the bout. Bermudez is way too confident in his skills to be afraid of Diego, despite Brandao’s intimidating reputation. “The Menace” will be the first aggressive grappler Diego has faced all season. If Brandao has his takedown defense well prepared it could be a very short night for Bermudez. All three of Brandao’s fights on the season thus far have ended in first round knockouts.
Prediction: Diego Brandao wins by KO, Round 2.
The Ultimate Fighter Season 14 Coaches’ Finale (185 lbs.):
Michael “The Count” Bisping (21-3) vs. Jason “Mayhem” Miller (23-7)
Traditionally the coaches’ finale has been pay-per-view only, but Saturday night the viewers are in for a treat by getting to see this main event for free. Mayhem Miller is such a goofy and likeable guy that there wasn’t much trash talking between the coaches during this season of TUF. Bisping always initiated the banter, and Miller has stated he feels as though his “whole life has been leading up to beating up this one bully.” It is interesting choice of words because Bisping will also try to bully Miller inside the cage. Bisping loves to try to press forward and use volume striking to win rounds. His theory is not to land one big punch but to tire his opponents out with his pace and cardio.
Miller would love to get this fight to the ground and use his superior jiu-jitsu and submission game. Miller has claimed several times during the season that “December 3rd I get to smash Bisping’s face” so if he is true to his words he will strike heavily on the ground before going for a submission.
That is if Miller can take it to the ground. His best chance to get it there might be to allow himself to be taken down into guard. Bisping is a naturally bigger and stronger fighter with better wrestling. He can dictate where the fight goes and he is an intelligent fighter who will keep it standing. Miller will be game in his return to the UFC, but standing with Bisping is not his recipe for success.
Prediction: Michael Bisping wins by unanimous decision
Viewers tuning into Spike TV to watch the finale will be witnessing the end of an era as The Ultimate Fighter will move to FX in 2012. This coincides with UFC’s new deal with FOX networks.
Zuffa is also scrapping the traditional tape-delayed versions seen on Spike and switching to an all new live format for FX starting next year.