By Jaime C. Feal
The best and most complete card for a TUF Finale in quite some time, fans won’t want to miss this incredible free show. We have the most exciting prospect to come out of the Ultimate Fighter in years, possibly in the history of the show, in Uriah “Primetime” Hall. This beast of a middleweight has sent all four of his opponents on the show to the hospital, often times finishing them so violently there is a genuine concern for their well-being in the aftermath. The co main event will be the second women’s MMA match in UFC history, as Miesha Tate takes on Cat Zingano. This fight has huge implications for Tate and Zingano, as the winner earns a title shot against Ronda Rousey, and a spot as Rousey’s rival coach on the next season of The Ultimate Fighter, which for the first time in history will feature women competitors. Finally, the main event is an exciting clash between two big names in Urijah Faber and Scott Jorgensen. All in all, a card worthy of a pay-per-view, yet given to you for free.
The Ultimate Fighter 17 Middleweight Final (185 lbs.):
Uriah “Primetime” Hall (7-2, 0-0 UFC) vs. Kelvin Gastelum (4-0, 0-0 UFC)
A huge mismatch on paper, it is very easy to count Gastelum out of this fight. Gastelum, at 21 years old, is the youngest competitor to ever make it to a TUF finale, and has very little big fight experience. Hall, conversely, is a former Ring of Combat champion and has looked incredible in all his fights. One simply cannot count Gastelum out of this fight, however, because he has defied the odds over and over again. Gastelum upset Bubba McDaniel, Colin Hart, and Josh Samman all by stoppage or submission on his way to the finals. Furthermore, Gastelum has the one style that could give Hall problems: A tough, young, hungry wrestler who can get the takedown and keep the fight on the ground.
With that said, Uriah Hall should absolutely crush in this fight. This is “Primetime” for Hall, a huge audience, the 6 figure contract, and everything he’s been working to achieve. He has an intimidation and fear factor instilled in the cast of TUF, and you best believe the young Gastelum is included in this, unless he is too young to know better, in which case Gastelum gets caught even quicker. Hall is simply too fast, strong, athletic, technical, powerful, and explosive for Gastelum to handle. Hall will control the range and distance, and quickly let Gastelum know that he’s in there with a whole new level of opponent. As the fight goes on, Gastelum will come to this realization as well, his youthful exuberance eventually falling way to the experience and skill of Uriah Hall.
Prediction: Uriah Hall wins by TKO, Round 2.
Women’s Bantamweight Division (135 lbs.): Miesha Tate (13-3, 0-0 UFC) vs. Cat Zingano (7-0, 0-0 UFC)
Zingano, the former Invicta FC competitor, is a fresh face to the Zuffa promotion. A former collegiate wrestler, trains her ground game with husband and jiu jitsu black belt Mauricio Zingano. Zingano likes to use trips and takedowns to set up her ground and pound, as she did in her win over Raquel Pennington in October.
Miesha Tate is the much more famous of these two fighters, as she has fought 8 times under the Strikeforce promotion, one time in a famous battle with Ronda Rousey where she refused to tap out to Rousey’s armbar until her arm basically dislocated. That shows the kind of heart and grit Tate is made of, and she is a very well rounded fighter to boot. She appeared the superior striker against Rousey before getting handled on the ground. Tate’s ground game is not bad at all, of course, as she has won fights herself via armbar and ground and pound. This fight could end up anywhere, and should be very competitive, unless Zingano gets frozen by the big stage. In the end, the one big advantage Miesha Tate has is experience: she has fought longer, against better competition, and with more pressure.
Prediction: Miesha Tate wins by unanimous decision.
Bantamweight Division (135 lbs.):Urijah “The California Kid” Faber (27-6, 3-2 UFC) vs. Scott “Young Guns” Jorgensen (14-6, 3-2 UFC)
Faber is a big name under the Zuffa promotion, as he was once the posterboy and champion of the WEC. In the UFC, Faber has lost each of his title fights, but won all his non-title fights. When your last three loses are in title fights to Renan Barao, Dominick Cruz, and Jose Aldo, and you’ve won everything else, you’re doing something right. The fact Faber can beat almost anyone except the champions of bantamweight and featherweight still make him a highly relevant name in the sport. “The California Kid” uses excellent cardio, grappling, wreslting, and top control to impose his will on his opponents. Faber also has the ability to finish with chokes, as he did Ivan Menjivar, Brian Bowles, Takeya Mizugaki, and even Dominick Cruz back in the day, among others. The guillotine choke is his go-to move, but he can also finish via rear-naked choke.
Scott Jorgensen, another former WEC standout, has power in his hands and a wrestling background. His results have been mixed in the UFC, and this is a huge match for him. If he has any aspiratins of a titler shot he needs to get the win, as he has dropped 2 of his last three fights coming into this one. Jorgensen’s best chance is to turn it into a striking match, and catch Faber with one of his powerful haymakers. Faber may be a bit more technical and quick, but Jorgensen holds the edge in power. Often times when two wrestlers fight eachother, the wrestling cancels out and it becomes a stand up war. Expect that historical pattern to hold true, and Faber to use his speed and technique to cruise to victory.
Prediction: Uirjah “The California Kid” Faber wins by unanimous decision.