Another season of The Ultimate Fighter has come and gone. This season saw the Brits take on the Americans for MMA supremacy. The Brits finished with three out of the four finalists guaranteeing themselves at least a tie for which team won this season.
The main card features both the lightweight and welterweight finals as well as two pivotal lightweight match ups. Two Brits duke it out for the lightweight title while the lone American, Damarques Johnson, battles rival James Wilks for the welterweight crown.
In a match that will probably lead to a number one contender’s match Diego Sanchez will take on fan favorite Clay Guida. Rounding out the card is Joe Stevenson v. Nate Diaz who are both in need of a win. In fact both fighters lost to one of the two guys in the main event in their most recent fight.
Surprisingly only four fighters from the show will round out the undercard. Let’s start to break down these fights:
Jason Dent v. Cameron Dollar: Dent is 18-9, 0-2 in the UFC, with 18 wins by stoppage. He is a jiu-jitsu fighter. Dollar is 2-1, making his UFC debut, with both wins by stoppage. He is a wrestler.
Dent is a really tough dude with a good ground game. Dollar is a good wrestler but he is susceptible on the ground. I like Dent due to his experience and prior fights in the UFC so he’s used to the big stage. I’m picking Dent to win by submission in the first round.
Nick Osipczak v. Frank Lester: Nick is 3-0, making his UFC debut, with all three wins by stoppage. Nick is a striker. Lester is 3-2, also making his UFC debut, with all three wins by KO. He is also a striker.
This is going to be another tough fight for Lester who undoubtedly was the toughest guy in the house this season. Nick is long and a more technically sound striker than Lester, just like James Wilks, who had to beat Lester twice to make it to the finals. I expect Nick to pick Lester apart, wear him down, and get the finish. I’m picking Nick to win by TKO in the third round.
Mike Ciesnolevicz v. Tomasz Drwal: Mike is 17-3, 1-0 in the UFC, with 13 wins by stoppage. He is a well rounded fighter with solid striking and submissions. Drwal is 15-2, 1-1 in the UFC, with 13 wins by stoppage. He is a striker.
Mike would be smart to put Drwal on his back. I think Mike’s wrestling and submission game is too good for Drwal’s striking which Mike is no slouch at. Plus Mike comes out of a great camp in Team Miletich so he should have a solid gameplan coming into this fight. I’m picking Mike by submission in the first round.
Brad Blackburn v. Edgar Garcia: Blackburn is 16-9-1, 2-0 in the UFC, with 12 wins by stoppage. He is a striker. Garcia is 7-0, making his UFC debut, with six wins by stoppage. He is also a striker.
This should be an entertaining stand up battle. I like Blackburn’s experience to be the difference especially on the big stage. I’m picking Blackburn to win by TKO in the first round.
Melvin Guillard v. Gleison Tibau: Guillard is 21-7-2, 4-3 in the UFC, with 16 wins by stoppage. He is a wrestler with good muay thai. Tibau is 16-6, 5-3 in the UFC, with 10 wins by stoppage. He is a wrestler and jiu-jitsu fighter.
This should be a good clash of styles. The key to this fight is whose wrestling is better. If Guillard can sprawl and brawl he will have the advantage. If Tibau gets the fight to the mat he has the advantage. I like Guillard’s wrestling so I’m picking Guillard by TKO in the second round.
Chris Lytle v. Kevin Burns: Lytle is 26-17-5, 5-9 in the UFC, with 22 wins by stoppage. He is grappler with good wrestling and jiu-jitsu but also has decent boxing. Burns is 7-2, 2-1 in the UFC, with all seven wins by stoppage. He is a jiu-jitsu fighter.
Burns may have the better record but Lytle has a more well rounded game and a world of experience against better competition. Lytle would be smart to use his wrestling to keep the fight standing and use his boxing where he probably has an advantage. Burns can certainly hold his own and this will be a tough fight but I see Lytle pulling out the decision victory.
Joe Stevenson v. Nate Diaz: Stevenson is 29-10, 6-4 in the UFC, with 19 wins by stoppage. He is wrestler and jiu-jitsu fighter. Diaz is 10-3, 5-1 in the UFC, with nine wins by stoppage. He is jiu-jitsu fighter with some boxing.
As much as I like Joe “Daddy” this is going to be a really tough fight. He hasn’t looked great on his feet in his last two losses and Diaz has the length advantage to keep him at bey and outpoint him all night. Stevenson’s wrestling is better but once the fight is on the mat he’ll have to be very careful with Diaz’s jiu-jitsu. Stevenson is no slouch on the ground but his wrestling isn’t as good as Guida’s who used it to stall Diaz in their last match.
This fight will come down to two things. Can Stevenson get inside of Diaz’s reach to score points on the feet? Or can he do any damage once on the ground without getting caught by Diaz? I think in both cases Stevenson is going to have to take a lot of risks to win this fight and I just don’t like the odds. I think Diaz will use his reach to stay outside and away from Stevenson’s takedowns. He doesn’t have the KO power to finish the fight but I expect him to outpoint Stevenson on the feet for the decision win.
That would make it three losses in a row for Stevenson who can’t afford to give up any more ground in the division. If he loses this fight it’s going to be a very long, hard road back to title contention.
Andre Winner v. Ross Pearson: Winner is 9-2, making his UFC debut, with four wins by stoppage. He is a boxer. Pearson is 8-3, also making his UFC debut, with seven wins by stoppage. He is a jiu-jitsu fighter.
This will be another good clash of styles. The winner here will be the one who can impose his will on the other to get the fight to where they want it. I like Pearson’s style and toughness to get the fight to the mat where he should have the advantage. I see Pearson winning the first six figure contract by submission in the second round.
Damarques Johnson v. James Wilks: Johnson is 9-6, making his UFC debut, with eight wins by stoppage. He is a well rounded fighter with solid boxing and jiu-jitsu skills. Wilks is 5-2, also making his UFC debut, with all five wins by stoppage. He is a jiu-jitsu fighter with solid stand up.
This should be a good scrap between two guys who have no love lost for each other. I don’t think either will let their emotions get in the way of that contract but you never know. I think both showed well rounded skills but I liked what I saw out of Johnson more.
I don’t think Johnson is significantly better than Wilks so I think Johnson will earn a tough decision victory for the second UFC contract. This will leave the season tied between the two teams though there should be an asterisk in regards to the fact that there were three Brits in the finals.
Diego Sanchez v. Clay Guida: Sanchez is 20-2, 9-2 in the UFC, with 15 wins by stoppage. He is a a wrestler with solid jiu-jitsu and muay thai. Guida is 25-9, 5-3 in the UFC, with 16 wins by stoppage. He is a wrestler with solid boxing and muay thai.
I love Clay Guida but Sanchez is simply the better fighter. Guida relies on his wrestling far too much and it just won’t carry him to a win in this fight. Sanchez is as good as, if not better than, Guida at wrestling and Sanchez has a distinct size advantage. This fight will take place where Sanchez wants it to and I don’t think he’ll take it to the ground unless he has to.
I think Sanchez has the better stand up and it will show in this fight. Guida is a tough guy and has never actually been KO’d so it will be interesting to see if Sanchez can put a chink in that armor. I think Sanchez will beat up Guida pretty good on the feet to earn himself a decision victory.
This should be a solid night of free fights and a good end to another season of The Ultimate Fighter. My pick for submission of the night goes to Mike Ciesnolevicz. My pick for KO of the night goes to Brad Blackburn. My pick for fight of the night goes to Sanchez v. Guida.
That’s all for now. Stay tuned for my TUF 9 Finale recap and as always No News Barred every week on InsideFights. Until then,
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