The negative Nancy in me thinks "the Ultimate Fighter Finale" cards (TUF) are always some of the weaker fight cards the UFC puts out there in terms of big-name fights. You won't see any UFC titles being defended on a TUF Finale card. So why watch, right? Because you will see the coaches, Michael Bisping and Bully Beatdown's Jason "Mayhem" Miller, fight to a finish over 25 minutes. If that's not enough to pique your interest, in 7 of the 10 fights, both fighters are literally "fighting for their jobs"-the loser gets cut from the UFC.
Before reading on for the fight card breakdown, watch video from yesterday's weigh-in at the 18 minute mark to see coaches Mayhem Miller and Michael Bisping get nekkid and heated.
The Ultimate Fighter's 14th season introduced new bantamweight (135 LB) and featherweight (145 LB) fighters, and these lighter guys will not put you to sleep.
Fights are highly watch-able thanks to scrappy, fast-paced action between the UFC newcomers from the reality show. Of the ten fights on the card, nine are between fighters that were cast members of the current Ultimate Fighter season. Two of the fights will crown a "season 14 winner"-a nominally valuable title that grants the winner at least four more fights in the UFC. The stakes are less dire for the runner-up; the loser of Dillashaw/Dodson and of Bermudez/Brandao will still get at least another fight in the UFC.
Looking at this event from the fantasy MMA perspective, the TUF Finale events are complete toss-ups. Only two of ten fights on the card have experienced UFC fighters doing battle-and for the UFC vets we some prior knowledge of their fighting capabilities. For the other eight fights between TUF 14 cast members, there is little to say definitively about either fighter. Most of the fighters have experience in regional promotions, and some even have fought on bigger stages like WEC and Strikeforce. But make no mistake, these fights are a battle of the unknown variables. We will some quick first-round finishes, and about half of the fights will be spirited three-round decisions.
Let's break down the key fights:
Jason "Mayhem" Miller (+166) vs. Michael Bisping (-160) (5 round fight)
Miller is rebooting his UFC career, while Bisping is looking for a fourth-straight UFC win here to put him closer to a title shot at Anderson Silva. After being black-balled by his former employer Strikeforce, Miller has not fought in over a year. Bisping has won two UFC fights since Miller last fought, and he holds a respectable 11-3 record in the UFC. Since Bisping's chin has only been obliterated by Dan Henderson's powerful right hand, Miller's path to victory lies with the submission over 25 minutes. Bisping will look to wear down Miller with punches in bunches. Considering Miller has not had a meaningful fight since fighting Jake Shields in November 2009, it is hard to pick him with confidence. Bisping should finish Miller with strikes in the 4th or 5th rounds.
The pick: 10-Michael Bisping-KO-5
T.J. Dillashaw (-200) vs. John Dodson (+186)
Dillashaw is a gifted wrestler-turned-fighter who trains with the shirtless guys at Team Alpha Male (Urijah Faber, Chad Mendes). With only four fights in 2010 to his name, what Dillashaw lacks in experience he makes up for with relentless wrestling. Dodson has been in the fight game since 2004 and has compiled a 11-5 record in regional competition. If these guys fight again in three years, Dillashaw mops the floor with Dodson. Look for Dodson to put an early hurt on Dillashaw with some clean strikes, but youth and talent will prevail in a star-making comeback performance where Dillashaw's wrestling instincts positions him for a third-round rear-naked choke finish.
The pick: 9-T.J. Dillashaw-Sub-3
More after the jump
Tony Ferguson (-300) vs. Yves Edwards (+270)
Ferguson is offered a classic "Highlander fight" wherein the up-and-coming UFC prospect Ferguson beats the seasoned UFC vet, and by do so Tony Ferguson feels a lightning storm surge through his body as he gets the ultimate power and the prior 41 victories credited to Edwards.
The pick: 8-Tony Ferguson-KO-2
Dennis Bermudez (+294) vs. Diego Brandao (-320)
It's the gritty East Coast wrestler versus the savage Brazilian striker. This fight goes one of two ways. Bermudez eats a power shot in round 1 and we move on quickly to the next fight on the card. Or the complete opposite can happen. If Dennis Bermudez survives the initial flurry, he can take Diego Brandao into the later rounds, where Brandao is very beatable-merely 4-6 in fights that go past round 1. But let's keep it real-Bermudez is not that good and has lost two straight fights by a first round submission prior to his Ultimate Fighter experience. Go with the trend, and pick Diego Brandao to win by a submission-possibly a "tap to strikes" submission.
The pick: 7-Diego Brandao-Sub-1
Here are the rest of the picks. Flip a coin or pull the string on your See-And-Say to pick the rest of the fights and outcomes.
Ultimate Fighter Finale 14 Picks