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UFC Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale Coverage: Main Card Analysis

courtesy of mmaweekly.com

A competitive bantamweight match up between Urijah Faber and Scott Jorgensen will kick off an exciting 5-fight main card. This card will feature the crowning of the TUF 17 winner, and three other bouts. Let’s get to it.

Gilbert Smith Jr. vs. Bubba McDaniel

While this match up may have received some critical thoughts by fight fans initially, I think this should be an interesting bout. I believe it will display whether either of these two fighters will have potential and whether their time on The Ultimate Fighter has taught them anything. For Gilbert Smith, I believe he learned that he has to use his advantages. He’s an incredibly strong middleweight, and has a great submission game; however in his bout with Luke Barnatt, that was not so apparent as the majority of the bout was spent on the feet. For Bubba, he’s got to mentally be prepared and just have better defense. I truly believe he lost both of his fights in the house because either he wasn’t prepared mentally and/or he didn’t have a proper gameplan. This fight, like I said, should really show us whether these two fighters have what it takes to be in the UFC or not.

I don’t believe this will be an exciting match up. Gilbert Smith is a passive fighter; he takes his time and sets things up. If anybody is going to be pushing the pace, it should be Bubba. In my eyes, McDaniel has got a lot to prove after being hyped up so much by Jon Jones, just to perform disappointingly. When breaking this bout down, I’m looking at who is going to be initiating where the fight goes. For me, I’m leaning towards Gilbert Smith. He has the perfect frame to grab ahold of someone and never let them go until they’re tapping. Unfortunately for Bubba McDaniel, his submission defense was not regarded very highly on the show. I’m picking Gilbert Smith in a second round submission as he takes Bubba down using his large frame, and takes advantage of his lack of grappling defense.

Gilbert Smith Jr. via 2nd Rd Submission

Travis Browne vs. Gabriel Gonzaga

This exciting heavyweight match up between Browne and Gonzaga will be second in line on the main card. Browne, 4-1-1 in the UFC, will be looking get back into the win column after his TKO loss to Bigfoot Silva by facing UFC vet Gabriel Gonzaga, who is on a three fight submission streak. Gonzaga will be looking for his 9th UFC victory coming into this fight as well, giving him a drastic edge in experience.

When you compare these fighters, they’re both dangerous on the feet. Gonzaga has been caught before standing and has been KO’d, something that Browne is very capable of as he has heavy, quick hands. However, Browne was finished for the first time of his career in his last bout, which could be both good and bad. If Browne enters this fight with anger, fire, and a desire to make it back among the top; then expect him to perform impressively and finish Gonzaga brutally just like the rest of the opponents he has finished. However, Gonzaga has an advantage in momentum, and has what I would call a style advantage. Gonzaga is more well-rounded, being way better on the ground, and has more tool to use while Browne has to basically rely on his long arms and power. I’m going to go ahead and say that if Gonzaga tries to stand with Happa, he’s going to get knocked out. Gonzaga does not do well against fighters with powerful punches; like JDS and Carwin, and could easily be caught. But if Gonzaga fights smart and gets Browne to the mat, it could be a quick victory for Gonzaga who has been looking to show off his ground game as of late.

This is a very tough fight to pick for me; Browne is surprisingly the favorite in this match up, but it could honestly go either way. I’m going to pick Gonzaga for the slight upset for the sheer fact that he has momentum on his side. He’s been to the top of the division before, he knows what it’s like, and being the closest been for almost 6 years, you have to think he’s going to perform impressive. I’m taking Gonzaga, but not by submission. I think he’ll be able to successfully hit takedowns for three rounds and grind out a decision. When he gets a takedown, he’s going to use his BJJ to stay ontop, dominate control, and work for submissions and ground and pound the whole round.

Gabriel Gonzaga via Unanimous Decision

Miesha Tate vs. Cat Zingano

Scheduled as just the second female MMA bout to take place in the UFC, Miesha Tate and Cat Zingano will duke it out to produce the next Ultimate Fighter coach opposite of Ronda Rousey and the next title challenger to the belt. Miesha Tate, 7-1 in her last 8, will be facing Cat Zingao who is undefeated at 7-0. Tate has the edge in experience, and competition as she has compiled a 5-2 record in Strikeforce while Zingano has yet to fight in a major organization outside of Invicta FC. However, Zingano now currently trains at Black House MMA and has been touted very highly in the grappling department. Although, Miesha Tate has over half of her victories by submission; including a grappling star Marloes Coenen. It’s safe to say that both of these women are very talented on the ground, and could make for a very exciting fight.

I’ve observed that women MMA fighters today appear to be extremely well rounded, but also fairly inconsistent. One woman may be an extremely talented striker, but because they fight so aggressively and with so much energy; it’s not too common to see the favored fighter beaten in an aspect that she is thought to be better in. For that matter, I believe this fight will be extremely exciting and very fast paced. Because both fighters are talented on the ground, you’re going to have to look at the stand up. While Miesha Tate is no Cyborg on the feet, I’d give her the edge in technique and speed. If there is a category that I believe Zingano has the advantage in, it’d definitely be in explosiveness and in takedowns. Tate is a scrappy woman, but Zingano is a power house and very deadly in tight-quarters.

When comparing Tate and Zingano against eachother, I’m going to side with the odds and side with experience in Miesha Tate. I believe Tate is the woman to fight Rousey next; she has a lot of experience, is more well-rounded than Zingano, and is ultimately a better strikers with more tools. I believe all of that will lead Tate to a 29-28 decision victory over Zingano in what could very well be Fight of the Night.

Miesha Tate via Unanimous Decision

Kelvin Gastelum vs. Uriah Hall

And here we are, the fight to decide the long-awaited TUF 17 winner. Kelvin Gastelum, a hard-nose powerhouse wrestler won his way to the finals by causing upset after upset. He was a last pick on team Sonnen, but he’s been one of the most impressive fighters of the season being only 21 years old. Gastelum displayed a dominant ground game as well as a strong likelihood to finish, favoring the rear-naked choke as his submission of choice for 2 of his 4 victories of the season. Kelvin is a young, powerful fighter who has been caused nothing but upsets to get here, for him, it’s just one more and he’ll be the winner of the hardest sports tournament to date.

However, standing in his way is perhaps one of the most dangerous fighters to ever compete in The Ultimate Fighter. Uriah Hall, known for his highlight-reel KOs, has received massive amounts of attention from media, fans, officials, and most importantly the UFC themselves. Dana White was the one to label him as one of the greatest to step foot in The Ultimate Fighter, and his coach, Chael Sonnen, made sure to let him known that he has what it takes to become UFC Middleweight Champion and dethrone the king Anderson Silva. Enough of the background stories, let’s get on to the fight!

One of Uriah Hall’s biggest strengths is his ability to control distance and range; he possesses an 80″ reach and will have 8 inches over Kelvin Gastelum. Fortunately for Gastelum, he probably won’t be doing much striking from the outside if he has anything to do about it. Gastelum’s greatest weapon is his takedowns and strength. He likes to blitz in punches, pull off the takedown, and absolutely dominate his opponent with punches, and eventually score a submission. Hall has never really been seen on his back recently besides for when Dylan Andrews had him down. However, it’s known that Hall’s disadvantage will definitely be on the ground, so it’ll be interesting to see whether Hall will be able to defend takedowns. He has the athleticism, the explosiveness, and the reflexes needed to stay on his feet at all costs, but will he be able to do it? I think that’s the biggest question heading into this fight.

I believe Kelvin Gastelum will be one those fighters that is just hard-nosed, presses forward, absorbs punishment, and never stops coming forward. He showed that mentality and style on the show, and after working with Chael Sonnen, a man who can be described as all of those things, you have to think that he may come out with a Sonnen-esque approach. Ironically enough, Uriah Hall could very well be compared to Anderson Silva. He has that unpredictable striking, that one-strike KO power, and that fluidity combined with timing to be an unstoppable force on the feet. After hearing Hall talk about how much more confident and aware of his potential he is now, I’d be crazy not to pick him to win this fight. As much as I admire Gastelum’s heart and warrior-spirit, I’m a believer in Uriah Hall and I’m expecting Hall to send a strong message to the rest of the UFC’s middleweight division.

I think Gastelum will come out right away, and probably tag Uriah Hall first; much like Adam Cella did to Hall, and much like Chael Sonnen did to Anderson Silva. However, I believe Hall will be ready for those takedown attempts. I think he’ll stuff them, center Gastelum in the Octagon in HIS range, and begin a display of vicious striking. Once Hall gets comfortable, there’s no stopping him. It’ll be a mid-first round TKO for Hall as he ends Gastelum’s night with a combo of punches and kicks, forcing a stoppage.

Uriah Hall via 1st Rd TKO

Urijah Faber vs. Scott Jorgensen

Set to close the night off is a highly anticipated bantamweight match-up between the former WEC featherweight champion, Urijah Faber, and long-time top-ranked contender Scott Jorgensen. This fight has been labeled as a “teacher vs. student” fight, as Scott Jorgensen was reportedly introduced to MMA via Urijah Faber. These guys will know eachothers’ game, and should be ready to throw down for an interesting fight.

First off, both of these guys are very talented on the ground. Faber has Div I wrestling experience, and is a brown in BJJ under Carlson Gracie Jr. Not to mention he also has over half of his 27 wins via submission. Jorgensen also has Div I wrestling experience, is a purple belt in BJJ, but only has 5 of his 14 victories via submission. I think it’s safe to say that on paper, Faber out-classes Jorgensen in nearly every aspect: experience, finish-rate, and grappling credentials. They also share several ommon opponents; one of them being Eddie Wineland, who is now challenging for the Interim-belt. Faber defeated Wineland via unanimous decision in his UFC debut while Jorgensen was KO’d by Wineland last year. However, you can not count Jorgensen out. He’s fired up, ready to fight, and ready to make a huge statement. Jorgensen fights with the tenacity and viciousness that can end your night on a moments notice. Faber is known to be a risk-taking type of fighter, so Jorgensen catching Faber with submission nasty could be a very possible outcome (ala Mike Brown/Urijah Faber I).

With all that said, fighting comes down to skill and style more times than not. Faber is the better striker, quicker, stronger, has the better submissions, higher finish-rate, and is overall just more experience than Jorgensen. I’m going to take Faber in an exciting fight, that should feature just about every aspect of MMA. I expect Faber and Jorgensen to start out the first round with some back-and-forth striking, which will showcase Faber’s improved muay thai game as he outkicks and outmoves Jorgensen. Then later in the fight, look for Jorgensen to start shooting and/or closing the gap, where Faber should be able to properly defend himself and use reversals, sweeps, etc., to find himself in a good position. I’m banking on a 3rd-round choke finish by Faber.

Urijah Faber via 3rd Rd Submission.

That’s all for my TUF 17 Finale coverage! Thanks for reading!
-Hodgi

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