WATCH: TOMMY TOE HOLD – FIGHT PREVIEW
The UFC will be airing the 24th TUF Finale fight card on Saturday night, which will mark the end of an era for the cancelled show. That’s right, folks — The Ultimate Fighter has reached the end of its 11-year journey. This season was a unique one in that all the contestants were champions in their own right from regional promotions around the world, with the winner, now known to be former UFC flyweight Tim Elliott, facing the current champion and pound-for-pound best fighter on the planet, Demetrious Johnson.
The event is a pretty low-key affair with some roster veterans, as well as some fresher faces filling out the card. As always, I’ve selected a quartet of fighters that have ample potential to upset the proverbial apple cart. These are the underdogs that could provide the points you need to make your fantasy teams shine bright.
Let’s get started:
Devin Clark $8,200 / Josh Stansbury $8,000
Most of you will remember Devin Clark from Dana White’s Lookin’ for a Fight show, but he wasn’t very successful in his UFC debut, getting blasted into another dimension by a crushing knockout at the hands of Alex Nicholson. Clark has athletic gifts with very capable wrestling and explosive response, and he makes the most of any opportunity he gets on the ground with good aggression from top position.
Stansbury is the bigger of the two and has experience on his side in spades. Starting his amateur career in 2005, he would put in 11 fights before turning pro in 2009. He has 10 fights as a pro, with only two losses — the last one being more than seven years ago. He’s not a dynamic striker, but he’s crafty and also has good wrestling.
With Clark moving back to 205, as well as being the smaller and less experienced athlete, I feel he is prime for a seasoned veteran like Stansbury to snatch a win from.
Josh Stansbury via DECISION
Kailan Curran $8,600 / Jamie Moyle $7,600
Kailan Curran has all the tools to make a big splash in the strawweight division, but she hasn’t quite gotten the hang of how to put it all together to get the victory. She’s a forward moving stalker, aggressive to a fault. Her stand-up is good with really crisp punch combinations and nice footwork.
She has issues on the ground, though, as evidenced by her submission losses to Felice Herrig and Alex Chambers. Her fight IQ suffers on the canvas, mainly due to her eagerness to put herself in dangerous positions.
Jamie Moyle is more than capable of making the most of any opportunities given to her. She’s also an aggressive fighter with decent power and excellent work from the clinch. Her use of angles is a boon to her skillset, and she’s got decent wrestling.
This is a tough fight to predict, but I’m choosing Moyle based on the fact that she’s a smart fighter and capitalizes on openings extremely well. She should be able to secure a victory against a reckless opponent like Curran.
Side Note: I expect fireworks here, as both these women don’t know how to put on a bad fight.
Jamie Moyle via DECISION
Ion Cutaleba $8,900 / Jared Cannonier $7,300
This is a light heavyweight bout that has “somebody is going to sleep” written all over it. Any time you have a pair of fighters that have a 75% finish rate (BOTH of them), you know you’re in for a treat. Both men have a surprisingly high output and are very active.
The difference here is accuracy, and that’s where Cannonier shines. At almost 70%, this slugger shouldn’t find it difficult to find a home for his devastating hammers. Cutaleba doesn’t even break the 30%, but that number can be deceiving, as the vast majority of his fights end well before the second round. As a matter of fact, 8 of his 12 wins came in under 45 seconds.
Cannonier will have the size advantage in this contest since he is moving down from heavyweight. He’s defensively sound and has a left that doubles as a rocket booster for our space shuttles. Cutaleba has plenty of upside, but he’s a bit of a bull in a China shop, rushing pell-mell into dangerous territory. He eats a lot of punches, and despite his durability in the past, I think these tendencies will be his undoing against the “Killa Gorilla.”
Jared Cannonier via TKO
Jorge Masvidal $8,800 / Jake Ellenberger $7,400
Jorge Masvidal has some of the best technical striking in the sport. He uses angles well, has excellent footwork and head movement, and really knows how to stick and move. There aren’t any issues with cardio, and he’s had a healthy, injury-free career.
His Octagon control has been an issue in the past, and has cost him a few close decisions. It’s not that he isn’t engaging, it’s that he often allows his opponent to press the action and back him up. He’s got very underrated grappling, although against a high level wrestler like Ellenberger, that could very well be nullified.
Ellenberger has been largely underestimated because of a bad patch he hit that started in 2013. The thing is, he was only losing to the upper echelon fighters (Stephen Thompson, Rory MacDonald, Robbie Lawler, etc), so we must take that into careful consideration. He has an elite wrestling pedigree and possesses devastating knockout power. If that right hand touches Masvidal’s chin, iron-made or not, it will be lights out.
Jake has stated that he’s in a much better place and is more focused than he’s ever been. After a short stint away a few years ago, he has been back at King’s MMA under the excellent guidance of Rafael Cordeiro for the last two-plus years, and he has found his rhythm again. His ability to get on the inside and land heavy shots should be the game-changer here.
Jake Ellenberger via TKO
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