While most fight fans don’t need any additional urging to tune into free fights, the mediocre ratings from this season of The Ultimate Fighter and the lack of truly marquee names on the TUF 13 Finale fight card could cause some people to look elsewhere for entertainment on Saturday night.
We don’t want to see that happen.
Here’s what you’d be missing out on if you did.
1. The Matrix Reloaded
Last time Anthony Pettis stepped into the cage, he made like Neo, running up the side of the fence, launching himself forward, connecting with a perfectly placed kick to the head of Ben Henderson at WEC 53.
Six months later, “The Showtime Kick” still stands as the coolest, most creative move we’ve seen in quite some time, and there is no telling what Pettis will do this time around.
Make no mistake about it, his Matrix inspired maneuver against Henderson was no fluke; Pettis and the rest of the Roufusport team in Milwaukee use the end of practice as a time to try out new moves, the same way NBA players launch half-court shots before hitting the showers.
Whether it be running off the fence of bringing kicks from capoeira into the cage, that creative element makes every fight featuring Pettis a must-see event.
2. Fight of the Year? Guida Thinks So
Remember when Guida faced Diego Sanchez? That fight earned numerous Fight of the Year awards and made most everyone’s list of the best fights of 2009.
This one should be even better.
While Sanchez and Guida slugged it out in a somewhat messy brawl, Pettis is a much more dynamic and precise striker than the former TUF winner. The pairing of his diverse offensive arsenal with Guida’s relentless pace and never quit mentality has the longtime UFC fan favorite predicting that this bout will not only earns Fight of the Night, but enter the running for Fight of the Year as well, and we’re inclined to agree.
Guida is riding a three-fight winning streak, bringing him to the highest point he’s reached in his career. He’s a three-time Fight of the Night, and two-time Fight of the Year, recipient, and he knows that a entertaining win over Pettis will propel him even further up the food chain.
As for the final WEC lightweight champion, he’s unbeaten in his last four and has brought home an end of the night award in three of those contests. His athleticism, creativeness and desire to put himself back in line for a UFC title shot should shine through in this one, and only be amplified by what Guida brings to the table.
These are two of the most consistently exciting fighters in the sport, and locking them inside the Octagon together is sure to produce fireworks.
3. The Intriguing Development of Kyle Kingsbury
A few seasons ago on The Ultimate Fighter, Kingsbury became the de facto leader of Team Nogueira, but failed to make much of an impact inside the cage. He lost to Tom Lawlor on the TUF 8 Finale, and while he gutted out decision wins over Razak Al-Hassan and Jared Hamman after that, Kingsbury didn’t really garner much attention in the light heavyweight division.
That all changed with his last fight.
At UFC 126, a chiseled and sculpted Kingsbury walked into the cage and stopped Ricardo Romero in just 21 seconds, leveling the former two-time Ring of Combat champion with a few precise punches.
But wait, there’s more.
In addition to working hard in the gym at American Kickboxing Academy, Kingsbury has also been working with Victor Conte since 2009.
For you baseball fans, yes, that Victor Conte.
Conte was the head of BALCO, the San Francisco area laboratory infamous for supplying designer steroids to elite athletes. While he’s paid his penance, there is no denying that the working relationship between Kingsbury and Conte is one that piques the interest of many, myself included.
By no means is anyone accusing Kingsbury of anything or insinuating that Conte is once again dealing in designer creams and clears; the UFC fighter is among a small group of athletes that Conte is currently working with, and there have been no indications over their two years together that anything scandalous is taking place. Obviously, with Conte’s checkered past, you can be sure the watchdogs are on even higher alert than normal. The fact of the matter is that Kingsbury has improved both physically and inside the cage, and become a fighter to watch in the light heavyweight ranks. His connection with Conte only adds a new layer to things.
In a sport where we’re curious to see who Steven Seagal is going to show up with next, paying attention to the steadily improving prospect working with the infamous BALCO president, rather than who the direct-to-DVD former action star is cornering next seems pretty reasonable to me.
Especially when you can watch him for free from the comforts of your own living room.