Tomorrow night, The Ultimate Fighter’s tenth season culminates with what is actually a very solid television card. Heavy.com brought together their international crack team (hey, U.S. and Canada is international!) to predict the fights so you don’t lose a bundle. Betting on MMA, for the record, is stupid. Stick to the ponies like I do.
Jonathan Snowden: It was assumed from the moment his name was announced that the skilled and experienced Roy Nelson would be the next Ultimate Fighter. Nothing has made me change my mind. Schaub has some impressive athletic skills, but Nelson should be able to wear him down, ground him, and finish him. Unfortunately, Nelson may not have the physical tools to do well in the UFC proper. Like Mac Danzig, he was a lion in among lambs. That may fly on reality television, but not in with Cain Velasquez or Brock Lesnar.
Spencer Kyte: Big Country is Big Country; he’s not going to do anything to make you jump out of your seat, but he’s got a sound enough game that he looks liked a man amongst boys with this crowd all season long. Schaub is far from an afterthought though.
A great all-around athlete, getting back to standing after being mounted by Marcus Jones impressed the hell out of me and with the amount of time Team Jackson has had to devise a plan of attack, I’m backing the underdog on Saturday night and calling Brendan Schaub the next Ultimate Fighter.
Jeremy Botter: “Big Country” has rightly been the favorite to win this show since the moment he was announced as a participant. He hasn’t shown flashes of brilliance during the season, doing only what was needed to secure a victory, no matter what Dana White or the Kimbo Slice fans thought. He’ll likely do the same thing against Schaub, a fighter with plenty of athletic potential but not enough tools in the chest to pull of a victory over a fighter like Nelson.
Brett Jones: There’s no doubt that both Nelson and Schaub have worked hard to be at their best for Saturday’s finale. Still, I can’t help but think about how easily Marcus Jones was able to take Schaub down when they fought during the past season of TUF. If Nelson is able to get Schaub down, and he’s certainly capable of taking Schaub down, Schaub won’t be able to escape. My only concern for Nelson is that he will allow his hubris to get the best of him. If Nelson feels incline to stand and trade with Schaub, he will find himself in a lot of trouble. Still, although Nelson likes to stand and trade, he’s shown that he’s smart enough to take the fight to the ground, his domain, when he must. Roy Nelson via TKO, round 1
Kendall Shields: At twenty-six years of age, the cool and collected Brendan Schaub is probably the best prospect to emerge out of this season of The Ultimate Fighter. Who knows how far Schaub’s quick hands and promising groundwork can take him? Under the tutelage of Greg Jackson, it could be pretty far. But expect the vastly more experienced Roy Nelson to flab and jab his way to another relatively easy win. No surprises here. Headed into this season, we all knew Roy Nelson was the best fighter on the show. Roy Nelson knew it, too. He’ll prove it Saturday night.
Nelson 4, Schaub 1
Jonathan Snowden :I’ve seen Jon Jones live twice. Both times I’ve come away amazed and intrigued by his creativity and potential. Make not mistake though-this is a fight designed to test him. If he passes the test, expect a full scale promotional push for Jones. If Hamill is able to out muscle him, the UFC will slow down his progression until he is ready for stiffer competition. A lot is riding on this fight, but I expect Jones to step up to the challenge and out quick Hamill on his way to a decision.
Spencer Kyte: “Bones” Jones is officially my new favorite fighter and it has everything to do with having interviewed him. The kid is so humble and appreciative of what he has and the opportunities he’s been given. It also doesn’t hurt that he has one of the most dynamic skill sets in the sport and become a card carrying member of Team Jackson earlier in the year.
In hockey terms (I’m Canadian, eh!) Hamill is a grinder; a pain-in-the-ass third line guy who can get under your skin, put the puck in the net when he needs to and loves a good scrap every now and again. While I don’t ever see a championship in Hamill’s future, he’s a solid middle of the pack fighter and a great test for Jones.
That said, Jones simply is too much… TKO, Round 2.
Jeremy Botter: Matt Hamill is a drastic step up in competition for Jones, but it’s not an unreasonable leap. His straight-forward, plodding style seems tailored to fit Jones and his unpredictable, flashy style. He’ll be looking to take this fight to the ground and smother Jones for the majority of the fight, but it will be a short night if he’s not able to do so.
Brett Jones: It’s kind of surprising to me just how solid an underdog Matt Hamill is in this fight. I think his greatest disadvantage will be his lack of speed compared to Jones, but when it comes to both power and experience, it’s hard not to like Hamill. Which isn’t to say I’m picking Hamill to win; I’m not doing that. Jones was able to control Jake O’Brien’s takedown attempts, and O’Brien is a superior wrestler to Hamill. Jones was able to get the best of Stephan Bonnar, and Bonnar has more experience than Hamill. Still, lingering concern for me is how Jones’ unorthodox striking will compare to Hamill’s powerful boxing. I will put my faith in my namesake and into Greg Jackson and co.’s training to help Jones ascend to the next level in this fight. Jones via Unanimous Decision
Kendall Shields: Jon Jones is deservedly the new hotness after three pretty dazzling fights to open his UFC career. Matt Hamill is a real test, a solid wrestler who could make it a long night for Jones if he can get him to the ground and hold him there. But Jones, no grappling slouch, should be able to keep the fight where he wants it, at least long enough to land a big shot from some freaky angle. Jones by TKO.
Jones 5, Hamill 0
Jonathan Snowden :Houston Alexander is very similar to Kimbo Slice, if Kimbo had actual and not fabricated punching power. We’ve all seen Kimbo punching fat guys on the docks and not dropping them for the count. That’s punching power? All that said, I would not lay down any money of Alexander. If there were ever a fight in MMA history that looked ripe for shenanigans, this is it. In a fair fight though? Alexander via first round knockout.
Spencer Kyte: I don’t think there is a fight I’ve cared less about in the history of the sport. A formerly over-hyped one-trick pony in Alexander returns to the UFC to battle the most over-hyped no-trick-pony around. Yet somehow, 47 million people are going to tune in just for this fight! Somebody is getting KTFO’d; while I don’t particularly care who, it will probably end up being Kimbo.
For the record, if Kimbo was anything more than a marketable character, he’d have asked to take Mitrione’s place. Never in my life have I seen some talk as much junk about fighting and knocking people out come up with 101 Reasons Why He Can’t Fight..
Jeremy Botter: I want to believe in Kimbo Slice. I know television lies and the producers of TUF are able to create personalities out of thin air, but the affable, everyman personality displayed by Slice this season was a jarring contradiction to the thuggish street fighter we’ve seen in the past. Luckily, he’s facing a guy with an even smaller ground game than he. It’s a no-lose fight for the UFC, really. If Houston Alexander beats Kimbo Slice, he’ll be ready for the kind of fleeting stardom that will come his way until he’s taken down and submitted by his next opponent. If Slice wins, like I think he will, he redeems himself in the eyes of the fans and will no doubt be a big attraction on the next pay per view card he appears on.
Brett Jones: I absolutely understand why people would dismiss Kimbo out of hand in this fight. Alexander has actually won fights, plural, in the UFC. Meanwhile, Kimbo’s beaten a handful of has beens and never-will-be’s prior to catching a beating from Seth Petruzelli and flopping around underneath the gargantuan belly of finalist Roy Nelson. I guess that means there are two things going for Kimbo in this fight. First, he’s not fighting a TUF alumnus. Second, it’s not like Alexander has a granite jaw himself. When I close my eyes and think about this fight, I see the Rocky III still photo ending. I pretty much see the fight going like that; both will come to the center of the Octagon and unload with a powerful haymaker. Ultimately, I have to go with the guy who has done it before in the UFC. The fact that Kimbo appears to have had some difficulty cutting for this fight make me feel a bit better in my prediction. Houston Alexander via KO, round 1
Kendall Shields: I think we’re at the point now where all right-thinking people agree that Kimbo is, at least through the lens of reality TV, an immensely likable character. As a fighter, though, his showing this season did very little to convince anyone he’ll ever amount to all that much. He doesn’t hit that hard for a man his size. He doesn’t have much of a chin. And his ground game is still nowhere near the level it needs to be for him to compete in this sport — against anyone but Houston Alexander, that is. But if there’s any ground fighting here, it will be completely accidental. Kimbo has a puncher’s chance, of course, and you’ve got to love the guy, but Alexander should get the best of almost every exchange for as long as this fight goes. Which is to say: not long.
Alexander 4, Slice 1
Jonathan Snowden :Edgar will be stepping into the Octagon for the seventh time on this show. For Veach, it’s just his second appearance on the main stage. Both are scrappy wrestlers, but Edgar is too experienced and too good to lose here. The main question coming out of this fight will be when Edgar gets his shot at lightweight gold.
Spencer Kyte: I liked Edgar a lot when Kurt Pellegrino was going to be his opponent. Now that it’s Matt Veach and his one UFC appearance, I would bet every last penny of the $4.96 in my bank account on Edgar. Veach is a decent enough prospect, but Edgar is a win or two away from a title shot. UD Frankie Edgar.
Jeremy Botter: Both of these guys are good wrestlers, but Edgar is able to use his wrestling to keep his fights standing. If he does that here, he’s going to pick Veach apart standing. For Edgar, this is a perfect opportunity to put himself near the top of the lightweight heap and perhaps position himself for a title shot at B.J. Penn in 2010.
Brett Jones: In a way, this is a tough test for Edgar. Not his toughest test by any means, but tougher than it seems on paper. Veach has a ton of heart as displayed when he came back from the brink of defeat to knock Matt Grice out. Veach will need to display similar heart to withstand Edgar’s superior boxing. I think Veach will survive, but ultimately wind up on the losing end of the match. Frank Edgar via Unanimous Decision
Kendall Shields: Edgar will move one step closer to a shot at B. J. Penn with a relatively easy win over Matt Veach, whose misleading record contains only one decent win on the indie scene in addition to his nice showing against Matt Grice in his UFC debut. If Edgar can manage to finish a fight for the first time in a couple of years, so much the better for his title chances. This fight could look a lot like Edgar/Sherk.
Edgar 5, Veach 0
Jonathan Snowden :Marcus Jones was a perfect gentleman when I interviewed him before the season, but his overreaction to Scott Junk’s injury and over the top threats to Mitrione left a bad taste in my mouth. I like Jones on the ground, but as plenty of old boxing trainers have told plenty of flawed prospects over the years “you can’t train the chin.” I like Jones here, but don’t think he is a good long term prospect for anything but a series of naps.
Spencer Kyte:”Big Baby Darkness” getting all heated about an accidental injury that happened in a fight was the most ridiculous thing I’ve seen this season, outside of the 983 “Could this be the return of Kimbo Slice?” teasers.
As relatively nice as Jones’ ground game has looked, his getting punched in the face defense is what is going to matter most in this one, and sadly, it didn’t look that sound when Brendan Schaub dropped him in the semis.
I had the chance to speak with Mitrione heading into the season premiere, and he came across as a guy who wants to get better and learn. Regardless of how he came across in the show, I’ll always be rooting for “Meathead.”
Jeremy Botter: This is the fight I’m most excited for. Months have passed since “Big Baby” went bi-polar and threatened to kill Matt Mitrione for nearly ending the career of friend Scott Junk, so there’s no possible way Jones is still carrying that grudge around. But the fans, who just saw the altercation on Saturday night, will be firmly behind the ultra-popular Jones. Mitrione is a well-rounded fighter and hits very hard, but if Jones can get the fight to the ground, it’s academic.
Brett Jones: Marcus Jones will take Matt Mitirione down within the first ten second of the fight. In the next two minutes, tops, Marcus will work the crucifix before ultimately choosing to work for the arm bar.Marcus Jones via Submission (arm bar), round 1
Kendall Shields: Marcus Jones, the Marcello Garcia of enormous, aging NFL defensive lineman, melted our hearts with his love of gardening and childlike delight in learning. Matt Mitrione is among the lamest dudes in the history of a series that has featured some pretty lame dudes. Mitrione is no joke, but Jones has had no trouble putting people on their backs in his last few fights. When he puts Mitrione on his, expect that nifty step-over triangle he’s been working and enough damage to stop the fight.
Jones 4, Mitrione 1