Punch Drunk Preview: Ultimate Fighter 11 Finale

Jamie Yager (2-1-0) vs. Rich Attonito (7-3-0)

Yager was this year’s Matt Mitrione and I think he could come away in similar style as my man “Meathead.” Every season, someone gets edited into being the bad guy, and this season it was “The Chosyn One” with his self-confidence, bravado and eventual quitting on his stool. People see the things they dislike and don’t recognize that beyond the edited bad boy is an emerging talent.

When you work with ATT, you’re bound to have skills, and Attonito looked pretty solid in taking it to Kyacey Uscola before taking a questionable knee to the chops and finding his way to the sidelines with a collection of injuries.

If Yager is to be this season’s Mitrione, he needs a big performance here.

Spencer Fisher (23-5-0) vs. Dennis Siver (15-7-0)

Siver was riding a nice four-fight winning streak before Ross Pearson wore him down and grinded out a decision at the last UFC Fight Night in March. A scrappy submission expert, the German has the tools to engage in the kind of fight his opponent is known for.

When you mention Spencer Fisher, you think of his two wars with Sam Stout and a guy who will put it all on the line each and every time he takes to the cage. The Ric Flair fan has a varied attack and a motor that doesn’t stop, so Siver will have his hands full.

Both are looking to avoid a second consecutive defeat; with the depth of the lightweight division continuing to grow with each card, two losses in a row could be bad news, so a trademark Spencer Fisher-type war could ensue.

Chris Leben (19-6-0) vs. Aaron Simpson (7-0-0)

There are so many interesting elements to this fight when you’re looking at Aaron Simpson.

It’s his first fight since splitting with Trevor and Todd Lally and the Arizona Combats Sports team. How that will impact his performance is still unknown. This is also a step up in competition for the unbeaten 35-year-old, and while some discredit Leben’s talents, he pack far more power in his punches than Tom Lawler and “Filthy” had Simpson on the jimmy legs a whole lot last time out.

Leben has some interesting angles coming into this fight as well. He ended his three-fight losing streak last time around and looked solid while doing so. Always a guy with enough talent to make waves, he’s never really put it together, but Simpson offers a chance to reinsert himself into the middle of the middleweight pack.

If Leben has his head on straight and actually invested in his training this time around – both very big ifs – he could earn himself another win and start his climb back up the ladder. Or he could look horrible and unfocused like he did against Jake Rosholt.

Matt Hamill (8-2-0) vs. Keith Jardine (15-7-1)

Hamill returns for the first time since Jon Jones dislocated his shoulder and smashed up his face in the most demoralizing win in the record history of mixed martial arts competition. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a little, but Hamill admitted it sure didn’t feel like he won…

Desperate for a win, Keith Jardine should come out at his herky-jerky best. He’s admitted that he became too technical and tight over his last few fights, so you should anticipate a little more “Hunchback of Notre Dame” and a little less calculation from the Greg Jackson trainee.

The winner remains as the lower level gatekeeper of the light heavyweight division, while the loser is banished to fighting newcomers and James Irvin.

Court McGee (8-1-0) vs. Kris McCray (5-0-0)

Who will be The Ultimate Fighter? Perhaps a better question is do you really value the guys who are former winners of this show any more than other prospects? I don’t either, and I blame Kendall Grove, Mac Danzig and, to a lesser extent, Amir Sadollah.

Both guys were amongst the favorites going in and showed why during the season. While McCray took a loss to Josh Bryant in his first fight, he subsequently won three fights, including a rematch with Bryant, to advance to the finals. Dude fought four times in four weeks. That alone is an accomplishment.

McGee is a tremendous story, overcoming heroin addiction and an insane past to be on the brink of a six-figure contract with the UFC. He’s also a damn good fighter, holding a win over current UFC fighter DaMarques Johnson, while his lone loss came by decision against savvy veteran Jeremy Horn.

McCray’s usual advantage is on the mat, but bringing the fight to the ground might be a mistake against a guy like McGee who has a strong submission game. This could become a stand-and-bang battle. I think we’ve seen one of those before on a TUF Finale…

See how the guys looked on the scales in our exclusive weigh in photo gallery and highlight video.

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