Previewing Bisping/Miller and the TUF 14 finale bouts
MICHAEL BISPING VS. JASON MILLER
All of the forced hijinks are in the past. The trash-talking – which seemed much less natural than one would have expected going into the season – is now a distant memory. Michael Bisping welcomes Jason “Mayhem” Miller back to the UFC in the main event of the final UFC live event on Spike TV.
Bisping has circled around the edges of title contention for years. He’s never been able to fully assume the mantle of Britain’s first big MMA superstar because he’s never quite able to beat top competition. But he welcomes Miller back to the UFC at a perfect time, and a convincing win over the Bully Beatdown star could very well thrust him into the middleweight title picture.
It won’t be easy. Miller’s game has evolved greatly since his one-and-done stint in the UFC back in 2005. As with most British fighters, Bisping’s biggest Achilles heel is his submission defense, and Miller presents a stern challenge in that department.
If Bisping is smart, he’ll play the same game with Miller that he did with opponents like Jorge Rivera, which is to say he’ll keep his distance from Miller and use his superior striking to earn points on the scorecards. Even though it’s not a sure thing that Miller will submit him if the fight goes to the ground, it’s certainly something Bisping will want to avoid. He should be able to do that without too many problems.
Prediction: Michael Bisping by decision
T.J. DILLASHAW VS. JOHN DODSON
From the moment he was accepted into the cast for the 14th season of the UFC’s reality show, Dillashaw was the odds-on favorite to win the whole thing. He trains with two of the best bantamweights in the world in Urijah Faber and Joseph Benavidez at Team Alpha Male, which gives him a leg up on just about all competition he’ll face on the reality show or in the UFC.
He’s also one of the most singularly driven and competitive fighters I’ve ever talked with. His drive in the gym is legendary. Dillashaw has no off switch and doesn’t really know how to take things easy in sparring. He wants to win championship gold and has admitted that he would fight mentors Faber and Benavidez if he had to do so in order to achieve his goals.
John Dodson’s gym is no slouch, either. The bantamweight trains at Greg Jackson’s gym in New Mexico. Training since 2004 gives him a vast experience edge over Dillashaw, and there’s no question that he’s a superb athlete after having competed in track, baseball, wrestling and gymnastics in high school.
Dillashaw’s motor and wrestling will be the game-changers in this fight. He’s competitive standing with just about anyone, employing the Alpha Male style that works so well for Faber and Benavidez, and uses that style to set up his takedowns. Once he’s on top of you, he’s relentless in using ground and pound to set up transitions. Most of all, he tires you out with his pace and is able to secure submissions once he exhausts you. I don’t see Dodson being able to withstand Dillashaw’s takedowns for long enough to effectively employ any sort of game plan. This will be the rare season when the heavy favorite to win it all actually does so.
Prediction: T.J. Dillashaw by submission
DIEGO BRANDAO VS. DENNIS BERMUDEZ
I’ll say this from the start: Diego Brandao is one scary dude. He reminds me of what Jose Aldo used to be in that he’s a guy who goes into the cage and looks for the immediate finish, except with a nasty streak a mile wide. Like John Dodson, Brandao is a product of Greg Jackson’s gym New Mexico, and the stories of him gamely sparring with much bigger fighters are legendary. His striking makes him a tough opponent, but he’s also a legitimate black belt in jiujitsu. His attitude and ferocity will carry him a long way in a division that is still new to most UFC fans.
Dennis Bermudez is a good wrestler, one of the best in the house at featherweight. The former lightweight has competed in Shine Fights and M-1 Global, but last his last two professional bouts before going into the house. He wasn’t the favorite to reach the finals, but here he is.
Brandao has been the favorite to win the featherweight tournament since he stepped foot in the house, and that won’t change here. He’s going to overwhelm Bermudez with strikes and likely put him out early. A new featherweight star might just be born on Saturday night.
Prediction: Diego Brandao via TKO
TONY FERGUSON VS. YVES EDWARDS
Tony Ferguson’s win over Ramsey Nijem to capture the Ultimate Fighter 13 crown last summer was a surprise, and his jaw-breaking win over Aaron Riley even more so. Ferguson won’t surprise anyone at this point, though, and his upcoming bout with savvy veteran Yves Edwards should provide a good litmus test to see where Ferguson is at this point in his career. He’s firmly planted in Brock Lesnar’s Death Clutch training camp, which means he’s certainly working on his wrestling, but his knockout power has been a recurring theme throughout his career.
Edwards, as mentioned, is a long-time veteran of the sport. He debuted in the UFC over ten years ago and is experiencing something of a career resurgence since returning to the big promotion one year ago. He’s craft on the ground, but he’s susceptible to the big knockout punch, and that’s something Ferguson has in spades.
This should be an exciting bout, but it’s one Ferguson should win.
Prediction: Tony Ferguson via TKO