So concludes another fantastic, and revolutionary, Ultimate Fighter season. This was the first time women were allowed into the house to compete for a UFC contract. Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate have had a very colorful history, to say the least, and both captains provided entertainment and insight throughout the TUF season.
Getting straight to the good stuff, the UFC has provided another solid card to close out the TUF competition. There are three bouts in the Women’s division on the main card, which will be a major support for the growth of Women’s MMA. The entire night seems packed with great bouts, with some UFC debuts and some highly-anticipated returns. All in all, this should be a great night of fights.
Main card (FOX Sports 1/Sportsnet 360)
Gray Maynard #5 (12-2-1, 1NC) vs. Nate Diaz #8 (16-9)
If there are two fighters in the UFC that need to make a strong comeback, it’s Maynard and Diaz. While they have not lost consecutively, it was the method of both losses that left fans of both fighters extremely bitter. Maynard suffered a suprising knockout at the hands of T.J. Grant, hitting the floor more than once in just over two minutes of the first round.
If that was not hard to watch, the kick heard around the world was something else. The Diaz brothers have been known for taking tremendous punishment to the face but continue to push forward. However, against Josh Thomson, Diaz took a head kick that would be tough for anyone to eat. If the noise was not enough, the camera angle that showed Nick Diaz throw the towel in the octagon proves what a rare occurrence that was for anyone, let alone a Diaz.
Coming into this bout, and knowing both fighters, the hunger to win will be the key motivator to make this a memorable fight. Both fighters like pushing forward and the ground game will be spectacular to watch, with the classic wrestler versus jiu-jitsu match-up. It will be their second meeting, after Maynard beat Diaz via split decision.
This fight could go either way, especially if it goes to a decision, but rest assured, we should be in for a great main event.
Julianna Pena (5-2) vs. Jessica Rakoczy (1-3) – Bantamweight Final
The Ulimate Fighter Women’s final should be a special fight for the division. Pena was Tate’s first pick and has been a dominant fighter throughout the entire show. Working her submission skills all the way to the final, Pena should be considered the heavy favorite going into this fight.
How can you rule out the underdog Canadian? With a 1-3 record, Rakoczy proved herself in the opening bout, ending it with an omoplata submission in the first round. She went on to defeat Roxanne Modafferi via TKO in the second round and Raquel Pennington via unanimous decision.
Both women have shown tremendous skill and will to win. This should not only be an exciting fight to watch, but it will be the first ever TUF finale for the Women’s division, making this a very special event for both the fighters and the promotion. With that said, if Jessica Rakoczy were to pull off the upset, this could be another great fight for the Ultimate Fighter vault.
Chris Holdsworth (5-0) vs. David Grant (8-1) – Bantamweight Final
If there`s a bigger upset than Rokoczy in the Women`s Final, it`s Grant for the Men`s division. In unexpected fashion, Grant was able to get through to the finals due to Anthony Guttierez`s disqualification for not making weight.
This should be a great display of submission skills, as they have demonstrated their ground game on several occasions. Both fighters won their opening bouts via submission, and were able to advance through the first round of eliminations in similar fashion.
They have very respectable MMA records and will be looking to start their UFC careers on the right foot. Holdsworth has dominated his competition, finishing his last two opponents in the first round. However, Grant`s submission skills should provide him with enough defense to keep this fight going, which will force both fighters to use their all-around MMA skills throughout the bout.
Jessamyn Duke (2-0, 1NC) vs. Margaret Morgan (2-0)
In a battle of quarter-finalists, Duke and Morgan failed to make it to the semi-finals but will have the opportunity to prove themselves on the big stage. Both fighters are undefeated in their young MMA career and they should be pumped to keep their win streak going.
In the opening fights of the TUF competition, Duke was able to finish her opponent via triangle choke in the first round, while Morgan also finished her opponent in the first round via TKO. This was Morgan`s first finish, as her only two MMA victories have come via decision. Regardless of the outcome, this should be a great bout between two up-and-coming Women`s division contenders.
Roxanne Modafferi (15-10) vs. Raquel Pennington (3-4)
In another great Women`s division battle, Modafferi and Pennington are two fighters that will surely use this opportunity to win over the UFC, especially after being eliminated from the TUF tournament. In their opening bouts, both fighters came away with impressive submission wins. While Modaferri was able to finish her opponent in the first round, Pennington was able to get the tap in the second.
During the elimination round, Pennington found more success as she moved on to the semi-finals after a unanimous decision win over Duke. However, in the semi-final, Pennington fell victim to Rakoczy via unanimous decision. Modafferi did not fair any better against the Canadian, losing in the quarter-finals via TKO in the second round. With both women having something to prove, this should be a great fight to start the main card.
Preliminary card (Fox Sports 1/Sportsnet 360)
Akira Corassani (11-3, 1NC) vs. Maximo Blanco (9-4-1, 1NC)
Corassani is a Swedish fighter representing Renzo Gracie jiu-jitsu and will have his hands full with the Venezuelan Blanco. Blanco comes into this fight with seven knockouts in 15 fights. However, with Blanco only losing by decision and submission, Corassani may very well have the upper hand in this bout, with three submission and seven decision victories. “Maxi” Blanco will have to use his striking skills to keep Corassani at bay. However, if this fight hits the mat, Blanco will likely find himself in a very dangerous place.
Rani Yahya (19-7) vs. Tom Niinimaki (20-5)
At just 28, Yahya has already fought in over 25 matches, wining 15 of them by submission. He has never knocked out an opponent and has taken home four decision wins. His opponent, “Stoneface” Niinimaki, has proven to have all-around skill by compiling seven knockout wins, eight submission wins and five decisions. He has only been knocked out once and will likely want to keep this standing. Though he has demonstrated jiu-jitsu skills in the past, Yahya is a beast on the mat and taking that chance would be completely unnecessary, to say the least.
Jared Rosholt (8-1) vs. Walt Harris (4-1)
“The Big Show” Rosholt versus “The Big Ticket” Walt Harris… take that in for a minute. Now, with both fighters only losing once so far, it will be interesting to see who takes their second career loss. Rosholt is the better fighter in terms of versatility (three KOs, two submissions and two decisions), but that could mean absolutely nothing when a puncher’s chance exists. Harris is a heavy handed beast, standing 6’4″ and weighing 255 pounds. All four of his wins have been via knockout, and he has only lost by decision. This has all the makings of a classic heavyweight bout, which promises to have more than a few devastating haymakers.
Sean Spencer (10-2) vs. Drew Dober (13-4)
Drew Dober will be making his UFC debut against two-fight UFC veteran “Black Magic” Spencer. Both fighters have compiled very respectable MMA records and this could be a huge stepping stone for either fighter. Dober has rarely been finished, only losing once by knockout. His eight submission victories indicate a solid ground game, especially since he has never tapped out. Interestingly, Spencer has only lost by submission, with six of his ten victories coming via decision. Both fighters will look to grind their way to a win, with a very high chance of this fight going the distance.
Preliminary card (Facebook)
Joseph Sampo (10-2) vs. Ryan Benoit (7-2)
The only fight featured on Facebook is between up-and-comers “Baby Face” Benoit and “The Gremlin” Sampo. While these fighters might not be household names, their aggressive style makes this a very interesting fight. Here is a video of Sampo’s CFA Flyweight title defense. Benoit’s highlight reel is something pretty special as well.
Sampo comes in with a strong jiu-jitsu background and has demonstrated those skills in five submission wins. However, with his other five wins coming by decision, his striking skills could be questionable, opening the door for Maui Thai specialist Benoit. He has six knockouts during his young career and has only lost via decision.
With both fighters making their UFC debut, and the opportunity to advertise their skills, this should have excitement written all over it.