The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 11 Finale predictions, preview and analysis

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The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 11 Finale is set to go down this Saturday, June 19, 2010 from "The Pearl" at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada, live via Spike TV.

Remember: MMAmania.com will provide LIVE updates with blow-by-blow, round-by-round commentary of the main card action on fight night, which is slated to air on Spike at 9 p.m. ET.

It's been eleven seasons and we're still rolling. How does the quality of talent compare to previous efforts? I think the recently-promoted main event between Court McGee and Kris McCray will help answer that.

Also looking for answers are Keith Jardine and Matt Hamill, who both got their start on the Spike TV reality show and also share a common theme in that both suffered savage beatings in their last appearances.

Will "The Hammer" be dropped on "The Dean of Mean's" career?

Speaking of TUF guys, Chris Leben is hoping to build on his dismantling of Jay Silva against the uber-tough Aaron Simpson while Jamie Yager gets his chance to prove he's more than just a big mouth against Rich Attonito.

How will it all play out? Find out after the jump.

185 lbs.: Court "The Crusher" McGee (8-1) vs. Kris "Savage" McCray

Injuries to fellow TUF cast mates afforded both McGee and McCray a second chance at reality show stardom. Each fighter was able to come back after suffering early defeats and take consecutive wins to advance to the Finale. That's pretty impressive, in a Steve Jennum sort of way. Especially for McCray, who fought a record five times in six weeks to grind his way into tomorrow's main event.

McCray entered the TUF house with a perfect 5-0 mark, never going past the first round and finishing all five contests. "The Crusher" came into the show with quite an impressive resume himself, carrying a record of 8-1, with his only loss coming to Jeremy Horn.

McGee has a well-rounded game and seemed to respond well to Team Liddell's coaching -- as evidenced by his improvement from fight-to-fight. And with a considerable amount of time to take his game to yet another level from the end of taping to the show's finale, his days as an underdog are over.

Just look at the fight lines.

Still, this won't be a walk in the park. I was hard on McCray throughout the season for his cardio but there is leeway there because of the frequency in which he fought. I expect that issue to be rectified by fight night and a lopsided round one by the "Savage" would not surprise me.

Having said that, McGee will eventually find his range (and his rhythm) and come storming back. Round two will be close but I expect Crusher to do some crushing in the final frame and find his way to the promised land -- assuming the judges don't F-this one up.

Betting lines (as of June 18):

McGee: -200 ((Bet Now))

McCray: +160 ((Bet Now))

Prediction: McGee via split decision

205 lbs.: Matt "The Hammer" Hamill vs. Keith "The Dean of Mean" Jardine

This has ugly written all over it -- and I'm not talking about physical attributes.

Jardine has skills, but can't seem to shake those spells of narcolepsy that plague him from time-to-time. "The Dean of Mean" was last seen in action against Ryan Bader at UFC 110 where he was unplugged in the last stanza. The former TUF 2 contestant has lost three straight inside the Octagon and four of his last five fights. It helps that four of those losses came to formidable opponents like Bader as well as "Rampage" Jackson, Wanderlei Silva, and Thiago Silva, but a loss here could very well mark the end of his time with the UFC.

Hamill has won three straight -- but you wouldn't know it based on the ass-kicking he suffered at the hands fast-rising phenom Jon Jones at last December's TUF 10 Finale when "Bones" was disqualified due to illegal elbow strikes. Prior to that bout, Hamill went back-to-back against Reese Andy at UFC 92 and Mark Munoz at UFC 96, both ending early via strikes.

"The Hammer" has KO power, which usually spells doom for his counterpart, but I'm leaning towards Jardine here because he may actually fight smart and exploit the fact that Hamill prefers to stand and bang. There won't be a knockout tonight (I don't think) because the "Mean 1" will pick his spots and stay out of the pocket. When Hamill realizes he's down on points and reverts to his wrestling, Jardine's takedown defense will already be primed and polished courtesy of Greg Jackson, helping him cruise to a unanimous decision win.

Betting lines (as of June 18):

Hamill: -145 ((Bet Now))

Jardine: +115 ((Bet Now))

Prediction: Jardine via unanimous decision

185 lbs.: Chris "The Crippler" Leben (19-6) vs. Aaron "A-Train" Simpson (7-0)

I think "The Crippler" is a fitting nickname, since Leben may find himself handicapped against Simpson, a former All-American wrestler with over 250 combined wins in his high school and college wrestling days. "A-Train" has also reeled off three wins in a row since coming over to the UFC early last year, though his recent split decision victory over Tom Lawlor at UFC Fight Night 20 was practically gift-wrapped.

Both fighters are hovering in the middle of the pack in the middleweight division but with a win at the TUF 11 Finale, one man could move up another place in the pecking order. It's hard to pick Leben in spite of his recent win over the now-cut Jay Silva.

The original TUF 1 contestant was finished by Jake Rosholt at UFC 102 and outworked by Michael Bisping at UFC 89. Coupled with his layoff that resulted from a steroids suspension, there's just not enough there for me to feel confident in his ability to win this.

Of course "puncher's chance" was coined for fighters like him and he can put you to sleep rather easily. Unfortunately I just don't see him being upright long enough to make that happen. Simpson would have to do something dumb here like stand and trade but I'm predicting he works him over on the ground for the better part of three rounds.

I do think Leben is tough enough to last the entire 15 minutes, but it wouldn't shock me to see Simpson finish him via ground and pound late in the fight.

Betting lines (as of June 18):

Simpson: -350 ((Bet Now))

Leben: +250 ((Bet Now))

Prediction: Simpson via unanimous decision

155 lbs.: Spencer "The King" Fisher (23-5)  vs. Dennis Siver (15-7)

Fisher is hoping to rebound from a disappointing TKO loss to Joe Stevenson at UFC 104: "Machida vs. Shogun" last October. "The King" took too many elbows to the crown from "Daddy" and saw his three-fight winning streak come to an end.

In his twelve appearances inside the Octagon, Fisher has notable wins over Thiago Alves, Aaron Riley and Jeremy Stephens. This fight should favor him with his experience and because it keeps him off the ground, a place he's been known to have trouble.

Like Fisher, Siver was in cruise control over his past couple of fights -- until he found out that Ross Pearson was "The Real Deal" at UFC Fight Night 21 just last month. His unanimous decision loss to the Brit was his first since stringing together four straight wins (with four straight finishes). He's an outstanding striker with a punishing spinning back kick and has been in the fight game since 2004, compiling an impressive resume in both the UFC and his native Germany.

I was leaning towards Siver but I just have this feeling that "King" will pull one out of his hat. Siver may get the better of the exchanges from a technical standpoint, but Fisher is going to land one where it counts.

Betting lines (as of June 18):

Fisher: -190 ((Bet Now))

Siver: +155 ((Bet Now))

Prediction: Fisher via technical knockout

185 lbs.: Rich Attonito (7-3) vs. Jamie "The Chosyn 1" Yager (2-1)

No, the funky-haired fight monger with the awful nickname isn't going away just yet.

The UFC is giving Jamie Yager another chance at fame (and perhaps redemption for calling it quits on the stool) as he tries to sneak in the back door against fellow TUF guy Rich Attonito.

Yager made some noise early in the season, kicking the "Hebrew Hammer" out of the competition (literally) to earn his spot in the TUF house. He followed that up with another impressive stoppage against Charles Blanchard in episode four, stopping the KOTC vet in just over a minute.

Unfortunately he was unable to capitalize on that momentum and failed to answer the bell in the third round of his episode ten fight against eventual semifinalist Josh Bryant. The loss did little to stop his off-camera shenanigans, and now Attonito is looking to make him pay for it.

Like Yager, Attonito was successful right out of the gate, outpointing Lyle Steffens to secure his spot on the roster. He would face Kyacey Uscola in the elimination rounds and win via disqualification (illegal knee), but was forced to withdraw from the competition after breaking his hand.

I have a feeling Yager has matured since we last saw him but I'm not picking against a guy from New Jersey no matter what the odds. And despite some dangerous stand-up, I was thoroughly unimpressed with Yager's defense in the Josh Bryant fight. He's got the look, he's got the talent, but until he has the maturity both inside and outside of the cage, he's going to fall victim to guys like Attonito.

Of course having given Attonito the official Nostradumbass seal of approval we now know Yager will go in and knock him out. Sorry Rich.

Betting lines (as of June 18):

Yager: -120 ((Bet Now))

Attonito: -110 ((Bet Now))

Prediction: Attonito via unanimous decision

That’s a wrap, folks.

Remember to come check us out after the show for all the latest results, recaps and coverage of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 11 Finale.

What do you think? Now it’s your turn … let us have it in the comments section and share your thoughts and picks for Saturday’s event.

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