It’s going to be ugly.
After a highly entertaining season of "The Ultimate Fighter" (TUF), coaches Michael Bisping and Jason Miller will finally get the chance to settle their grievances like proper, violent gentlemen this Saturday night (Dec. 3, 2011) at the show’s culminating finale event that is set to take place at The Palms in Las Vegas, Nevada.
In addition to their 185-pound clash, Brazilian wrecking ball Diego Brandao and former All-American wrestler Dennis Bermudez will square off for a "six-figure" contract in the featherweight division, while John Dodson and T.J. Dillashaw will do the same 10 pounds south in their bantamweight brawl.
In addition to all that, we have the traditional TUF consolation prize: A shot at the big time on the "Prelims" portion of the under card. Join us after the jump for a breakdown of the five fights scheduled to air live on Facebook via streaming video, kicking off at around 5 p.m. ET on Saturday.
Check it out:
145 lbs.: Marcus Brimage vs. Stephen Bass
Dragon Ball Z aficionado and latest winner of the Pedro "The Pedro" Otavio Award for least-creative nickname in MMA, Marcus Brimage (3-1) made a statement in his elimination bout, beating about eight years’ worth of higher education out of Bryson Wailehua-Hansen en route to a second round technical knockout. Unfortunately, the American Top Team (ATT) product failed to go Super Saiyan in his second bout, falling to Bryan Caraway via second round submission. As one of the least-experienced members of the cast, "Brim" will look to prove that he’s ready for the big time.
Despite coach Bisping pleading for him to "stand the f--- up," Louisiana’s Stephen Bass (10-0) was f---ed the f--- up in his second round bout by eventual finalist Dennis Bermudez, who took him down and laid down the hurt for a second round technical knockout. "Bigfish," who has fought for eight different promotions in his 10-fight career, has five submissions to his name, two by rear naked choke and three by triangle.
Strangling Brimage would be a good first step toward erasing the memory of his public Spike TV shellacking.
Bass has two things working against him: He blamed his coach for a loss and he isn’t the fighter who admitted to being a DBZ fan. Further, while neither fighter has had an official bout in quite some time, Bass has had twice the downtime that Brimage has. Plus, of his last four opponents, only the hilariously-named J.C. Pennington currently possesses a winning record, while Brimage owns a win over Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) veteran, Kyle Bradley.
Okay, that isn’t worth much, but it’s still something. As long as Brimage doesn’t get caught up brawling again and leave himself open to a takedown, look for him to drop Bass sometime in the first couple rounds and throttle him once he’s there.
Prediction: Brimage via second round Kaioken
135 lbs.: Dustin Pague vs. John Albert
Dustin Pague (10-4), a member of the "Bible Study" clique on the show, is significantly more hardcore than your average God-fearin’ gentleman, having consumed a delicious Gatorade-and-insect smoothie on a dare from coach "Mayhem." "The Disciple" is also a bit craftier on the ground, having submitted Louis Gaudinot in the quarterfinals. Pague’s 10 wins have all come via stoppage, including seven submissions and three (technical) knockouts, so don’t expect him to turn the other cheek against Albert.
John Albert (6-1) tends to be in a hurry when he’s fighting -- the Washington-based fighter has never been out of the second round. Unfortunately, despite taking out Orville Smith with a rear naked choke in the elimination bout, "Prince" wound up matched up against favorite and eventual finalist, John Dodson, who made Albert’s six-figure contract hopes disappear with a unanimous decision. Albert’s most recent official bout (his first in a year) ended with him tapping out to a guillotine, and after 18 months away from the cage, will need to shake off some serious rust to get past Pague.
I’m admittedly not that fond of people who wear their religion on their sleeves (or, in Pague’s case, their pecs), but I have to respect a man who will eat bugs for money. Not only that, but he seems like a genuinely good human being, and I am far too big of a softie not to let that affect my choice. There’s also the fact that Albert hasn’t fought officially in a year, when he got submitted by a man who presently sports a losing record.
Jesus didn’t tap, but Albert certainly will.
Prediction: Pague via first round submission (rear naked choke)
135 lbs.: Roland Delorme vs. Josh Ferguson
Interestingly, this bout is actually a bit of a grudge match. In the eliminator bouts, Delorme (6-1) was matched up against Ferguson’s brother, Bruce. Roland wound up submitting Bruce in less than two minutes with a triangle choke. His run ended there; however, Alpha Male standout T.J. Dillashaw would go on to manhandle "Stunning" in the quarterfinals before slapping on an rear naked choke in the second round. Delorme, who had a rather disturbing foot injury before the fight, cut his teeth in the Great White North’s circuit, securing stoppages in all five of his wins. He’d like nothing more than to add another Ferguson neck to his trophy case this Saturday evening.
Ferguson (8-3), a natural flyweight, shares his opponent’s passion for finishing, owning eight submissions. Unfortunately, despite claiming to "never [be] scared of skinny people", "Taz" was unable to stay off his back or generate offense once there against Johnny Bedford, dropping a unanimous decision. The Kentucky-based fighter, whose last official bout was back in 2009, will be out to avenge his kin against Delorme.
I’m leaning toward Delorme here and praying that Josh isn’t to Bruce what Alistair Overeem is to his brother, Valentijn. Delorme is far less rusty than Ferguson and seems to have a more qualitatively impressive resume. More important, Delorme was a member of Team Miller, meaning his winning this fight would presumably make Michael Bisping miserable.
Prediction: Delorme via first round submission (triangle choke)
145 lbs.: Steven Siler vs. Josh Clopton
For his elimination fight, Steven Siler (18-9) had the honor of being cannon fodder for the highly-experienced Micah Miller, brother of UFC lightweight Cole Miller. Surprising everyone involved, especially Dana White, "Super" manhandled Miller, and after surviving the latter’s submission attack, latched on a guillotine of his own for a spot in the house. Unfortunately, his poor matchmaking luck continued, and he succumbed to Diego Brandao’s absurd power. Siler has won four of his last five official bouts, with 12 submissions to his credit, and ending his Skrap Pack-based opponent would be a great way to bounce back from his recent triangle loss to Cole Escovedo.
In his last official bout, Clopton (6-0-1) took on Mike Baskis for the Supreme Warrior Championship featherweight title, scoring a split decision win. His luck ran out in the eliminator rounds, however, as Dustin Neace’s sweeps gave him the unanimous decision win. The undefeated "Gentleman" has not been inside the cage for an official bout in more than two years, and he’ll need to be at his best if he wants to top the more experienced Siler.
I don’t think too much of getting knocked out by Brandao -- it would be like saying someone had a bad chin because they passed out when a truck ran over him. I do put a lot of stock in beating Micah Miller, however. He’s not his brother, but he is a legitimate fighter whose only loss in the past two years was to Michihiro Omigawa, who is to me what Mike Swick is to Jesse Hollans. Further, Siler is by far the more experienced of the two and has significantly less ring rust.
I must warn you; I am completely incapable of correctly picking any fight involving anyone associated with Cesar Gracie, so don’t put too much stock in the following prediction.
Prediction: Siler via third round submission
145 lbs.: Bryan Caraway vs. Dustin Neace
World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) and Strikeforce veteran Bryan Caraway (15-5), currently making every single MMA fan in the world feel inadequate by going out with Miesha Tate, made his way into the house in relatively boring fashion, but quickly redeemed himself by choking out Marcus Brimage in the second round of their fight. An angry wall of pain named Diego Brandao awaited the Alpha Male fighter in the semifinals, and after absorbing enough punishment to kill an average-sized welterweight, "Kid Lightning" was finally put to sleep a little more than four minutes into the first round. Caraway is a finishing machine, with 13 submissions to his credit, all inside two rounds, and he’ll be intent on taking advantage of Neace’s 11 submission losses.
Despite being only 25 years old, Neace (23-17-1) has an astonishing 41 fights to his name. Even crazier, 38 of them have ended inside the distance. After defeating Josh Clopton to earn a spot in the house, controversy struck in his second effort, as "The Beast" arguably submitted Akira Corassani before losing a majority decision. Dustin will be out to prove he’s more than just a journeyman against the high-level wrestling of Caraway.
I have a policy when it comes to the lower weight classes: Unless he’s fighting a champion, don’t pick against Team Alpha Male’s boys. Caraway is by far the better wrestler, and while he’s generally fallen short when stepping up in competition, he’s far more consistent than Neace. Caraway will be able to dictate where the fight goes, and frankly, I’m pretty sure he wins no matter where that turns out to be.
If he can handle Miesha Tate’s ground game, he can handle Neace’s.
Prediction: Caraway via second round submission
That's a wrap for this TUF 14 Finale "Prelims" preview. Now it's your turn to discuss all the undercard action in the comments section below. Go nuts.
Remember that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE blow-by-blow, round-by-round coverage of TUF 14 Finale, beginning with the Spike TV telecast at 8 p.m. ET on Dec. 3. In addition, we will deliver up-to-the-minute quick results of all the under card "Prelims" action that will stream live online via Facebook much earlier on fight night.
Until next time, Maniacs.