It appears that Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) coaches Jon Jones and Chael Sonnen, in addition to 32 determined mixed martial arts (MMA) Middleweight hopefuls, turned out to be a recipe for moderate FX success.
After a surprisingly-entertaining The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 17 season, it's time once again for the Finale event, where weeks of isolation and confinement hopefully culminate to produce exquisite violence. In addition to the presently-unknown line up of inter-cast fights (we will know for certain tomorrow when the show concludes), this particular Finale main card, which emanates from Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, this Saturday night (April 13, 2013), airing at 9 p.m. ET live on FX, is stacked to the gills
TUF 17 Finale will feature a 135-pound clash between ever-exciting Bantamweight standouts Urijah Faber and Scott Jorgensen. Not to be outdone, the next women's bantamweight challenger (and future TUF 18 coach opposite division champion Ronda Rousey) will be decided when former Strikeforce champion Miesha Tate meets unbeaten finishing machine Cat Zingano.
While the majority of the bouts are yet to be revealed, we've got three TUF 17 Finale "Prelims" bouts announced that will air live on the UFC's Facebook page.
Check 'em out:
145 lbs.: Cole Miller vs. Bart Palaszewski
After three straight win-win-loss sequences in the UFC’s Lightweight division, and splitting his next two against Matt Wiman and T.J. O’Brien, the 6’1" Cole Miller (18-7) decided to take his talents to 145 pounds. Unfortunately for TUF 5 alum, his new-found size advantage has failed to pay dividends, landing him in the midst of a two-fight losing streak at the hands of Steven Siler and Nam Phan.
By contrast, International Fight League and World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) veteran, the Featherweight debut of Bart Palaszewski (36-16) was a resounding success as he pounded out Tyson Griffin little more than halfway through the first round. His record afterward resembles Miller’s a bit more closely, however, losing to Hatsu Hioki and Diego Nunes and putting "Bartimus" in the same (sinking) boat.
Palaszewski has competed since 2002 and has been finished just four times during that span.
To me, Miller is walking proof that just because you can cut 10 pounds doesn't mean you should. He has looked incredibly mediocre at featherweight, showing little sign of the skills that brought him a 7-3 UFC record at lightweight. To be fair, Palaszewski has also looked "meh," but he's fought lethal competition and has always struggled with consistency.
What he does do consistently, however, is hit incredibly hard. Miller's takedowns have been decidedly impotent lately, and considering the difficulty normally associated with taking down Palaszewski, he's going to wind up forced to trade. The ease with which the much smaller Nam Phan closed the distance and scored powerful shots on Miller have me somewhat concerned for "Magrinho's" health.
Palaszewski is historically a slow starter, so don't be surprised if he finds himself in trouble early on, but he's damn near impossible to finish and tough as all get out. He'll get to Miller somewhere around the midway point.
Prediction: Palaszewski via second-round technical knockout
145 lbs.: Justin Lawrence vs. Daniel Pineda
After thorough drubbings of James Krause and Cristiano Marcello, Justin Lawrence (4-1) looked a favorite to win it all on TUF 15 as part of Team Dominick Cruz. However, Michael Chiesa -- who finished Lawrence with ground-and-pound during the semifinals -- apparently didn't get the MMA memo. A brilliant head kick knockout on the Finale righted the ship, but then the subsequent body attack of Max Holloway brought his official Octagon record even.
"The American Kid" is five years younger and one inch taller than Daniel Pineda (17-9).
Stunning first-round finishes of Pat Schilling and Mackens Semerzier, combined with a grand total of zero decision wins, made Pineda a hot commodity in the featherweight division right off the bat. Former division kingpin Mike Brown had no intention of letting some young upstart make his name off of him, however, outgrappling "The Pit" for a decision win before a knockout courtesy of Antonio Carvalho left Pineda’s ZUFFA record 2-2 in just six months.
Pineda's wins are split between knockouts (six) and submissions (11).
Lawrence may have become somewhat overrated based on those stompings of James Krause and Cristiano Marcello, but I'm willing to give him a pass for the Holloway fight. He boasts some of the better stand up in the division and Lawrence is all of 22 years old.
The fact that he managed to beat a solid veteran in Krause at all is pretty impressive.
Pineda is a powerful, well-rounded fighter with a fantastic killer instinct, but he seems fairly outgunned standing and I haven't seem him demonstrate the wrestling prowess to bring his superior ground game to bear. Lawrence's striking isn't the division's best, but it's brutal and precise.
Expect Pineda's wild attack to leave just enough of an opening for Lawrence's killer left hook to find a home late in the first.
Prediction: Lawrence by first-round knockout
145 lbs.: Maximo Blanco vs. Sam Sicilia
Despite a tough loss to Pat Healy in his first stateside appearance, Maximo Blanco (8-4-1) entered the UFC with considerable amounts of hype. Professional spoiler Marcus Brimage, unimpressed, took "Maxi" the distance for just the second time in his career and handed him his second consecutive loss.
The former Sengoku standout had previously lost only by submission in his third fight and by disqualification in his fifth; all but one of his wins, including one over Rodrigo Damm, have come via (technical) knockout.
An eight-second knockout of Erin Beach impressed the aforementioned Coach Cruz enough to choose Sam Sicilia (11-2) as his second pick on TUF 16. A crazy brawl with Chris Saunders followed, and while Sicilia wound up on the wrong end of the decision, his knockout of Marcello at TUF 16 Finale surely made up for it. Unfortunately, Rony Jason from Team Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira was on hand to shut down Sicilia’s seven-fight wing streak.
He went the distance in his professional debut and has not gone past the second round since, knocking out six and submitting five.
The Healy fight? Disappointing. The Brimage fight? Atrocious. But, dammit, I still believe in "Maxi".
When he is on his game and in full offensive mode, he is capable of flat-out stunning feats of violence. He's got crazy power in his hands, a willingness to try off-the-wall techniques and extremely solid wrestling that earned him a medal at the Pan-American Games.
Sicilia is effective, but he's even sloppier than "Maxi" and much more one-dimensional. Blanco also has the better wrestling pedigree and more experience against top competition.
It'll be fun while it lasts, but Sicilia's wide-open jaw and Maxi's bigger arsenal don't bode well for the American's consciousness. Expect few big exchanges early, only for them to be cut short by Blanco flatlining Sicilia in a brutal return to form.
Prediction: Blanco by first-round knockout
We'll have more on TUF 17 Finale "Prelims" as soon as we know the official line up. In the meantime, be sure to catch this season's final episode tomorrow on FX.
See you soon, Maniacs.
Remember, too, that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of TUF 17 Finale main card action on fight night (Sat., April 13, 2013), which is slated to begin promptly at 9 p.m. ET on FX. The latest fight-by-fight updates of the live action will begin to flow earlier than that around 5:30 p.m. ET with the "Prelims" bouts on Facebook and FUEL TV.