Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is all set to bring closure to the latest season of its combat sports reality show, with this Saturday night's (April 13, 2013) FX channel extravaganza from the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 17 Finale is headlined by a bantamweight barnburner pitting former World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) stars Urijah Faber and Scott Jorgensen. The winner stays alive in the 135-pound title hunt while the loser heads to the back of the line.
Perhaps for good.
The ladies will also do work in "Sin City" when Miesha Tate and Cat Zingano throw down to determine who will coach TUF 18 opposite UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey later this year."Cupcake" and "Alpha" will be just the second set of dames to grace the Octagon since "Rowdy's" debut earlier this year.
But that's not the big story on this night.
No, this is about TUF 17 assassin Uriah Hall, who won all four of his fights starting with the week one eliminator, while sending all four opponents to the hospital in the process. Hoping to upset his transition to the ranks of UFC is ultimate underdog Kelvin Gastelum.
Hey, anything can happen.
In other main card action, Bubba McDaniel will attempt to rise from the ashes against fellow TUF 17 castaway Gilbert Smith, while longtime heavyweight hurter Gabriel Gonzaga tries to sneak his way into the "mix" against the once-beaten Travis Browne.
Now, enough with the formalities .. let's get to it.
135 lbs.: Urijah "The California Kid" Faber (27-6) vs. Scott "Young Guns" Jorgensen (14-6)
Nostradumbass predicts: Welp, there's good news and bad news for Scott Jorgensen. The bad news is, he isn't going to beat Urijah Faber. The good news is, nobody is going to hold it against him, nor does he tumble down the 135-pound rankings.
As frustrating as it is, Faber isn't going anywhere.
While he's been Florian-esque in his inability to win title fights across different divisions, the former WEC kingpin only loses to champions. And, aside from his spanking against Mike Brown nearly five years ago, he's yet to be finished by the best of the best, including Jose Aldo, Dominick Cruz and Renan Barao.
Everyone else he faces, like the venerable Ivan Menjivar, gets tossed aside like yesterday's garbage.
Jorgensen has good wrestling and plenty of power. What he doesn't have is a win over a "name" in this division and getting pasted by Eddie Wineland less than a year ago does not help build a case for a win tomorrow night in Vegas.
Faber is quicker, craftier and just more balanced in every area.
I think "Young Guns" is tough enough to make this a fight, but as far as scoring criteria, it's not going to be the kind of decision where everyone nervously holds their breath in anticipation while Bruce Buffer reads the scores. This will undoubtedly be a fun fight, just not for Jorgensen.
Final prediction: Faber def. Jorgensen via unanimous decision
185 lbs.: Kelvin Gastelum (5-0) vs. Uriah Hall (7-2)
Nostradumbass predicts: I like how the promotion has been trying to sell us this fight by painting Uriah Hall as increasingly vulnerable. "Will the talented striker be able to overcome his own fears and self-doubt, or will it consume him on fight night?"
Hall was head and shoulders above anyone else on TUF 17 and I think that was evident from the start. Not just because of the way he was knocking fools out, but by the way he moved inside the cage, his comfort level, ability to execute his gameplan, etc.
Just look at some of the other contestants.
It's actually been a recurring theme on this show, but that's okay, it's a proving ground for up-and-coming fighters. That's why you'll see guys get takedowns, only to look over at their corners with a bewildered look, as if to ask, "Now what do I do?"
Hall was already seasoned in Ring of Combat (ROC), fighting top UFC middleweights Constantinos Philippou and Chris Weidman. True, they were both losses, but it counts as big game experience. ROC may fall under the label of "regional promotion," but this isn't some dirt floor arena with wooden ramps and strippers as ring card girls (sorry AK).
Gastelum, who in five fights has yet to beat an opponent with a winning record, is a tough kid with an aggressive pace and Hall is not immune to the takedown. I expect a spirited effort from the underdog, but toughness and resilience can only take you so far. Sooner or later, experience and skill will take over.
So too, will the referee.
Final prediction: Hall def. Gastelum via technical knockout
135 lbs.: Miesha "Cupcake" Tate (13-3) vs. Cat "Alpha" Zingano (7-0)
Nostradumbass predicts: On paper, Cat Zingano looks like the next big thing at 135 pounds. In addition to her undefeated record, "Alpha" has torched most of the regional talent with her power and stifling ground game. And heck, it sure would be nice to have a fresh face in the Ronda Rousey sweepstakes.
Not gonna happen.
When you watch this video of Zingano and listen to her talk about going into a fight with no gameplan, ignoring her corner, winning through heart and tenacity and blah blah blah, you can't help but wonder how that kind of reckless abandon will hold up against Miesha Tate.
I know "Cupcake's" stock plummeted when she was broken in half by "Rowdy" last year, but keep in mind she was doing well on her feet and also escaped the first armbar attempt from the former Olympian. Where Zingano has fought "good" competition, Tate has fought the best in the world.
In addition to Rousey, she's battled Sarah Kaufman and Marloes Coenen. That's the top of the 135-pound food chain, anyway you link it. You also can't discount her will to win (see Kedzie, Julie) and we know her cardio is top shelf after winning two fights in one night in the 2010 Strikeforce mini-grand prix.
Both of these women are excellent wrestlers and it wouldn't surprise me to see Zingano bully Tate for the first few minutes, but as the contest wears on, experience will be the deciding factor and "Alpha's" technical flaws will eventually cost her the fight.
Final prediction: Tate def. Zingano via split decision
265 lbs.: Travis "Hapa" Browne (13-1) vs. Gabriel "Napao" Gonzag (14-6)
Nostradumbass predicts: It's hard to believe, but there was a time when Gabriel Gonzaga was the UFC heavyweight number one contender. That was a long-ass time ago and since then, we've kinda learned everything we need to know about "Napao."
On the plus side, he's as strong as an ox and has frightening jiu-jitsu. On the negative, his chin is suspect and his cardio is trash.
His claim to fame is a 2007 knockout win over Mirko Filipovic. Outside of that, his biggest victory to date is a submission win over "Big" Ben Rothwell. Those aren't the kinds of names you use when building a case for a runaway performance, especially against a talented up-and-comer like Travis Browne.
Where Gonzaga may get too much credit, Browne may not get enough.
He tasted defeat for the first time at UFC on FX 5 by trying to eat a few shots from Antonio Silva while hobbling around on one leg. When you consider that "Bigfoot" also destroyed Alistair Overeem -- after forcing doctors to halt his bout against Fedor Emelianenko -- it's not really a huge strike against his career.
If Brendan Schaub can outbox the Brazilian, so can Browne.
That's really the story of this fight. Gonzaga can win on the ground, but he'll probably waste too much time on the feet before getting it there. If "Hapa" can use his jab and stay nimble on his feet, then he only needs to wait one round for his opponent to gas out and become a fish in a barrel.
Final prediction: Browne def. Gonzaga via technical knockout
185 lbs.: Robert "Bubba" McDaniel (20-6) vs. Gilbert Smith (5-1)
Nostradumbass predicts: What's unfortunate for Bubba McDaniel is how he was labeled as this season's honorary TUF douchebag. And for what? Some trash talk? Think about the years of douchebaggery we've had to endure on this show and it's not like he jizzed in anyone's sushi like those sickos on season eight.
I'm willing to give him a pass.
For most fans, all there is to judge McDaniel on, is his body of work on TUF, which I will concede, is rather putrid. I do however, recognize that living in the TUF house and trying to stay on weight for such a long period of time can be a total mindfuck.
He's had a real camp, in his normal environment, with a second chance at life inside the Octagon.
I think he makes the most of it. After all, he's 20-6 and riding a six-fight winning streak. I know some of you are thinking, "Yeah, over a bunch of nobodies." Well, what do you think Gilbert Smith is? The Coloradan has won 10 fights: Five professional and five amateur.
And he has yet to knock anyone out.
He's got some decent grappling, but Bubba has a tremendous height and reach advantage and 15 submission finishes in 20 wins. I believe this fight, as well as his spot on the main card, was a favor from UFC for friend and teammate Jon Jones.
I think he repays it rather easily.
Final prediction: McDaniel def. Smith via submission
That's a wrap, folks.
MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of TUF 17 live 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.
For previews and predictions on the preliminary card fights click here and here. To see all the odds and betting lines for TUF 17 click here and remember to come check us out after the show for all the latest results, recaps and coverage of "Faber vs. Jorgensen."
What do you think? Now it's your turn ... let us have it in the comments section and share your thoughts and picks for tomorrow night's event.