Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight veterans Jesse Taylor and Dhiego Lima will duel TONIGHT (July 7, 2017) at The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 25 Finale inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
This season of TUF was titled “Redemption,” and there is no one more appropriate to represent the season than Jesse Taylor. “JT Money” has been fighting around the world consistently in his nine years since his first season of TUF, and he’s won and lost against some really talented fighters in that time span. Meanwhile, Lima may be a case of a fighter coming to UFC too soon. He couldn’t handle the power striking of his opponents last time around, and while this is certainly a different style match up, Lima will have to perform better under the bright lights to earn his place.
Let’s take a look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Seth Baczynski (TFE MMA: Vengeance), Kendall Grove (K-Oz Entertainment 5), Denis Kang (Battlefield Fight League 8), Chris Camozzi (King of Champions 3), Dylan Andrews (Australian FC 1)
Key Losses: David Branch (WSOF 10), Maiquel Falco (Arena Tour 5), Mamed Khalidov (KSW 17), Hector Lombard (Australian FC 2)
Keys to Victory: Taylor is one of the more unique fighters who I’ve gotten to write about. He pretty much only has one stylistic approach — which means this section will be a bit short — and has fought in so many organizations against so many people that listing the biggest names of his career was a different task than usual.
At any rate, anyone who has watched any of Taylor’s fights on either of his TUF seasons knows pretty much exactly how Taylor will attempt to win tonight. Walking forward with his hands high, Taylor wastes no time in diving toward his opponent’s legs and trying to force a wrestling match. Taylor is strong as a bear and finds success more often than not, but it’s a style that produces no middle ground. “JT Money” will either dominate Lima on the mat and potentially submit him, or he’ll leave himself vulnerable diving for shots and get himself strangled.
It’s one or the other.
Key Wins: David Michaud (Titan FC 39), Jorge de Oliveira (UFC Fight Night 56), Ricky Rainey (XFC 25)
Key Losses: Eddie Gordon (TUF 19 Finale), Li Jingliang (UFC Fight Night 66), Tim Means (UFC 184)
Keys to Victory: Lima is a well-rounded fighter who prefers to kickbox. He moves well at range and throws in a high volume, but his biggest issue is that he often doesn’t hit hard enough to deter really aggressive fighters.
Unlike Taylor, there are definitely some adjustments Lima can make to ensure that he’s on the correct side of dominate-or-be-dominated equation. The most important is footwork. Taylor moves straight forward and shoots straight in, meaning that a side step or pivot will have him reaching for air. Lateral movement is key for Lima, who will want to avoid being pressed into the fence at all costs.
Another big factor is Lima’s ability to punish Taylor’s shots. After making him take a bad shot, Lima has to land some punches or elbows WITHOUT giving up a reshot takedown. If he can accomplish that, it’s only a matter of time until Taylor falls into a submission of some kind.
Bottom Line: Regarding the rest of the division, this fight doesn’t mean a thing. For the careers and stories of the individual fights, however, it’s huge.
This is Taylor’s chance to become the TUF champion that he should have been, because if we’re all being honest, the chance of Amir Sadollah catching him in a submission back in 2008 was slim. If he wins, Taylor has finally found a home in UFC after fighting in every possible organization.
The story is similar, but far shorter, for Lima. He’s still just 28 years old, so there’s a chance that he can succeed here and develop into a real player at 170 pounds. Either way, it’s fitting that he gets another chance to capture a TUF crown after being upset by Eddie Gordon in surprising fashion.
In either case, the loser will receive a second chance in the Octagon, but it does not put them in a great position immediately.
At tonight’s TUF 25 Finale, Jesse Taylor and Dhiego Lima will compete in the co-main event. Who will be crowned TUF champion?