What a card. My goodness, what a card.
This Sunday, the most recent season of The Ultimate Fighter will reach its conclusion with both finals and a bout between heated rivals and coaches on the show, Michael ‘The Count’ Bisping and Jason ‘Mayhem’ Miller, to close it out.
It will end the 14th and final version of the show in its current format on its long term US television home, Spike TV. The show will be re-styled, re-tooled and transferred over to FOX network’s FX channel in the New Year. The finale has all the ingredients to send the show out on the right note.
So without any further waffle, to the fights!
The first of the night’s finale fights will see bantamweights, T.J. Dillashaw and John Dodson duke it out for the lucrative UFC contract.
Dillashaw was very impressive on the show as he earned two stoppage wins and a dominating decision win en route to the finale. A lot of that comes from his training with Urijah Faber at Team Alpha Male. That camp is known for their wrestlers possessing crushing chokes, and Dillashaw has a wicked uppercut that he throws without telegraphing.
He will have a hard time getting a hold of Dodson though who appears to be made out of some sort of liquid as opposed to normal flesh and bone. Add to that his ridiculous quickness and you’ve got a very difficult fighter to deal with.
Dodson functions in a very similar way to that of one-time bantamweight title challenger, Demetrious Johnson. The similarities continue further as Dodson is quite small for a bantamweight and like Johnson, would probably be fighting at 125 lbs, if the opportunity was there.
His size helps his speed but as Johnson showed in his loss to champion Dominick Cruz, that size can work against him if his opponent is both bigger and a better wrestler.
Dillashaw fits that description but I’m still taking Dodson to be uncontrollable in the grappling exchanges and using his speed to outpoint T.J. and take the decision.
In the second finale fight, scary Brazilian, Diego Brandao faces off against Dennis Bermudez for the TUF featherweight crown. Brandao spent the majority of the season speaking in frightening broken English and making most of the other featherweights wet themselves.
His style is what Joe Rogan would describe simply as “violence”. The beating he put on Brian Caraway to make it to this fight on Sunday was breathtaking in its ferocity and shockingly his ground game is apparently just as good as his striking.
However, with a 13-7 record, it’s clear that the man can be beat. There’s the theory that the longer the fight goes the better it will become for Bermudez. Bermudez showed an ability on the show to recover from some heavy shots and turn the fight around quickly. He will no doubt have to draw upon that again on Sunday.
Unfortunately for him, I don’t think he does. Brandao is simply too violent, too motivated and too frightening to be denied and I think he dispatches Bermudez pretty brutally in the first round.
Once the contracts and plastic plaques have been handed out to this season’s winners, the coaches will square off in an anticipated middleweight clash.
I remember a time when people actually liked Michael Bisping. That memory seems to get foggier and foggier every time he opens his mouth however. Despite that, there’s no doubt he has made himself into a formidable factor in the middleweight division and with a win over Miller he will most likely earn himself a fight for the division’s number one contender spot.
He’ll have to get past the man known as Mayhem though, who despite having a ton of fights to his name is still somewhat of a question mark. That question mark comes from the fact he’s been fighting abroad for some time which makes it difficult to gauge his or his opponent’s level of performance.
Regardless, Miller holds an advantage on the ground and should prove to give Bisping trouble if he can get it there.
Whether or not he can, is what this fight boils down to. Mayhem has decent if not spectacular takedowns and while Bisping has shown glimpses of quality takedown defence in the past, he has still been put on his back by non-wrestlers such as Wanderlei Silva.
If the fight stays on the feet, I expect Bisping to – as Mayhem calls it – “strike and bike” his way to a decision. Bisping only stops the fight if he makes Mayhem wilt under a barrage of strikes. An outcome I don’t see very likely as Mayhem can take an hellacious beating – see his bout with Georges St. Pierre. Mayhem’s striking has never really looked great so I doubt he will be able to negate Bisping’s usual gameplan if he can’t score the takedown.
With both fighter’s gas tanks being very good, the five round limit shouldn’t be a problem for either man. The extra time does allow Mayhem more opportunity to get the fight to the mat which should make this fight very close. It’s a tight one but I think Bisping does enough to take a decision.