After a strong show last night from Strikeforce and EliteXC, I’m in the mood for more MMA and am looking forward to tonight’s live season finale of The Ultimate Fighter on Spike TV at 9 p.m. ET.
I believe four matches are scheduled to be televised but I only have time to give my thoughts on the main three.
B.J. Penn vs. Jens Pulver – I will be rooting for Pulver all the way in this one but if I have to make a pick, it has to be Penn. Pulver has a ton of heart but the 155 lbs. division has change in recent years. It’s like a refuge for new welterweights in the UFC who don’t want to be buried in an already overcrowded division. So those who could make the cut, have done it. Pulver was a small lightweight to begin with but the size difference isn’t even more pronounced. As for Penn, you never know which version you’re going to see but whether he’s in shape or not, his technique is flawless. Pound-for-pound there aren’t many better pure fighters than him in the world. After tough losses to Georges St. Pierre and Matt Hughes, the drop in weight for a temporary period made sense. However, Penn really doesn’t want to fight lightweight and there’s always a chance he moves back to 170 pounds right after this fight (there’s enough depth in the lightweight division now that Penn isn’t necessarily needed). The only reason why he’s making this drop is to get another shot at Pulver stemming from their controversial match five years ago. Once this fight is over, will Penn really want to keep making the cut? Perhaps he’ll be in line for a lightweight title shot, but how important is the lightweight title if he doesn’t plan to defend it? Why let a guy fight for a title in a weight class when he doesn’t intend to stick around. It kind of makes the title look unimportant. As for Pulver, I’m a huge fan of his and am really happy to know he’s open to the idea of fighting in the WEC at 145 lbs. He’s a true featherweight. After losing to Joe Lauzon last year, I was kind of worried as to what Pulver’s long-term future would be like but thanks to the WEC, there’s a long-term plan for him with Zuffa. While I strongly believe Penn is going to win, Pulver isn’t going to go out like a punk and this should be an entertaining match while it lasts.
Roger Huerta vs. Doug Evans – Evans is undefeated and a very credible fighter but he’s been brought in to lose to the UFC’s next lightweight cover boy in Huerta. I expect a quick and decisive victory for him.
Nate Diaz vs. Manny Gamburyan – Most people are picking Diaz but I’m going with Manny. The guy is one tough dude and a tough matchup because of his fighting style. He just runs in and body locks his opponent in an effort to prevent them from executing their game plan. Diaz is a very talented fighter but he showed some holes vs. Corey Hill and if Gamburyan gets a hold of him, how much of his offense will he be able to utilize? This might not be the most exciting fight in the world because of Gamburyan’s style, but I’m still interested in it because I am not really sure how it’s going to go and I want to see how things play out.