Evan Tanner vs. Kendall Grove
David Andrest: Former champion versus struggling up and coming fighter. Grove has such and incredible upside despite losses to fighters that I do not believe are as tough as Tanner. While Tanner made his return against Yushin Okami a top level middle weight contender. Everything points to Tanner winning this fight, but I don’t see it happening. Grove has been spending time with Hilo with B.J. Penn trying to get his game right. Grove via submission in round 3.
Adam Morgan: Have you seen Grove’s hair recently? I mean, c’mon. Of course Tanner is taking this fight. Grove’s chin is extremely suspect and Tanner is a wily veteran who has been a champion at this weight class. He’s had a chance to get back into the cage, shake off the ring rust, and get back into a rhythm. Grove has done nothing but look atrocious his past few times out and with that haircut, I don’t expect anything to change. Evan Tanner via TKO, round two.
Paul Balsom: I have some qualms with this fight being a main event on any card. This is a fight between two fighters that are no longer relevant, and facing a possible UFC elimination. It’s more a question of which guy will look worst in this bout. Enough of that. If the two start trading leather, I think Grove is in a heap of trouble. However, if Grove decides to be smart about the stand-up game, and works his knees in a clinch situation, I think that could be really advantageous for him. I’m really having a hard time deciding which fighter to be less impressed with for this fight. Tanner really showed me nothing in his last fight, and I don’t think he’s going to show me anything Saturday night. I think they will stand for a couple of minutes; Tanner will catch Grove with a straight right and knock him to the mat. At which point, Tanner will pounce on Grove and the Hawaiian will use Tanner’s lumberjack beard to secure a guillotine choke within the last minute of round one. Is that precise enough? Kendall Grove via guillotine choke in round 1, thanks to Tanner’s mammoth beard.
Sam Cupitt: I see Tanner winning this fight one of two ways. The first way (and the least likely) is that Grove comes out and wants no part of the stand-up and decides to take Tanner down. If he manages to succeed I have complete confidence that Tanner will be able to work up a triangle choke and force the tap. The other way and the way in which I’ve seen this fight going in my mind ever since it was announced is that Tanner will at some point score a takedown, pass guard and force Grove into unconsciousness with elbow strikes from mount. I’ll give a Tanner a round to work out any remaining cobwebs before he accomplishes the latter. Evan Tanner via TKO in round 2.
Ram Maramba: I’ll disagree with Balsom and say this is a perfect headliner for a free card. Grove the gameshow winner and Tanner the former champ with the wheels-off, free association blog are two guys that are relatively well-known and have everything at stake in this bout. Show a shot of Tanner’s rotting boat and Grove dreaming about sugar plums after a Jorge Rivera punch and you have instant urgency that should translate to an exciting fight. In his comeback debut from the
C.B. Dollaway vs. Amir Sadollah
David Andrest: Sadollah entered the TUF house with a clean professional record. No wins no losses. Dalloway entered the house ready for the big time. Without question Sadollah’s win over Dalloway can do nothing but help Amir’s confidence. Dalloway on the other hand will have an opportunity to avenge his loss and become The Ultimate Fighter. Dalloway via decision with Dana of course giving away two contracts.
Adam Morgan: Amir showed us throughout the season that he is a tough sumbitch. But it will be hard to catch lightning in a bottle twice. Amir has looked great in his fights on the show but I think a second fight against C.B. is trouble. It’s doubtful that Dollaway makes the same mistake again. Anything can happen, especially with Amir’s power and striking acumen, but I have to favor Dollaway in this one. C.B. Dollaway via unanimous decision.
Paul Balsom: After seeing some YouTube videos of CB Dolloway before this season of The Ultimate Fighter started, I was pretty certain that he was going to walk through everybody was relative ease. He hasn’t really impressed me in any one of his fights this season, and I think that Amir’s style is the worst possible match-up for him. Sadollah’s Muy Thai striking style is too advanced for Dolloway’s head down, blinded overhand punching. This, just as in their first fight, will force Dolloway to go for takedowns the whole fight. This, as we know, plays right into a strength of Sadollah. I think that this fight has a real chance of looking much like the first one, in that CB will do some ground and pound damage for a little while, but eventually Amir will catch him in a submission that he can’t handle. Amir Sadollah via submission in round 2.
Sam Cupitt: This was a good fight on the show and I have no doubts it will be an ever better rematch. I think this fight once again comes down to CB’s conditioning. If he gasses himself like he did in the third round of their first encounter and starts to leave himself open then I think Amir can capitalize again with either a submission or knockout. Amir has that Forrest Griffin quality of looking extremely buggered but still somehow being able to have the energy to fight on at a furious pace. In this fight I think Amir has to utilize a lot of the front kicks and body kicks he used in the first fight that gave CB fits just so he can wear Dollaway down. Like I said before, if he can get Dollaway tired I think he can capitalize like he did in the first fight. Amir Sadollah via 3rd round TKO.
Ram Maramba: Much like the headliner, my little MMA heart will be broken into pieces after this fight. I’ve liked Sadollah from the jump. His exciting, scrambling style and wry sense of humor made for great first impression, robot dance notwithstanding. With every victory he gutted out it made you want to cheer for him more. His supreme, mullet-powered upset of Dollaway in the semifinals was a typical underdog moment that laid it even thicker on the Amir mythology. To expect him to hit it out of the park in consecutive at-bats however may be a bit delusional against a certified stud opponent. Dollaway is more than just a surprisingly funny blogger; his wrestling credentials are top-notch and his hands are decently polished for a young fighter. Ask Rampage about his submission game. His seemingly limited gas tank can partially be chalked up to the roll of the dice every fight on TUF is considering the breakneck pace these guys have to maintain due to the limited timeframe. By the time the finale comes around, most TUF contenders look like completely different fighters. Sadollah’s game will tighten up, it’s just that Dollaway was further up the ladder to begin with. Logic will break my heart, Dollaway via UD.
Diego Sanchez vs. Luigi Fioravanti
David Andrest: Sanchez has said all the right things leading up to this fight. He has been complementary to Fioravanti outlining the well rounded game of his opponent. But I do not see this as more than a gimme for Sanchez and an experience fight for Fioravanti. Sanchez via TKO round 2.
Adam Morgan: Diego Sanchez came out like a beast against David Bielkheden at UFC 82 and I expect him to come out with that same fire against Fioravanti. Luigi is a tougher test than Bielkheden but nothing that Sanchez hasn’t seen before. He’s rededicated himself to getting back to the top of the division, and more importantly, the tiebreaker against Koscheck and eventually a title shot. I don’t see Fioravanti derailing that goal. Diego Sanchez via TKO, round one.
Paul Balsom: I say Diego beats Luigi in all facets of this match up. He’s is going to come out with his crazy long hairdo, wicked moustache, and mariachi music and put some hurtin’ on Fioravanti. Diego Sanchez via TKO (ref stoppage – ground and pound) in round two.
Sam Cupitt: I expect to see the sequel to Sanchez vs. Bielkheden in this fight except without Sanchez’s opponent tapping due to strikes. Sanchez has had a lot of troubles against guys with very good takedown defense but I think he should be able to overpower Fioravanti to the mat fairly easily and early. From there, it’s just a matter of time before he grabs a hold of somthing. Diego Sanchez via Submission (arm bar from mount) in round 1.
Ram Maramba: Fioravanti has had the definition of a mediocre UFC career and by all rights should be considered chum for Sanchez. But as history has shown us time again, advantages in MMA only exist in real time. After all, Fioravanti is a big, well-rounded welterweight who trains with the starmakers at ATT. The former marine has never been able to put it together on the big show and he faces his toughest test yet in Sanchez. “Nightmare” looked like a juggernaut on hyperdrive in his last outing and it seems as if his star is back on track after a couple of harsh lessons against AKA mates Josh Koscheck and Jon Fitch. It’s easy to hate the melodramatic Sanchez, but once you get past the circa 1988 A.C. Green jheri curls and in-ya-face spiritualism, his talent is undeniably championship level. The same can’t be said for Fioravanti. Dirty by GnP TKO in the 3rd.
Spencer Fisher vs. Jeremy Stephens
David Andrest: For me this is the “Return of the King”. Fisher returns to the cage after a loss via decision. I think the only decision we will see in this fight is submission or KO for the King. Stephens enters with a impressive record over suspect talent. Fisher is a very noticable step up in talent for Stephens and unlikely win would surprise me. Fisher via KO in round 1.
Adam Morgan: Spencer Fisher is finally back in action against a very game opponent in Jeremy Stephens. Stephens has knockout power and just earned an upset victory over Cole Miller, a great prospect from the fifth season of TUF. This will be a solid striking matchup and I doubt that it will hit the ground too often, if at all. I think Fisher’s experience is the deciding factor here. Spencer Fisher via TKO, round two.
Paul Balsom: Stephens came out looking really intense at the weigh-ins and Fisher hasn’t impressed me much recently. His fight with Sam Stout was fun to watch, but the fight was exactly what Fisher wanted; he didn’t face any adversity in that bout. In those fights where he faced adversity (i.e. Franca and Edgar), he looked like a completely different fighter. Stephens via unanimous decision 29-28.
Sam Cupitt: Fisher has always been an incredibly tough and durable fighter. He always finds himself on the cusp of title contention but always seems to fall short against other top level contenders. On the ground, I think Fisher could take Stephens but we all know this fight has a minute chance of going there so it comes down to who has the better striking. When Fisher doesn’t have to worry about takedowns there are very few better standing in the division, however something is telling me that Fisher’s time as the perennial leader of the second tier of contenders has come to an end. Stephens, to me, appears to be the next generation of Spencer Fisher and I think in this fight he can take the King’s crown. Stephens via KO in round 2.
Ram Maramba: Stephens is one of those fascinating talents that was thrown into the fire and has acquitted himself well. He has proven to be a strong 155er with a precociously well-rounded game that includes solid defensive skills. Stephens faces another stiff challenge in Spencer Fisher, a salty vet whose power and speed are a handful for anyone. Fisher is also coming in hungry after some rough patches in the last year, including a loss to Frankie Edgar and a scrapped bout against Marcus Aurelio. Long a fan favorite, a return to action for the “King” against a dynamic young fighter will provide surprising punch to the fight card. Also a personal favorite, I’m going with Fisher by 2nd round submission.
Matt Riddle vs. Dante Rivera
Adam Morgan: Riddle is the wild card of the house. He fights his ass off, has heavy hands, is crafty as hell, but can get caught in a submission by good submission guys. Dante didn’t show me much on the show. He’s pretty much purely a grappler and he’ll want this fight on the ground without a doubt. I like Riddle’s gameness and toughness to persevere over Dante’s grappling game, especially if this one stays on the feet. Matt Riddle via TKO, round two.
Paul Balsom: Why is this on the main card? Riddle via TKO in round 1.
Sam Cupitt: Rivera better get his shoes bronzed because he’s about to face retirement. The pre-fight interviews for this fight on UFC.com are pretty damn funny and you should check them out if you have the chance. Riddle believes his stand-up has improved a great deal during the show as he has been working out at Dollaway’s camp with some high class kickboxing coaches. Rivera is as one dimensional as they come and if he can’t get the fight to the mat, Riddle is gonna give him fits. I think “Chipper” has the wrestling to keep this fight wherever he wants it. Matt Riddle via TKO in round 2.
Ram Maramba: Ambiguous sunglasses and pot habit aside, Riddle gets serious when fight time comes around. In all likelihood, that approach has transferred to his training at Arizona Combat Sports with Dollaway and other luminaries like Jamie Varner and Night Rider Fickett. Rivera’s BJJ is much lauded but wasn’t on display much during the season. This may be classic New Hotness v. Old and Busted with the bigger and stronger Riddle winning out over the more experienced and soon-to-be-retired Rivera. Riddle by TKO in the 3rd.
Josh Burkman vs. Dustin Hazelett
David Andrest: J Burk is now full time in Vegas at Xtreme Couture, Hazelett is in OH with Team Jorge Gurgel. I like Hazelett, he has shown heart. I just think Burkman has now turned the corner in his career and full time training with a top level team will pay off. J Burk via KO round 3.
Adam Morgan: Burkman is known for making people look terrible when they fight him. Hazelett is a gamer who likes to attack and be exciting. Burkman stifles those kinds of fighters and makes them extremely frustrated. Hazelett is talented and a solid up-and-comer but Burkman’s freakish strength is something that Hazelett has not dealt with before. Josh Burkman via unanimous decision.
Paul Balsom: I became a pretty big Dustin Hazelett fan during his most recent fight with Josh Koscheck. However, based on McLovin’s flash KO loss in his last fight, I can see a wily haymaker coming in and connecting to Hazelett. Josh Burkman via TKO in the round 2. Note: I want Hazelett to win.
Sam Cupitt: Apart from wrestling and strength, Burkman doesn’t have any advantage over Hazelett in this fight. Add the fact that Burkman has gone on record that he will make this fight exciting no matter what then I think there’s a recipe for a Hazelett submission win. Burkman will come out and lock hold of Hazelett and will put a lot of energy into slamming “McLovin'”. If Hazelett doesn’t lock up a guillotine there then I think he will secure a triangle off of his back shortly thereafter. Hazelett via submission in round 1.
Ram Maramba: I keep hearing about this “corner” that Burkman has turned but haven’t seen any evidence. Is it training at XC Vegas? So did James Thompson and his left ear, JT Jr. Was it his awe-inspiring performance against Mike Swick at UFC Fight Night 12? Wait, that was at Alternate Reality Bizarro Fight Night 7F last Februvember; he sucked at UFN 12. I fail to see what giant strides he’s made since his stint on TUF. Hazelett on the other hand had won three straight going into his last bout against Josh Koscheck and was holding his own until a flying head kick put him down. His standup game may be a bit sloppy but his BJJ is the real deal. McLovin by triangle in the 2nd.
Marvin Eastman vs. Drew McFedries
David Andrest: McFedries has been “one to watch” for a while now. He has looked both brilliant and uninspired. Eastman is always Eastman. To beat him you must be better than him. Depending on which Drew McFedries shows up will determine the outcome of this fight. Eastman via KO round 3.
Adam Morgan: McFedries’ last fight against Cote was an anomaly. His mother was just brutally murdered just weeks before the fight. How anyone could say that didn’t affect him is just silly. I think we’ll see the real Drew McFedries this time around and Eastman is just another guy that the UFC is feeding to a guy they want to succeed. I’ll use Michael Huckaby logic on this pick. Who does Joe Silva want to see win? McFedries, of course. Drew McFedries via TKO, round two.
Paul Balsom: Eastman was knocked out by Travis Lutter. Drew McFedries hits “slightly” harder than Lutter, according to my observations. McFedries was going through a crazy time in his life around the time of his last fight. I’m looking for McFedries to come out and make fairly quick work and Drew McFedries will win via KO in round 1.
Sam Cupitt: McFedries hits too hard and Eastman has too weak of a chin for this fight not to end in a devastating KO. McFedries just has to land cleanly once and this fight will be over. Eastman’s only chance is to secure early takedowns at the beginning of each round and then stay active enough so the fight won’t return to the feet. If “Beastman” or Dokes from Dexter decides to test the waters standing up then it will be nighty night. McFedries via KO in round 1.
Ram Maramba: Even before the tragic death of his mother, McFedries has been an inconsistent performer with obvious talent. On the other hand, you know what you’re going to get out of Twitchy “Beastman”. If McFedries has recovered mentally, a huge “if”, he’ll take this fight easily and with the quickness over the chinny Eastman. McFedries via 1st round KO.
Matt Brown vs. Matt Arroyo
Adam Morgan: TUF 6 vs. TUF 7 is what we have here. And we also have Matt Brown fighting at his natural weight of 170 lbs. Obviously Brown is tough as nails but I don’t think he has the gas tank or the overall game to contend with Arroyo. Brown will put up a good fight in a spirited affair but I think Arroyo takes this one when it hits the ground. Matt Arroyo via submission, round two.
Paul Balsom: Matt Arroyo via unanimous decision.
Sam Cupitt: Matt Brown is a scary human but like Morgan said, his overall game isn’t where it needs to be just now to deal with someone like Arroyo. Brown will look good early and might even connect with a big shot or two but eventually Arroyo will get Brown to the mat and should be able to pass guard and work for a submission fairly quickly. I’m going to guess RNC after Brown turns to his stomach after taking too much punishment. Matt Arroyo via submission in round 1.
Ram Maramba: Arroyo is too slick for Brown at this point in their careers. Brown looks to have a yeoman’s future in front of him while Arroyo already has nice BJJ staple to rely on. Arroyo armbar in round 1.
Jeremy Horn vs. Dean Lister
David Andrest: Horn holds a victory over Lister via decision. Horn holds victories over better opponents. Horn via Decision ………….again.
Adam Morgan: Sure, Horn holds a previous victory over Lister but that means nothing now. Horn has looked lackluster as of late and has been submitted twice in a row now by Jorge Santiago and Nate Marquardt. Lister is the better submission guy, he’s younger in his fight career, and he’s not just fighting to pick up a check like Horn. Dean Lister via submission, round two.
Paul Balsom: I don’t think this one will be quite the bloodbath that it was in their first fight. I also don’t think either one will be as good a fighter as they were during the time of their first fight. This snore fest will go to a decision and Lister will be the victor via split decision.
Sam Cupitt: Everytime I hear that Dean Lister is going to fight I just apply the theory that if the fighter he is facing has more than one dimension to their game then they are going to defeat Lister. Horn has the superior striking and because of that he could most likely avoid any telegraphed shots from Lister. I don’t buy this whole “Horn’s-been-submitted-by-lesser-grapplers-than-Lister-in-his-past-two-fights-so-Lister-should-submit-him-argument”. The reason Horn got submitted by both Santiago and Marquardt is because they are younger and more explosive and Horn just can’t keep pace with the younger generation of fighters anymore. Lister may be younger but he has a much more methodical approach that Horn can recognise and keep pace with. Jeremy Horn via unanimous decision.
Ram Maramba: I wonder how many fights Horn has left on his contract. I guarantee you he knows, because judging from the look on his face he’s just riding out the string. There’s nothing he hasn’t seen in his storied career, but if he’s mentally checked out in this bout he stands to be overwhelmed by the rich, bold flavor of Lister’s world-class BJJ. “The Boogeyman” will never replicate the success he had in the grappling world, but he’s good enough to beat guys like Horn. Typically methodical despite being a strong middleweight, he’ll have to bully Horn a bit to win this fight. This almost guarantees to be a snoozer, but every time I see Lister fight I remember an ADCC opponent draped across his shoulders hanging on to Lister’s balls for dear life. That’s always good for a giggle. Lister by submission in the 2nd.
Cale Yarbrough vs. Tim Credeur
David Andrest: Jesse beat Tim with pure power. Cale does not have that same type of power. Tim will submit Cale with ease. Tim Credeur via submission round 1.
Adam Morgan: Cale will want to keep this standing and Tim has shown that he is no slouch on the feet. He will be able to weather Cale’s storm on the feet, expose his terrible takedown defense, and submit him on the ground. Tim Credeur via submission, round one.
Paul Balsom: Tim Credeur is a great guy, and since my interview with him, I’ll probably be a Credeur mark whenever I’m picking his fights in the future. Luckily, in this fight, my bias doesn’t have to be illogical. Yarbrough will probably make some hay all over the cage for a couple of minutes, it will eventually get to the ground and Credeur will sub him out. Very easy, in my opinion. Credeur via submission in round 2.
Sam Cupitt: I know you commenters don’t like it when all of us agree on the same outcome for a fight but you have to agree with us that their are certain things that will always remain true in this world. Tim Credeur beating Cale Yarborough via first round submission is one of those things. Credeur via submission (kneebar) in round 1.
Ram Maramba: This season of TUF was interesting because of the personalities of some of the fighters, Credeur included. He’s got the BJJ skins to go along with it and that’ll be enough to overwhelm the equally one-dimensional Yarbrough. Credeur by 1st round submission.
Rob Yundt vs. Rob Kimmons
Adam Morgan: I can’t say I know too much about either of these guys other than Yundt got choked out by Almeida earlier this year. So..I’ll flip a coin. Kimmons via unanimous decision.
Paul Balsom: My last vision of Rob Yundt was not a good one. I’ll go with Rob Kimmons via 39-second guillotine choke. ?!?
Sam Cupitt: Kimmons is a tough guy with plenty of fights who has made his way up through the lesser organisations. He’s also the head trainer at the Kansas City, Xtreme Couture affiliate so that at least means he should know a guillotine. Rob Kimmons via submission (guillotine) in round 1.
Ram Maramba: Wait, what? Which one is which? I remember Yundt and the last time I saw him he had a Ricardo Almeida hanging off his neck. I’ve never seen Kimmons, but apparently he headlined a bout with Marvin Eastman. Really? I’m going with Kimmons because he’s not some Alaskan scrub. Kimmons by Hot Carl in the 1st.