Coming off a rather dull ten weeks and some of the lowest ratings in show history this Ultimate Fighter season finally comes to a close this weekend with The Ultimate Fighter 13 Finale. While the reality show may not have been a success this year, it can all be forgotten with some exciting fights on Saturday and given the lightweight main event, I’d be shocked if we don’t have fireworks in the evening. At the very least, the finale will have one thing that the show lacked, and that’s the lovely Brittney Palmer.
Lightweight Fight: Anthony Pettis vs. Clay Guida
Originally scheduled to face the winner of Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard after their UFC 125 bout but choosing to fight rather than sit out after their January draw, the last WEC lightweight champ, Anthony Pettis, makes his UFC debut against the highly popular and energetic Clay Guida.
Pettis Skill Assessment: Pettis is the most creative striker in MMA today. Everyone knows about the “Showtime Kick” where he pushed off the cage and caught Ben Henderson with a kick to the face but he was doing impressive stuff even before that. He’s known to put one hand on the mat and then come up with a head kick and he’ll throw a leg kick followed by a head kick with the same foot. Against Shane Roller, he threw a spinning backfist, flopped to his back, did another spin, and then tried a head kick from his back. Along with his creativity though, he’s also very technical. He throws good straight counter punches and doesn’t get too wild with his striking. When it comes to the wrestling Pettis is hit and miss. He has good takedown defense when fighters take normal wrestling shots but he can be put on his back from the clinch position with trips. He has strong and quick hips though so when going for a trip takedown, he can easily reverse and end up on top. From the top position he does a nice job of staying active and trying to improve his position but he can be controlled on top. Off his back he has good wrist control and loves to go for triangles off his back. One area where Pettis excels is in the scrambles but that might not be the case in this fight as Guida is also very quick in scrambles. Pettis seems to have problems when he’s pressed and he’s not allowed to get into his rhythm. When his space is taken away and he can’t pull off any of his creative strikes, which makes him much more predictable and thus much less dangerous. He’s good in the clinch because of his hips but he can be controlled and content with just resting.
Pettis Game Plan: Pettis needs to keep his distance, stuff the takedown, and make Guida pay for shooting. Training with Duke Roufus, one of the best striking coaches in all of MMA, I’m sure he’s developed a good uppercut over the years and I think we’ll see it come out more than ever in this fight. If the fight goes into the clinch, Pettis needs to spin off and throw. Guida can be a bit reckless and get into a brawl when he doesn’t need to, which I’m sure Pettis will welcome given his power against Guida’s. If the fight goes to the ground, Pettis just needs to stay active. Guida’s submission defense is a bit questionable and Pettis is quick enough, both off his back and in scrambles, to catch him in something.
Guida Skill Assessment: Guida is known for his constant movement and activity, both on his feet and on the ground. Against Takanori Gomi, he bounced back and fourth so much that I’m almost positive that he gave himself a headache. He was able to do that against Guida though because Guida was just looking for one of his patent looping punches and Guida was able to get in and out with the jab before Gomi could catch up to him. If he tries that against Pettis, he probably won’t have as much success because Pettis is a much more diverse and technical striker than Gomi. Guida has a decent pawing jab, which is mainly used to set up a winging right hand. Everything he does with his strikes is just to set up his takedowns. He has a quick single leg, he’s relentless when he gets it, and if he doesn’t secure the takedown he still makes his opponents pay by releasing with strikes. On the ground, Guida does what he does on the feet, and that’s stay active and constantly working. He does a nice job of using head and arm control to pass to better positions and in his recent fights, he’s developed a very good submission game. The guillotine choke he caught Gomi in was a thing of beauty and he set it up perfectly by baiting Gomi into it. Pettis is susceptible to getting caught in chokes so keep an eye out on that. Guida doesn’t offer much off his back and should he find himself in that position, I’m sure he’ll just look to immediately get up. Guida’s biggest strength is his cardio and pace. He’s a guy that just never gets tired, no matter how hard he works or how much damage he takes. Pettis went five tough rounds against Henderson and still looked fresh but you have to give the cardio edge to Guida.
Guida Game Plan: Guida needs to press Pettis and never let him rest. Don’t give him the space to get creative with his strikes. He’d also be wise to use a quick inside leg kick often in this fight, if only to disrupt the timing of Pettis and make sure he’s in the range he wants to be in. He can’t trade strikes with Pettis though. He needs to use his striking to set up his takedowns. If he doesn’t get the takedown, he needs to try his best to stick to Pettis and wear him out in the clinch with knees to the thighs. Training under Greg Jackson, I fully expect Guida to have a well laid out game plan. It’s up to him to execute.
Fight Prediction: I expect this to be a close, back and forth fight. Guida always brings it and is very tough to put away while Pettis looks to have all the tools to be a contender. I think Pettis will have good enough defensive wrestling to keep the fight on the feet and he’ll make Guida pay for going for takedowns. I also expect Pettis to break out a backflip kick ala Law from Tekken. No pressure.
Official Prediction: Anthony Pettis to defeat Clay Guida by Decision
The Ultimate Fighter 13 Welterweight Final: Tony Ferguson vs. Ramsey Nijem
14 men entered and after living together and competing against each other for weeks, Tony Ferguson and Ramsey Nijem were the two men left standing at the end of it all. Now they square off to crown this seasons Ultimate Fighter.
Ferguson Skill Assesment: Nobody of TUF 13 had better striking than Ferguson. He throws a quick inside leg kick, has a very stiff and accurate jab, has a good right hook, and everything he throws is with power. He also does a nice job defensively in getting his hands up and moving his head. His ground game wasn’t shown much on the show but he does have a wrestling background and was an All-American in college. His wrestling isn’t on the level of Nijem, at least not in the amateur-sense but this is MMA and when you throw in strikes and the cage, it’s a completely different game. Ferguson has a good uppercut, which could be key in this fight. Should he find himself on his back, I’m sure he’ll just look to use the cage or an underhook to get up and avoid giving up his back.
Ferguson Game Plan: I’m sure Ferguson will want to keep the fight on the feet. He showed some very good boxing on the show and he’s a much better technical and power striker than Nijem. Like Chris Cope did before he was ultimately defeated in the semifinals, Ferguson needs to make Nijem pay every time he goes for a takedown.
Nijem Skill Assessment: Junior dos Santos called Nijem the best fighter on the show and it was easy to see why. He’s an aggressive striker who constantly moves forward and puts pressure on his opponents. He does a nice job of putting two and three punches together and never letting his opponent rest. His bread and butter is his wrestling though. He’s a division 1 wrestler and he used that to his advantage on the show. He’s relentless with his takedowns and once he has his opponent on the ground, he’s very tough to shake. He’s quick in the scrambles and nine out of ten times will end up in a better position. He has very good back control and he’s said many times that once he gets the back, it’s all over.
Nijem Game Plan: Nijem needs to get the fight to the ground or at least in the clinch. Ferguson is a much better technical striker and hits a lot harder. If he can get the fight to the ground though, he can control and possibly submit Ferguson.
Fight Prediction: Ultimate Fighter finals are always tough to predict because it’s tough to get a read on how good the fighters really are. They’re obviously not fighting the best competition, they’re fighting three times in just a couple of weeks, they’re not training in a comfortable setting, ect…. My rule of thumb is that you go with whomever looked best in the semifinals and to me, that was Ferguson. I think his takedown defense will be good enough to stay upright and he’ll batter Nijem on the feet.
Official Prediction: Tony Ferguson to defeat Ramsey Nijem by TKO in Round Two
Light Heavyweight Fight: Fabio Maldonado vs. Kyle Kingsbury
Fabio Maldonado looks to add to his 11 fight win streak but first he must go through powerful light heavyweight Kyle Kingsbury.
Maldonado Skill Assessment: Maldonado is a striker who has professional boxing experience. He leads with a left hook and has a solid straight right. As you would expect, he’s a very technical boxer who throws tight punches and doesn’t exert any unnecessary energy. Maldonado’s biggest strength is his body shots. He likes to jab to the body, which can lead to trouble in MMA due to the ability to throw knees, but he also does a nice job of getting inside and landing big hooks and uppercuts to the body. Defensively, he takes too many punches but seems to have a good chin. He also doesn’t check leg kicks. I haven’t seen much of Maldonado’s wrestling although he seems to have pretty solid top control. If nothing else, he’s very active on top, likes to work the body, and likes to go for kimura’s in side control. I don’t know how good his takedown defense is though. Considering that’s he’s Brazilian and has a boxing background, I’m just going to assume that it’s not as good as Kingsbury’s wrestling. So if Maldonado’s can’t stuff the takedowns, at the very least I hope he knows how to get to his feet. He trains under the Nogueria brothers and being Brazilian means his umbilical cord was a jiu-jitsu purple belt so I’m sure he knows a little bit off his back but Kingsbury is an extremely strong wrestler and won’t be easy to submit.
Maldonado Game Plan: Maldonado needs to keep this fight standing and attack the body of Kingsbury. Being as muscular as Kingsbury is, he’s bound to have cardio problems so if Maldonado can survive an early attack, he can likely take over this fight. He has one punch power and Kinsgbury does have a tendency to get hit so it’s possible that Maldonado catches him and puts him away.
Kingsbury Skill Assessment: Kingsbury is a wrestler who looked like a body builder in his last fight. Striking-wise he’s a decent but not anything special. He has a stiff jab, likes to throw a inside leg kick-jab combo, and throws a solid one-two. He has a tendency to brawl when he doesn’t need to and against Maldonado and his power that could get him in trouble. Kingsbury’s strength is his wrestling. He does a nice job of timing his opponents strikes and ducking under to secure takedowns and if he doesn’t get it or his opponent gets up, he does a nice job of sticking to his opponents in the clinch and roughing them up with knees. On the ground he’s active on top with punches and has solid control. He’s no submission threat off his back but he does do a solid job of getting to his feet using his strength. Because of his muscular build, he tires quicker than he should He does has that “wrestlers mentality” though where he fights through the exhaustion and keeps pressing forward. That can get him in trouble though if Maldonado is able to stuff the takedown and Kingsbury further tires himself out by continuing to try and put Maldonado on his back.
Kingsbury Game Plan: Kingsbury needs to use his size and wrestling in this fight. He’s going to be bigger than Maldonado and he’ll be the better wrestler. If the takedowns don’t come early, he needs to put him against the cage and wear him out in the clinch until the takedowns do come. On the ground he needs to continue to wear out Maldonado with strikes, force him into bad positions, never give up top control.
Fight Prediction: I like Kingsbury in this fight because of his wrestling. Maldonado might be on an impressive winning streak but his best win during that streak is against Maiquel Falcao, who we still don’t know how good he really is either, and that fight was in 2008. I think Kingsbury will be able to secure the takedowns when he needs them, and even though he may tire in the final round, he’ll do enough in the first two rounds to win the decision.
Official Prediction: Kyle Kingsbury to defeat Fabio Maldonado by Decision
Middleweight Fight: Tim Creuder vs. Ed Herman
Two middleweights who haven’t seen action for an extended period of time return to the octagon in search of the all-important “W” as Ed Herman, out since August 2009, battles Tim Creuder, out since September 2009 return to action to face off.
Credeur Skill Assessment: Credeur is a jack of all trades kind of fighter. He’s a good striker who throws a solid one-two, has a good left body kick, and almost always throws more than two punches at a time. Credeur’s problem on the feet is that he’s too willing to slug it out when he doesn’t have to. He’s a good technical striker but he turns into a brawler if he’s baited into it and in the middle of a brawl, anyone can get clipped. The weakest part of Credeur’s game is his wrestling. His takedown defense isn’t terrible but I also don’t think it’s good enough to stuff the takedowns of Herman. He likes to grab a guillotine off the takedown, which is part of the reason why he ends up on his back. Off his back he has a good defensive guard that is tough to pass. He likes to go for triangles and armbars although he doesn’t set them up that well. On top he’s good at getting better positions and he’s always looking to finish. Because he’s been off for so long, it’s really tough to get a read on what to expect from Credeur. I don’t think we’ll see the best he has to offer and I expect his cardio to suffer as well.
Credeur Game Plan: Credeur needs to attack the legs of Herman. Herman is coming off a knee injury and might not have his explosiveness so Credeur needs to exploit that. He also needs to use a lot of movement and avoid getting into a brawl. More than anything though, Credeur needs to avoid being on his back. Herman’s submission defense isn’t great but chances are, if he’s on his back, he’ll lose this fight.
Herman Skill Assessment: Herman is primarily a wrestler but he’s also a relatively well-rounded fighter. He’s a decent striker, throws a good one-two, and has a sneaky good left hook. He gets tagged too much with the overhand right but Credeur uses more straight punches so he may luck out and avoid that strike in this fight. He’s a very strong wrestler with quick takedowns, although he does have a tendency to leave his neck exposed when shooting. On top he has very good ground and pound. He’s stays very active, which can be to his detriment, and mixes up his strikes well. Herman’s problem on the ground is that he seems to make mental mistakes, which leads to him getting caught in submissions. Now he’s not getting caught by terrible grapplers but he seems to have Chael Sonnen-syndrome. Like Creuder, Herman is coming off a long layoff. The difference is that Herman has been out of action due to a knee injury, which is the worst injury to have when you’re out of action for a while. As with Creuder, I don’t expect to see Herman fight to his full potential and I think his cardio will suffer.
Herman Game Plan: Herman has to get this fight to the ground. He might be able to survive on the feet with Creuder but I think he’ll get out-struck. If he gets the fight to the ground though, he can wear out Creuder with ground and pound. Of course he’ll need to survive the active guard of Creuder but if he can do that, he should be in good shape.
Fight Prediction: This fight is such a mystery to me since neither guy has fought in almost two years. Normally neither man goes to a decision but I’m setting my standards very low based on the layoff factor. I’m going to give the edge to Herman because of his wrestling but if he’s lacking any kind of explosiveness or movement, Creuder will batter him on the feet. It’s really a fight that could go either way and it will mostly depend on who shakes off the cage rust quicker.
Official Prediction: Ed Herman to defeat Tim Creuder by Decision
Preliminary Fight Predictions
*Chris Cope to defeat Chuck O’Neil by Decision
*Jeremy Stephens to defeat Danny Downes by TKO in Round Two
*Josh Grispi to defeat George Roop by Submission in Round One
*Shamar Bailey to defeat Ryan McGillivray by Decision
*Clay Harvison to defeat Justin Edwards by TKO in Round Two
*Scott Jorgensen to defeat Ken Stone by TKO in Round One
*Franciso Rivera to defeat Reuben Duran by Decision
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC