The Ultimate Fighter 16 officially has its two semifinal fights made. Two members of Team Carwin (Mike Ricci and Neil Magny) have made it through, as have two members of Team Nelson (Colton Smith and Jon Manley.
For some reason, the teammates will square off in the semifinals to see who fights for the contract on the finale. Here are my predictions for the semifinal fights.
Mike Ricci vs. Neil Magny
The first semifinal has two guys I predicted would fight in the finale going at it, as Canadian Mike Ricci meets American Neil Magny.
Ricci has looked like the best fighter in the house so far, and he has knocked off some tough guys to get where he is.
He got into the house by knocking out Jason South in under two minutes. And he then went on to beat Team Nelson's top pick in the first round by decision. In the quarterfinals, he drew Mike Hill, his fellow Canadian and now rival, whom he defeated by unanimous decision.
Meanwhile, Magny has also fought some tough guys to get where he is.
Magny got into the house by earning a decision over Frank Camacho. Then, in the first round, he defeated jiu-jitsu ace Cameron Diffley via unanimous decision. His quarterfinal fight saw him square off with teammate and former Strikeforce employee Bristol Marunde, beating him by decision.
Magny will have the wrestling edge, while Ricci will definitely have the striking advantage. Ricci is also probably more well-rounded and has faced tougher competition in his career. Therefore, due to experience and solid skills, I think Ricci will earn a decision over Magny to punch his ticket to the finals.
Jon Manley vs. Colton Smith
The other semifinal will see Team Nelson teammates square off, with Jon Manley and Colton Smith going to war.
Manley defeated Strikeforce veteran Ricky Legere to get into the house via decision. In the first round in the house, he survived a bite on the chest to submit James Chaney with a guillotine—the only finish since the house fights started. In the quarterfinals, Manley took on teammate Joey Rivera, earning a majority decision over the veteran.
On the other side, Smith earned a victory to get into the house over Jesse Barrett by unanimous decision. Then, he drew Eddy Ellis and earned an exciting majority decision over the long-time veteran. In the quarterfinals, Smith defeated Igor Araujo via decision, using his wrestling and top-game to smother Araujo's jiu-jitsu.
In looking at this matchup, both men are strong ground fighters. Smith has a game similar to Rivera, so I think Manley will have the advantage here.
Not much is said about Manley, as he is quiet and respectful. I think he'll take a decision here and walk his way into the finale against Mike Ricci, my other pick.