Another prospect will earn the title of The Ultimate Fighter as the 16th season of the UFC's reality show/competition comes to a close Saturday.
Headlining the card will be a heavyweight slugfest between Roy Nelson and Matt Mitrione.
The traditional coach vs. coach fight had to be scrapped when Nelson's rival coach from the show, Shane Carwin, was forced to withdraw due to injury. A familiar face to Nelson stepped up to replace Carwin—Mitrione and Nelson were both contestants on Season 10 of The Ultimate Fighter.
In addition to the main event, this card features a good mix of well-known veterans and up-and-coming prospects. Here's everything you need to know to catch all of Saturday's UFC action.
Where: The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas
When: Saturday, December 15, at 9 p.m. ET
Watch: Facebook preliminary fights at 5:35 p.m. ET, FUEL TV preliminary fights at 7 p.m. ET, main card on FX at 9 p.m. ET
Main Card (FX)
Heavyweight Bout: Matt Mitrione vs. Roy Nelson
Welterweight Tournament Final: Mike Ricci vs. Colton Smith
Heavyweight Bout: Pat Barry vs. Shane del Rosario
Lightweight Bout: Melvin Guillard vs. Jamie Varner
Featherweight Bout: Jonathan Brookins vs. Dustin Poirier
Preliminary Card (FUEL TV)
Welterweight Bout: James Head vs. Mike Pyle
Bantamweight Bout: Johnny Bedford vs. Marcos Vinicius
Lightweight Bout: Vinc Pichel vs. Rustam Khabilov
Welterweight Bout: Nick Catone vs. T.J. Waldburger
Preliminary Card (Facebook)
Bantamweight Bout: Reuben Duran vs. Hugo Viana
Lightweight Bout: Mike Rio vs. John Cofer
Flyweight Bout: Tim Elliot vs. Jared Papazian
Mitrione's Keys to Victory
Mitrione needs to stay on the outside and pick Nelson apart with his range if he wants to win this one.
His last fight against Cheick Kongo resulted in his first loss because he was unable to put forth an attack that put Kongo in any danger. Nelson has knockout power, sure, but he's struggled against fighters that are able to effectively use space to keep him at bay.
As the considerably longer fighter, the jab will definitely be Mitrione's friend. That's his greatest advantage in this one.
Nelson's Keys to Victory
Nelson wants to fight on the inside and get this fight to the ground as much as possible.
Big Country is at his best when he is able to throw bombs in the stand-up and eventually work to get the takedown. Even since slimming down Nelson is great at wearing opponents out by making them carry his weight and that's something he'll try to do against Mitrione.
If Nelson can get on the inside and gain top control, he should be able secure a victory.
What They Are Saying
Mitrione and Nelson may not have the dynamic of coaching against each other on The Ultimate Fighter, but that doesn't mean there isn't some animosity between the two.
In a recent conference call, Nelson said he feels Mitrione has made this fight personal by requesting the fight whenever Shane Carwin was forced to withdraw (h/t MMAWeekly).
For Mitrione's part, he told Mike Chiappetta of MMAFighting.com that he threw out his name as a replacement because he feels it's a winnable fight that will make up for his loss to Kongo.
This is a fight I think is winnable for me and that's reason why I threw my name in the hat. I think that I belong there. If I don't, if I go out there and get smoked, OK, if I get another chance, give me Phil DeFries and we'll see what happens.
Undercard Fight to Watch: Melvin Guillard vs. Jamie Varner
Anytime Melvin Guillard is involved, there's sure to be fireworks.
For better or worse, Guillard's fights usually involve an exciting finish. Five of his last six fights have ended in the first round.
Varner is no stranger to quick finishes either—three of his last four fights have been over in the first round.
Both fighters are running out of time if they ever want to be contenders in the lightweight division. With both competitors highly motivated to turn things around coming off losses, this one is sure to be entertaining.
Main Event Prediction
Mitrione and Nelson will both bring it on Saturday night.
Both have shown that they aren't afraid to stand and exchange in the middle of the Octagon and both are nearly impossible to finish.
There should be some great back-and-forth moments in this one, but Nelson has only lost to top-tier talents like Junior dos Santos, Frank Mir and Fabricio Werdum lately. Mitrione isn't on that level.
Roy Nelson via unanimous decision
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