'TUF' 16 Finale: Analyzing and Ranking Every Fighter on the Card

Scott Harris@ScottHarrisMMAMMA Lead WriterDecember 15, 2012

'TUF' 16 Finale: Analyzing and Ranking Every Fighter on the Card

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    This Saturday night, Team Carwin and Team Nelson finally settle their differences, once and for all.

    That goes for everyone except Shane Carwin, who got injured. Not the kind of Excellence I was looking for, Shane Carwin.

    Luckily for us fans, the card's still pretty good. Lots of good fighters. But you know what? There are some relatively not-so-good fighters as well. This is the way of things.

    Here'a a ranking of every fighter on the card, from the first prelim bout to the main event.

24. John Cofer

1 of 24

    Division: Lightweight
    Record: 7-2
    Opponent: Mike Rio

    When last we saw John Cofer, he was on the business end of a head-kick knockout, courtesy of Justin Lawrence.

    He'll be gunning for his first UFC win over a skilled wrestler in Mike Rio.

23. Jared Papazian

2 of 24

    Division: Flyweight
    Record: 14-8 (1)
    Opponent: Tim Elliott 

    Jared Papazian has dropped both of his UFC fights and is probably looking to save his Octagon career by dropping to flyweight for this matchup.

    He hasn't been terribly inspiring in either of his previous attempts, a decision loss to Mike Easton and a choke-out at the hands of Dustin Pague.

22. Hugo Viana

3 of 24

    Division: Bantamweight
    Record: 6-0
    Opponent: Reuben Duran

    Hugo Viana looks to mainly be a standup point fighter. To make that sustainable at the UFC level, you have to be one hell of a good point fighter.

    He's one for one so far; we'll see how he does in his second attempt.

21. Tim Elliott

4 of 24

    Division: Flyweight
    Record: 8-3-1
    Opponent: Jared Papazian

    Tim Elliott is 0-1 in the UFC, but that loss came to top contender John Dodson. Hard to ding him too much for that one.

    He'll have a comparatively easier test tonight in Papazian.

20. Reuben Duran

5 of 24

    Division: Bantamweight
    Record: 8-3-1
    Opponent: Hugo Viana

    Reuben Duran's a pretty tough guy, but he's 1-1 so far in the UFC. That win, however, was a Submission of the Night effort against a very good Francisco Rivera. 

19. Colton Smith

6 of 24

    Division: Welterweight
    Record: 3-1
    Opponent: Mike Ricci

    Colton Smith, an active-duty Army Ranger, has probably overachieved by just making this TUF final.

    But I think his run ends just short of the six-figure contract tonight against Ricci. 

18. Mike Rio

7 of 24

    Division: Lightweight
    Record: 8-1
    Opponent: John Cofer

    This is the formal UFC debut for the former TUF contestant. He was a college wrestling standout and will surely look to ground and pound Cofer. 

17. Marcos Vinicius

8 of 24

    Division: Bantamweight
    Record: 20-3-1
    Opponent: Johnny Bedford

    Marcos Vinicius, 33, is a veteran of the sport but is only fighting for the second time in the UFC. (He won his debut.)

    He's a pretty well-rounded fighter, though, employing that Muay Thai/jiu-jitsu combination that works so well for so many of his fellow Brazilians. 

16. Vinc Pichel

9 of 24

    Division: Lightweight
    Record: 7-0
    Opponent: Rustam Khabilov

    Seven pro fights, seven knockouts for the Californian (though he lost to Al Iaqunita in the TUF 15 semifinals).

    Will his UFC debut be any different? We'll see. If Khabilov takes him past the second round, we'll be in uncharted territory. 

15. Nick Catone

10 of 24

    Division: Welterweight
    Record: 9-3
    Opponent: T.J. Waldburger

    Nick Catone has had a nice career in the UFC, going 3-3 including a win over Costa Philippou.

    But he's shown a slight vulnerability on the ground, and that's just Waldburger's specialty.

14. Johnny Bedford

11 of 24

    Division: Bantamweight
    Record: 18-9-1
    Opponent: Marcos Vinicius

    Johnny Bedford looked great at times on TUF 14. A win over Louis Gaudinot in his official UFC debut was followed by a yearlong injury absence.

    This will be his first fight since, and he's got a tough test in Vinicius. 

13. Mike Ricci

12 of 24

    Division: Welterweight
    Record: 7-2
    Opponent: Colton Smith

    We all know the book on Mike Ricci by now. He's a smart person and a smart fighter. He draws up good game plans and then executes them. He also looks like Tobey Maguire, and enjoys wearing fancy clothing items.

    His fight with Smith should be his to lose. 

12. Rustam Khabilov

13 of 24

    Division: Lightweight
    Record: 14-1
    Opponent: Vinc Pichel

    This Greg Jackson fighter has a very strong grappling base and plenty of experience on the world stage. This is his UFC debut; my guess is he's going to be a tough out for anyone on the lower rungs of the division.

11. Pat Barry

14 of 24

    Division: Heavyweight
    Record: 7-5
    Opponent: Shane Del Rosario

    Pat Barry needs a signature win. Personality and sheer aggression can only get you so far; a victory over the highly regarded Del Rosario would show he can walk the walk. 

10. Jonathan Brookins

15 of 24

    Division: Featherweight
    Record: 13-5
    Opponent: Dustin Poirier

    Jonathan Brookins won TUF 12 as a lightweight. He's been decent, though not amazing, since.

    Brookins is a rangy guy and likes to put chokes on people. But he's a pretty underrated banger, too. He's very easy to root for, even if he is still seeking a signature post-TUF victory. 

9. T.J. Waldburger

16 of 24

    Division: Welterweight
    Record: 15-7
    Opponent: Nick Catone

    T.J. Waldburger needed only 55 seconds to put a slick armbar submission on Jake Hecht back in March. He couldn't capitalize on that momentum, though, dropping a decision in June to the wily Brian Ebersole. He should use a grappling advantage to rebound against Catone.

8. Shane Del Rosario

17 of 24

    Division: Heavyweight
    Record: 11-1
    Opponent: Pat Barry

    Shane Del Rosario thankfully finally has all that car-accident drama behind him.

    Now we'll finally see if the knockout artist who made his bones in Strikeforce is equal to the hype.

7. James Head

18 of 24

    Division: Welterweight
    Record: 9-2
    Opponent: Mike Pyle

    James Head is a good boxer and a cagey fighter. His last fight, a win over Brian Ebersole, will always be a feather in his cap.

    His fight with Pyle has upset potential, although Pyle's strengths appear to be just a little stronger than Head's.

6. Matt Mitrione

19 of 24

    Division: Heavyweight
    Record: 5-1
    Opponent: Roy Nelson

    Matt Mitrione steps in on short notice to replace Shane Carwin versus Roy Nelson. Nelson has made his career as a gatekeeper at heavyweight. Mitrione doesn't appear poised to walk through that gate.

    Mitrione has good quickness for a heavyweight and can certainly swing the leather, but Cheick Kongo showed that a smart game plan can stifle him. 

5. Mike Pyle

20 of 24

    Division: Welterweight
    Record: 23-8-1
    Opponent: James Head

    Lots of wily veterans on this card. Mike Pyle is definitely in that camp.

    Pyle is 37 but has won five of his last six and is a well-rounded welterweight. As evidenced by his excellent nickname, "Quicksand," Pyle's base is a strong grappling game. 

4. Melvin Guillard

21 of 24

    Division: Lightweight
    Record: 30-11-2 (1)
    Opponent: Jamie Varner

    Melvin Guillard's story is a familiar one. Amazing God-given talents, flashes of success, but to this point, the narrative is one of missed opportunities and unrealized potential.

    He'll want to keep the fight standing against Varner and then plant one of those lightning-quick hands on his opponent's temple.

3. Jamie Varner

22 of 24

    Division: Lightweight
    Record: 20-7-1 (2)
    Opponent: Melvin Guillard

    Jamie Varner has converted his eccentric potential into colorful kineticism. The 10-year veteran is a very good wrestler with a strong right hand.

    His battle with Guillard may come down to Varner's ability to get Guillard to the mat. Here's guessing he'll find a way. 

2. Dustin Poirier

23 of 24

    Division: Featherweight
    Record: 12-2
    Opponent: Jonathan Brookins

    Dustin Poirier is good. Awfully good. He took his May loss to "The Korean Zombie" on the chin and vowed to get better.

    Since that loss, he has moved to American Top Team and by all accounts seems ready to win this fight, regardless of where it goes. 

1. Roy Nelson

24 of 24

    Division: Heavyweight
    Record: 17-7
    Opponent: Matt Mitrione

    Yes, Roy Nelson is a gatekeeper. But he might be the greatest gatekeeper ever.

    Deceptively deft grappling and submissions. A ticking time bomb at the end of his right arm. Unparalleled guts and toughness.

    Yes, he's fat. Yes, he's weird. But he's one heck of a good fighter. Maybe he'll always be underestimated. But he'll probably keep winning either way, manning the wall for the UFC's most punishing division.

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