TUF 16 Finale: Power Ranking Every Fight on the Card

Nathan McCarter@McCarterNFeatured ColumnistDecember 15, 2012

TUF 16 Finale: Power Ranking Every Fight on the Card

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    The Ultimate Fighter Season 16 will come to a close on Saturday night.

    The main event was supposed to be a battle between coaches Roy Nelson and Shane Carwin, but Matt Mitrione has stepped in on short notice to replace the injured Carwin.

    The Ultimate Fighter finale will see Colton Smith and Mike Ricci square off to determine the Season 16 winner.

    None of the remaining fights feature a Season 16 fighter. However, in the absence of TUF cast members, the UFC has made this one of the best finale cards with 10 competitive and fun bouts.

    Here is how the fights of the finale stack up to one another.

No. 12: Mike Rio vs. John Cofer

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    Mike Rio (8-1) and John Cofer (7-2) will meet in the second fight of the night at the TUF 16 finale.

    Rio makes his UFC debut after missing out on the The Ultimate Fighter: Live Finale due to injury. His lone loss came at the hands of UFC veteran and former TUF winner Efrain Escudero.

    Cofer, also a TUF: Live cast member, makes his second UFC appearance after losing his UFC debut to Justin Lawrence by KO.

    If this fight is anything like the finale for last season, expect a fun altercation.

No. 11: Vinc Pichel vs. Rustam Khabilov

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    Former TUF: Live cast member Vinc Pichel (7-0) makes his UFC debut at the TUF 16 finale. He was scheduled to fight James Vick at last season's finale, but the bout was called off due as Vick was not cleared to fight.

    Rustam Khabilov (14-1) will also be making his UFC debut. The M-1 veteran has finished half of his fights with five by submission.

    Each debuting fighter will have something to prove in the stacked lightweight division. Each bring in impressive records, but until they can continue their success inside the premier MMA organization, it does not impress.

    The lightweight scrap will be on the Fuel TV preliminary card.

No. 10: Colton Smith vs. Mike Ricci

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    Colton Smith (3-1) and Mike Ricci (7-2) will meet in the finale to determine the Season 16 champion. They are also the only Season 16 cast members on the card.

    Smith will enter as an underdog against Ricci, but he showed on the show he has the ability to win the fight.

    Ricci brings in an impressive record. Jordan Mein, current Strikeforce prospect, is on his list of victories. His only two losses are to UFC's Daron Cruickshank and Bellator champion Pat Curran.

    This fight may turn out to be exciting, but there is a reason they are the only two Season 16 cast members on the card. Those fighters failed to deliver throughout the season.

No. 9: Mike Pyle vs. James Head

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    Veteran Mike Pyle (23-8-1) returns for the third time in 2012 to take on James Head (9-2).

    Pyle has went 2-0 since being decimated by Rory MacDonald at UFC 133 including a Knockout of the Night performance over Josh Neer in June.

    Also on a two-fight win streak is Head. After losing to Nick Ring in June 2011, he came back strong in 2012. Head made his welterweight debut with a submission of the powerful Papy Abedi, and took a split decision over the tough Brian Ebersole.

    The winner of the fight will continue their ascent up the welterweight ladder in a division that is getting more crowded by the day. The fight could surprise, but it is just one of many good match-ups on the card.

No. 8: Jared Papazian vs. Tim Elliott

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    Jared Papazian (14-8, 1 NC) and Tim Elliott (8-3-1) open the night of action on Facebook and could be fighting for their UFC future.

    Papazian is 0-2 in the UFC, but this will be his flyweight debut. At bantamweight, he went up against Mike Easton and Dustin Pague and came up short. He seeks a fresh start at 125.

    Elliott dropped his UFC debut against title contender John Dodson by decision.

    As the UFC continues to fill their flyweight ranks these two are in prime position to make an impression. Flyweights have been exciting thus far in the UFC and this should be no different.

No. 7: Reuben Duran vs. Hugo Viana

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    Reuben Duran (8-3-1) and Hugo "Wolverine" (6-0) meet in the final Facebook prelim before the card shifts to Fuel TV.

    Duran dropped a split decision to Takeya Mizugaki in his UFC debut, but he came back with a Submission of the Night performance over Francisco Rivera in his next outing. Now he will get one of the most exciting members of the TUF: Brazil cast.

    Hugo Wolverine made it to the semi-finals of TUF: Brazil. He lost to eventual champion Rony Jason by unanimous decision. At UFC 147, he made his company debut with a split decision win over John Teixeira.

    The two bantamweights will go for the finish when they meet and put on a show for the Las Vegas crowd.

No. 6: TJ Waldburger vs. Nick Catone

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    TJ Waldburger (15-7) will be looking for his fourth UFC victory when he meets Nick Catone (9-3) in the opening bout on the Fuel TV preliminary card.

    Waldburger lost his last outing in the Octagon to Brian Ebersole in June by unanimous decision. Prior to the defeat, he finished his previous two opponents by submission. Waldburger has a quality ground game that will pose a significant threat to Catone.

    Catone is also going for his fourth win in the Octagon. Catone was stopped via TKO by Chris Camozzi in June after going on a two-fight win streak. Catone has a win over middleweight Costa Philippou in 2011. This will be his welterweight debut.

    Catone's wrestling and Waldburger's jiu-jitsu make for an interesting match-up. It could be an exciting ground match-up or a stalemate. I suspect we will see more of the former.

No. 5: Johnny Bedford vs. Marcos Vinicius

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    Johnny Bedford (18-9-1), a member of TUF Season 14, made it to the semi-finals before losing by KO to eventual winner John Dodson. Marcos Vinicius (20-3-1) fought in one of the TUF: Brazil semi-finals in which he lost to Godofredo Pepey.

    Since their time in the TUF house, they have impressed.

    Bedford make his UFC debut with a TKO over Louis Gaudinot at the TUF 14 finale. Vinicius won the Knockout of the Night award at UFC 147 by TKO'ing Wagner Campos.

    The bantamweights will excite once again. In a relatively shallow division, two consecutive wins can move them higher up the ladder quicker. Especially if they finish. This could be a sleeper for Fight of the Night.

No. 4: Pat Barry vs. Shane Del Rosario

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    Pat Barry (7-5) and Shane del Rosario (11-1) will be going for a post-fight award in their fight. It has a high percentage to win Knockout of the Night.

    Barry is 4-5 in the Octagon and coming off a TKO loss in May. However, he remains one of the most exciting heavyweights on the roster with his devastating power and creative striking.

    Del Rosario made his UFC debut at UFC 146. He was stopped by Stipe Miocic in the second round, but he did well in the first five minutes of the fight.

    The former Strikeforce fighter is one of the heavyweight division's top prospects, and seeing if he can hang with the striking of Barry will be interesting to watch. Barry will also have to stop the wrestling and jiu-jitsu of Del Rosario.

    This fight will not see the scorecards. Someone will be finished.

No. 3: Roy Nelson vs. Matt Mitrione

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    The night's main event saw a bit of a shift with Carwin's injury, but UFC matchmaker Joe Silva still found a suitable replacement with Matt Mitrione (5-1).

    Roy Nelson (17-7) rebounded from his loss to Fabricio Werdum at UFC 143 with a Knockout of the Night performance at UFC 146 over Dave Herman.

    Mitrione suffered his first professional loss in a lackluster fight against Cheick Kongo in October 2011. After more than a year away, he is ready to take the next step in the division.

    These are two powerful and athletic heavyweights. That should make for an exciting fight.

    Mitrione has been away for a long time, and we will get to see what improvements in his game he has made. Nelson will try to get on a winning streak and start making a case for bigger bouts.

    This is a significant fight for the heavyweight division, and that only adds to its anticipation level.

No. 2: Dustin Poirier vs. Jonathan Brookins

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    Dustin Poirier (12-2) was on the brink of getting a title shot at featherweight until he suffered a setback against Chan Sung Jung in May. Now he tries to get back on the winning track as he meets TUF Season 12 champion Jonathan Brookins (13-5).

    Brookins returns to the cage after losing to Charles Oliveira at the TUF Season 15 finale. Brookins is 1-2 in his UFC featherweight career.

    The featherweight match-up is a definite contender for Fight of the Night. Both of these fighters bring it each outing and have fought the cream of the crop in the division.

    Poirier and Brookins open the main card on FX. It is a great fight to set the tone of the main card. The featherweights will deliver an exciting fight.

    The winner of this fight will put himself back into the hunt at 145 pounds.

No. 1: Melvin Guillard vs. Jamie Varner

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    This fight has Fight of the Night and Knockout of the Night written all over it.

    Melvin Guillard (30-11-2, 1 NC) comes back to the Octagon for the fourth time in 2012 and will try to exit the year at 2-2.

    Jamie Varner (20-7-1, 2 NC) battled Joe Lauzon in a Fight of the Night in August, but came out on the losing end.

    Both men love to strike and have knockout power. They are also good wrestlers. This will be an explosive fight with the winner making a statement leading into 2013.

    The battle between Guillard and Varner could go either way. They are rarely involved in a boring fight and this should be no different. The second fight on the main card is a can't-miss. Guillard vs. Varner is the best fight of the night.