Image via FX.com
Did anyone really expect Uriah Hall not to make it to this year's The Ultimate Fighter finale?
Didn't think so.
As you might have guessed, the dangerous middleweight prospect will be heading back to Las Vegas this Saturday after he punched his ticket to the finals by brutally beating down New Zealand's Dylan Andrews on Tuesday night's episode of the long-running reality series.
Meeting Hall in the finale will be fellow Team Sonnen teammate Kelvin Gastelum, who continued his streak of finishes by submitting Josh Samman via rear-naked choke in the first round of their semifinals fight.
Not only will MMA fans be treated to an exciting battle of middleweight prospects, but Saturday's event also features a stacked main card. Former WEC champ Urijah Faber takes on Scott Jorgensen, and former Strikeforce champ Miesha Tate takes on Cat Zingano for the chance to coach the next season of TUF opposite Ronda Rousey.
Let's take a look at how these bouts stack up.
Uriah Hall may have stopped Robert "Bubba" McDaniel just short of reaching his TUF finale dreams, but the 29-year-old middleweight will still get a chance to fight on Saturday's main card against fellow Team Jones teammate Gilbert Smith.
While this isn't a bad matchup by any means, since both fighters are slick on the ground, I'm not sure why this fight is on the main card. McDaniel, despite being a training partner of Jon Jones, just didn't impress me on the show, and neither did Smith.
I would have rather seen Luke Barnett or Josh Samman get a chance at the spotlight on the FX card due to their impressive finishes.
This is an intriguing heavyweight matchup as both fighters come into this bout at interesting points in their careers.
Travis Browne recently tasted defeat for the first time in his pro MMA career when he was stopped in the first round by Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva last October. While the loss was somewhat due to an injury, it did put "Hapa" on the backburner for title contention talks by ending his 14-fight unbeaten streak.
Gabriel Gonzaga, on the other hand, is seeing a resurgence in his career, recently submitting veteran Ben Rothwell in January. The Brazilian is a perfect 2-0 since coming back to the UFC.
Browne, however, will be a much more dangerous opponent for Gonzaga considering Hapa's well-rounded skill set. The Brazilian should look to take to the fight to the ground and utilize his world-class Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills.
Regardless, Browne and "Napao" will put on a great battle, with the winner inching closer to that coveted title shot.
Headlining Saturday's event will be a bantamweight scrap between two of the division's most highly touted fighters.
Former WEC champ Urijah Faber will look to make it two in a row as he takes on one-time WEC title challenger Scott Jorgensen. It's surprising that these two top 135ers have yet to square off in the Octagon considering their positions on the divisional ladder.
While "The California Kid" is usually the favorite in the wrestling department, Jorgensen is a three-time former Pac-10 wrestling champ with his own arsenal of dangerous ground attacks.
Considering Faber's unbeaten streak in non-title bouts, I'm leaning toward him, although don't count "Young Guns" out.
Out of all the fights on Saturday's card, none may have as much impact on the future of the sport—and TUF—as the UFC's second-ever women's bout between former Strikeforce champ Miesha Tate and the dangerous Cat Zingano.
With the winner set to make history by becoming one of the first women to coach on TUF and earning a shot at champ Ronda Rousey, there's a lot at stake for both fighters.
Tate has been a force on the WMMA scene and has taken on a who's who list of female fighters. Zingano, while lacking the experience of Tate, has also proved to be a dangerous foe, sporting a perfect 7-0 record with six of those wins coming via submission or knockout.
If you are new to women in the cage, all I can tell you is that they bring it every time, so expect a war on Saturday night.
While there have been a lot of great TUF finales over the years, none of them has had such a highly hyped finals matchup than Saturday's Uriah Hall vs. Kelvin Gastelum.
I don't need to tell you about Hall's brutal finishes on the show, as we've all seen his spinning hook kick KO of Adam Cella. Suffice to say, he's a scary dude inside the Octagon.
Gastelum, despite being a heavy underdog all season long, has proved to be a dangerous fighter as well. He finished Collin Hart and the highly touted Josh Samman in back-to-back fights leading up to the finals.
My gut is telling me Hall, but look for Gastelum to turn this fight into a bloody war.