The Ultimate Fighter season 17 has drawn to a close, and now the only thing left to do is to crown a winner.
Uriah Hall and Kelvin Gastelum, both of Team Sonnen, will stand opposite one another in the co-main event of the evening. The winner will be named The Ultimate Fighter and presented a six-figure contract and a Harley-Davidson.
In the main event of the evening, top bantamweights Urijah Faber and Scott Jorgensen do battle. The winner will inch closer to a title shot. Also in action, Miesha Tate and Cat Zingano go at it in the second-ever women's bout inside the Octagon. The winner will coach next season of The Ultimate Fighter against Ronda Rousey.
Here is a look at the odds heading in to this Saturday's card.
The opening bout of the night will take place in the featherweight division. Sam Sicilia (11-2) and Maximo Blanco (8-4-1, 1 NC) may be fighting for their UFC careers.
Sicilia is 1-1 under the UFC banner, but he's coming off a TKO loss to Rony Jason at UFC 153. Blanco is 0-1 in the UFC, but he dropped his last Strikeforce bout as well. Blanco has fought the better competition of the two, and his loss to Marcus Brimage at UFC 145 came via a split decision.
This will be an interesting bout to watch. Which fighter wants to keep their job more, and who will take more risks? Sicilia's aggressiveness may hinder him against Blanco. Look for Blanco to finally get the victory under the Zuffa name.
Betting Odds: Blanco (-273) against Sicilia (+217) at SportBet.com.
Prediction: Blanco defeats Sicilia via submission in the second round.
Justin Lawrence (4-1) and Daniel Pineda (17-9) return to the cage this Saturday after a TKO and KO loss, respectively.
The two exciting featherweights will look to add another finish to their resumes.
This is not a fight that is likely to go to a decision. Both fighters come forward and actively look for a finish. I favor Lawrence in this bout.
His striking will outmatch Pineda's, and he can stop the takedown. He'll have his chances to flatten Pineda and finish in the first five minutes.
Betting Odds: Lawrence (-114) against Pineda (-114) at SportBet.com.
Prediction: Lawrence defeats Pineda by TKO in the first round.
Two featherweight veterans will end the Facebook prelims. Cole Miller (18-7) and Bart Palaszewski (36-16) have both dropped two in a row, and another loss could send them out of the organization.
In spite of losing his last two bouts, Palaszewski has looked every bit the part of a top-15 featherweight in the division. He nearly upended Hatsu Hioki and took Diego Nunes to the brink in a Fight of the Night performance.
Miller can't say the same. His level of opposition has not been as steep.
Palaszewski is simply the better fighter of the two. Miller is a dangerous opponent, but Palaszewski will be ready for anything he can throw at him. He'll finish Miller in the second.
Betting Odds: Palaszewski (-184) against Miller (+156) at SportBet.com.
Prediction: Palaszewski defeats Miller by TKO in the second round.
Bristol Marunde (12-7) will make his official UFC debut against current-season alum Clint Hester (7-3) in the first Fuel TV preliminary bout.
Hester lost his first bout in the house via submission to Jimmy Quinlan. After that, we did not see much of him on the show. It is unknown how much he grew throughout the season.
We do know what kind of fighter Marunde is.
Look for Marunde to control this fight. He will dictate at what pace it goes at, and he will end up finishing the fight with a choke.
Betting Odds: N/A
Prediction: Marunde defeats Hester via submission in the second round.
Dylan Andrews (15-4) and Jimmy Quinlan (3-0) will meet in the second Fuel TV prelim.
Andrews made it to the semifinals before succumbing to Uriah Hall, and Quinlan was ousted in the quarterfinals.
Quinlan is a good submission artist. Andrews, the last to be picked on the show, showed his grit in all his performances. This should be an evenly contested matchup.
I tend to lean toward Andrews. He showed a more well-rounded game in his fights, and he should be able to defend against Quinlan's submissions on the canvas. He has more ways to win this fight.
Betting Odds: N/A
Prediction: Andrews defeats Quinlan by unanimous decision.
Luke Barnatt (5-0) meets Collin Hart (4-1) in preliminary action.
Both contestants were taken out by knockout in the quarterfinals. Hart was knocked out by Kelvin Gastelum in the first round, and Barnatt was eliminated by Andrews in the third.
Hart never really impressed on the show. He beat touted Kevin Casey, but it was not a dominant or entertaining performance. Barnatt looked decent in his opening fight.
Hart has the tools to win this fight, but Barnatt's length and striking should be enough to give him the win. He can take this to the judges' scorecards, but I think he will break Hart in the second.
Betting Odds: N/A
Prediction: Barnatt defeats Hart by TKO in the second round.
Josh Samman (9-2) meets Kevin Casey (5-2) in the final preliminary bout of the evening.
Casey lost his opening bout but was brought back in the wild-card fight. After two rounds, he was unable to continue and was eliminated from the show by Bubba McDaniel.
Samman was one of the most well-edited of the season. A lot of that has to do with his impressive performances inside the cage—a knockout of Tor Troeng and a submission over Jimmy Quinlan. He was finally defeated by finalist Kelvin Gastelum.
In spite of Casey's credentials and hype, he simply has not lived up to them. Samman will beat "King" without much issue.
Betting Odds: N/A
Prediction: Samman defeats Casey by TKO in the third round.
Bubba McDaniel (20-6) and Gilbert Smith (5-1) will kick off the final on FX.
Smith was knocked out by Luke Barnatt in the opening round, and McDaniel was submitted by Kelvin Gastelum. However, McDaniel was able to get back in the show with a wild-card win over Kevin Casey. Unfortunately for him, he had to meet Uriah Hall in his next fight.
McDaniel has a wealth of experience and a great camp at Jackson's. He should be able to take out Smith.
Smith will have to put McDaniel on his back and grind out a win. He won't be able to hang with him on the feet. I don't think this fight goes the distance, and McDaniel will beat the shirt back on Smith. Maybe.
Betting Odds: N/A
Prediction: McDaniel defeats Smith by TKO in the first round.
Travis Browne (13-1-1) returns to action for the first time since October when he meets former title contender Gabriel Gonzaga (14-6).
The heavyweights will be seeking a knockout early and often. This won't take too long.
Gonzaga has posted three straight wins, two in the UFC, and is trying to make another run up the ladder. Browne will try to erase the memory of his TKO loss to Bigfoot Silva.
This seems like a perfect matchup for Browne. His athleticism will be the key factor. He will catch Gonzaga on the chin and finish the fight.
Betting Odds: Browne (-308) against Gonzaga (+252) at SportBet.com.
Prediction: Browne defeats Gonzaga by KO in the first round.
The next coach of The Ultimate Fighter will be determined when Miesha Tate (13-3) and Cat Zingano (7-0) throw down.
The former Strikeforce Bantamweight Champion will try to get her rematch against Ronda Rousey, but it will be no easy task against the undefeated Zingano.
Zingano brings in a good skill set to battle Tate. If the fight hits the ground, it will be one of the more interesting matchups on the entire card—Zingano's jiu-jitsu versus Tate's wrestling.
Tate has fought on big stages before. That will certainly help her. Zingano enters as a slight favorite, but Tate is the more well-rounded fighter. She will be able to score more points on the scorecards over the 15 minutes, and she will meet Rousey later in 2013.
Betting Odds: Zingano (-124) against Tate (-104) at SportBet.com.
Prediction: Tate defeats Zingano by unanimous decision.
Uriah Hall (7-2) and Kelvin Gastelum (5-0) have made it to the finals. The two Team Sonnen teammates will have to go toe-to-toe to determine who wins the contract.
Gastelum is without question the underdog in this fight. Hall has been spectacular throughout the season.
There does not seem to be a way that Gastelum picks up this victory. Hall is quicker, more athletic and more devastating. It looks to be an easy win for Hall, who will instantly inject himself into the middleweight division as a fighter to watch.
Betting Odds: N/A
Prediction: Hall defeats Gastelum by TKO in the first round.
The main event of the evening features bantamweight contenders Urijah Faber (27-6) and Scott Jorgensen (14-6).
Faber is trying to make a claim for his third UFC Bantamweight Championship fight, and Jorgensen seeks his biggest professional victory. Both men have lost to current champion Renan Barao.
Jorgensen's wrestling will be a key to this fight. If he is unable to take Faber down, it will be a long night for him. Consequently, he cannot forget that Faber is a good wrestler as well. The former WEC champion can easily put Jorgensen on his back in this fight.
What it comes down to is Faber being the better fighter. Period. He is one of the best in MMA history. He won't finish Jorgensen, but he'll do enough to prove his dominance over the course of the fight.
Betting Odds: Faber (-437) against Jorgensen (+373) at SportBet.com.
Prediction: Faber defeats Jorgensen by unanimous decision.