TUF Season 17 Finale: Bleacher Report Main Card Staff Predictions

James MacDonaldFeatured ColumnistApril 11, 2013

TUF Season 17 Finale: Bleacher Report Main Card Staff Predictions

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    It has been an interesting week in the world of MMA. From Matt Mitrione making a less-than eloquent contribution to the Fallon Fox debate to Frank Mir threatening to vivisect Daniel Cormier, talking points have not been in short supply.

    For now, let’s set those distractions aside and concentrate on the business of fighting. The Ultimate Fighter Season 17 finale is just around the corner and it boasts a number of intriguing contests, including Urijah Faber vs. Scott Jorgensen and Miesha Tate vs. Cat Zingano.

    A team of Avengers-esque experts has been assembled to offer predictions for Saturday night’s finale. Our panel includes the ineffable Scott Harris, the masterly McKinley Noble, the sagacious Sean Smith, the prodigious Riley Kontek and yours truly, James MacDonald, in all my relative ordinariness.

    Read on for our thoughts on what is likely to occur come Saturday evening.

Bubba McDaniel vs. Gilbert Smith

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    McKinley Noble:

    Smith had a horrible style matchup and size disadvantage against Barnatt, so I don't know what to think of him yet. McDaniel, on the other hand, showed himself to be recklessly arrogant and mentally weak throughout the show. I'm not sure that the pressure of a UFC debut is going to cure what ails this Greg Jackson fighter.

    Smith, Unanimous Decision


    Sean Smith:

    Why this bout is on a UFC main card? I have no idea how this got placement over bouts featuring semifinalists Dylan Andrews and Josh Samman. Regardless, one of these fighters has to win (and will likely get released after a couple of follow-up losses). 

    McDaniel, TKO, Round 2


    Riley Kontek:

    Smith has been a guy that I have been very critical about during his tenure on the reality show, as he is still green and possesses a suspect gas tank. McDaniel suffered on the show from multiple drastic weight cuts, which may have hurt his performances. Under the tutelage of Greg Jackson, I think McDaniel breaks out here to score a stoppage.

    McDaniel, TKO, Round 2


    James MacDonald:

    One gets the impression that McDaniel is a perennial underachiever. By all accounts, he’s a beast in the gym. But when he hits the cage, though, he can’t seem to replicate the kind of form he shows at Jackson’s. Still, even Bubba’s C-game should be sufficient to best the short-winded Smith.

    McDaniel, Submission, Round 2


    Scott Harris:

    McDaniel was able to stir up some interest around his fights during the season, which is probably what landed him on the main card. There was definitely no overwhelming body of evidence from the cage to put him in the spotlight. Smith should get the early stoppage here and gain a foothold in the UFC.

    Smith, Submission, Round 1

Travis Browne vs. Gabriel Gonzaga

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    McKinley Noble:

    For a variety of reasons, I've never been high on Browne. I've also looked very stupid every time I've pick against Gonzaga lately. Although I'm not expecting much from the latter, I highly suspect Browne will [do something stupid and] give Gonzaga the win.

    Gonzaga, TKO, Round 1

     

    Sean Smith:

    With a win over Browne, Gonzaga will have completely resurrected his MMA career. That said, Gonzaga hadn't had success against solid strikers since his unlikely knockout of Mirko Filipovic. Browne keeps this standing long enough to end Gonzaga's comeback run.

    Browne, TKO, Round 1

     

    Riley Kontek:

    This is an awesome matchup between a former title contender in Gonzaga and a possible future contender in Browne. Browne is a power-striker, which will tickle the fancy of Gonzaga—a heavyweight that loves to brawl whenever the opportunity arises. Gonzaga has the ground advantage, but I Browne will slap him silly en route to a late stoppage.

    Browne, TKO, Round 2

     

    James MacDonald:

    I’m not as high on Browne’s potential as some. However, I think the ceiling is that much lower for Gonzaga, who has a sweet mean-mug, but a relatively one-dimensional game to go along with it. I can see Browne picking Gonzaga apart on the feet and eventually earning the stoppage.

    Browne, TKO, Round 2


    Scott Harris:

    I like Browne too much to write him off after one freak loss. He’ll stay out of the clutches of an aging Gonzaga and use his hands to get back in the win column.

    Browne, KO, Round 2

Miesha Tate vs. Cat Zingano

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    McKinley Noble:

    Zingano is tailor-made to snatch a submission win against Miesha Tate, but the former Strikeforce champion has way more experience against much better competition. Plus, I don't think Tate wants to miss another shot at Rousey—or at the very least, TV and pay-per-view exposure. Tate plays it safe for the judge's scorecards.

    Tate, Unanimous Decision


    Sean Smith:

    Undefeated in seven fights, Zingano is a contender to be taken seriously in the women's bantamweight division. However, Tate is more experienced against top competition and is used to the bright lights after multiple stints in Strikeforce. 

    Tate, Unanimous Decision


    Riley Kontek:

    Two aces of the ground meet in the women's division here. Tate is a submission wrestler, while Zingano is a submission-based jiu-jitsu artist. This could lead to an entertaining grappling battle, where the more active fighter with longer time sent in top position earns the judge's approval.

    Tate, Unanimous Decision


    James MacDonald:

    Zingano might be flying under the radar here, but Tate would be wise to take her seriously. Both are excellent grapplers, so this could end up being an entertaining scrap on the ground. If the fight takes place largely on the feet, I expect the slightly-more-polished Zingano to have the edge.

    Zingano, Unanimous Decision


    Scott Harris:

    I’m not going to lie and pretend I’m some huge WMMA expert, but the little I know points to the undefeated Zingano being a bit of a freight train—and a spoiler—in this bout. I would sound the upset alarms, but Zingano isn’t really that much of an underdog.

    Zingano, Unanimous Decision

Uriah Hall vs. Kelvin Gastelum

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    McKinley Noble:

    Both of these men have tremendous knockout power in their hands, but Hall is the far more versatile striker. If Gastelum is smart, he'll take the fight to the ground and smother Hall for as long as it takes. As long as he doesn't get tagged on a takedown attempt, that's going to be the big difference maker.

    Gastelum, TKO, Round 3


    Sean Smith:

    Gastelum has been an underdog story throughout TUF 17, but his run is about to come to an end. Hall may or may not be the future contender some believe he can be, but he's definitely a level or two above Gastelum.

    Hall, TKO, Round 1


    Riley Kontek:

    Hall is a devastating striker who has shown competence on the ground. Simply put, he is the more well-rounded guy. While Gastelum has a chance by making this an ugly fight, I see Hall clipping him on the way in to take the season championship.

    Hall, KO, Round 2


    James MacDonald:

    Gastelum is not given nearly enough credit considering his well-rounded skill set and impressive wins on TUF 17. While he doesn’t enter as even close to being the favorite, you would be unwise to overlook him. Still, Hall’s mixture of technique and athleticism will likely overwhelm his fellow Team Sonnen member. I fear this bout will end with Hall uttering, “Sorry, Kelvin.”

    Hall, TKO, Round 2


    Scott Harris:

    I like Gastelum as much as anyone, but it seems counter-intuitive at this point to bet again Hall and a stand-up game that has inspired so much discussion and confidence coming into the event.

    Hall, TKO, Round 1

Urijah Faber vs. Scott Jorgensen

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    McKinley Noble:

    This match is far more simple to analyze than most people think. Urijah Faber + title fight = decision loss. Urijah Faber + non-title fight = dominant win by whatever he wants.

    Faber, Unanimous Decision

     

    Sean Smith:

    Jorgensen may have a slight edge over Faber in the wrestling department, but "The California Kid" would appear to have an advantage in all other areas against an opponent with a similar fighting style. Even if Jorgensen does try to turn this into a wrestling match, Faber can counter his opponent's takedowns with his dangerous guillotine choke.

    Faber, Unanimous Decision

     

    Riley Kontek:

    This fight could be extremely entertaining or a snoozer. Both men are wrestlers and good friends outside of the cage, but the difference here is going to be striking. Urijah Faber has proven to be a great striker on a consistent basis, while Jorgensen has been lackluster at times. Faber will daze Jorgensen and slap on a choke to earn the win.

    Faber, Submission, Round 3

     

    James MacDonald:

    This is not a good matchup for Jorgensen. He is basically fighting a more advanced version of himself, a bit like when Arnold Schwarzenegger tangled with the T-1000. Faber just does everything a little bit better, which should give him the decision.

    Faber, Unanimous Decision


    Scott Harris:

    Faber’s skill set (not to mention his three-inch reach advantage) won’t allow Jorgensen to get close enough to do any consistent damage. He’s never really had problems in these sorts of fights, and until further notice, I am banking on a continuation of that trend.

    Faber, Unanimous Decision