Fans wanting a heavy dose of UFC action have to be pretty happy with the promotion's April offerings. With four consecutive weekends filled with fight cards, there's bound to be something for everyone.
The second of those four consecutive fight weekends is upon us as The Ultimate Fighter 17 finale hits the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. In the following pages, I'll give you a few brief notes on the event itself and all of the televised fights, including The Ultimate Fighter tournament finale and the main event between Urijah Faber and Scott Jorgensen.
Let's get this party started.
This edition of The Ultimate Fighter finale hits the Mandalay Bay Events Center instead of the usual Palms Casino.
Why would the UFC elect to move one of its historically smaller shows to a venue the size of Mandalay?
It all stems from the Palms management cutting Dana White's gambling credit line. Yes, that's the whole story. White was unhappy that the casino won't front him as much blackjack money as they used to, and so White pulled all of the UFC's operations out of that casino.
This actually happened. Never mind that the Palms is the perfect venue for smaller UFC shows in Las Vegas. The Palms crossed White, and so he responded as he usually does: by acting childishly and pulling all of his business from the hotel.
I'm not making any of this up, by the way.
The original main event for this show was a flyweight title fight between Demetrious Johnson and John Moraga, but an injury suffered by Johnson forced the cancellation of the fight. It'll be moved to a date this summer, likely UFC on Fox 8 in Seattle.
Taking its place is a bantamweight bout between friends and one-time training partners Urijah Faber and Scott Jorgensen.
Faber is coming off a win over Ivan Menjivar at UFC 157, while Jorgensen beat John Albert in his last bout.
For Faber, a win here is a must if he hopes to ever receive another fight with Dominick Cruz. He's heavily favored to beat Jorgensen, but crazier things than Jorgensen winning the fight have happened in MMA.
The Ultimate Fighter 17 could well be re-named The Uriah Hall Show, and we'd all be fine with it.
Hall is one of the most intriguing prospects to come through the Ultimate Fighter house in years. He dispatched all of his foes with pure violence, displaying a deft blend of athleticism, speed and accuracy that made him the odds-on favorite to win the show from the very beginning.
And now he's in the finals. With a win, Hall may be thrust directly into a fight with a top contender in the UFC's middleweight division; Dana White is extremely high on Hall and thinks he could be a force.
As long as he gets past Kelvin Gastelum, he'll get the chance to prove he belongs among the division's elite.
This is the second women's fight in the UFC after the introduction of female bantamweights earlier this year. It's already a bit of history just from that aspect, but there's a twist: the winner of this fight will move on to coach against Ronda Rousey on the next season of The Ultimate Fighter.
Tate is a very good wrestler and former Strikeforce champion. She already has history with Rousey, and so a win by Tate would probably be the best thing for the UFC from a promotional aspect.
But Zingano is a very good striker and a good all-around fighter. She's the betting favorite heading into the fight for a reason. Don't be surprised if she pulls an upset, and don't be surprised if Tate calls it quits after this one is over.
Gabriel Gonzaga is a former heavyweight title contender most known for his vicious knockout of knockout artist Mirko Cro Cop. He jumped to the top of the heavyweight division after that fight, but then went on a losing skid that ultimately led to his retirement.
Gonzaga's family talked him out of the short-lived retirement, however, and he returned to competition with the UFC last year. He faces Travis Browne, a heavyweight super-prospect who had a bit of bad luck in his last fight with Antonio Silva when he injured his knee and was subsequently knocked out.
Browne is a very good heavyweight, but don't be surprised if Gonzaga walks away with this one. He's focusing on his grappling again, and that makes him a danger to any heavyweight in the world. Browne will need to defend every takedown Gonzaga brings in order to survive this fight.