The Ultimate Fighter 13 Finale: B/R MMA Staff Predictions
This year’s season finale of “The Ultimate Fighter” has come together with some pretty interesting fights, despite a season that failed to meet expectations.
The expectations fell short due to a lack of personalities in the house, as well very little interaction among the coaches, certainly not because of a lack of ability among the fighters.
While some season 13 contestants failed to impress, the four fighters that made June 4’s card all bring a lot of intrigue to the table.
Not to mention that the main event features an excellent number one contender bout in the lightweight division.
Clay “The Carpenter” Guida will be taking on Anthony “Showtime” Pettis to see who gets the next shot at Frankie Edgar’s belt at 155 pounds.
Also on the main card, is a light heavyweight showdown between Kyle Kingsbury and Fabio Maldonado, as well as a middleweight fight between Ed Herman and Tim Credeur.
The inaugural Bleacher Report staff predictions features newcomers to the MMA team in Tony Preston and Dana Becker, as well as the work of featured columnists Dale De Souza, Jordy McElroy, and me, John Heinis.
Also a special thanks to another featured columnist, Nick Caron, for providing the graphics for the slideshow.
Let’s take a look at how our team feels this card is going to play out.
Ed Herman (17-7) vs. Tim Credeur (13-5)
John Heinis: These relative unknowns are actually TUF alumni; Credeur made it to the semifinals of season 7, while Herman advanced to the finals of season 3 before losing to Kendall Grove.
Herman has a pretty solid record of 21-9, but has struggled with the contenders of the division. He has lost three of his last four fights to the likes of Demian Maia, Alan Belcher, and Aaron Simpson.
Credeur has won 6 of his last 7, but has been active since losing to Nate Quarry in September of 2009.
Herman is a very strong wrestler with a nasty armbar, but Credeur has a black belt in both BJJ and Judo, and has finished his opponent in nine out of his 12 victories.
Credeur’s ground game will be too much for Herman to overcome.
Credeur via second round submission
Dana Becker: Two alums of The Ultimate Fighter square off, as Ed Herman and Tim Credeur meet in a middleweight contest.
Herman (19-7) has lost three of his previous four fights, but those defeats have come at the hands of contenders Aaron Simpson, Alan Belcher and Demian Maia.
His loss to Simpson back in 2009 was his last fight, as the bout was stopped due to a severe knee injury that caused him to miss all of the past year recovering.
Credeur (12-3) is also coming off a loss, falling by decision to Nate Quarry in 2009. The extended delay for Credeur was due to an abnormality found during a brain scan.
As you read, both fighters have been missing in action for some time, so expect a bit of a feeling out process in the early going.
Credeur has won eight of his 12 fights by submission, and Herman has been submitted four times in his career. Look for "The Rock" to earn another with a choke of some variety in the second.
Credeur via second round submission (choke)
Both fighters are coming off long layoffs and both are submission specialists. Look for this fight to be a back and forth affair most likely on the mat. Herman has several submission losses on his resume and for this reason I think that Credeur will see his hand raised at the end of the night.
Credeur by third round Submission
Jordy McElroy: The idea of ring rust should be fairly distributed in this fight. It’s been nearly two years since either of these guys competed, and they are both coming off losses.
Due to the vast amount of inactivity and the possibility of back to back losses, the loser of this fight could receive their walking papers. Both fighters are decent in all areas, but neither guy stands out in one particular aspect.
Unless someone gets caught in a submission, this fight will be decided by ground and clinch control. Creduer’s black belt in BJJ won’t have much play as Herman uses his superior wrestling to ride out a forgettable unanimous decision.
Herman via unanimous decision
Dale De Souza: Both Herman and Credeur have been out of action since their respctive 2009 fights in which both men suffered defeat.
At UFC 102, Herman was defeated by Aaron "A-Train" Simpson when he blew his knee out in the opening seconds of Round 2--and unfortunate situation that occurred after a takedown on Simpson in which A-Train landed on Herman's knee.
Meanwhile, Credeur hasn't been seen in action since his 28-29 loss to Nate Quarry at UFC Fight Night 19, the Ultimate Fight Night card that saw Nate Diaz face Melvin Guillard in the night's headliner.
As for the clash of Crazy Tim and Short Fuse, This one will be interesting if it goes to the ground, because Herman has a good wrestling game and he's submitted a few good people with it, but much like Herman, Credeur has also defeated the majority of his opponents by way of submission.
Herman may take the first round, and he may make a case for winning the second round, but he's not going to win the third round.
Credeur via KO (Left Hook and Knee)
Kyle Kingsbury (10-2, 1 NC) vs. Fabio Maldonado (18-3)
John Heinis: Between the two fighters 43 fights, you’ve heard of maybe two of the fighters they’ve faced (Tom Lawler and James McSweeney).
This one has bathroom break written all over it in my opinion, but there could be a few good exchanges since both guys like to stand and trade at times.
Kingbury’s wrestling and Muay Thai should be more than enough to overcome Maldonado’s one dimensional boxing.
Kingsbury via unanimous decision
Dana Becker: Since his loss to Tom Lawlor at the conclusion of Season 8 of TUF, Kyle Kingsbury has picked up three straight victories. The former Arizona State University football player will look to continue that streak against Fabio Maldonado.
Kingsbury (10-2, 1 No Contest) earned a TKO victory over Ricardo Romero back in February after a pair of decision victories put him in good standing with the UFC.
The 6-foot-4 light heavyweight overcame not winning a single fight on the reality show to impress the UFC brass with his physical style.
Maldonado (18-3) made his UFC debut last October with a victory over James McSweeney by TKO in the third round. The Team Nogueira fighter piled up several of his wins in Brazil before getting noticed and signed.
Kingsbury will have the advantage in terms of length, but Maldonado will be prepared for that. Look for him to take Kingsbury out with a knockout in the first round.
Kingsbury via first round KO
Tony Preston: Fabio Maldonado is riding an 11 fight win streak, but only his last one comes in the UFC. Kyle Kingsbury is on a three fight win streak after dropping his UFC debut.
Maldonado wins mainly by TKO, while Kingsbury is a grinder, though he showed finishing ability in his last fight by getting the first round TKO.
Look for Kingsbury to follow his usual pattern of taking his opponent down and grinding out a decision though Maldonado can end it if he lands his punch clean.
Kingsbury by Decision
Jordy McElroy: Despite showing continued improvements in his striking, Kingsbury shouldn’t try to test his standup in this bout. Maldonado brandishes a 22-0 boxing record, with 21 of those wins ending in knockout.
Kingsbury is the more well-rounded fighter, but Maldonado possesses the grit and iron of a suited up Tony Stark.
This won’t be a pretty fight, but it should generate some level of excitement. Look for Maldonado to bounce back from a rough start with a TKO in the third round.
Maldonado by third round TKO
Dale De Souza: "Kingsbu" is one of the worst nicknames I've ever heard in MMA, but it doesn't draw away from Kingsbury's ability to finish the fight from wherever he choses, as we saw against Ricardo Romero at UFC 126.
Maldonado trains at the same training grounds that the Nogueira brothers train at, and his stand-up looked excellent against James McSweeney, who has been MIA since UFC 120.
However, Kingsbury has the reputation of two things, the first of which is that he almost looks like Randy Couture when he doesn't have hair, and the second is that he can be a walk through fire and brimstone for anyone that chooses to stand and bang with him.
Unanimous decisions might hardly be considered unanimous in MMA unless they're the obvious 30-27 bouts, Kingsbury's Wrestling and ability to dictate the temp of the bout on the feet will earn him a unanimous decision.
To be honest, I would highly expect this one to look like it should be a split decision, and I would expect that this fight speaks volumes to how much of a warrior both fighters are.
Kingsbury via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)
Chris Cope (8-4) vs. Chuck O’ Neil (4-2)
John Heinis: Fun fact: “Cold Steel” Chuck O’ Neil contributed a TUF blog to Bleacher Report each week, while Cope did the same for MMAJunkie.
Cope is primarily a kickboxer, but his takedown defense improved drastically as the show went on. He is not the most aggressive guy in the cage, but he knows how to pick his spots and grind out a decision.
O’Neil showed tremendous heart and fortitude throughout the show, as well as the ability to both throw some leather and hold his own on the ground.
While Cope is a good strategist, who is a better fighter than he has been given credit for, Chuck’s versatility and aggressiveness will be too much for him to overcome.
O’Neil via third round submission
Dana Becker: A pair of Ultimate Fighter Season 13 semifinalists meet in the opening bout of the night, as Chuck O'Neil and Chris Cope represent Team Brock Lesnar.
The two were seen as somewhat unknowns as the show began, but quickly established themselves in the eyes of Lesnar, UFC President Dana White and viewers with their willingness to go toe-to-toe inside the cage.
O'Neil (8-3) has more professional experience than Cope (4-1), and will try to use that to fend off the kickboxer. Cope, though, has fought on a big stage before, as he defeated Ron Kesler on the Strikeforce/M-1 Global: Fedor vs. Werdum card in 2010.
Cope took a bait-and-see approach in his fights on the show, but will need to be more aggressive against O'Neil, who showed how much punishment he could take and continue to fight.
O' Neil via second round KO
Tony Preston: Chris Cope showed an improving takedown defense on the show and is a striker. Chuck O’Neil is a submission specialist and showed some striking ability in his second fight with Zach Davis. O’Neil also showed the ability to take punishment in his semi-final fight with Tony Ferguson.
Cope has been the underdog in all of his fights and somehow managed to get to the semifinals. This fight will see O’Neil looking for ways to take the fight to the mat and trying to match Cope’s striking.
Once O’Neil gets the takedown he will lock in a submission and end the fight.
O’Neil by second round submission
Jordy McElroy: This should be a fun fight for fans. Finesse isn’t in either guy’s vocabulary, and neither is afraid to let their hands go in the exchanges.
Cope’s standup is more fundamental than O’Neil’s. He throws cleaner, straighter punches, but his problems fighting off his heels will most likely be his undoing in this bout.
O’Neil makes up for what he lacks in technique with a solid chin and suffocating offense.
After withstanding a massive pummeling, Cope will eventually wilt under a volley of punches from O’Neil late in the second round.
O'Neil via second round KO
Dale De Souza: Cope was the "dark horse" who wasn't really supposed to be in the semifinals at all, and he was perceived as a "double agent" by some of his own teammates at one point.
Chuck O'Neil wrote for B/R during the airing of the season, and showed some sick improvements in his game as the season progressed--all while questioning why Brock Lesnar would create a visual image of his team's progress through the analogy of chicken salad to chicken...you know.
Cope's shown he can go the distance when he has to, and Chuck has shown that he can turn it up on his opponents when he has them in a position to make them squeal.
That said, Cope has only been knocked out one time, but then again, Cope may also be tough to submit, and while it's unknown at this time, it's possible that Cope might want to trade with O'Neil or get him against the cage.
Either way, the crowd may win here, but I'll take:
O'Neil by way of submission midway through round 2 via Triangle Choke
Ramsey Nijem (5-1) vs. Tony Ferguson (11-2)
John Heinis: “Stripper Ramsey” was easily the most colorful personality on the show, with arguably the best skill set.
His wrestling is very strong, and showed that he has some knockout power in his hands as well. Nijem also has a really mean looking rear naked choke.
Ferguson became the biggest bad guy in recent TUF history when he got wasted at the house and called out Chris Cope about domestic issues involving Cope’s daughter.
While Ferguson the person may not be the greatest guy, his fighting skills are hard to ignore.
His boxing is top notch, with six of his ten professional wins coming by way of knockout.
Anyone who doubts that needs to look at the damage he did to Chuck O’ Neil’s face in their semifinals match up before he scored yet another KO.
I expect this one to go the scorecards, but in the end, Ramsey’s wrestling acumen will be the difference maker.
Nijem via unanimous decision
Dana Becker: The finals of TUF will feature what should be an exciting contest, as Ramsey Nijem of Team dos Santos meets Team Lesnar's Tony Ferguson.
Both were high picks by their respective coaches on the show and have proved their worth by making it this far.
Nijem (4-1) was the fourth pick and eighth overall. He earned wins over Charlie Rader, Clay Harvison and Chris Cope to reach the finals. Two of those victories came by rear naked choke, while the third was earned by TKO.
Ferguson (10-2) was selected third by Team Lesnar and fifth overall. Wins over Justin Edwards, Ryan McGillivray and Chuck O'Neil pushed Ferguson into the finale.
Both of these fighters looked better and better each time they stepped inside the cage. Of course, the fighter who improved the most in all areas of will be the victor. That's why I see Nijem coming away with the victory and the title of The Ultimate Fighter.
Nijem via unanimous decision
Tony Preston: Tony Ferguson is primarily a striker while Ramsey Nijem is a wrestler with good submissions. Ferguson showed on the show an ability to improvise knocking out Justin Edwards with an up kick.
Nijem in his semifinal fight showed that he does have some striking ability in picking up the TKO victory.
Overall, the fight will come down to where it takes place if it stays on the feet the fight favors Ferguson. If Nijem gets the fight to the mat he will have the advantage.
Nijem will shoot early and often and when he gets the fight to the mat he will secure submission.
Nijem by first round submission
Jordy McElroy: Nijem displayed his strong wrestling prowess throughout the entire season of the Ultimate Fighter, and most expect this bout to be your typical wrestler versus striker match-up.
Like Nijem, Ferguson is a former collegiate wrestler with various accolades. The only difference is Ferguson’s affinity for doing surgery on the feet.
As seen with Chuck O’Neil, an overaggressive style with open, wild exchanges isn’t the remedy for such a refined striker like Ferguson.
Nijem will give a great effort, but look for Ferguson to best the exchanges and shrug off most takedowns for the unanimous decision.
Ferguson via unanimous decision
Dale De Souza: Ramsey was actually my pick to make it into the final of this season, believe it or not, but the man I thought he'd face definitely switched up greatly.
From what I've seen on the show, Ferguson may be at a blunt edge (i,e, a slight disadvantage) if Ramsey gets a hold of Ferguson and is able to get the back of "El Cucuy", but whereas Ramsey will have the edge on speed and wrestling, as well as working inside with his punches, Tony's edge should come with the reach.
With how fast and how tough he is for Tony to deal with, though, Ramsey should have no problem catching Tony in a precarious position and doing the very thing that brought him to the dance in the first place: his Wrestling and his submission game.
It won't be easy to get him down, but after a bit of a struggle and a rough first round, Ramsey will put Tony on the ground in the second and submit him before he signs his way the UFC Welterweight division.
Nijem via second round rear naked choke
Number One Contender Fight: Anthony Pettis (13-1) vs. Clay Guida (28-11)
John Heinis: What a main event for a free card! Easily another Fight of the Year candidate for Guida, who already has one of these honors to his name from his 2009 war with Diego Sanchez.
Pettis has been on the shelf since his Fight of the Night performance against Ben Henderson, where he landed the infamous “Showtime kick” off the cage.
Showtime is an interesting match up for Guida; he has ended multiple fights by both knockout and submission, but don’t bank on either of those things happening against “The Caveman.”
Guida’s granite chin has prevented him from being knocked out in a whopping 39 fights. Therefore, it would be very ill advised for Pettis to stand and trade with his opponent.
While Guida has been somewhat susceptible to submissions in his career, particularly the rear naked choke, he has not been submitted by any non submission specialists since very early in his career.
The Carpenter has a good chance of giving Pettis a problem with his wrestling, as Henderson did prior to getting matrix kicked in the face.
Pettis should not underestimate Guida’s ground game either, as over half (15 out of 28) of his wins have come by way of submission.
I say the former Strikeforce lightweight champion beats the last reigning WEC champion in a minor upset, finally taking Guida’s game to the next level.
Clay Guida via unanimous decision
Dana Becker: What a main event we will have here, as Clay "The Carpenter" Guida meets Anthony "Showtime" Pettis in a battle of lightweight superstars.
Guida (28-11) is known for his wild and crazy hair, and his never-day-die approach to the fight game. Since entering the UFC, Guida has earned three Fight of the Night honors, one Fight of the Year and Submission of the Night twice.
After a pair of tough losses to Diego Sanchez and Kenny Florian, Guida got back on track by taking out Shannon Gugerty, Rafael dos Anjos and Takanori Gomi, all by submission.
The former Strikeforce lightweight champion is sure to be a tough out for Pettis (13-1), who was the last holder of the World Extreme Cagefighting title at 155 pounds.
Pettis has not been seen inside the UFC cage yet, but has already made a name for himself with his highlight kick of Ben Henderson in their match for the title last December. Also, Pettis has been in a verbal feud with No. 1 contender Gray Maynard over his standing in the pecking order to fight champion Frankie Edgar.
Showtime brings an interesting approach to the fight, as he owns five knockout wins and six submission victories. While Guida has faced the elite, Pettis might be of a different breed with his explosive technique and skill set.
Pettis via second round submission (triangle choke)
Tony Preston: Anthony Pettis has not lost in his last four fights including defeating Ben Henderson for the WEC lightweight title in his last fight. He was the final WEC champion. Pettis is a well-rounded fighter who trains with Duke Roufus.
Clay Guida is riding a three fight win streak and is 3-1 since moving to Greg Jackson’s camp. Guida is also well rounded but his strengths are his wrestling and strong chin. Guida has not been knocked out is 39 professional fights.
Pettis has the advantage on the feet and is comfortable off his back but he has not faced anyone who can push the pace like Guida. It will start quick and Guida will try to take the fight to the mat. Guida will wear down Pettis and take the decision victory.
Guida by decision
Jordy McElroy: This is easily a pay-per-view worthy bout and most likely the main reason fans tune into this card.
I doubt we’ll enter the Matrix this time around, but if Guida overstays his welcome on the feet, he could become victim to a few highlight worthy moments.
While it’s possible that Guida is successful with his takedown attempts and coasts to a workmanlike decision, I believe Pettis’ continued dedication to improve his wrestling and working with two-time NCAA Division I Wrestling Champion Ben Askren will pay off like it did in his bout with Ben Henderson.
When he can’t get the takedown, Guida has shown his struggles on the feet, and Pettis’ striking is about as predictable as the end of the world.
I’ll take Pettis in a close decision with a lot of back and forth action.
Pettis by decision
Dale De Souza: If this doesn't scream "Fight of The Year" to you, you shouldn't be watching MMA, let alone UFC or The Ultimate Fighter.
"Showtime" hasn't fought since this past December when he landed the ultimate tiebreaker in his five-round bout with Ben "Smooth" Henderson. He saved the bout from an inevitable draw by running off of the cage wall and landing the "Showtime Kick" on Henderson and engraving his moniker in the annuls of WEC history as the final World Extreme Cagefighting Lightweight Champion.
The Carpenter has capitalized on the aftermath of a UFC 107 loss to Kenny Florian to post up a three-fight winning streak, highlighted by his "Submission of The Night" win over Takanori Gomi at UFC 125.
Guida is a great wrestler with some explicitly-improved striking and a sound submission game, as well as some of the best cardio in the sport right now, so this fight will not see an immediate finish; especially considering Pettis' "Showtime" style of striking and his sound Jiu-JItsu arsenal.
The last time Guida was in a bout at an Ultimate Fighter Finale, we learned everything we needed to know about Clay Guida as a fighter and as a man, as he withstood Diego Sanchez's onslaught and only lost a close split decision.
This one will be even closer than Sanchez-Guida, and it will end the way some, including myself, wish Sanchez-Guida ended.
Both men plead their case for victory after giving the fans ten rounds worth of fast-paced MMA action in a three-round UFC lightweight bout.
Pettis vs. Guida ends in a Split Draw (29-28 Pettis, 29-28 Guida, 28-28 even--wouldn't be suprise if the third is a 10-10 round or a 9-9 round)