This Saturday, June 4 the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada will welcome the final event in the current season of The Ultimate Fighter as ten men step into the cage to make a statement to the Zuffa management team. Opening the broadcast TUF Season 3 finalist “Short Fuse” Ed Herman (15-8) seeks to reverse his ill fortunes against TUF Season 7 middleweight Tim Credeur (21-3) who has spent almost as much time on the disabled list as Herman himself. Next, “Kingsbu” Kyle Kingsbury (11-2) looks to add a fourth win to the streak he started after going 0-3 on Season 8 of TUF at the expense of internationally experienced Fabio Maldonado (7-1). The night prefaces the main event with the final bout of the thirteenth season of the UFC’s The Ultimate Fighter reality show as Team Dos Santos wrestler Ramsey Nijem (4-1) steps up to face “El Cucuy” Tony Ferguson (10-2) for a coveted spot on the UFC roster . Then, for the main event of the evening, should-be title contender “Showtime” Anthony Pettis (13-1) puts the title shot he won by securing the WEC lightweight belt on the line against “The Carpenter” Clay Guida (28-11), a man who has always fallen just short of contention. The card is by no means a star studded affair, but it does possess quite an interesting storyline as many of the bouts feature fighters who highlight the arguments against the relevance of The Ultimate Fighter as they strive to regain the respect of the fans even as two new finalists join their ranks.
Ed Herman vs. Tim Credeur: Tim Credeur and Ed Herman are possibly the two unluckiest fighters in the history of the UFC. Both men have been sidelined since the third quarter of 2009, Herman due to a knee injury he acquired through a combination of a bad fall during a takedown and the torque of his own head kick and Credeur due to a series of serious injuries that culminated in a cancer scare when an unknown mass was found during an MRI of his head. The result is a pair of TUF alums riding losses into their first bout in nearly three years. The match holds little relevance in the grand scheme of things as the two are a combined 7-6 in the UFC, but the loser of the bout is likely to feel the Zuffa axe biting into his career. A must-win situation with a reward of “get to keep your job” is hardly an envious position. Credeur is the luckier man of the two however. He doesn’t have cancer, his injuries were far less career damaging than Herman’s knee blow-out, and he was a better fighter than his opponent to begin with. While Herman has a slight edge wrestling, the rest of the fight game clearly favors the boxer turned BJJ black belt with a long history of quick finishes. This coupled with the long lay-off from both competition and training may likely spell the end of Herman’s less than stellar UFC career. Credeur via Submission (Armbar), Round 2.
Kyle Kingsbury vs. Fabio Maldonado: Few fighters serve as a better example of how non-indicative a fighter’s performance on The Ultimate Fighter is when translated into the Octagon better than Kingsbury and Maldonado. On one hand is the Brazilian wrecking machine Fabio who destroyed James McSweeney (4-7), a fighter who was wildly successful on TUF Season 10 with a 3-1 record and two finishes, in less than one minute. On the other is Kingsbury, a man who went 0-3 on Season 8 only to get a shot in the UFC and turn in three straight victories including a first round TKO and a “Fight of the Night” performance. Both men have proven that good on a reality show doesn’t exactly translate to good after a full training camp. Unfortunately for Maldonado, a second TUF-bred victim isn’t likely to be in the cards for him. Though he is more experienced (though listed 7-1, he is 18-2 when his unsanctioned fights in Brazil are considered) and a more powerful striker, Fabio gives up several inches of both height and reach as well as a key advantage in the wrestling department to Kingsbury who is a respectable kickboxer himself. He can end the fight with one of any number of punches, but will likely find himself peppered with straights and leg kicks at range only to be taken down as soon as he manages to collapse the pocket. Kingsbury via Unanimous Decision.
Ramsey Nijem vs. Tony Ferguson: As another season of the UFC’s flagship reality series draws to a close, the fans are treated to another match between two hopeful young fighters who have fought their way through three bouts in the six-week tournament held at The Ultimate Fighter house. In one corner is the house streaker and wrestling aficionado from Team Dos Santos, Ramsey Nijem and in the other is the house’s loud-mouthed, cast mate infuriating drunk and hard hitting stand-up man Tony Ferguson. The fight is a very bad one for Ramsey Nijem who on the show was known more for his naked dancing than his performances in the cage, a fact which is especially bad considering that he finished all three of his bouts. The problem lies in the fact that Nijem is a wrestler through and through. It’s really all he’s got. Tony, by contrast, is not only a far more accomplished wrestler with two All-American honors off of a full ride wrestling scholarship, but he is a much more refined and explosive striker who KO’d all three of his opponents on the thirteenth installment of TUF. Tony over-extends his strikes to an alarming extent, but his wrestling experience should be more than enough to stop Ramsey should he try to capitalize on the opening. On the feet, the fight is merely a matter of formality to be handled before raising Ferguson’s hand. Look for Ramsey to shoot often and pay dearly for it as Tony shucks them off and blasts him for his effort. Ferguson via TKO (Strikes), Round 3.
Clay Guida vs. Anthony Pettis: Former WEC champion Anthony Pettis is taking a sizable risk in his bout with Clay Guida. After an unfortunate draw robbed him of his immediate title shot following the UFC/WEC unification, Pettis decided to gamble his title shot against a paycheck by signing to face Guida with the winner likely taking the shot against the eventual winner of “The Answer” Frankie Edgar (13-1-1) and “The Bully” Gray Maynard’s (10-0-1) third meeting. In Guida, Pettis may face the only man to bring more energy to the cage than himself and will have to fine tune his high octane, flashy striking game to deal with the soul sapping wrestling that Guida brings to the table. Guida will be giving up a tremendous amount of reach and faces a glaring disadvantage at any point during the bout he isn’t glued to the lankier fighter’s torso. Guida has the ability to latch onto Pettis and drag him down into an ugly clinch boxing match, but he has shown a weakness against lanky fighters in the past. The chances of Guida finding a way to negotiate the 72” reach of “Showtime” without getting KO’d in the process is very slim. Guida will eventually get close to Pettis, but not before the damage is done and a doctor rules the bout a TKO between rounds. Pettis via TKO (Cut), Round 2.
“Lil’ Heathen” Jeremy Stephens (18-6) vs. “Dannyboy” Daniel Downes (8-1)
“The Fluke” Josh Grispi (14-2) vs. George Roop (11-6-1)
“Young Guns” Scott Jorgensen (10-3) vs. Ken Stone (9-2)
Reuben Duran (7-3-1) vs. Francisco Rivera (3-1)