Another season of The Ultimate Fighter is in the books. All that’s left is for “Maverick” Mike Chiesa (7-0) to face Al Iaquinta (5-1-1) in the TUF Finale tomorrow to determine the season’s winner. The card will be headlined by dangerous Danish kickboxer “The Hitman” Martin Kampmann (19-5) as he goes toe-to-toe with stand-out welterweight wrecking machine “The Juggernaut” Jake Ellenberger (27-5) with a place in the UFC title picture on the line. Shoring up the rest of card is a pair of solid bouts featuring TUF Season 12 winner Jonathan Brookins (13-4) who faces submission specialist “Do Bronx” Charles Oliveira (15-2) and “Blessed” Max Holloway (4-1) as he meets “Thrilling” Pat Schilling (5-1).
Max Holloway vs. Pat Schilling: Not much could be gleaned from either Holloway or Schilling’s UFC debuts. Holloway was pitted against the extraordinarily talented “Diamond” Dustin Poirier (12-2) and put away in short order and Schilling was utterly dominated by the equally dangerous “The Pit” Daniel Pineda (17-8). What is telling, however, is the fact that Schilling’s pre-UFC competition was beyond soft with all five opponents combining for a percentage that barely breaks .300. Holloway is an athletic and diverse striker who showed no hint of Octagon jitters against Poirier and won’t likely have any respect for Schilling’s unproven wrestling either. Unless Max Holloway’s takedown defense suffers a critical failure, he should easily dispatch his opponent in entertaining fashion. Holloway via TKO (Strikes), Round 3
Jonathan Brookins vs. Charles Oliveira: The Ultimate Fighter’s twelfth winner, Jonathan Brookins, made the drop to featherweight just a few months ago and has so far met with success due to his well-rounded, wrestling-centric skill set. His opponent also recently experienced a rebirth at featherweight. Highly regarded prospect “Do Bronx” impressed fans and pundits alike when he finished his first 145lbs. opponent with a Calf-Slicer submission at UFC on FOX 2. Oliveira’s submission game is top notch and he has the edge of being the finisher of the two. He only has to overcome the fight IQ of Brookins to get the win. That may prove a tall order, especially if Brookins focuses entirely on shutting down “Do Bronx’s” offense. Oliveira via Submission (Armbar), Round 2
Mike Chiesa vs. Al Iaquinta: The finale of season number 15 will hit the airwaves in the co-main event of the evening as Team Faber’s comeback kid Mike Chiesa takes on his former teammate Al Iaquinta for a six-figure UFC contract. The fight is a difficult one to call as both men have fought three times over the past four weeks, and even more importantly, they fought a combined 13 rounds in those bouts. That kind of wear and tear could be especially telling on Mike Chiesa. Chiesa is a fairly one-dimensional wrestler who pulled out upset wins in every one of his house fights. This of course means he took significant damage prior to pulling off a win each time. The fairy-tale endings will likely come to a halt against Iaquinta who has a far more developed striking skill set and also holds a BJJ purple belt. Iaquinta will stay patient and steady and not make the same mistakes that cost Chiesa’s TUF house opponents their shot at the finale. Iaquinta via Unanimous Decision
Jake Ellenberger vs. Martin Kampmann: The main event of the night’s action pits a rising star against a UFC stalwart. Jake Ellenberger has amassed quite a resume in recent outings, winning six straight in the talent-rich welterweight division. Kampmann has spent his career on the cusp of a title shot, but was stalled by back-to-back failures on the part of the ringside judges before putting together a pair of quality wins. What Kampmann hasn’t done in his 10-4 UFC career is face a wrestler as stout as Ellenberger. Kampmann has faced, and defeated skilled wrestlers in his career; he won’t be an easy make for Ellenberger’s power double by any means, however the threat of such a strong shoot, combined with the grind that kind of raw power puts on the fighter defending the takedown will make it very hard for “The Hitman” to avoid the right hand that has been the deadliest weapon in Ellenberger’s arsenal. On the mat, Kampmann has shown a wily and subtle submission game that has bailed him out a few times in the past. It is, however, very doubtful that the Dane will be able to survive the ground-and-pound onslaught that “The Juggernaut” brings to the cage long enough to find a sweep or choke. Ellenberger via TKO (Strikes), Round 2