Season 18 of “The Ultimate Fighter” will coming to a close tonight. The TUF 18 Finale will be taking place on November 30th, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. I will be giving a preview as well as my predictions for each fight. Fellow Sports Unbiased writer, Daniel Clark has also joined in on the picks.
The Fox Sports 1 prelims begin at 8 p.m. EST/5 p.m. PST and the main card, which will also air on Fox Sports 1, will take place at 10 p.m EST/7 p.m. PST.
Main Event: #5 Gray Maynard vs. #8 Nate Diaz:
This is the third time these men will be facing off in the octagon. Their first bout took place in the semi-finals of “The Ultimate Fighter 5” where Diaz came out on top, finishing Maynard via guillotine choke. In their second meeting at UFC Fight Night 20, Maynard would get his revenge, earning a split-decision victory over Diaz.
These men hold very different skill-sets, Maynard is a power-puncher with very strong wrestling, while Diaz is know for his ‘punches in bunches’ style and very dangerous guard. Maynard probably wants no part in Diaz’s guard, but it would be in his best interest to take Diaz down and when on the feet, keep a close distance, similar to what Benson Henderson did against Diaz. For Diaz, he should look to keep the fight at a distance and pick Maynard apart.
When all is said and done, I see Maynard being able to take Diaz down and grind out the unanimous decision. However, don’t be surprised if Diaz is able to lock up a submission of his back to finish the fight.
Favorite: Maynard (-128) Underdog: Diaz (+108)
Chris’ Pick: Maynard
Dan’s Pick: Maynard
Co-Main Event: Julianna Pena vs. Jessica Rakoczy:
The winner of this fight will become the first female winner of “The Ultimate Fighter.” Pena is the bigger, stronger girl and will have a big advantage on the ground. However, Rakoczy is a former champion boxer and will have a big technical advantage on the feet. Pena would be smart not to get into many exchanges on the feet with Rakoczy as she has done in the past; she should have no problem taking Rakoczy down and finishing the fight by TKO from top position.
Favorite: Pena (-265) Underdog: Rakoczy (+220)
Chris’ Pick: Pena
Dan’s Pick: Pena
Chris Holdsworth vs. Davey Grant:
This year the men on “The Ultimate Fighter” have been overshadowed by the women, However, both Holdsworth and Grant have both been impressive. While Grant probably has the superior striking, I believe Holdsworth is a better all-around fighter. Holdswroth is a jiu-jitsu black belt who submitted all of his opponents during his time on TUF and I don’t see this fight going any differently.
Favorite: Holdsworth (-230) Underdog: Grant (+192)
Chris’ Pick: Holdsworth
Dan’s Pick: Holdsworth
Jessamyn Duke vs. Peggy Morgan:
Both of these women are abnormally tall for their division with Duke standing at 5’11 and Morgan at 6’1. They both like to use their reach and keep the fight standing, however, Duke is known for her submission game and I believe that will be the difference here. This should be a real battle, but I see Duke finishing the fight via submission in a potential “Fight of the Night” contender.
Favorite: Duke (-235) Underdog: Morgan (+195)
Chris’ Pick: Duke
Dan’s Pick: Duke
Raquel Pennington vs. Roxanne Modafferi:
Modafferi is one of the veterans who paved the way for women in MMA. She will have an advantage on the ground against Pennington, being a solid submission artist, but I don’t see her being able to get the fight to the ground. Modafferi will likely look for the takedown, but I don’t see her getting it and she will likely get rocked by some big shots while shooting in. Pennington should be able to find the finish with her hands.
Favorite: Pennington (-375) Underdog: Modafferi (+305)
Chris’ Pick: Pennington
Dan’s Pick: Pennington
Maximo Blanco (-195) vs. Akira Corissani (+165)
Rani Yahya (-115) vs. Tom Niinimaki (-105)
Jared Rosholt (-235) vs. Walt Harris (+195)
Sean Spencer (-225) vs. Drew Dober (+189)
Josh Sampo (-125) vs. Ryan Benoit (+105)
Chris’ Prediction Results (This Year): 55-24
Dan’s Prediction Results (This Year): 36-19
*Odds courtesy of BetDSI