The Ultimate Fighter - Finale
Urijah Faber - Scott Jorgensen
Sure, The Ultimate Fighter is a hollow husk of what it may have once been. A reality television format long ago milked out of any viewing nutrients, but it’s still capable of producing great matchups especially in its finales. This week the finale headliner are Faber and Jorgensen who both boast a 3-2 record in the UFC.
If anyone is wondering why Faber is in this bout despite losing in his last five championship bouts, it’s because he fails to lose any other type of bout. By only losing matches when there is something on the line, Faber has ensured his long-term “contender” status. His talent is without doubt. At 135 and 145 he should be able to beat any foe. He just fails to do so on a regular basis.
As for Jorgensen he is also somebody who has failed when the stakes were the highest. Sure, he’s beaten guys like Brad Pickett - he was expected to. But when he faced a brawler like Dominick Cruz he came up short. And in essence isn’t that what The Ultimate Fighter is all about? Giving the guys with talent one more shot? Faber will be a favorite with a solid ground game and relentless style, but Jorgensen has a shot if he can land a takedown and use his wrestling skills for a submission.
Miesha Tate - Cat Zingano
While The Ultimate Fighter regularly gets abuse on here, much of it fair. But Dana White did promise earlier in the year to refresh the format and make it a watchable proposition again - and it seems he may have succeeded. At the very least it will make fans curious. The reason? Well the Tate - Zingano match-up, the second ever womens bout on the UFC, will see the winner being awarded the opportunity to coach opposite UFC Olympic starlet Ronda Rousey in the next season of TUF. So the next season will consist of a co-ed house and bouts featuring female and male fighters alike. But who will get the shot?
Tate has fought Rousey before during their days in Strikeforce but lost badly. Sure there might be bad blood and potential for drama but at no point would anyone pick Tate to reverse a result that so many opponents of Rousey have suffered. As for Zingano, a fresh face could go a long way to propelling this new formula and introducing UFC fans to another top female contender. While the matchup is fairly even, Tate is still rightfully a favorite in this bout.
Travis Browne - Gabriel Gonzaga
Gonzaga once fought for the UFC heavyweight title but his loss to Junior dos Santos as well as Brendan Schaub show that he is far from a glittering entity any longer within the division. Sure, he's big and dangerous and with a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt has the potential to do harm but the veteran won't be favorite against Browne. Browne looked exceedingly dangerous and deceptively quick against Antonio Silva in their fight, before a hamstring tear resulted in defeat. He has the speed and variety and more importantly conditioning to overwhelm Gonzaga.
Uriah Hall - Kelvin Gastelum
Hall is a phenomenal talent who did the most to impress fellow contestants during the run of the show. The New Yorker was certainly feared, and his undoubted talent is what has landed him in the middleweight final of the show. A heel kick annihilated Adam Cella and a barrage of blows took out Bubba McDaniel early during the show's run, while a ground and pound eliminated Dylan Andrews in the semi's. Hall will be heavy favorite against Gastelum who was rarely favored in any of his previous fights.
Igor Guryashkin is a freelance journalist whose extensive work on combat sports has been featured in ESPN The Magazine and ESPN.com. He splits his time between New York and Louisville. Follow him on Twitter @IGuryashkinESPN.