Another season of Spike TV’s “The Ultimate Fighter” has wrapped up once again and it’s time to see who gets the six figure contract, as well as a lightweight tilt which could shape up the 155-lbs rankings.
But before we get to the business end of the card we have six bouts which won’t be making the live telecast on Spike which I’ll take a look at in this piece.
To open up the night of action we see bantamweight’s looking to prove a point when Reuben Duran [7-3-1] squares off with Francisco Rivera [5-1].
Both men were looking to begin their year in a big way with victories inside the UFC’s newly formed 135-lbs division but both ended up leaving with the losers share of the purse on their first outing.
Rivera at this stage in his career isn’t ready for this move up in competition in my opinion and the only thing he brings to the table is power in his right hand that could signal the end for Duran with four of his five victories coming by way or knockout.
However, Duran is relentless with his takedowns and will have little time getting it to the floor where he has the clear edge.
Duran is a four-time Grapplers Quest champion and should have little trouble dispatching of Rivera once it hits the mat, I’ll say opening round submission for the jiu-jitsu ace.
Speaking of bantamweight’s with something to prove, Scott Jorgensen [11-4] is looking to make an example out of Ken Stone [9-2].
Jorgensen was one of the most notable bantamweights in the WEC after five straight victories including two fight of the night bonuses he earned a shot at the title in the final WEC event.
The champion, Cruz dominated “Young Guns” Jorgensen over five rounds to retain his gold and for his UFC debut has been placed on the preliminary card which he is none too happy with.
At this point in his career Stone is remembered for being on the forceful end of one a Rampage Jackson style slam from Eddie Wineland but had a pretty successful run on the regional circuit having won nine of his ten fights before his Zuffa debut.
Jorgensen will enter the cage looking to prove that he’s still at the elite of the bantamweight division and should be able to dominate Stone. Scott has great boxing technique coupled with NCAA level wrestling he will be able to pick his shots, soften him up and finish him in the second period.
Next up two prospects from this past season of TUF fight for a contract inside the UFC when Clay Harvison [8-3] meets Justin Edwards [6-0]
Harvison was expected to go a long way in the series before his hopes were derailed by eventual finalist Ramsey Nijem in the semi-finals.
Edwards on the other hand was taken out early by the other half of the finals fight in Tony Ferguson with a vicious up-kick knockout. Edwards is technically still undefeated on his professional record and has never left the first round with five of his six fights ending in a submission.
Harvison has a sad story having lost his brother and father in the span of three years but he will get the opportunity to make them proud with a pretty one sided unanimous decision. Harvison is a superior striker; he can work on the outside picking his shots and utilizing his clinch game to win on the cards.
More TUF prospects come out to play next as Shamar Bailey [11-3] faces Ryan McGillivray [11-4-1].
Bailey was picked to be an odds on favorite to take home the contract at the end of the season walking in however failed to live up to that expectation after he lost a controversial decision to Chris Cope.
McGillivray made it to the semi-finals before being dispatched of by finalist Tony Ferguson with relative ease. In his professional career he was on a four fight unbeaten streak having not suffered a defeat since 2009.
This is Baileys fight to lose here, on paper this fight favors him completely and should be able to take care of the Canadian without too much hassle. He will have to pick his shots early before shooting for a take down and implementing his wrestling game to hopefully ground and pound out a victory later in the bout.
Featherweight’s get the opportunity to impress next as George Roop [11-7-1] faces Josh Grispi [14-2].
When a fighter is asked who they’d like to face next typically we hear the typical cookie cutter response of “I’ll fight anyone they want to put in front of me” but for George Roop that’s exactly his mentality.
Roop has taken fights between bantamweight, lightweight and featherweight en route to building this reputation.
Grispi is one of the UFC’s hottest prospects; at the age of 22 he already has sixteen bouts under his belt with notable wins over Jens Pulver, Mark Hominick and LC Davis.
Both men tasted defeat in their last trips to the cage and without leaving with their hand raised could leave their future in the company in doubt.
On the feet I feel they are pretty evenly matched with Roop throwing more power but Grispi being a more technical boxer but it’s a different dynamic once it hits the floor. I feel that Grispi can get the fight down and use his exceptional jiu-jitsu and top game control to take a decision, if not submitting Roop.
The final preliminary bout features lightweight’s Jeremy Stephens [19-6] squaring off with Danny Downes [8-1].
Stephens has been an inconsistent fighter in recent times having gone 6-4 in his past ten outings but seemed to be back on the right track following his knockout of the night to Marcus Davis at UFC 125.
Downes is a young Duke Roufus product with a relatively well rounded skill set and is currently riding a two fight win streak including a victory over Chinese standout Zhang Tie Quan.
Which Jeremy Stephens shows up to play is going to be a large factor in determining who leaves with a W against the name, if he shows up prepared he should be able to defeat Downes.
Stephens is a large lightweight and should be able to use his superior size to get the fight to the mat, exhaust his opponent before finishing them late in the game.
Unfortunately, unlike the past two UFC pay-per-view telecasts we will not be able to watch these preliminary fights live but follow me on twitter @justinfauxmma for my live reactions to the play-by-play.