We move over to the televised portion of this Saturday’s event headlined by Tony Ferguson and Ramsey Nijem and a lightweight scrap between the final WEC lightweight champion and fan favorite Clay Guida.
We open up the Spike TV broadcast with more welterweights from this past season when Chuck O’Neill [8-3] faces Chris Cope [4-1].
Both Cope & O’Neill were the semi-finalists on the past season of TUF and are getting the opportunity to make up for that with the loser likely exiting the organizations.
The bout boils down to neither man wishes to take this bout to the mat so we should have an extended striking battle which I feel favors O’Neill who is the more technical boxer and should be able to drop Cope later in the bout and follow it up for a TKO stoppage.
We move on to middleweight action as Ed Herman [19-7] faces Tim Creuder [12-3] in a do or die bout.
Despite being notable names inside the UFC neither man has competed in the UFC since 2009 due to lingering injuries for both combatants.
Herman has been on a rough patch of his career before his knee surgery which had him lose three of his last five bout.
Creuder on the other hand last fought in a fight of the year performance against Nate Quarry and since then has had to pull out of four straight fights.
Considering there’s been such a large layoff for both men it’s somewhat hard to predict but I’m going to lean toward Herman. “Short Fuse” Herman is a skilled boxer who should be able to bring the action to Creuder and win a decision in a possible fight of the night winner.
We move on as Kyle Kingsbury [10-2-1NC] squares off with Fabio Maldonado [18-3] in the light-heavyweight division.
Kingsbury is on quite a tear in the 205-lbs division having won in his past three trips to the octagon including a fight of the night performance against Jared Hamman.
Maldonado enters the UFC with quite a bit of hype behind him having won competed mostly on the Brazilian scene stacking up a 17-3 record before getting his UFC debut where he dispatched of the Brit James McSweeney in the third frame.
Although most predict Maldonado to take care of Kingsbury early in the bout I am going to give the edge to the underdog here. I feel that Kingsbury is a solid wrestler; he can take this bout to the floor and control it from there. It might not be pretty but I feel that Kingsbury will leave with his hand raised.
In the co-main event of the evening we determine the next “Ultimate Fighter” when Ramsey Nijem [4-1] faces Tony Ferguson [12-2].
Nijem was one of the first men on the series to stand out after his act of stripping for his house mates but when the bell rang inside the octagon he was able to show a completely different side to him.
Ferguson entered the series with the most up-side of the group and I feel that hasn’t changed with his dominate performances to make it to the finals.
Ferguson has been my pick to take the series from the start and I will stick with him, I think he is a much better striker than Nijem and if he’s able to use his reach to maintain distance and pick his shots it could be a long night for Nijem.
In the main event of the evening we see Anthony Pettis [13-1] put his #1 contender’s status on the line against Clay Guida [28-11].
If Pettis’ career were to end tomorrow, he would go down in infamy for having the best highlight showing following his springboard kick off the side of the cage dubbed the “Showtime kick” that sealed the deal for him in his WEC title scrap with Benson Henderson.
Pettis is currently riding a string of victories with his only defeat coming by way of a split decision to Bart Paleszewski which was loaded with controversy. Outside of that, he has been perfect beating notable names in Danny Castillo, Shane Roller and the above mentioned Henderson.
Guida is on quite a streak of his own having won in his last three trips to the octagon with two of those victories with a submission of the night bonus.
Pettis rightfully should be facing the UFC lightweight champion in his UFC debut after securing the WEC lightweight title on their final event however due to Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard fighting to a draw at UFC 125 it left him having to take another fight before facing the title carrier, whomever that may be at the time.
And he drew an opponent that could tip over the apple cart and spoil his debut inside the elite 155-lbs division.
We all know the Guida game plan, he will look to stick to you like glue – Use his clinch work, take it to the mat en route to a hopeful submission but I don’t see him being able to do so with Pettis.
Pettis is an unorthodox striker who always looks to bring more and more highlight footage with his flashy kickboxing which is hard to predict. I feel Pettis can keep it standing and win a close split decision after doing that little bit more.
All the action kicks off this Saturday night from the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada; be sure to follow me @justinfauxmma for my live thoughts.