The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale: Faber vs. Jorgensen
Sat, 13 Apr 2013
Arguably the ginger stepchild of the UFC’s stacked April offerings, somewhat overshadowed by their FUEL, FOX and PPV cards, not to mention the Invicta and Cage Warriors events the week before and the same night respectively and with only SIX matches confirmed four days out from the show… this is still an interesting card.
The main event sees reliably entertaining Bantamweights, Urijah Faber (27-6) and Scott Jorgensen (14-6) in a bout which is as much about giving Faber something to do as anything else.
Much has been made (not least by myself) that Faber has lost his last five World title fights, dating back to November 2008 but it has to be remembered that he’s won his six other fights over the same period, five of them by stoppage, while he hasn’t been stopped since his first bout with Mike Brown back in 2008.
Faber remains one of the most marketable stars in the lighter weight classes and the fact that he’s taken the likes of Aldo, Cruz and Barao to relatively tight decisions indicates he’s a bit better than his win-loss-win tendencies might indicate.
Ideally, the UFC would have Faber facing Dominick Cruz in heir trilogy rubber fight as the biggest fight possible at Bantamweight, but in order for that to happen, Cruz needs to come back from injury, defeat Barao (or Eddie Wineland) to unify the 135 belts and Faber needs to keep winning.
That said, Scott Jorgensen is far from a can. With a 3-2 record in the UFC off the back of a very successful WEC career where he snapped a five fight win streak in a title challenge against Cruz, Jorgensen has shown his quality in first round stoppages of Ken Stone and John Albert.
Jorgensen has won three ‘of the night’ awards in his last two fights and up against an ever popular and exciting fighter like Faber, this fight should be a lot of fun.
Faber is the favourite, as he’s only lost ONCE when a world title wasn’t on the line but Jorgensen has the wrestling to frustrate Faber’s preferred wrestling and submission game and having only been stopped twice, he’s got all the tools to take ‘the California Kid’ all the way.
Either way, the winner here advances to 2-0 with their last loss being to one of the guys next set to face off for the Interim title. I’m not saying that they’d be next in line, but depending on the schedule for Cruz’s return, they’d be close…
As is traditional for the finale show, the co-main event features the Ultimate Fighter tournament final, with two Team Darkside teammates facing off as arguably the scariest man in TUF history Uriah Hall (7-2), enters opposite underdog Kelvin Gastelum (5-0).
Hall is the favourite on account of his three KO stoppages en route to the final, including some truly highlight reel worthy moments in disposing of Adam Cella and Bubba McDaniel. Hall impressed even more in the way that he seemed genuinely distressed that he had possibly caused serious harm to his opponents. Class act.
Also, if you are wondering about those losses on his pro record, they’re to Chris Weidman and Costa Phillipou so not exactly anything to be ashamed of.
Gastelum flew under the radar for most of the show, but earned his way into the final with a very well received (by us at least) first round submission of Josh Samman in the semifinal.
While having the more impressive performances on the show, more experience and having faced a higher quality of opposition in the past makes Hall the favourite, the fact that Gastelum has finished all of his five pro bouts and managed to put a good streak together through a competitive field means he’s not to be overlooked. Either man would make a worthy tournament champion.
One of the most compelling matches on the card is the second ever female bout in UFC history with the heady prize for the winner of becoming the #1 contender to Ronda Rousey’s Bantamweight title and getting the considerable exposure bump that comes from being coach opposite “Rowdy” on the next season of TUF.
Facing off for these career making opportunities are former Strikeforce Bantamweight champion, Miesha “Cupcake” Tate (13-3) and the undefeated “Alpha” Cat Zingano (7-0).
Tate is of course the girl who relinquished the 135b belt to Rousey back when it was a Strikeforce title, taking her further into deep water than anyone (indeed everyone put together) before her (but not quite as much as Liz Carmouche did in February) before succumbing to the ubiquitous first round armbar.
Throw in the heated feud that preceded their bout, with a deal of trash talk between Tate, her boyfriend Bryan Carraway and the ever-mouthy Rousey, you can bet Miesha is keen for a rematch.
Zingano on the other hand is a relatively fresh name, rising to prominence with six stoppage wins from seven victorious fights culminating in a second round submission of Racquel Pennington at Invicta FC3.
Noted wrestler Tate is one of the top female talents in the world, boasting wins over the likes of Marloes Coenen, Julie Kedzie and Zoila Frausto-Gurgel with the active, submission hunting game trademarked by Team Alpha Male fighters.
Zingano, despite being the less familiar name (for now) is a well rounded finisher who’s shown her quality against some of the best, notably becoming the first woman to stop Carina Damm with strikes.
Tate will be the favourite but I honestly can’t pick a winner here, aside from the fact that as the viewing fan, were gonna be in for a fast paced, technical treat.
Our next fight is in stark contrast to the Bantamweight action higher up the bill with a heavyweight clash between Travis Browne (13-1-1) and fan favourite Gabriel Gonzaga (14-6).
Browne can feel rightfully aggrieved with the loss on his record, as while it shows as a first round TKO loss, it had more to do with a freak leg injury than a dominant standup performance from ‘Bigfoot’ Silva.
Clearly looking to bounce back to his usual winning ways, where his reach, relative mobility and power had earned him a hatful of KO wins, Browne will face a fighter who has played spoiler in the past…
Aside from his one decision loss to Brendan Schaub which saw him briefly cut from the UFC, Gonzaga has only lost to genuine top ten opposition (Fabricio Werdum twice, Junior dos Santos, Randy Couture, Shane Carwin) although he has shown a tendency to be knocked out by that opposition. However, an underrated striking game memorably derailed Mirko Filipovic’s run towards a UFC title shot and Gonzaga has finished everyone else he’s fought, either with his enthusiastic striking or almost surprisingly cultured jujitsu.
Basically, Gonzaga is the archetypical gatekeeper, the kind of guy Browne has to beat if he’s going to be considered a top contender in the UFC. Both of these guys are finishers and aren’t known to hold back. This match is as close to a guaranteed finish as you’re likely to get…
Rounding off the main card is a bout between the most experienced TUF 17 alumnus, Team Jones’ Robert ‘Bubba’ McDaniel (20-6) who, despite being knocked out in devastating fashion AND submitted on the show (albeit by the two finalists) and generally seeming to lack confidence in his own abilities at times, has been selected as the only member of the red team to make the main card.
Opposite him in the cage will be Team Darkside’s Gilbert Smith (5-1) who’s pro record has been eaned entirely in the Colorado regional circuit and fell pray to Luke Barnatt’s flying knee in the second episode of the series.
Interesting choice of match…
The preliminary is, as usual very TUF themed with the rest if the housemates (less Tor Troeng and Adam Cella who faced off last week in Sweden) getting at least one UFC bow and alums from previous seasons Justin Lawrence and Sam Sicilia featuring on the Facebook portion.
We are especially looking forward to seeing Kevin Casey (5-2) beat up big mouth Josh Samman (9-2) who was indisputably our villain of the season and hoping that “Big Slow” Luke Barnatt (5-0) represents for the UK with a winning UFC debut over Collin Hart (4-1-1). No offence, Collin.
For once, the UFC isn’t the centrepiece of our week’s MMA (because that honour goes to Cage Warriors 53 which we will be attending) but this is a pretty cool show with some very tasty, and meaningful fights, especially if you’re a fan of Bantamweights…
MAIN CARD (FX, 9 p.m. ET)
• Urijah Faber vs. Scott Jorgensen
• Kelvin Gastelum vs. Uriah Hall – “TUF 17” tournament final
• Miesha Tate vs. Cat Zingano
• Travis Browne vs. Gabriel Gonzaga
Robert “Bubba” McDaniel vs. Gilbert Smith
PRELIMINARY CARD (FUEL TV, 7 p.m. ET)
• Kevin Casey vs. Josh Samman
• Luke Barnatt vs. Collin Hart
• Dylan Andrews vs. Jimmy Quinlan
Clint Hester vs. Bristol Marunde
PRELIMINARY CARD (Facebook, 5:30 p.m. ET)
• Cole Miller vs. Bart Palaszewski
• Justin Lawrence vs. Daniel Pineda
• Maximo Blanco vs. Sam Sicilia