The Ultimate Fighter 7 Finale will be held on Saturday, June 21, at the Pearl inside the Palms Hotel in Vegas. In addition to the fight, to determine the winner of Season 7, the UFC has put together an incredible card of Pay-Per-View quality fights. And thanks to Spike TV making this a 3-hour broadcast, we're going to see more of them. Thanks, Spike. Let's break it down.
TUF Season 7 Championship Fight
God only knows who we'll see in this one. Last week, Jesse Holland fought his way in to the Final, but the previews for this week's special 90-minute, final episode before the June 21 finale teases that someone in the final gets tossed out of both the finale and the UFC entirely. Until we see that episode on Thursday night, all bets are off on this one.
Amir Sadollah vs. C.B. Dallaway
Well, it never happened in seven seasons of The Ultimate Fighter, and now it has. Jesse Taylor, who fought himself into the TUF Championship and a shot at a 6-figure UFC contract, managed to get himself thrown off the finale and out of the UFC, at least for now. Jesse's penchant for too much alcohol reared its ugly head and had him engage in enough offensive behavior for Dana White to tap out.
Now before that was revealed on the show, Amir Sadollah submitted the favored C.B. Dollaway in the third round to earn his way into the final. But, with Jesse gone, the UFC decided to bring back the two semifinal losers to battle for the right to fight Amir in the final. Dallaway and Tim Credeur battled for three rounds in a slugfest that could have gone either way.
The judges gave it to C.B., setting up a rematch with Amir for the final. The less experienced Amir has been incredibly impressive throughout the tournament and seems to improve with every fight. C.B. was the favorite to win the season, but lost to Amir in the semis, so this should be a great final.
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Evan Tanner (34-8 MMA, 11-5 UFC)
Kendall Grove (10-5 MMA, 3-2 UFC)
These two middleweights couldn't come into this bout with different histories. Tanner is a former UFC World Champion and has more than 40 fights under his belt. In fact, in 1998 and 1999 he won 13 consecutive fights and has won 22 of his fights by submission.
In his first fight back in the Octagon after a 2-year absence that saw him battle personal demons that included a bout with alcohol, he got knocked out in the second round by Yushin Okami, a frontrunner for the title. Not exactly an easy first fight back. Evan has brutal ground and pound, but is also an easy bleeder from all the facial scar tissue he's accumulated over an 11-year pro MMA career.
The 25-year old, 6-foot-6 Kendall is 12 years younger than Evan and six inches taller, both advantages for the Hawaiian native. After reeling off three consecutive Octagon wins starting with the TUF 3 championship over Ed Herman he has gotten brutally knocked out in his last two fights at the hands of Patrick Cote and Jorge Rivera, both in the first round. His height directly relates to his two greatest strengths ... awesome muay thai and a good submission game.
Both fighters have a lot at stake in this one. A Grove loss here possibly leads to Kendall having to go outside the UFC to try to redeem himself and hope to get back in while a Tanner loss would probably put him one more loss away from the same fate. Expect a war between these two who are both aware of the ramifications of a loss here for their futures.
Diego Sanchez (21-2 MMA, 7-2 UFC)
Luigi Fioravanti (14-3 MMA, 3-2 UFC)
After winning TUF Season 1 and reeling off six consecutive UFC wins, Diego was being spoken about as a top-3 welterweight with Matt Hughes and GSP. But losing two of his last three fights (to Josh Koschek and Jon Fitch) has left him in a position to start climbing the welterweight ladder all over again.
Diego has incredible heart, ridiculous cardio and is a fast starter who just goes 100 MPH from the opening bell. He also has great ground and pound and solid BJJ. His downfall is when he tries to show off his stand up skills (not his strength) instead of doing what he does best.
Luigi is a great striker who has good takedown defense. He has had mixed results in the UFC, losing to Chris Leben, Forrest Petz and Jon Fitch, but most recently beating Luke Cummo.
Luigi trains at American Top Team, possibly the best MMA camp in the world, so you cannot count him out of any fight. Luigi's best chance to win this fight is if Diego tries to stand with him or if he can stuff Diego's takedowns and keep this fight on the feet.
Spencer Fisher (21-3 MMA, 5-3 UFC)
Jeremy Stephens (15-2 MMA, 2-1 UFC)
After starting his UFC career with four wins in his first five fights, Spencer Fisher looked like he was on a fast track to a lightweight title shot. However, with losses to Hermes Franca and Frankie Edgar in two of his last three fights, he finds himself trying to regain respectability in a stacked division.
Spencer is a well rounded fighter with exceptional stand-up skills. Jeremy also has heavy hands and tremendous heart which creates the potential for this fight to turn into a slugfest. Jeremy comes into the fight with two consecutive wins but Spencer represents a definite step up in competition.
Josh Burkman (20-5 MMA, 5-3 UFC)
Dustin Hazelett (12-5 MMA, 3-2 UFC)
Just like Spencer Fisher, Josh won 4 of his first 5 fights in the Octagon but comes into this bout having lost two of his last three, losing by decision to Karo Parysian and Mike Swick. I had him winning the Swick fight and can only imagine how badly he wants to get back in the win column.
Josh is strong for a welterweight, has great wrestling and brings an aggressive style into the cage. The question is whether his strengths could turn into a weakness against Dustin, who has exceptional submission skills on the ground.
I have no doubt that Josh will be able to take Dustin down but that may well be exactly where Dustin has his best shot at winning the fight. On the other hand, Josh Koschek was successful against Hazelett, using strong wrestling skills and an aggressive style similar to Burkman's.
While no one will mistake Josh's wrestling for Kos', will it have to be? Or, did Dustin learn enough in his fight with Kos to beat Burkman?
Marvin Eastman (15-7-1 MMA, 1-3 UFC)
Drew McFedries (6-3 MMA, 2-2 UFC)
Let the fireworks begin! In a combined eight fights in the Octagon, neither of these guys has ever won by submission. I doubt that either one of them has even attempted a submission in a UFC fight. Both of them are strong stand-up fighters.
While Eastman is 1-3 in the UFC, that one victory was in his most recent fight against a heavily favored Terry Martin. Just like this one, that fight looked to be a slugfest that couldn't possibly go the distance, but it did. It was also Marvin's first UFC fight at middleweight, clearly his natural weight class.
McFedries' two Octagon wins have come by first round KO or TKO and his two losses have ended in the first round as well so the odds are heavily against this one going the distance. Drew is a vicious striker with a 3-inch height advantage over Marvin. If you need to leave the room to make a sandwich, don't do it during this fight.
Jeremy Horn (88-17-5 MMA, 7-5 UFC)
Dean Lister (10-5 MMA, 3-1 UFC)
In his 12 fights in the UFC, Horn has gone the distance only one time, scoring a unanimous decision over Trevor Prangley in 2005. He is an incredibly well-rounded fighter with great submission skills and a ridiculous amount of experience with 110 MMA fights under his belt.
With only 15 fights on his MMA resume, Lister is a different fighter. He is not particularly well-rounded, but what he does he may do better than any of the middleweight in the UFC. This BJJ black belt is 111-12 in grappling tournaments with more than 90 wins by submission and more national and world championships than you'd even want to take the time to read.
When this hits the ground I'd have to give Lister the edge, but Jeremy's wealth of experience will make him difficult to submit. This fight could turn into a chess match and is one of the more intriguing battles on the card.