CURRENT RECORD 152-89-3
The Ultimate Fighter: Tournament of Champions Finale takes place this Saturday in Las Vegas. TUF winner Tim Elliot is handed an incredible opportunity as he takes on current flyweight champion Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson. Tim Elliot has been a standout on the show and has rightfully earned this opportunity but he takes on the number one pound for pound fighter on the roster. “Mighty Mouse” has barely broken a sweat since winning the title four years ago and has successfully defended it eight times since. In the co-main event, two former flyweight title challengers Joseph Benavidez and Henry Cejudo will come head to head as they attempt to get another crack at the champ. Elsewhere on the card there are exciting fights taking place between Jake Ellenberger and Jorge Masvidal, Brandon Moreno will take on Ryan Benoit, Gray Maynard and Ryan Hall will clash in the featherweight division and Jamie Moyle makes her UFC debut against tough Hawaiian Kailin Curran. An interesting night of fights that is topped off with an exciting title fight, so be sure to be tuned in so you don’t miss out.
As always, I will now break down all the main card fights, give my predictions and of course, put my own “Armchair Expert” title on the line.
DEMETRIOUS JOHNSON vs. TIM ELLIOT
Tim Elliot deserves this shot; he fought smartly throughout this series of TUF and has earned the title shot. Elliot has already had a three year stint with the UFC; going 2-4 before being cut in 2015. Since then he won the Titan FC flyweight strap and defended it twice before entering the TUF house. This will be Tim Elliot’s toughest and the most important fight in his career; he has nothing to lose but everything to gain. What is their left to say that hasn’t already been said about “Mighty Mouse”? He is quicker, stronger, more versatile, better well rounded and better conditioned than anyone in the flyweight division. Watching Demetrious Johnson fight is like poetry in motion, his fight IQ is second to none and he is always in control. Tim Elliot certainly has a punchers chance but I don’t see anything but another Johnson victory. There is never a sure thing in the fight game but I believe “Mighty Mouse” is as close as you can get.
Johnson by knockout.
JOSEPH BENAVIDEZ vs. HENRY CEJUDO
Joseph Benavidez is one of the best in the flyweight division; he holds a record of 24-4 but those four losses came against Demetrious Johnson twice and Dominick Cruz also twice. Every other fight he has been in he has dominated. He has great footwork and is a strong wrestler, his stand up was possibly what has let him down but he is now training with “Bang” Ludwig so there should be a drastic improvement come Saturday. Henry Cejudo is an Olympic gold medallist and an elite wrestler, his game plan revolves around out-wrestling opponents and grinding out victories. On his undefeated run for a title shot, Cejudo never really faced anyone on top of their game; Benavidez will be his toughest test, bar Johnson to date. Cejudo will of course look for the takedowns but I think Benavidez will do enough to stuff them and use his superior skill set to pick Cejudo apart for the three rounds.
Benavidez by decision.
JAKE ELLENBERGER vs. JORGE MASVIDAL
Jake Ellenberger got himself back on track last time out when stopping Matt Brown in the first round. Prior to that “The Juggernaut” had recorded back to back losses. Ellenberger is a well-seasoned fighter having competed in 42 bouts and he has some serious power in his hands but lately he has become far too dependent on trying to land the killer blow. Jorge Masvidal is another established fighter who has the potential to knockout an opponent but prefers to vary up his strikes in the process. This is a fairly even match up but I’m leaning to towards the better all round game of Masvidal and his ability to counter punch. Ellenberger tends to leave his chin up when coming forward so I expect Masvidal to capitalise and connect. Once Masvidal avoids any big hits in the early exchanges he should be able to wear Ellenberger down and take the decision, maybe even stopping him late on.
Masvidal by decision.
ION CUTELABA vs. JARED CANNONIER
Ion Cutelaba looks to be a fine prospect for the future of the light-heavyweight division. The 22 year old Moldovan has built up a record of 12-2 including 9 wins by knockout. “The Hulk” has a fantastic ground game to complement his skills on his feet and he has genuine one punch knockout power. Jared Cannonier will make the step down from heavyweight to take on Cutelaba; the “Killa Gorilla” has a professional record of 8-1. Cannonier is a crisp boxer with perfect movement, his accuracy is pin point and he has some dynamite in his hands. Cutelaba has the ability to take this to the mat if he finds no luck on his feet but I feel Cannonier, who has a slight two inch reach advantage, will be able to avoid the takedown and overwhelm Cutelaba.
Cannonier by decision.
SARAH McMANN vs. ALEXIS DAVIS
Alexis Davis will make her return from over a year long absence. “The Ally-Gator” is a black belt in jiu-jitsu and has won by submission in 8 of her 11 victories. Her opponent; Sarah McMann is an accomplished wrestler who sucks the life and soul from her opponents. McMann is master at grinding out victories from the mat. Davis is slightly better on the feet and would be wise to keep it there but that’s not an easy task against McMann who is relentless in her pursuit of a takedown. While Davis has been on the side lines, McMann has been active and her only three losses have come to women’s bantamweight champions; Rousey, Tate and Nunes. This won’t be the most enthralling fight but I expect McMann to do what she does best and take Davis down and smother her for three rounds.
McMann by decision.
BRANDON MORENO vs. RYAN BENOIT
Another flyweight contest sees talented duo Ryan Benoit and Brandon Moreno come head to head in the Octagon. Brandon Moreno put his name out there while making hot prospect Louis Smolka tap in the first round when the pair met at Fight Night 96. Moreno is a dangerous submission specialist who is currently on a 9 fight winning streak; 6 of which have come by some form of choke. Benoit is a Muay Thai fighter who holds a knockout victory over Sergio Pettis. Benoit has had a mixed UFC career going 2-2; but even in those two victories he never really impressed. This is Moreno’s chance to put the flyweight division on notice and I think he will outclass Benoit from start to finish. I expect him to get Benoit to the mat and expose his vulnerability and lock in yet another choke.
Moreno by submission.
Best of the Rest.
Gray Maynard vs. Ryan Hall
Hall to win.
Rob Font vs. Matt Schnell
Font to win.
Kailin Curran vs. Jamie Moyle
Curran to win.
Josh Stansbury vs. Devin Clark
Clark to win.
Elvis Mutapcic vs. Anthony Smith
Mutapcic to win.
Dong Hyun Kim vs. Brandon O’Reilly
Kim to win.
Bet of the Day.
The adventurous bet: all 12 predictions in an accumulator is about 520/1.
The inbetweener bet: Moreno, Curran, McMann and Benavidez all to win is 5/1.
The conservative bet: A Double Chance on Ryan Hall to win on points or submissions is 7/5.
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