Believe it or not, it's time to crown a new TUF champion. For some odd reason, this season went by a lot faster than others in my opinion. I'm actually looking forward to a couple of fights on this card. Below are our predictions for the card:
Junie Browning vs. Dave Kaplan-Junie has reportedly gotten himself together since the show, training at Xtreme Couture. He must be doing something right, with being able to train there without being ran out of the gym by all of the standout fighters there. I know everybody wants to see him lose and doesn't think he deserves a spot on the main card. I don't see how he can come into this fight not prepared though. I don't know who Dave Kaplan has been working out with since the show. However, with that said I think Junie will wilt under the pressure under the bright lights. Kaplan via TKO(or at least I hope so)
Kevin Burns vs. Anthony Johnson-Fireworks! The first fight between the two was pretty exciting with huge back and forth exchanges, before the unfortunate ending in the fight. I had Johnson winning the fight up until that point, although he wasn't blowing Burns out by any means. I think Johnson comes into this fight with a chip on his shoulders and goes for the kills. Johnson via KO.
Jason MacDonald vs. Wilson Gouveia-I'm excited for this fight as well. I think MacDonald hit it on the head in his recent interview, where he pointed out that Gouveia always starts strong then kinda fades as the fight goes. Gouveia will be making his second foray into the MW division after moving down from LHW. MacDonald faced a former LHW fighter in Jason Lambert at UFC 88 submitting him, so size shouldn't be an issue in this fight. MacDonald always comes into his fights in great shape, so cardio could be a factor here. Gouveia has the edge standing and possesses some of the best leg kicks in the game, but will he use them in fear of being taken down? I see MacDonald pushing the pace against Gouveia and winning a unanimous decision.
Ryan Bader vs. Vinicius Magalhaes-I have Magalhaes winning this fight pretty easily. So what if he can't take Bader down, he can always pull guard. Even if the fight does remain on the feet, it's not exactly like Bader has become Anderson Silva during the past 6 months. Magalhaes via Triangle Choke.
Phillipe Nover vs. Efrain Escudero-I'm REALLY excited to see this fight. Nover is coming into this fight with a lot of hype, and rightfully so. However, one can't forget that Escudero submitted every opponenthe faced on the show. He's also the more experienced of the two fighters. I think this will be a scrap with both fighters being versed in submission, wrestling going to Escudero, and stand up going to Nover. I'm almost tempted to go with Escudero here with the upset, but I'm go with Nover via unanimous decision.
Junie Browning vs. Dave Kaplan – If Junie’s in shape, and I hope that he’s watched the show and learned from his idiocy, he’ll win this fight. In my opinion, he’s a good competent striker. The way he can continually land shots is a great thing. Kaplan’s a tough scrappy dude, but I think he’s going to eat some heavy shots from Junie, who will look to stick and move, frustrating Kaplan and eventually leaving him open for a big shot and Junie walking away with a UFC victory many will feel he doesn’t deserve.Ryan Bader vs. Vinicius Magalhaes– Bader’s a beast, I though his fight with Eliot Marshall would be highly competitive but it was basically a beatdown. With that said though, Vinny’s no joke on the ground and that’s exactly where Bader will want to go during the bout. Neither one of them are that great at striking, but Bader does have the ability to land a big shot and maybe hurt Vinny. Vinny’s jiu-jitsu has been what has kept him on the show and what has won him his battles and I think it will be the deciding factor here as well. I think Bader will push the pace and try to frenetically hurt him with his top position but I think one minor mistake will be all it takes for Vinny to go home the TUF 8 LHW winner.
Efrain Escudero vs. Phillipe Nover("TUF" lightweight finals) – I think this will be a great, almost Forrest Griffin/Stephan Bonnar type war. While Nover’s better in the standup, Escudero’s excellent on the ground. So both guys are going to be trying to keep themselves from falling into the others bread and butter. Nover will look to land shots early and pace himself throughout, keeping Escudero attempting takedowns for a good amount of the fight. While I don’t see a finish here, I see a decisive victory for Phillipe.
Kevin Burns vs. Anthony Johnson – The rematch that shouldn’t even be taking place. Burns beat Rumble via TKO earlier in the year by an illegal eye poke. One so bad, Johnson required surgery. I think that’s more than enough motivation for Rumble to come in a bit more aggressive and using his varied strikes to hurt Burns early and often. I even see him grappling a little to keep from another eye poke of doom happening. Burns has proven to be tough, but I think this time he’ll be battered enough not to put up a much of a fight, however, something tells me this will go to the scorecards in favor of Johnson.
Wilson Gouveia vs. Jason MacDonald – Good fight, both guys coming off of submission victories. I think the key here is Wilson’s striking. I think he’s a better striker than MacDonald although Jason will probably have the reach advantage. I think Wilson can keep it standing for a while and beat up on Jason until a stoppage or MacDonald goes to the ground and gets caught in a submission. I’m thinking late second round.
Make sure you get your picks in as practice for the UFC 92 giveaway here at MMA4Real! If you don't have anything going on tomorrow night or you're watching the finale alone, feel free to join us here on the site.