The Ultimate Fighter Live Finale will be taking place Friday night at the Palms Casino Resort venue in Las Vegas, Nevada. The event will be headlined by two of the best welterweights in the world when Jake Ellenberger squares off against Martin Kampmann in what is scheduled to be a five round main event. The winner of this bout would be a likely candidate to face current UFC Interim Welterweight Champion Carlos Condit in the event that Georges St. Pierre doesn’t return from his knee injury as scheduled. The co-main event features the finalist from this season of The Ultimate Fighter when Mike Chiesa takes on Al Iaquinta to see who becomes the latest “Ultimate Fighter”. Here we are going to provide a brief synopsis/analysis of each fight on the main card. Check it out below:
Jake Ellenberger (27-5) vs. Martin Kampmann (19-5)
Ellenberger is coming off a hard fought win over TUF 1 winner Diego Sanchez and the win may have provided more questions than answers. Ellenberger was able to dominant Sanchez early in the fight but had to withstand a patented Sanchez comeback in the final and third round of the bout. Many believe that Sanchez maybe have been able to steal the win had the bout been a five round affair. Ellenberger hits like a mack truck, is very athletic, and has a solid wrestling base to compliment his overall skill set. He’ll need to be extremely careful in the fact that his cardio has been questionable in the past, and Kampmann is capable of winning the fight anywhere the fight goes. His best bet would be to keep the fight standing and take advantage of the power he has in his hands. It would also help him avoid gassing as fast since grappling can cause lactic acid to build up really fast.
Kampmann is also coming off of a war of his own as he was able to come back from the brink of defeat and submit Thiago Alves with less than a minute to go in the fight. Alves was getting the better of Kampmann on the feet all night but got sloppy with a takedown and Kampmann was able to sink in the guillotine choke. That’s a maneuver that Ellenberger will have to be on the lookout for as well. Kampmann is a technical striker with decent power, good takedown defense, and is well versed in submissions. He’ll need to avoid the power of Ellenberger and drag him into the championship rounds to better his chances over a tired Ellenberger. He also bleeds easily, so be on the lookout for that being a factor as well.
Mike Chiesa (7-0) vs. Al Iaquinta (5-1-1)
Chiesa had to endure the death of his father while on this season of TUF. He’s a lanky guy with a wrestling base, but his striking seemed to improve while he was on the show. He has an unquestionable heart and will to win. He prefers to take his opponents down and win via submission, notably via the rear naked choke that’s responsible for the majority of his wins in the past. He’ll definitely need to take Iaquinta down as he’s the better striker in this matchup. If Chiesa wins it’ll probably be via decision as I don’t see him knocking out Iaquinta, and the Matt Serra product probably has good submission defense on the ground as well.
Iaquinta was a stone cold killer on this season of TUF. He has displayed good striking ability with power and good takedown defense. I was also impressed with is head movement and ability to avoid punches, especially in his last bout against Pichel. Iaquinta simply needs to keep this fight on the feet and he should be able to take this win as his striking is much better than Chiesa’s.
Jonathan Brookins (13-4) vs. Charles Oliveira (15-2, 1NC)
I expect this bout to be fight of the night. former TUF winner Jonathan Brookins has found new life since going back down to the featherweight division. He took out Vagner Rocha in his last bout via TKO, and is (2-1) since officially becoming a part of the UFC roster. Brookins has adequate striking skills but excels when it comes to wrestling and submissions as the majority of his wins have come on the ground. If Brookins takes home the victory he will more than likely have to grind out a decision on the ground while avoiding submissions.
Oliveira is coming off a win in his featherweight debut after previously competing as a lightweight. Oliveira is a dynamic fighter that’s very aggressive both striking wise and on the ground. The biggest whole in his game is his takedown defense, but that’s overshadowed at times becuase of his excellent jiu-jitsu. I expect this fight to go everywhere as a typical Oliveira fights does. Oliveira can win this fight on the feet or on the ground with his best chance probably coming on the ground via submission.
Max Holloway (4-1) vs. Pat Schilling (5-1)
Hollaway is coming off a submission loss to featherweight contender Dustin Poirier in his UFC debut earlier this year. However, the 20 year old was having some success in that bout with his striking prior to getting taken down by the larger Poirier and exploited on the ground. Holloway isn’t afraid to try risky techniques in his fights and seems to enjoy fighting aggressively as he went right after the heavily favored Poirier early on. Hollaway will need to keep this fight on the feet as he’ll be the smaller fighter going up against a guy with a wrestling base.
Schilling is also coming off a loss in his UFC debut against Daniel Pineda. Schilling was submitted in less than two minutes which was the first career loss for the wrestler from Minnesota. Most of Schilling’s wins have come via submission, so he’ll be looking to take the smaller Hollaway down with his wrestling base and work from there.
Justin Lawrence (3-0) vs. John Cofer (7-1)
Lawerence was one of the heavy favorites on TUF to win it all, but exhaustion and Mike Chiesa’s will to win were just to much for the youngster. Lawwerence has a striking background and prefers to keep his fights standing while going for the knockout.
Cofer was taken out by Vince Pichel via submission in the ”sudden death” round on TUF. Cofer trains out of the Hardcore Gym in Atlanta with UFC veteran Rory Singer. Cofer has a wrestling background and will be looking for the takedown against Lawerence. Cofer has the edge in experience here and may be able to take advantage of that the same way that Mike Chiesa did on the show.
Be sure to join us tomorrow night for the LIVE play by play and commentary as well as our continued exclusive interviews from Las Vegas this week.