With the conclusion of Wednesday night’s semifinals, the UFC was able to release the complete line-up for this Saturday night’s Ultimate Fighter Finale, to be aired LIVE via Spike TV starting at 8pm CST from “The Pearl” at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The Ultimate Fighter competition’s twelfth winner will be decided as Jonathan Brookins (Gracie Barra Orlando) takes on Michael Johnson (Springfield Fight Club; and recently of Jackson’s MMA) for the coveted title of Ultimate Fighter winner and a UFC-contract. These two go into Saturday night knowing they have earned this opportunity via well-deserved wins over MMA-veterans Kyle Watson and Nam Phan, respectively.
Aside from the showdown of emergent fighters, Saturday’s main event card will feature Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion phenomenon Demian Maia taking on lanky submission specialist Kendall “Da Spyder” Grove in a middleweight matchup along with TUF-legend Stephan Bonnar taking on Croatian striking specialist Igor Pokrajac. The remainder of the televised card features a welterweight bout between Ricky Story and Johnny Hendricks along with what I consider to be a potential fight of the night candidate in Native Texan Leonard Garcia taking on TUF Semi-Finalist and solo shower sensation Nam Phan.
The full lineup for the TUF 12 Finale and my fight predictions are below but I would be remiss if I failed to mention another bout slotted for the undercard as DFW’s own Will Campuzano of Mohler Mixed Martial Arts makes his UFC debut against Nick Pace in one of the first bantamweight matchups in UFC history. The always exciting Campuzano will surely come to fight as always, as he has in the past in WEC bouts against Damacio Page and Cody Wheeler, a Fight of the Night winning bout. His opponent in this bout is a 5-1 New York-based fighter coming off a decision loss to Demetrious Johnson in his last bout but with wins at Ring of Combat and Bellator to his credit. By all accounts, this should be an exciting one and this writer is sure all of Texas will be pulling for Campuzano in this one!
TUF 12 Finale – Full Card and Predictions
205 lbs.: Stephan Bonnar vs. Igor Pokrajac
Prediction: How could you pick against Stephan Bonnar in a TUF-event, other than against Forrest Griffin? Bonnar by submission using old-school Carlson Gracie & Sergio Pena Jiu-Jitsu skills.
TUF 12 Finals: 155 lbs.: Jonathan Brookins vs. Michael Johnson
Prediction: Michael Johnson has an impressive wrestling acumen and has surely improved training with Team Jackson MMA despite Dana White’s reservations on their finishing skills. It’s too bad for him that Jonathan Brookins is the most humble human backpack I’ve ever seen. MJ didn’t show good hip control in the semi-finals, allowing Nam Phan to get up at will so I will have to go with Brookins to win the title of Ultimate Fighter.
185 lbs.: Kendall Grove vs. Demian Maia
Prediction: Kendall Grove may be ”Da Spyder” but even if he had eight legs, I have no doubt Demian Maia could submit them all. Grove is a load but won’t be able to do enough on his feet, or on the ground to take out Maia. Needless to say, I see the ADCC Champion winning this one via submission.
170 lbs.: Ricky Story vs. Johny Hendricks
Prediction: Ricky Story has been impressive as of late, reeling off wins against Dustin Hazelett, Nick Osipczak, Jesse Lennox, and Brian Foster in his last four bouts. Hendricks has been impressive as well. I won’t list his wins but let’s just say he is undefeated at 9-0. This is going to be one heck of a bout and a tough one to call at that. This one’s going to be a nail-biter but I’m going with Johny Hendricks via decision.
155 lbs.: Leonard Garcia vs. Nam Phan
Prediction: I’m surmising this bout will be nothing short of spectacular from bell-to-bell as both these guys love to bring it in all areas and are well-rounded enough to take the action everywhere. Definitely a fight-of-the-night candidate as Leonard Garcia will look to push the pace. For Phan, he is self-described as being much like a Honda Civic – not the fast, not the strongest, but good on mileage. Positive racial stereotypes aside, I see Garcia banging Nam up and winning a tough decision by virtue of pushing the pace.
Under card (May not be broadcast):
185 lbs.: Rich Attonito vs. Dave Branch
Prediction: Dave Branch, submission.
135 lbs.: Will Campuzano vs. Nick Pace
Prediction: Will Campuzano, TKO.
145 lbs.: Pablo Garza vs. Fredson Paixao
Prediction: Fredson Paixao, submission.
155 lbs.: Cody McKenzie vs. Aaron Wilkinson
Prediction: Cody McKenzie, submission.
145 lbs.: Ian Loveland vs. Tyler Toner
Prediction: Tyler Toner, decision.