The Ultimate Fighter 14 Finale takes place on Saturday night from the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada. The fight card will feature TUF 14 opposing coaches Michael Bisping and Jason “Mayhem” Miller, a lightweight contest between Tony Ferguson and Yves Edwards, and the show’s featherweight and bantamweight finals.
Today, I preview and offer predictions for the two finals bouts; check back tomorrow for previews and predictions for the night’s main and co-main events.
Diego Brandao vs. Dennis Bermudez
The featherweight final of The Ultimate Fighter 14 will see Brazilian bomber Diego Brandao take on NCAA Division-1 wrestler Dennis Bermudez.
A veteran of twenty pro fights, Diego Brandao inspired great confidence in his skills during his run on TUF 14, having taken out each of his three opponents via blistering first-round KO/TKO. Brandao was pegged early on by UFC president Dana White to be a strong contender to take the show and, so far, he’s proven his boss correct. Sporting a record of 13-7, Brandao is known mostly for his heavy-handed and aggressive striking attack, having earned eight of his wins by KO/TKO. He is currently riding a three-fight winning streak (six if you count the TUF exhibition bouts).
A former NCAA Division-1 All American, Dennis Bermudez parlayed his college wrestling experience into a career in MMA, compiling a record of 7-2 before making it onto TUF 14. On the show, the powerful wrestler won his first two fights – against Jimmie Rivera and Stephen Bass – via second-round TKO; he made it into the finals by taking out Akira Corassani in the first round with a guillotine choke. Prior to making it onto the show, Bermudez was riding a two-fight losing streak, having dropped two straight by first round rear naked choke.
Prediction: In his first and last fights on the show, Bermudez was dropped multiple times early on before coming back and winning with the use of his grappling. In this fight, I don’t think he’ll make it to the second part of that equation. Brandao hits too hard and is too unforgiving for Bermudez to last for long. Brandao via first-round TKO
John Dodson vs. TJ Dillashaw
The Ultimate Fighter 14 bantamweight final will take place between Jackson’s MMA representative John Dodson and Team Alpha Male product TJ Dillashaw.
John Dodson didn’t make himself any friends by running secrets from Team Mayhem to rival Team Bisping, but he made it impossible to deny his status as one of the best fighters on the show by dominantly winning all of his fights, two of them by TKO. Dodson earned a first-round TKO to get in the house, but played it safe in the quarterfinals, cruising to a unanimous decision over John Albert. For the finals, Dodson stepped things back up, taking out teammate Johnny Bedford via second-round KO. Dodson owns a professional record of 11-5 and has built an impressive striking arsenal on top of solid wrestling skills.
A training partner to the likes of Urijah Faber, Chad Mendes and Joseph Benavidez, TJ Dillashaw remained undefeated throughout TUF 14, taking out Matt Jaggers via first-round TKO to enter the house and Roland Delorme via submission to advance to the finals. There, Dillashaw faced the very-tough Dustin Pague, dominating him for three rounds en route to a unanimous decision. An NCAA Division-1 wrestler at Cal State Fullerton, Dillashaw has only four pro fights to his credit, sporting a record of 4-0.
Prediction: This should be a close one, as both men possess formidable all-around skills. I think that Dodson’s creativity and experience give him a slight edge over the very talented Dillashaw. Dodson via unanimous decision