The Ultimate Fighter 14 Finale takes place tomorrow 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.
Yesterday I previewed the two final bouts (link). Today, I preview and offer predictions for the night’s main and co-main events.
Michael Bisping vs. Jason “Mayhem” Miller
The coaches on this season of The Ultimate Fighter were seasoned middleweight competitors Michael Bisping and Jason “Mayhem” Miller. Having developed something of a feud during taping, both men are eager to get into the Octagon and put their hands on the other.
England’s MMA flag carrier, Michael “The Count” Bisping earned his shot in the UFC by competing on TUF himself, winning the third season of the show back in 2006 to kick-start his UFC career. Since then, the Brit has gone 11-3 in the promotion, only dropping contests to Rashad Evans (at light heavyweight), Dan Henderson, and Wanderlei Silva. With notable wins over Matt Hamill, Chris Leben, Denis Kang, Dan Miller, Yoshihiro Akiyama, and Jorge Rivera, Bisping has established himself as one of the middleweight division’s best.
Jason “Mayhem” Miller will return to the UFC for the first time since 2005, when he fought and lost to Georges St-Pierre, and will also be returning to action for the first time in over a year. One of MMA’s most colorful personalities, Miller is well respected by his peers for his technical prowess and is one of the most prominent fighters in the sport who’s never fought in the UFC. Miller owns a record of 24-7 (1 NC) and is currently riding a two-fight winning streak, having beaten Tim Stout and Kazushi Sakuraba in succession.
Both men are well-rounded, but Mayhem likely holds the edge on the ground thanks to his active, technical jiu-jitsu and Bisping appears to hold an advantage in the stand up on account of his never-ending, peppering assault.
Mayhem certainly has the skill and ability to defeat Bisping and I can’t see The Count finishing him, but it’s hard to pick Miller when he hasn’t performed in over a year and his last two wins, while impressive performances, weren’t exactly against top competition. The layoff could serve Mayhem well, as it has fighters like Rashad Evans, or it could leave him a step slow against Bisping, one of the most consistent and well-conditioned athletes in the sport. Bisping via unanimous decision.
Tony Ferguson vs. Yves Edwards
The Ultimate Fighter 13 winner Tony Ferguson will look to continue his rise up the ranks against wily MMA veteran Yves Edwards.
After beating down Ramsey Nijem to win TUF 13, Tony “El Cucuy” Ferguson kept the momentum going in his favor by defeating another seasoned competitor in Aaron Riley, breaking the Greg Jackson product’s jaw to get a first round TKO this past September. Ferguson owns a pro record of 12-2 and has shown that he possesses an all-around technical arsenal coupled with strong finishing instincts.
With a history in the sport dating back to 1997, Yves Edwards is one of the most experienced veterans still competing in MMA today. The Thugjitsu Master stands at 41-17-1 and recently rebounded from a brutal first round knockout loss to Sam Stout by defeating Rafaello Oliveira via head kick knockout in October. Edwards owns nearly as many wins by submission as he does by knockout and is proven to be dangerous in every area.
Ferguson has his work cut out for him in Edwards, a salty veteran who can put him away from just about any position if he leaves himself open. This is a tough one to call, as it’s difficult to pick against Edwards’ experience, but I think El Cucuy will show up better than ever and eventually overwhelm Edwards with constant pressure. Ferguson via third round TKO.