Danny Boy Downes, aka the Nostradamus of MMA, here to give my predictions for The Ultimate Fighter Live Finale. If you haven’t been following my TUF recaps here on UFC.com, you’ve been missing out. Not only were they entertaining, but they also brought a new level of intellectualism that reality TV rarely receives. Personally, I think it was my greatest work since I noted the parallels between Moby Dick and Keeping Up With the Kardashians. The similarities between Ahab and Kim are pretty clear once you analyze them.
Justin Lawrence vs John Cofer
The main card kicks off with a bout between Justin “The American Kid” Lawrence and John Cofer. The number one pick overall, Lawrence was an early favorite to win the whole thing. In addition to hubris, Lawrence has tremendous power in his hands that earned him two first round knockouts before losing to Michael Chiesa. John Cofer has a wrestling pedigree that earned him a ticket into the house, but it couldn’t get him past Vinc Pichel in episode seven. His last “official” fight took place in October at something called “Masquerade Fight Party” which interestingly enough was also what I lobbied the St. Ignatius College Prep Student Council to make the theme of our senior prom.
Lawrence likes to throw big, single shots that look for the knockout every time. This strategy usually spells doom for someone facing a wrestler, but it shouldn’t come into play in this fight. Cofer slowly marches forward in his standup, which is exactly what an aggressive striker like Lawrence wants. The American Kid finishes this one in the first.
Max Holloway vs Pat Schilling
We drop down a weight class for a featherweight contest as Max Holloway takes on “Thrilling” Pat Schilling. Both had rough introductions to the UFC, losing via first round submission. The 20 year old Holloway held his own against Dustin Poirier (well at least for two minutes...) before getting caught in a triangle armbar while Schilling fell victim to a first round rear naked choke from Daniel Pineda.
Both fighters haven’t really given us much to see in their early careers. Our best bet is to look at their past resumés. Schilling has finished all his opponents in his victories, but those opponents have a combined record of 14-31. Basically this one boils down to the fact that Holloway will be too explosive for Schilling to handle and this one ends with a TKO in the second round. On the bright side, Schilling still has his full time job at Best Buy to go back to, so I’m sure he has a pretty sweet home theater to watch future UFC events.
Jonathan Brookins vs Charles Oliveira
We stay in the featherweight division as The Ultimate Fighter season 12 winner Jonathan Brookins faces the always exciting Charles Oliveira. Brookins rebounded from his loss to Erik Koch in November nicely with a first round knockout of Vagner Rocha in February. Oliveira is coming off a first round submission win over Eric Wisely. He accomplished the feat with the rarely seen calf cutter, which is also the number one piece of farm equipment on veal farms.
Known for his wrestling, Brookins’ takedown ability has not been impressive in previous fights against Koch and Michael Johnson. What he has been able to do, though, is grind opponents and control them on the fence. It doesn’t always make for the most exciting fights, but it’s still been effective. This tactic continues as Brookins will be able to control Oliveira’s explosiveness and take this one by unanimous decision. Sure it won’t be terribly exciting, but life could be worse. You could be confined in a small room, fed until you’re plump and soft and rarely move or get physical activity. Now that I think about it, veal has a lot in common with a few kids in my freshman dorm...
Michael Chiesa vs Al Iaquinta
That brings us to The Ultimate Fighter Finale, as Michael “Maverick” Chiesa looks to get that six-figure UFC contract by taking on Serra-Longo Fight Team product Al Iaquinta. Chiesa brought some actual reality to reality TV after losing his father in the second episode. Al Iaquinta didn’t have that level of emotion (or any for that matter) on the show. He’s what Robocop would have looked/sounded like if the movie was set in Long Island.
Chiesa has been the surprise of the season. He’s a durable fighter that has had a couple come from behind victories on his way to the finals. His strength is on the ground, where he can utilize solid submission skills. Iaquinta is a heavy handed striker that can mix both the punches and kicks in his repertoire. The difference here is strength. Not only does Iaquinta hit harder, but I think he’s too big and strong for Chiesa to get him to the ground. Iaquinta will tag Chiesa, who has shown a solid chin, but all that will crash in the third as Iaquinta becomes the winner of The Ultimate Fighter: Live. When asked what it feels like to win the competition, I anticipate him saying something like, “it’s pretty cool.”
Jake Ellenberger vs Martin Kampmann
We now come to the main event of the evening, as Jake “The Juggernaut” Ellenberger looks to grab a number one contender spot as he squares off against Martin “The Hitman” Kampmann. Both fighters are coming off victories, but in less than impressive fashion. After taking the first two rounds convincingly, Ellenberger gassed in the third and barely scraped by Diego Sanchez at UFC on Fuel TV in February. Martin Kampmann was behind on many expert score sheets (including yours truly’s) before locking in a late guillotine on Thiago Alves.
Kampmann’s plan here should be to stay on the outside and soften Ellenberger up with kicks and punches, then take him into the later rounds and see if his conditioning has improved. Unfortunately for him I don’t see that happening. Looking back on “The Hitman’s” last three fights, his defense has been extremely porous as of late. That means he’s been getting hit a lot. I see this fight going to the second round, where Kampmann will crowd his range, get clipped with a big uppercut and then get finished on the ground. Then, in the post fight interview, Ellenberger will cement his shot against the Condit/GSP winner by yelling this.
That wraps up another edition of the Downes Side. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @dannyboydownes and check out my blog here. Also, be sure to leave questions, comments, and queries here on the page and I might even respond (lucky you).
The Downes Side: The Ultimate Fighter Live Finale Predictions
UFC/WEC veteran Dan Downes talks strategy and predictions for the TUF Live Finale, taking place Friday, June 1.