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Ultimate Fighter competitors Collin Hart and Kevin Casey have a tough act to follow this week as they are the featured fight just one week after Uriah Hall knocked out Adam Cella in one of the most spectacular finishes in the show's 17 season history.
Team Sonnen's Kevin Casey was chosen by his coach to face off with Team Jones' Collin Hart in the next round of the tournament, as Chael Sonnen and his squad of middleweights look to continue their undefeated run thus far this season. It's actually a battle of Gracie-trained fighters, as both Casey and Hart come from the tutelage of the first family of mixed martial arts.
Prior to his appearance on the Ultimate Fighter, "King" Kevin Casey may most be remembered for a YouTube video that circled the MMA world a few years back featuring the young fighter alongside his best friend and then manager, former reality show star Spencer Pratt. The gimmick did eventually earn Casey a shot in Strikeforce, although that came crashing to a halt when he was defeated by former UFC middleweight contender Matt Lindland in his second fight with the promotion.
Now with the YouTube history and Spencer Pratt safely tucked away in the past, Casey is focused on making it big with his MMA career by going through the Ultimate Fighter tournament. Casey is an experienced grappler who earned his black belt under legendary Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu expert Rickson Gracie.
Casey has also upped his training recently by teaming up with Black House MMA, where he works alongside famous names like UFC middleweight king Anderson Silva and Lyoto Machida. While the ground is still his safe haven, Casey has been working on improving his standup skills to become a more well rounded mixed martial artist.
Facing Casey on Tuesday's episode will be Nor-Cal Fighting Alliance fighter Collin Hart, who comes to the show with a 4-1-1 overall record training under former UFC middleweight contender and Cesar Gracie black belt David Terrell. Hart is a former college wrestler and football player who finally found his true passion once he started training MMA under Terrell.
While Hart's ground game has come along working under a ground wiz like Terrell, he still loves to look for the knockout. This fight with Casey comes down to one fighter likely looking for the ground while the other will probably try to keep it standing.
When the fight was announced, Casey kept a serious scowl on his face while Hart looked like a kid in a candy store who was just handed a crisp $20 bill. It doesn't necessarily mean anything for the fight, but Hart looked loose and excited to fight and that can make all the difference once they step in the cage.
If Casey struggles to get the takedown early in the fight, it could mean his demise. It's not to say he can't win on the feet, but his chances are cut down dramatically facing a heavy-handed puncher like Hart. Add to that, Hart has to know Casey will be looking for the ground early and often in this fight, so if he can use his wrestling to become anti-wrestling, the action could swing in his favor.
Don't underestimate Casey's ground work, because if he can manage to get the fight to the mat, he's ultra aggressive and always looking for the finish, and has nasty punches and elbows to boot.
Slight advantage to Casey overall because his ground game could be the difference maker, but if Hart keeps it standing there could be another highlight reel knockout on the way.
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