The UFC will close out the 16th season of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality TV series on Dec. 15, at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nev. Here are my predictions for the entire TUF 16 Finale fight card:
Roy Nelson vs. Matt Mitrione
Nelson was originally scheduled to face opposing coach, Shane Carwin, on the TUF 16 Finale fight card, but the latter suffered a knee injury. Mitrione — who was scheduled to face Phil de Fries at UFC 155 (Dec.29) — will now step in as Carwin’s replacement, and he’ll have his hands full when he meets “Big Country” inside the ring.
Both men hit hard, but Nelson is more skilled striking and submission wise. He should be able to impose his will wherever the fight takes place, and I’ll expect him to emerge victorious.
Prediction: Roy Nelson wins via TKO
Colton Smith vs. Mike Ricci (welterweight finals)
Ricci isn’t a particularly intimidating guy, that is, until he steps inside the Octagon. His striking technique is solid, and he’s comfortable on the ground as well. Smith used his wrestling to propel himself to the finals, and he’ll probably try to do the same against Ricci. However, Mike should be able to find his way back to his feet if he ends up on his back (he trains with better wrestlers like Georges St. Pierre at TriStar Gym), and he’ll eventually catch Smith with a hard shot.
Prediction: Ricci wins via KO.
Pat Barry vs. Shane del Rosario
Barry and del Rosario are solid kick-boxers, so there’s a pretty good chance someone will get knocked out when the two collide at the TUF 16 Finale. Rosario is the better striker, and he’ll also have the advantage if the fight hits the ground. It should be an entertaining bout, but the matchup seems to favor Shane.
Prediction: Del Rosario wins via TKO.
Melvin Guillard vs. Jamie Varner
Guillard has been in a slump lately, losing three of his last four fights. Another loss might just mean the end of his UFC career, so he should be highly motivated to put on a solid performance at the TUF 16 Finale. Both men like to bang, but Guillard is a lot more explosive with his strikes. Very even matchup, but Melvin should be able to keep the fight standing and win a majority of the exchanges.
Prediction: Guillard wins via decision.
Dustin Poirier vs. Jonathan Brookins
Poirier is coming off his first loss in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (he lost to the “Korean Zombie,” Chan Sung Jung, at “UFC on Fuel TV 3”), and he’ll be in for another tough test when he faces Brookins at the TUF 16 Finale. Brookins should be able to impose his will if he gets Poirier on the ground, but he’ll need to be wary of “The Diamond’s” submissions.
Prediction: Brookins win via decision.
Mike Pyle defeats James Head
Johnny Bedford defeats Marcos Vinicius
Rustam Khabilov defeats Vinc Pichel
TJ Waldburger defeats Nick Catone
Reuben Duran defeats Hugo Viana
John Cofer defeats Mike Rio
Tim Elliott defeats Jared Papazian