TUF 20 Finale Preview

tuf_20_finaleAnother year is coming to an end and for the UFC that means a host of big fights including the biggest ending to an Ultimate Fighter ever. The Ultimate Fighter Reality show continues on as one of the biggest aspects of the UFC. They are consistently holding these reality shows as a way to increase talent in the UFC but with so many of these shows they continue to try to update the show and keep it fresh. They found a new way to do just that this time around for the 20th season. It wasn’t too long ago that the UFC refused to even entertain the thought of women fighting in the promotion. To them, or more accurately Dana White, the talent pool was simply not big enough to warrant having a division. Then came along Ronda Rousey, who changed the game and White’s mind about women fighting in the UFC. Although the competition has not necessarily been the best with Rousey dominating the women’s division the rest of the fights in the division have been good and the women have been some of the most entertaining on every card. That is why the UFC decided to expand the roster of their women fighters and added a brand new women’s weight division. They went about this by signing almost an entire division from the biggest all-women’s promotion in the world, Invicta. The Entire Strawweight division, 115 lbs, was signed overnight to the UFC. That gave the UFC the fighters they needed to fill a division that was just starting out as they scouted other potential fighters for the new division. The signing of all of the Invicta fighters brought a lot of fighters into the UFC at one time giving the UFC an opportunity for a reality show. It gave them the chance to put all of those fighters along with other signees to the new division into a house at the same time and let them compete against each other. The motivation for the women to enter The Ultimate Fighter house was an easy one, the belt. The UFC decided to hand out the first ever strawweight title at the end of the show, essentially creating a strawweight tournament in the 20th season of the reality show. It was the first time ever that the UFC granted a belt after the fight, the closest they came was handing out a title shot to the winners of The Ultimate Fighter 4, alos known as the comeback. Those fighters were all veterans looking for a shot in the UFC while this time around the women were all under contract already and had all made it, yet had plenty of motivation with a belt on the line. The best fighters in the division were a part of the tournament but only two emerged as the title challengers. In one corner will be the former Invicta champion and the one fighter that everyone expected to be here in the end. Carla Esparza came in as the #1 fighter in the tournament after winning four straight fights including her last fight against Bec Rawlings for the vacant Invicta strawweight title. Coming into the house she was considered the favourite as the champion and through three fights has shown why she was the favourite. Through a submission, majority decision and unanimous decision Esparza has come out to be a challenger for the first title. She will take on a relatively unknown in a fighter that was never supposed to make it the main event. Coming in as the #7 fighter in the tournament she was expected to be good but not good enough to win the tournament. She was the youngest fighter in the competition and amid doubt in herself and inexperience she came out as one of the most exciting fighters in the show. With great kicks and a well-rounded game she surprised many by continuing to win and earning her spot in the final. Now she takes on the former Invicta champion in a matchup of two well-rounded fighters trying to make history. On one side is the controlled and calculated Esparza who has KO power but prefers to wrestle. On the other side is the wild and sometimes out of control Namajunas who throws anything from anywhere and finds ways to finish fights. Whether it is on the ground or standing up she always seems comfortable and ready to find a way to finish. Although Esparza seems to be the favourite in this fight as a former champion, Namajunas seems to be the hot fighter right now. She is fighter better than anyone expected and with some extra time to train and learn, along with build her confidence, she seems too dangerous to beat. Expect Namajunas to win the title with a third round submission becoming the first ever strawweight champion in the UFC.

Before the first strawweight title is handed out and another season of The Ultimate Fighter concludes two featherweights will square-off looking to make some noise. The night will be dominated by a new division and for the co-main event it will be a relatively young division taking centre stage. The Featherweights are still trying to find themselves in the UFC although the common theme among all fights has been the sheer speed that these fighters possess. The lighter weight classes like the flyweights, bantamweights, and featherweights have brought a new level of quickness to the octagon. For Jeremy Stephens, that quickness is beginning to work for him. After spending years in the lightweight division, Stephens has found a home among the featherweights. Already a powerful fighter in the 155 lbs division he has now added that speed with his weight cut that makes him a dangerous fighter. He started off the new weight campaign well with a string of three straight wins that included a 40 second knockout of Rony Jason. He is heading into the co-main event off of a loss though after dropping a unanimous decision to Cub Swanson. He tries to get back on track towards a title fight by taking on Charles Oliveira, who is starting to gains some momentum in the division. After starting well in the division, Oliveria dropped two in a row and his rise through the rankings was stopped short. After those two losses though, he has emerged as a better fighter and rides a two-fight win streak into this co-main event. In those wins Olveira has displayed his great BJJ game submitting both of his opponents. He tries to do the same this time around while avoiding the striking game of Stephens. The classic wrestler versus striker is what will be in store for the co-main event and with both fighters not really well-rounded, whoever gets it where they want it will win this fight.

 

Fight Card

Main Event:
“The Cookie Monster” Carla Esparza vs. “Thug” Rose Namajunas [Women’s Strawweight Title] (Sportsnet 360/FOX Sports 1)

Main Card:
Jeremy “Lil’ Heathen” Stephens vs. Charles “Do Bronx” Oliveira (Sportsnet 360/FOX Sports 1)

Joe Proctor vs. Yancy “The Kid” Medeiros (Sportsnet 360/FOX Sports 1)

“Detroit Superstar” Daron Cruickshank vs. KJ Noons (Sportsnet 360/FOX Sports 1)

Undercard:
Felice “The Lil’ Bulldog” Herrig vs. Lisa Ellis (Sportsnet 360/FOX Sports 1)

Bec “Rowdy” Rawlings vs. Heather “Hurricane” Clark (Sportsnet 360/FOX Sports 1)

“The Tiny Tornado” Tecia Torres vs. Angela Magana (Sportsnet 360/FOX Sports 1)

Joanne “Jo Jo” Calderwood vs. Seo Hee “Hamderlei Silva” Ham (Sportsnet 360/FOX Sports 1)

Aisling “Ais the Bash” Daly vs. Alex “Astro Girl” Chambers (UFC Fight Pass)

Angela “Overkill” Hill vs. Emily Kagan (UFC Fight Pass)

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