The Ultimate Fighter 15 Finale Predictions

On Friday, June 1st, the UFC returns to its home base in Las Vegaswhere it will crown the winner of the 15th installment of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF). After an exciting season that provided fans with the opportunity to view the weekly fights live on FX, undefeated Mike Chiesa will face off against Al Iaquinta to determine this year’s TUF champion.

 

Co-headlining the card will be two hard hitting welterweights looking to stamp their ticket for a possible title shot later this year or early in 2013. Jake “The Juggernaut” Ellenberger will look to extend his six-fight octagon winning streak to seven against Danish striker Martin “Hitman” Kampmann. Although Kampmann has dropped some very close decisions in recent years, his performances were all stellar and those losses could have very well been wins according to many observers. As such, this fight has all the potential to be an exciting five round war, with the asterisk being “the Juggernaut’s” insane power at welterweight, which could translate into an early night for the Dane.

The main card also includes an intriguing featherweight bout between former TUF winner Jonathan Brookins and rebounding prospect Charles Oliveira. Both men are coming off rebound wins after tough losses and are looking to make it two in a row in the increasingly competitive featherweight division. In addition, the undercard will provide viewers with seven other fights composed of a solid mix of young prospects looking to make their mark in the UFC.

Will we see the birth of a future champion this Friday night? Can any other TUF champions repeat the successes of Forrest Griffin, Rashad Evans, or Nate Diaz? Will the Juggernaut’s power be too much for Martin Kampmann or will the Hitman find a way to dispose of his target? Stay tuned on June 1 and make sure you check out all of the predictions here at Kamikazeoverdrive.net.

Joel Richer– Co-Editor

John Albert 7-2-0  vs  Erik Perez 10-4-0

John Albert 7-2-0 battles UFC newcomer Erik Perez 10-4-0 in a Bantamweight matchup to get the undercard fights started. Albert is coming off an exciting, yet unsuccessful tilt against veteran Ivan Menjivar while Perez earned a decision victory over talented Scottish fighter Paul McVeigh earning him 5 straight victories.

Head to head, Perez has one the majority of his fights by submission (6) compared to a pair of wins by knockout and two more by decision. Albert, the Ultimate Fighter Alumni has finished his opponent in all 7 of his wins (4 KO & 3 Sub) while dropping his two career defeats by submission. Perez is a product of the Greg Jackson camp and although he has won the majority of his fights by submission he used his striking to get the better of Paul McVeigh. He mixed in his takedowns effectively, but for the most part he maintained separation attacking with leg strikes and knees. He has decent boxing and will aggressively push forward, but also had success counter striking again McVeigh. John Albert was impressive against Menjivar, showing vastly improved striking, backing his opponent against the cage and swarming him with combinations, seeming to overwhelm him. On the mat he attempted multiple submission and did a nice job fighting off his back. Despite the fact that he didn’t make it out of round one, the Menjivar fight was a great experience for the young fighter who should be better for the experience. Albert has shown himself to be a gritty and durable fighter, outstriking Dustin Pauge before finishing him via TKO. Against John Dodson, Albert did his best to keep up with the speedy season winner and took all Dodson could throw at him without backing away. Perez is making his promotional debut and doing it on short notice; he is talented in all aspects of the game and unless nerves hinder his performance he should be able to compete with his opponent. Albert has made some impressive strides in his short UFC career and his loss to Menjivar should be attributed to the UFC giving the young fighter too big of a challenge too early in his career. This could be a close fight, but I think that we will see even more improvements from ‘Prince’ Albert and his gritty style will be the difference makers, so my prediction is John Albert to defeat Erik Perez by submission.

Pat Schilling 5-1-0  vs Max Holloway 4-1-0

In the Featherweight division, 4-1-0 Max Holloway tangles with 5-1-0 Pat Schilling. Both fighters made their UFC debuts on short notice, and both suffer submission defeats; Holloway to top contender Dustin Poirier and Schilling against rising challenger Daniel Pineda.

Along with suffering submission defeats in their respective promotional debuts, both fighters also have a similar amount of fight experience (Holloway 5 fights & Schilling 6). Schilling has won the majority of his fights by submission and he has a grappling background based mainly Judo and Wrestling. Despite his grappling heavy background, Schilling attempted zero takedowns against Pineda and stood with him until Pineda took the fight to the ground and eventually submitted him. While Schilling showed a willingness to utilize his striking which is important considering most successful fighters have multiple dimensions, he most likely shouldn’t have strayed too far from his comfort zone. Most likely, Schilling’s performance was impacted by nerves as he showed signs that fighting on the big stage was getting to him.  Max Holloway showed impressive composure against Dustin Poirier standing and trading with him. In fact, Max seemed to get the best of Poirier with his stand-up forcing Dustin to take him to the ground which isn’t surprising considering he is primarily a striker. If Holloway can keep this fight standing he should have a distinct advantage and could stop Schilling via knockout or TKO. I anticipate that Hollaway will come out aggressive and try to blitz Schilling early; while this could lead to the aforementioned outcome it could also create openings for Schilling to take the fight to the ground and implement his superior ground game. If Schilling puts him on his backside he very well could grind out a decision or as Poirier did, use his submission game to ferociously attack and exploit Holloway’s grappling defence deficiencies. This is a striker vs grappler match-up, but Schilling has shown serviceable striking skills so help him when the fighters are standing, but look for him to try and rebound from his last fight by going back to what brought him to the dance. Desperation on both sides should bring out each fighter’s best, but my prediction is Pat Schilling to defeat Max Holloway by submission.

Charles Oliveira 15-2-0 1NC   vs  Jonathan Brookins 14-4-0

The Season 12 Ultimate Fighter Champion will be in action, as Jonathan Brookins 14-4-0 tangles with Charles Oliveira 15-2-0 in a Featherweight showdown. Brookins earned an impressive knockout win over Vagner Rocha in his last fight while Oliveira made a successful 145 pound debut submitting Eric Wisely.

Both fighters have shown themselves to be more then competent in all facets of the game. Brookins has demonstrated solid wrestling and BJJ skills, especially on the reality show using his skills to first take his opponent off their feet and then following with an impressive submission game. Overall, he has picked up 8 career wins by tapout and is a BJJ Purple belt. Comparatively, Charles Oliveira isn’t known for his wrestling but has developed a reputation for being one of the smoothest submission fighters on the UFC roster. The Brazilian is a BJJ black belt, earning 8 of his wins by submission, including 3 inside the octagon over Darren Elkins, Efrain Escudero, and the aforementioned Wisely via reverse calf slicer. Oliveira probably shouldn’t be classified as the traditional takedown artist, but he has shown an impressive ability to get his opponents to the ground in a number of creative manners. Although, Charles’s takedown skills will be tested by Brookins who has defended 100% of his opponent’s attempts. The biggest knock on Brookins has been his striking, more specifically his striking defence. Against Michael Johnson he struggled early on with Johnson’s aggressive stand-up attack. Although Brookins showed surprising power when he KOed Rocha, he has only accumulated a total of three knockouts with the first two coming early in his career against lesser competition. While the former TUF winner has been working to improve his striking and should show a more enhanced skill-set then in his previous appearances, Oliveira will be the far superior striker. Do Bronx has accrued 6 wins by knockout, and attacks with both speed and a wide variety of striking techniques. What makes his arsenal even more effective is his willingness to use his kicks due mainly to a lack of fear of being taken down because of his dangerous submission game. Oliveira has been finished twice in the UFC, once by submission and once by knockout both against elite level Lightweight fighters, so he is far from invincible. If Brookins can use his wrestling to get on top of Oliveira and blanket him he could grind out the win, but look for Do Bronx to attack with his grappling whenever Brookins attempts to close the distance making the clinch and ground dangerous territory for the American. Oliveira should have an edge on the ground, but the definitive aspect of this game will come on the feet with Charles clearly the front runner. Brookins has a lot of upside and is still improving, but Oliveira is bad match-up stylistically, so my prediction is Charles Oliveira to simply be better in all areas and defeat Jonathan Brookins by decision.  

TUF 15 Finals: Al Iaquinta 5-1-0  vs  Michael Chiesa 7-0-0 

In the finals of the Ultimate Fighter a pair of Team Faber members, undefeated 7-0-0 Mike Chiesa and 5-1-1 Al Iaquinta will go head to head for the rite to called the Ultimate Fighter. Chiesa was the fifth pick made by Urijah Faber and has earned 4 straight submission wins prior to the start of the show while Iaquinta was taken by first overall despite suffering a submission loss in his final pre-TUF fight.

Chiesa had a pretty successful run on the show, putting himself in the finals along with winning a pair of show bonuses along the way. First he picked up a submission win and bonus to get into the house, a decision victory in his second fight, a sudden death round TKO win over heavily favoured Justin Lawrence grabbing the season’s knockout bonus, and finally a win over James Vick via second round KO in the semi-finals. First overall pick Iaquinta, picked up back to back decision victories before stopping Andy Ogle by TKO in his third fight, and finally earning a decision over Vinc Pichel to book his spot in the finals.

Chiesa has a wrestling base and has won the majority of his fights by submission (5). He is relatively one-dimensional relying mainly on his wrestling skills and although he is quite effective at that dimension his lack of striking skills have to be a concern. If Chiesa is going to emerge victorious he will need to put Iaquinta on his back quickly and limit the striking exchanges. There have been a few indications that Chiesa may struggle if his opponent is able to test his chin with regularity and put him in adverse positions, which isn’t uncommon for a fighter with limited experience with power strikers. Al Iaquinta is a BJJ Purple belt under Matt Serra, but has only picked up a single win by tapout compared to 3 victories by KO. On the show he has displayed effective striking technique, and in his victory over Andy Ogle he stopped him with brutal elbow in the final moments of round one. Iaquinta did lose via submission in his only career defeat to former UFC fighter Pat Audinwood, so if Chiesa can get him to the ground he could potentially submit him. That being said, Iaquinta should be able to exploit Chiesa lack of striking skills and deliver a great deal of damage while keeping the fight vertical. I have heard from many sources that the semi-final fight between Iaquinta and Pichel would have made a better tournament final, both in competition and skill level which could be an indication of how this fight will go down. Nothing is certain in MMA, but the law of averages would suggest that fighter with both grappling and striking skills will defeat a fighter with just grappling, so my prediction is Al Iaquinta to defeat Mike Chiesa by TKO.   

Jake Ellenberger 27-5-0  vs Martin Kampmann 19-5-0

The main event of the evening will feature a Welterweight clash between 27-5-0 Jake Ellenberger and Martin Kampmann 19-5-0. Ellenberger has won six in a row dating back to his UFC debut against interim Welterweight champion Carlos Condit while Kampmann has won 2 in a row with a total record of 10-2 inside the Octagon.

Between the two fighter, Ellenberger has the most significant win total with an impressive 17 wins by knockout including 4 in the UFC. Kampmann doesn’t have the lofty knockout totals with only 7 but he has the superior striking pedigree. Kampmann is a former Danish Muay Thai champion and possess some of the best striking technique in the entire UFC.

On Average, Martin lands 3.36 strikes per minute compared to Ellenberger’s 2.81, which gives the Dane a clear advantage over a 5 round fight where he would outland his opponent by a total of 84 to 70. Kampmann has had a lot of success picking apart inferior strikers often relying on his counter striking. When Diego came forward aggressively attacking with wild looping hooks Kampmann was able to utilize his superior footwork and head movement to avoid and counter, doing a lot of damage with his counter straight right.

Despite his technique, one area of concern for Kampmann is his striking defence. Statistically, Ellenberger does a better job limiting the damage he takes by avoiding 69% of his opponent’s strikes compared to Kampmann’s 63%, which equates to Jake absorbing fewer strikers per minute at 1.55 to 2.88. In addition Kampmann has been knocked out on 3 occasions, twice in the UFC, and seemed to struggle with opponents’ power most notably in the third round against Sanchez and for the duration of his last fight against Thiago Alves.

On the ground, Ellenberger is a former NCAA Division II wrestler, a BJJ purple belt with 5 submission wins, and he completes 59% of his takedown attempts which works out to 3.62 total takedowns per fight. Just like with his striking, Jake utilizes his power while grappling both in the clinch and on the ground. He stopped Jake Shields with knees from the clinch, and completed 5 of 7 takedown attempts against John Howard, eventually earning a TKO due to the amount of damage that had accumulated.

While Jake started with a grappling base, Martin Kampmann has a slowly built an impressive submission resume with 7 wins via tapout, 4 in the UFC, and he is a BJJ brown belt under Robert Drysdale. Kampmann’s wrestling has a tendency to surprise opponents; he was able to take down Rick Story on multiple occasions effectively using a misdirection trip and against Diego Sanchez he defended 14 of 15 takedown attempts.

Ellenberger is the clear betting favorite, but Kampmann is a difficult fighter to discount in any fight. If Ellenberger is able to use his power and overwhelm Kampmann he could hurt and potentially finish him. Although, Ellenberger’s transition from heavy-handed brawler to a technique based fighter normally would be a good change, in this case it could be to his detriment. Ellenberger would be best served to “brawl the boxer” and not stay on the outside trading with Kampmann. Jake’s tendency to use looping hooks will create openings for the counter striking of Kampmann, especially the Dane’s counter straight right. Additionally, the manner in which Ellenberger struggled in the third round against Diego is a huge concern, especially considering that this is a five round fight. Kampmann needs to avoid the power, rely on his technique, and outstrike Jake both with quality and quantity. These fighters matchup well in all areas which makes this is a difficult fight to predict. With their respective skill sets this contest could end in almost any manner, but my prediction is Martin Kampmann to defeat Jake Ellenberger by decision.

 


Joe Caporale’ TUF 15 Finale Predictions

Justin Lawrence 3-0-0  vs  John Cofer 7-2-0

In the Lightweight division (3-0-0) Justin The American Kid Lawrence battles John Cofer (7-1). Lawrence has an undefeated record while Cofer holds an impressive 7-1 record winning 4 straight. Lawrence knocked out James Krause in just over a minute to get into the house while Cofer defeated Mark Glover by unanimous decision to punch his ticket. Lawrence was the first overall pick in the tournament and was one of the favorites to win the whole thing. His first fight in the house was against Cristiano Marcello. Marcello is a good submission artist so Lawrence kept it on the feet and brutally knocked him out in the 2nd round. Lawrence fought Michael Chiesa in Probably the fight of the tournament in the quarterfinals. The two split rounds and went to a third where it looked like Lawrence was gassing. Chiesa took him down and finished the fight with punches. Cofer fought Vinc Pichel in the preliminary round. They also spilt rounds but Pichel was too much for Cofer in the third forcing him to tap. Lawrence has power in his hands and is a good wrestler. He should be able to overwhelm Cofer. So my prediction is Justin Lawrence to defeat John Cofer by TKO

Daron Cruickshank 10-2-0  vs  Chris Tickle 7-4-0

In the Lightweight division (10-2-0) Daron The Detroit Superstar Cruickshank takes on, Chris Badboy Tickle (7-4-0). Cruickshank had won 3 straight fights before entering the TUF house while Tickle was riding a 5 fight win streak. Cruickshank got into the house by beating Drew Dober by unanimous decision but was the first fighter eliminated after being knocked out by James Vick. The Detroit Superstar controlled the beginning of the fight with solid and creative kicks. When he shot for a takedown in the he was put to sleep with a nasty knee. Tickle only needed 24 seconds to get into the house knocking out Austin Lyons. Tickle would go on to Face Joe Proctor. While he put in a good effort and was probably winning the first round Proctor took him to the ground late and Tickle was no match for the Joe Lauzon student and was forced to tap due to a rear naked choke. Tickle has the power while Cruichank has the speed and better ground game. I think Cruickshank will play it smart on the feet and once he feels uncomfortable he will take it to the ground put Tickle away. So my prediction is Daron Cruickshank to defeat Chris Tickle by submission.

 Myles Jury 5-0-0  vs  Chris Saunder 9-2-0

In the Lightweight division (9-0-0) Myles The Fury Jury fights Chris The So Cal Kid Saunders (9-2-0). Jury has an undefeated record finishing all of his opponents in the first round while Saunders is 9-2 winning 7 of his last 8 fights.  Jury beat Akbarh Arreloa by unanimous decision to get in the house. Saunders also picked up a unanimous decision victory to get in the house over Chase Hackett. Jury lost his first fight in the house to future finalist Al Iaquinta by way of spilt decision after 3 rounds. Saunders defeated heavy favorite Sam Sicilla by split decision in his first fight in the house and moved on to fight Vinc Pichel. Saunders lost by majority decision but in my opinion, I thought it should have gone to a third round. Jury is a quick finisher but Saunders is a grinder. I think he will survive the early scare and be able to grind this one out. So my prediction is Chris Saunders to defeat Miles Jury by decision.

Cristiano Marcello  12-3-0  vs  Sam Sicilia 10-1-0

In the Lightweight division (12-3-0) Cristiano Marcello meets Sam Sicilia (10-1-0). Marcello won 3 straight before getting into the house while Sicilia was riding a 6 fight win streak.  Marcello chocked out Jared Carlsten to enter the house. It took Sicilia only one punch to get into the house as he knocked out Erin Beach in 8 seconds. Marcello was Knocked out in the in the second round vs Justin Lawrence in his first fight in the house. He is a crafty submission fighter and could cause a lot of problems for Sicilia if he can get this fight to the ground. Sicilia lost his first fight in the house to Chris Saunders via split decision.  He has finished 9 his opponents with a mix of heavy hands and a good submission game. This will be a close fight but I think Sicilia will keep this fight on the feet and put Marcello away. So my prediction is Sam Sicilia to defeat Cristiano Marcello by KO.

Jeremy Larsen 8-2-0 1NC  vs  Joe Proctor 7-1-0

In the Lightweight division (7-1-0) Joe Proctor takes on Jeremy Larsen (8-2-0). Proctor had won 3 straight before entering the house while Larsen had a mini 2 fight win streak. It took Proctor just over 2 minutes to catch Jordan Rinaldi in a guillotine to advance to the house while Larsen won a unanimous decision over Jeff Smith. Proctor took on Chris Tickle in the first round. Tickle was putting on a lot of pressure but Proctor was able to tap him out late in the first round via rear naked choke. In the quarterfinals proctor was picked apart by James Vick and lost a unanimous decision. Larson fought Michael Chiesa and lost by unanimous decision. Proctor has a very good submission game and as long as he can get this fight to the mat he should be able to pick up the W. So my prediction is Joe Proctor to defeat Jeremy Larsen by submission.