The Ultimate Fighting Championship will return to Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas on Saturday for the TUF 17 Finale. The main card consists of five fights and will be televised on FX.
Urijah Faber (27-6 MMA, 3-2 UFC) will take on Scott ‘Young Guns’ Jorgensen in the main event. On Thursday, most betting shops had Faber as an enormous -450 favorite (risk $450 to win $100) with Jorgensen available for a +375 payout (risk $100 to win $375). By lunch on Friday, the number was as high as -525 at Sportsbook.ag.
5Dimes has a prop bet for this 135-pound scrap. Bettors can cash a +250 ticket if this bout is awarded with Fight of the Night honors. If you’re a Chalk Eater, you can bet ‘not Fight of the Night’ at a -350 risk.
5Dimes has this scenario for the total. For gamblers who think the fight goes the five-round distance, this is an even-money wager. Bettors must lay a -140 price if they expect the bout to have a finish before it gets to the judges.
Faber is the No. 2 contender in the bantamweight division who has to have a win here to stay in the hunt for a title shot. Remember, he has recent defeats against the current champ (Dominick Cruz) and current interim champ (Renan Barao).
After dropping a unanimous decision to Barao at UFC 149, Faber bounced back to earn a win over Ivan Menjivar by rear-naked choke late in the first round at UFC 157.
Jorgensen (14-6 MMA, 3-2 UFC) has pocketed a pair of Fight of the Night bonuses in his last two Octagon appearances. Following a second-round KO loss to Eddie Wineland last June, Jorgensen won Submission of the Night honors with a rear-naked choke to finish John Albert with one tick remaining in the opening stanza.
The 30-year-old Jorgensen is currently ranked seventh in the 135-pound loop.
In the finals matchup for season 17 of The Ultimate Fighter, middleweight phenom Uriah Hall (7-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) is heavily favored against 21-year-old Kelvin Gastelum. Hall is -325 at most spots (risk $325 to win $100) and two books, SBG Global and 5Dimes, have Hall at -385.
I can’t blame those oddsmakers because Hall has absolutely destroyed the competition in four victories to make the finals. His KO of Adam Cella with just seconds remaining in the first round is being called the best KO in TUF history.
Hall needed only nine seconds to send Robert ‘Bubba’ McDaniel to the hospital. In his most recent fight, Hall peppered Dylan Andrews with strikes throughout Round 1.
When Andrews scored a takedown in Round 2, Hall began landing bombs from the bottom. After several big punches from his back, Hall hurt Andrews and then finished him with a ruthless flurry.
Hall entered the competition as the two-time middleweight champ with the Ring of Combat promotion. His only two career defeats have come against current No. 1 middleweight contender Chris Weidman and UFC veteran Amir Sadollah.
Gastelum (5-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) has been the Cinderella story of the season. After winning a decision over Kito Andrews to earn his way into the house, Gastelum was the last pick for Team Sonnen.
Since then, Gastelum has won three more fights, including first-round finishes of Collin Hart (in 33 seconds) and Josh Samman. The best underdog payout for Gastelum (as of early Friday afternoon) was +310 at 5Dimes (risk $100 to win $310).
In the second women’s fight in UFC history, Cat Zingano will take on former Strikeforce bantamweight champ, Miesha Tate. The winner will earn a title shot and a spot as coach opposite of Ronda Rousey in the next season of TUF.
Most books have Zingano (7-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) as a -130 ‘chalk’ versus Tate, who is available at even-money (+100).
Tate (13-3 MMA, 0-0 UFC) has won seven of her last eight fights with the lone defeat coming against Rousey, who dislocated her elbow with a vicious arm bar. Tate bounced back from the loss to Rousey by beating Julie Kedzie by arm bar in the third round last August.
The show’s only heavyweight fight is a good one with Travis Browne (13-1-1 MMA, 4-1-1 UFC) and Gabriel Gonzaga squaring off. Most spots have Browne as a -280 favorite with Gonzaga available for a return in the +230 range.
Browne is coming off his first career loss by first-round KO to Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva. However, gamblers should be aware that Browne suffered a torn hamstring before either fighter was getting the better of each other. To his credit, though, Silva took advantage and got the victory.
Gonzaga (14-6 MMA, 9-5 UFC) has won both of his UFC fights since coming out of retirement, including a second-round submission of Ben Rothwell on Jan. 19.
The opening fight on the FX portion of the card will pit McDaniel against Gilbert Smith. Most books have ‘Bubba’ as a -180 favorite vs. Smith (+150).
McDaniel flashed plenty of bravado early in the season, but he was breaking down mentally and physically as the show progressed, especially after finding out he had to get into the cage against Hall.
Bubba’s body language was borderline pathetic going into the fight against Hall, but I suspect he will be much more excited to face Smith, who lost his first fight after getting into the house.
There are four other middleweight tilts on FUEL TV and three preliminary matchups will be on the UFC’s Facebook page.
Brian Edwards can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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