The Ultimate Fighter 18 Finale Date: November 30, 2013 Arena: Mandalay Bay Events Center City: Las Vegas, N.V. Featherweight bout: Akira Corassani (+145) vs Maximo Blanco (-165) Fight Breakdown: The TUF 18 finale on FOX Sports 1 will feature a scrap between TUF season 14’s Akira Corassani and Venezuela’s Maximo Blanco. Corassani is currently the underdog heading into this bout at +145 ($100 to win $145), while Blanco is the favorite at -165 ($165 to win $100) at Several Bookmakerss. AKIRA CORASSANI (11-3-1 NC MMA, 2-0 UFC) will be making his third appearance inside the Octagon, as he enjoys a two fight win streak. He defeated Andy Ogle via split decision in his promotional debut, then went on to win a convincing unanimous decision in an upset over Robbie Peralta. I picked Ogle to upset Corassani in that fight, and I believe Ogle won and was robbed by the judges. Against Peralta, I had picked Corassani to get the upset at big dog odds. He came through, as expected. Now he looks to make it three in a row against a fighter who likes to stand and trade much like himself. Corassani used to have horrendous cardio, as he would already be gassed in the second round. Now, he seems to have made major improvements with his conditioning, and is capable of going all three rounds without fatigue setting in. Even so, he will still be at a cardio disadvantage against Blanco, who can go all 15 minutes without breaking a sweat. Corassani is skilled all-around, but as the saying goes, he isn’t exactly excellent in any area. His striking and ground game both are decent and constantly improving, even at 31 years of age. He is a tough fighter with a ton of heart who won’t wilt under pressure. He has good takedown defense, but I don’t think he has to worry about being taken down by Blanco. MAXIMO BLANCO (9-4-1-1 NC MMA, 1-1 UFC) is making his third UFC appearance coming off a unanimous decision victory over Sam Sicilia, and now looks to make it two in a row inside the Octagon. Blanco is a talented freestyle wrestler who used his wrestling to make the transition into mixed martial arts, where he has found a new love in the form of striking. He made the move from wrestler to cagefighter when he failed to qualify for the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. A wrestler first, Blanco now prefers to keep the fight on the feet, where he looks to knock his opponents out. He is a quick featherweight who moves around well and throws good combinations. Nicknamed “The Max Murderer”, Blanco’s style of striking has drawn comparisons to “The Axe Murderer” Wanderlei Silva. He will likely look to stand and trade with Corassani, where he will be trying to find the knockout finish. Blanco is a very well-conditioned athlete who will be on top of his game for all 15 minutes of action. Fight Prediction: I expect to be a back and forth fight that takes place on the feet, where ultimately, Corassani gets the better of the exchanges. It seems Corassani is vastly improving fight to fight, whereas Blanco has not really been showing any improvement in his game. If anything, it could be argued that he is on somewhat of a decline, even considering the fact that he is coming off a decision win over Sam Sicilia. If you ask me, though, I think the Maximo Blanco from a couple of years ago would have been able to finish Sicilia. Gabe’s Pick: Akira Corassani by Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27) Gabe’s Recommended Play: Akira Corassani (+145) 4u to win 5.8u, and Over 2.5 rounds (-110) 3.3u to win 3u. – I will likely be giving out props for this fight, as I await odds to come out, so make sure you’re following me on Twitter @GabeKillianMMA.