The Ultimate Fighter 18 Finale Date: November 30, 2013 Arena: Mandalay Bay Events Center City: Las Vegas, N.V. Women’s Bantamweight bout: Jessica Rakoczy (+200) vs Julianna Pena (-260) Fight Breakdown: The main card for The Ultimate Fighter season 18 finale will feature the finals for the women’s bantamweights, when the 36-year old former boxer Jessica Rakoczy takes on the 24-year old “pretty girl” Julianna Pena. Rakoczy is the underdog heading into the bout at +190 ($100 to win $200), with Pena being the favorite at -260 ($260 to win $100) at Several Bookmakerss. JESSICA RAKOCZY (1-3-1 NC MMA, 0-0 UFC) made her professional boxing debut at 23 years of age, and went on to win five championship titles, most recently in January of this year, at age 35. She made her professional mixed martial arts debut in 2009 at 32, and in only five fights, she has a 20 percent win rate. She did not find the same success with mixed martial arts that she had in boxing, so she took time off to sharpen her game, while continuing to compete as a boxer. She took nearly two years off after her fourth fight, and it’s been nearly a year since her last fight before going on The Ultimate Fighter. She fought her way into the house, and then fought her way all the way to the finals. If you would include the fights on the reality series, she would have a 50 percent win rate, and ultimately, a winning record, considering she has a no contest on it. Needless to say, Rakoczy is a skilled striker with very good boxing skills. Since working with striking coach Edvard Tarverdyan, her striking has gone up a couple of levels. She throws a crisp jab, and is technically sound. Her ground game is always improving, so it is a question mark to me at this point. I’m not sure if Pena will be able to take her down or not, and if she can, I’m not sure if she will be able to keep her there. Rakoczy is very tough, has a lot of heart, and will leave everything in the cage. She is a well-conditioned athlete, and will be ready for a three round war. JULIANNA PENA (4-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) went on The Ultimate Fighter, carrying with her two consecutive losses. One of the losses was against Sarah Moras, who she got revenge against en route to the finals of the tournament. She fought her way into the TUF house, where she was the first to be picked on the team of her friend Miesha Tate. Quite the opposite of her opponent Rakoczy, who was the last female pick for Ronda Rousey’s team. Pena surprised everybody in the quarterfinals with a second round rear naked choke submission victory over veteran Shayna Baszler. She moved on to defeat Moras, and now awaits Rakoczy in the finals. Pena is a well-rounded mixed martial artist who holds her own in every area, but is not necessarily great in any area. She is a well-conditioned fighter with a ton of heart who has no quit in her. She is well-trained, and will be prepared to go hard for all 15 minutes against the Polish boxer. Fight Prediction: I think the majority, or possibly entirety of this fight will play out on the feet, where both fighters will have their moments. Pena’s gameplan should be to do work against the cage, and to incorporate takedowns in her attack. Her best advantage would likely be on the mat, so she should be looking to take the fight there. That said, I think she is going to stand and bang, because she probably believes she can win this fight every which way. Rakoczy is the superior striker of the two, and I think the fight will stay on the feet, where she will have the advantage. Gabe’s Pick: Jessica Rakoczy by Split-Decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28) Gabe’s Recommended Play: Jessica Rakoczy (+200) 3u to win 6u, and my second “MONSTER PLAY” of the night; Rakoczy/Pena Over 2.5 rounds (-130) 9.1u to win 7u. I will be giving out props for this fight, as I await odds to come out, so make sure you’re following me on Twitter @GabeKillianMMA.