TUF 17 Finale Betting Preview

Urijah FaberThe Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada plays host to The Ultimate Fighter 17 finale, in which more than just the coveted ‘six-figure’ contract is on the line this Saturday night. The main event brings former WEC featherweight champ, Urijah Faber (27-6), and perennial bantamweight contender, Scotty Jorgensen (14-6), face to face after years of training together at Team Alpha Male. Will the fight be a lesson in the mentor besting the pupil? Or is calling Jorgensen the pupil in this fight selling him short? Oddsmakers apparently don’t think so, as Faber opened as a -400 favorite (bet $400 to win $100), with Jorgensen a +280 underdog (bet $100 to win $280) at Several Bookmakers. Despite the long odds, it could be said Jorgensen has the better pure wrestling of the two fighters, but Faber obviously has more experience, especially the experience under the bright lights of the main event. Both men have been to the top of their respective divisions using the proven Team Alpha Male method of outworking and out-hustling their opponents by pressing forward, threatening takedowns, and mixing in tenacious stand-up, so it will be fascinating to see these two attempt to surprise each other with a new technique or a zig instead of a zag. On paper, Urijah may have Jorgensen bested in the submission and striking department, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be an extremely hard-fought battle. Since the opening line was posted on the MMA Oddsbreaker show, Faber has climbed even higher, currently sitting as a -450 favorite to Jorgensen +360. The co-main pits the two finalists of season 17’s Ultimate Fighter tournament, and frankly, the world will be watching to see if Uriah Hall (7-2) can live up to the almost unrealistic precedents he set on his TUF run. Dana White and Chael Sonnen have been promoting Hall as one of the best fighters to compete in TUF history, with Sonnen even proclaiming that Hall can be an immediate contender in the middleweight division. Uriah did not disappoint in his run to the finals, which saw him send two men to the hospital and TKO a third while he was on his back in his guard. Insane stuff. Those performances and the hype on Hall converted to an opening line of -300 for him. Looking to spoil the Uriah Hall coming out party is Kelvin Gastelum (5-0) who was one of the dark horses of the TUF house and is certainly a dark horse in this fight as he opened at +220. Gastelum also finished every fight one his way to the finale, and each of the bouts prior to his stint in the house as well. Although he was picked last by Team Sonnen on the show, Gastelum looked good throughout and definitely made improvements over the course of his time in the house. In the twelve career wins by these two men, only one has gone to a decision, so it’s best you don’t blink. The fight could end in any way. The public has bought in to the hype behind Uriah Hall, and has pushed his line all the way up to -370, while Gastelum is now +280. It’s also interesting that there has been a -250 or larger favorite in a TUF finale six times, and the underdog has won on five of those occasions. The second female fight in UFC history goes down when former women’s Strikeforce bantamweight champion, Miesha Tate (13-3), makes her UFC debut along with Cat Zingano (7-0). The fight has more on the line than just the pressure of being important to the development of women’s MMA, but the winner of this fight also goes on to coach opposite Ronda Rousey on season 18 of The Ultimate Fighter and earns a shot at Ronda’s title. No Pressure. Miesha is extremely well rounded with her one weakness being her stand up game, but she still has a good chin and is willing to eat shots to move in on the inside. Cat is a BJJ ace that has strong ground and pound. Obviously being from a BJJ background, she is comfortable on her back, where Miesha puts a lot of ladies with her wrestling background. It should be an interesting stylistic fight, and one that very well could steal Fight of The Night honors. The line movement on this fight has also been interesting, as Tate opened as a -175 favorite and Zingano a +135 underdog, but bettors have flipped Zingano to the favorite. The line currently stands with Cat at -130, and Miesha +100, which is interesting given Tate being the more well-known, accomplished, seasoned and younger of the two fighters. Heavyweights Gabriel Gonzaga (14-6) and Travis Browne (13-1-1) are up next, with Browne coming off the first loss of his career last October when Antonio Silva knocked him out on FX. Gonzaga has gone 3-0 since he briefly retired from MMA at the end of 2010, with his most recent win coming in impressive fashion as he dominated the seemingly rejuvenated Ben Rothwell at UFC on FX: Belfort vs. Bisping. Gonzaga was a heavyweight title contender once upon a time, and while he may have fallen from grace he is still an elite BJJ player, and has knockout power at any given moment. Browne’s best asset is his hands, with nine knockouts to his name. This one could be over in an instant if someone touches their opponents chin, and it could be a long night for Browne if Gonzaga is able to get him to the ground. Neither oddsmakers nor the public see the latter happening though, as Browne opened as a -210 favorite and since shot up to -290, with Gonzaga opening at +160 and now sitting at +230. In a bit of an interesting decision, rounding out the main card we have Ultimate Fighter season 17 combatants Robert “Bubba” McDaniel (20-6) and Gilbert Smith (5-1) both of Team Jones. Bubba was picked to join Jones’ team as they train together under Jackson /Winklejohn, and that may have added fuel to the fire between the rivalry that quickly developed between Bubba and Gilbert Smith. They didn’t get along on the show, and Smith had his heart questioned by McDaniel, which led to some verbal exchanges, but now they get to settle it in the Octagon. McDaniel obviously holds the training and experience edge, with Smith being only a three year veteran, but physically the fighters also have a vastly different look. Smith is a short and muscular middleweight, like a Hector Lombard, while McDaniel is lanky and has the ability to pick Smith apart from a distance. Smith will have to get the fight to the ground in a hurry, as he’s well-versed on the mat and can finish fights before he has to deal with his questionable cardio. Bubba’s experience and well-rounded skills saw him open as a -215 favorite to Smith’s +165. The reputation Bubba developed on the show as a fighter who lacks heart seems to have resonated with bettors however, as he has come down to -170, while Smith’s line is now +140.

Written by Jason Nawara

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