Urijah Faber has never lost a non-title bout under Zuffa employ. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
After a recent slump, “The Ultimate Fighter” experienced a resurgence during its 17th iteration, thanks to a new night and a cast featuring some intriguing talent. It has been a while -- since Season 14 at least -- since a prospect from the reality show has generated as much buzz as Uriah Hall. The former Ring of Combat champion will get the chance to capture the six-figure contract that comes along with winning the reality show when he faces Kelvin Gastelum at “The Ultimate Fighter 17” Finale on Saturday at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.
For those uninterested in the latest crop of “Ultimate Fighter” prospects, the card also features Urijah Faber’s seemingly never ending quest for another shot as championship gold, as he squares off with fellow World Extreme Cagefighting veteran Scott Jorgensen in the main event. Additionally, the stage for the next season of “The Ultimate Fighter” will be set when Miesha Tate squares off with Cat Zingano in the second bout to feature women in the promotion’s history. The winner will receive a shot at bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey -- after coaching opposite the “Rowdy” one on a co-ed Season 18.
Here is a look at “The Ultimate Fighter 17” Finale, with analysis and picks:
Sherdog Fantasy MMA: ‘The Ultimate Fighter 17’ Finale Free Fan Pick’Em
Urijah Faber (27-6, 3-2 UFC) vs. Scott Jorgensen (14-6, 3-2 UFC)
The Matchup: It has become a tiresome theme for more than a few fight fans, but Faber continues to hover around title contention, despite suffering losses in his past five championship bouts. Although he has struggled at the pinnacle in recent years, Faber remains relevant because there are very few people at 135 pounds -- or 145 -- that he cannot beat.
“The California Kid” demonstrated this fact once again at UFC 157, making short work of the resurgent Ivan Menjivar, a borderline Top 10 talent with an aggressive offensive style. Faber wasted little time imposing his will in the bout, attacking with relentless ground-and-pound inside his opponent’s guard before finishing the contest with a standing rear-naked choke in the first round.
Like Faber, Jorgensen made his name in the now-defunct World Extreme Cagefighting promotion. An All-American wrestler at Boise State University, “Young Guns” racked up wins over the likes of Takeya Mizugaki, Antonio Banuelos and Brad Pickett before coming up short against Dominick Cruz in his title bid at WEC 53. After back-to-back losses to Renan Barao and Eddie Wineland in the Octagon, the Twisted Genetiks representative was relegated to the Facebook prelims in his last UFC appearance. Jorgensen responded appropriately, earning “Fight of the Night” and “Submission of the Night” bonuses for his victory over John Albert. According to Jorgensen, it was the first time he studied tape of an opponent in the weeks leading up to a fight.
The Idaho resident will want to continue those good habits as he prepares for Faber, because on paper, it appears the Team Alpha Male product can negate everything Jorgensen does well. Jorgensen, backed with a quick right hand and a solid one-two combination, has serviceable standup, but where he truly excels is on the mat. The 30-year-old is adept at landing takedowns and maintaining position for extended periods of time. His ability to neutralize his opponent’s guard is evidenced by the fact that he has not been submitted since his third professional bout in 2006.
Unfortunately for Jorgensen, Faber is among the best in the sport at pushing the pace and winning scrambles on the floor. The former WEC 145-pound king uses his explosive athleticism to move into takedown range, where he usually has the strength and power edge against most of his bantamweight foes. From top position, Faber unloads with a furious barrage of punches and elbows, which often creates openings for submissions when opponents begin to look for a means of escape.
Even if Jorgensen is able to occasionally take down Faber, it is unlikely that he will be able to keep him there for any significant period of time.
Those who have had the most success against Faber in recent fights have been able to keep him off balance with lateral movement and a multi-faceted offensive arsenal. Trying to outwrestle Faber is a losing proposition for Jorgensen. Instead, he will have to throw punches in combination, control distance with kicks and then mix in the takedown when Faber is off-balance.
The Pick: Faber’s hands are good enough to allow him to dictate the location of this fight. After a couple of competitive rounds, the relentless Faber begins to assert himself en route to a decision victory.
Next Fight » Uriah Hall vs. Kelvin Gastelum