Five new fights have been added to “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 16 finale.
Promotion officials announced Tuesday that the Dec. 1 show will see welterweights Mike Pyle (Pictured) and Nick Catone collide with James Head and T.J. Waldburger, while lightweight Rustam Khabilov makes his Octagon debut against “TUF 15” vet Vinc Pichel. Additionally, bantamweights Reuben Duran and Johnny Bedford will be in action, squaring off with Hugo Viana and Marcos Vinicius Borges Pancini, respectively.
The reality show’s live finale will also showcase a heavyweight confrontation between coaches Shane Carwin and Roy Nelson, as well as a welterweight contest pitting the show’s to-be-announced finalists against each other for a six-figure UFC contract. The event takes place at The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. The evening’s main card airs on the FX network, while Fuel TV carries the prelims.
Pyle, 37, has won five of his last six, most recently knocking out fellow veteran Josh Neer with a devastating right cross that relieved “The Dentist” of his consciousness on June 8 at UFC on FX 3. Meanwhile, Head, 28, has been perfect since making the cut to 170 pounds from middleweight, submitting Papy Abedi in April before narrowly outpointing Brian Ebersole three months later at UFC 149.
Another former middleweight, Catone will also make the drop to 170 pounds for his Dec. 1 appearance. “The Jersey Devil” last competed on June 22, suffering a technical knockout to Chris Camozzi at UFC on FX 4 due to a large forehead laceration. In Waldburger, Catone faces a slick grappler with 12 career submissions to his credit. Like his opponent, Waldburger also competed last at UFC on FX 4, dropping a unanimous decision to Brian Ebersole.
Beaten just once in 14 career appearances, Khabilov, 25, makes his Octagon debut riding a three-fight winning streak. Pichel, meanwhile, has never lost in a sanctioned contest, though he was outpointed by cast mate Al Iaquinta in an exhibition bout during the semifinals of “TUF 15.”
Duran has not competed since June 2011, when he choked out the heavy-handed Francisco Rivera at the “TUF 13” finale. Better known on the Brazilian circuit at Hugo “Wolverine,” Viana has gone undefeated as a professional, most recently edging fellow “TUF: Brazil” alum John Teixeira da Conceicao at UFC 147 on June 23.
A semifinalist on “TUF 14,” Bedford rebounded from his exhibition knockout loss to John Dodson to emerge victorious in his official UFC debut, dominating the undersized Louis Gaudinot at the season's Dec. 3 finale. Known to UFC fans as “Marcos Vinicius,” Pancini has won four straight fights, ending his run on “TUF: Brazil” by knocking out cast mate Wagner Campos at UFC 147.