A handful of new matchups has been added to “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 15 finale.
Promotion officials announced Wednesday that series contestants Justin Lawrence, Myles Jury, Daron Cruickshank and Cristiano Marcello will square off with castmates John Cofer, Chris Saunders, Chris Tickle and Sam Sicilia, respectively.
In addition to that quartet of lightweight contests, the Las Vegas-based organization also revealed that “TUF 14” alum John Albert has undergone an opponent switch. “Prince Albert” will now lock horns with Octagon newcomer Erik Perez instead of Byron Bloodworth, as originally announced. The reason for the change is currently unknown.
Headlined by a welterweight contest between contenders Martin Kampmann and Jake Ellenberger, the “TUF 15” finale takes place June 1 at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. The main card airs live on FX and will feature the reality show’s to-be-determined final.
Coach Dominick Cruz’s No. 1 pick, Lawrence was an early favorite to win the show before he was stopped by Mike Chiesa in the quarterfinals. Cofer, meanwhile, was tapped out by current semifinalist Vinc Pichel after battling to a third frame of “sudden victory” in the round of 16.
A two-time “TUF” veteran, Jury was also eliminated by a future semifinalist in the preliminary round, as he fell via split decision to Coach Urijah Faber’s top pick, Al Iaquinta. Faber’s last choice, Saunders surprised many by advancing to the quarterfinals, where he dropped a contentious majority decision to Pichel.
Team Faber’s Cruickshank looked like a world-beater in his preliminary pairing with James Vick before running into a devastating knee to the jaw that relieved him of his consciousness. Likewise, Tickle held his own early into his contest with Joey Proctor, only to submit to a rear-naked choke late in the opening period.
The former jiu-jitsu coach at the renowned Chute Boxe Academy, Marcello (Pictured) was knocked out by Lawrence in the second round of their hard-fought preliminary bout. Sicilia was edged by Saunders in their first bout as full-fledged members of the “TUF” house, battling to a split decision in one of the highlights of the season.
Albert, 25, emerged from the 14th season of the UFC’s reality show to earn a technical knockout of cast mate Dustin Pague at the live finale last December. Perez enters the Octagon riding a five-fight winning streak and holds eight of his 10 wins by either knockout or submission.