The Ultimate Fighter season finale has been set for Saturday, June 20th at the Palms in Las Vegas, with Damarques Johnson fighting James Wilks for the welterweight crown and Ross Pearson taking on Andre Winner for some good ‘ole Brit on Brit violence. Check out the breakdown after the jump.
Starting with the welterweights- Damarques knows what he's doing on the ground but he showed in his fight against Nick O that he's got no problem standing and bangin', which is probably where he wants to keep this fight. Like the rest of the UK guys, Wilks has a solid base on the feet but he has a few lazy tendencies. He lets his hands drop and he threw some pretty sloppy knees in earlier fights. If Johnson is paying attention on Saturday night, that's a combo that could potentially set Wilks up for a short nap and long ride home. He does have a good front kick, but he overuses it so Johnson will probably come prepared.
All this said, Damarques looked pretty sloppy himself when he started to run out of gas in the semi-finals so if Wilks can stay awake long enough to wear out the American, he might be able to catch him on the chin and end it late, which is going to be his best chance. Johnson is probably going to get the better of most exchanges -at least early- so if it goes to a decision, I don't see the judges favoring Wilks.
I'm giving the edge to Johnson here, but if he wants to win this, he better have on his game face. You can never count out a fighter like WIlks. As the rest of Team UK showed us this season, they're hard-nosed dudes and they show up fight. They're young, but technically sound and what they lack in skills, they more than make up for in guts -Wilks is no exception.
Before we get to the lightweight fight, check out what Joe Rogan had to say about the main event.
The lightweight fight has a few interesting points to look at. Jason Dent revealed a few things in his semi-final fight. He showed us that he's not the timid and reserved fighter we've seen so far. He showed us he has a lot of heart and could someday be a great fighter. But he also showed us he has a lot of practice left do to before he can be a serious threat in the UFC. For this reason, I'm glad he won't be the next Ultimate Fighter, but I hope he continues to work and we see him again someday.
Ross Pearson and Andre Winner, on the other hand, are ready for the UFC today and ought to put on a pretty good show. Winner has a good takedown defense but he probably won't need it as there's little chance that either of these guys will look to take this fight to the ground.
They both have power, so the possibility of a knockout is always there, but they seem to focus their energy on measured and planned attacks, which means we're likely to see a long fight with plenty of blood and sweat. Does this remind anyone of another Finale?
In the last episode of The Ultimate Fighter, Andre Winner admitted that he sucks his thumb, which is pretty f'ing weird, but he's no baby in the cage and Pearson will have his hands full. Winner takes the technical edge on the feet and in the remote chance that this goes to the matt, he's actually got pretty decent submissions, but Pearson has more tattoos. Seriously though, Pearson is a tough S.O.B., he's stronger than Winner, and he's got that intangible factor that's difficult to measure. He'd be well-advised to make this a clinch battle and keep Winner against the cage, however that's not how I see this going; even if he attempts to clinch-up, Winner will be able to keep him off with his crisp jabs. No, I see these two squaring off in the middle of the Octagon for a three-round war, which Winner will take in a unanimous decision.
Either way, I'm genuinely excited for this match-up. It's a beautiful display of what The Ultimate Fighter has done -- and will continue to do -- for this sport. There were no lucky breaks, no bad decisions. The two best lightweights are in the Finale, and either of these fighters would be interesting additions to the lightweight division.
Stay tuned for next Wednesday's show when James Wilks and Frank Lester will fight for the chance to take on Damarques Johnson for the welterweight title on The Ultimate Fighter.