No one, not even Chris Leben, brought as much confusion to TUF as he did.
Speaking of Browning, he's on the final card. Not to mention a match up between Wilson Gouveia and Jason MacDonald. So let's get this thing going.
Phillipe Nover (5-0-1) vs. Efrain Escudero (10-0): Escudero proved the word coming into the show on him was true, as he displayed solid wrestling skills and good submissions on his way to defeating two fighters, one named Junie Browning, to make the final. Throughout his professional MMA career previous to TUF, Escudero had accumulated 9 submission victories.
Escudero is one of those guys that is able to stay calm under difficult circumstances, which is something that came in handy when his fight against Browning came up (Browning and he had openly been involved in a war of words leading up to the match). His striking skills also looked solid during the show, which was a question many had on him coming in.
Phillipe Nover was dominant on the show. First, he's extremely athletic, fast, and powerful, which is something you just can't teach. Second, he has strong submission skills. Last, his striking from an offensive standpoint can be overwhelming and powerful. From a defensive standpoint, he sometimes left himself open on the show. Then again, he was never really on the defensive.
Prediction: Escudero is good on the ground. The thing about Nover, however, is that he seems to be more athletically gifted. On their feet, Escudero proved solid on the show but doesn't look to be good enough to weather the overwhelming barrage of punches that he's likely to be hit with in this fight. This could be a good one; Escudero has proven to be a worthy opponent. But Nover seems to have too much.
Phillipe Nover wins via second round TKO.
Ryan Bader (7-0) vs. Vinicius Magalhaes (2-2): Ryan Bader is a powerhouse former Division 1 All American wrestler. In other words, he dictates where fights go with his power and elite takedowns and takedown defense. Striking is not his forte, necessarily, even if he did show some decent skills in that regard on the show. Though he has three submission victories throughout his MMA career, two have been chokes and one has been via strikes. Therefore, he does not possess a diverse submission game yet.
Vinicius Magalhaes does not have a great MMA record. On his feet, he doesn't look very comfortable at all, as he showed some decent low kicks but not much else on the show. But when it comes to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. . .
The second he hits the ground with anyone, they're in mortal danger. Further, he's shown a willingness to pull guard with opponents to their demise, which is something that he's very likely to try against Bader.
Prediction: Magalhaes's mediocre MMA record is troubling, even if he is a highly decorated grappler. Further, his lack of striking skills make it likely that he will lose this fight for as long as it stays standing, which could be a long time considering Bader will dictate where the fight goes.
But Magalhaes pulled Krzysztof Soszynski into his guard for one moment in the fight leading to the final and then it was all over. Soszynski is no joke. So the question becomes, can Magalhaes get this fight to the ground for even one minute before being knocked out by his adversary?
Let's go with a yes.
Vinicius Magalhaes wins via submission in round one.
Jason MacDonald (21-10) vs. Wilson Gouveia (11-5): Gouveia is a tough customer. He possesses strong submission skills, excellent technical striking skills, and some decent power. He's also not easy to take down.
Gouveia is a true mixed martial artist.
Jason MacDonald is an outstanding submission fighter. He's also gifted athletically. Further, his striking skills are solid.
So this isn't an easy one to call.
Prediction: This is one of those fights where both fighters are pretty evenly matched. Gouveia may have a stand up advantage. MacDonald may have a ground fighting advantage. But in the end, expect MacDonald's athleticism to be what puts him over the top.
Jason MacDonald wins via unanimous decision.
THE REST OF THE TUF 8 FINALE
Kevin Burns (7-1) vs. Anthony Johnson (5-2): Johnson should've won this one last time if not for getting poked in the eye.
Anthony Johnson wins via TKO in round two.
Junie Browning (2-0) vs. Dave Kaplan: Browning is the better fighter here. Guess is that his head will be on straighter now that he's out of the house.
Junie Browning wins via unanimous decision.
Krzysztof Soszynski (15-8-1) vs. Shane Primm (1-0): Soszynski has way too much experience.
Krzysztof Soszynski wins via TKO in round one.
Eliot Marshall (5-1) vs. Jules Bruchez (0-0): Marshall has way too much on the ground.
Eliot Marshall wins via first round submission.
Kyle Kingsbury (7-1) vs. Tom Lawlor (4-1): Tough call.
Tom Lawlor wins via unanimous decision.
Shane Nelson (10-3) vs. George Roop (8-3): Roop proved to be a tough guy on the show. Nelson did some talking before the fight that got him booted. Is he better than that? Probably. Still. . .
George Roop wins via unanimous decision.
Rolando Delgado (5-3-1) vs. John Polakowski (2-1): Delgado is better on the ground. But guess is that he can't get the fight there.
John Polakowski wins via unanimous decision.