Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
There were no fireworks Friday afternoon as all 24 fighters made weight for Saturday's Ultimate Fighter season 16 final.
Roy Nelson (17-7) came in lighter than he has in most of his UFC fights at 252 pounds, giving away five pounds along with plenty of height and reach to former Purdue defensive lineman Matt Mitrione (5-1) at 257. The two were both part of season 12 of The Ultimate Fighter reality show. At the time, Nelson was easily the best fighter, a former International Fight League star in a sea of inexperienced heavyweights, none more than Mitrione, who had never had a professional fight.
"He's an elite athlete in the NFL, he came over and he's doing this for fun," said Nelson. "He's doing this as fun. He's evolved tremendously in the last three years."
Nelson still expressed disappointment he's facing Mitrione, instead of former interim heavyweight champion Shane Carwin, who was his rival coach on the series, and scheduled opponent. Carwin pulled out weeks ago due to a knee injury.
"I wanted to fight Shane," Nelson said. "Shane claimed he wanted to punch me in the face a lot. Apparently not."
In the other feature match, Mike Ricci (8-2) of the Tri-Star Gym in Montreal attempts to become the first Canadian winner of the TUF show and faces Colton Smith (5-1). Ricci, a training partner of Rory MacDonald, tries to make it two-for-two, following MacDonald's win this past Saturday over B.J. Penn in Seattle.
Prelims on Facebook at 5:30 p.m. ET
Timothy Elliott (126) vs. Jared Papazian (126)
John Cofer (156) vs. Mike Rio (156)
Hugo Viana (135) vs. Reuben Duran (136)
Live on Fuel at 7 p.m. ET
Nick Catone (171) vs. T.J. Waldburger (170)
Rustam Khabilov (155) vs. Vinc Pichel (156)
Marcos Vinicius (136) vs. Johnny Bedford (136)
James Head (171) vs. Mike Pyle (171)
Live on FX at 9 p.m. ET
Jonathan Brookins (146) vs. Dustin Poirier (146)
Jamie Varner (156) vs. Melvin Guillard (156)
Shane Del Rosario (244) vs. Pat Barry (238)
Mike Ricci (171) vs. Colton Smith (170)
Matt Mitrione (257) vs. Roy Nelson (252)
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