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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

The Ultimate Fighter 27 Finale is here. This card is being headlined by an important middleweight bout involving rising star Israel Adesanya and seasoned veteran Brad Tavares. Apart from this great main event, this card will crown the featherweight and lightweight winners of the TUF 27 tournament: Mike Trizano takes on Joe Giannetti at 155 pounds, and Jay Cucciniello battles Brad Katona at 145 pounds. This card also features a few notable fights in Roxanne Modafferi vs. Barb Honchak, and Alex Caceres vs. Martin Bravo.

What: The Ultimate Fighter 27 Finale

Where: Pearl Theatre in Las Vegas, Nevada.

When: Friday, July 6. The two-fight UFC Fight Pass preliminary card begins at 7 p.m. ET, the four-fight FOX Sports 1 preliminary card begins at 8 p.m. ET, and the six-fight main card begins at 10 p.m. ET also on FOX Sports 1.


Brad Tavares vs. Israel Adesanya

I must say, although I’m not in favor of this match up, Brad Tavares vs. Israel Adesanya is a pretty compelling fight. At this stage of his career and showing great amount of potential, Adesanya shouldn’t be fighting someone as seasoned as Brad Tavares. But oh well, here we are.

Adesanya has been talking big game and he’ll have a lot to back up on Friday night. Adesanya is 13-0 and he’s 28 years old. The middleweight prospect is quick, technically sound on his feet, and holds a decent takedown defense. Adesanya’s striking is very dangerous and precise. Adesanya is not much of a power puncher, but his precision and volume make him a very effective striker.

Tavares, although not much older than Adesanya, has a ton of experience fighting in the UFC. Tavares is extremely well rounded. He’s a solid boxer with a pretty good wrestling base. Tavares is a strong middleweight and packs a decent amount of power.

I’m not saying Adesanya can’t win this fight, but I do believe this to be a huge step in competition for him. Tavares has the perfect combination of skills to defeat Adesanya. He has what it takes to hang on the feet with Adesanya, and he has the wrestling and size to takedown or pin Adesanya against the cage. Tavares is also durable and far more experienced than Adesanya. If Tavares is not injured enough to be hindered in the Octagon, which was rumored in the lead up, I don’t don’t see why he can’t come out on top here.

Pick: Tavares

Mike Trizano vs. Joe Giannetti

I feel this this fight could either be very exciting or very uneventful.

Mike Trizano is a solid fighter. He has good stand up technique and movement. He also has a decent ground game with good submissions. Trizano is tough and fights at a constant pace. On the other hand, Joe Giannetti is a dangerous submission artist that also has good boxing skills. Giannetti reminds me a lot of the Diaz brothers. His striking is not too powerful, but he can land often.

I can see a scenario where Trizano outstrikes Giannetti to win a decision, but my hunch is that Giannetti will catch a choke at some point in the fight. Trizano had good jiu-jitsu, but Giannetti ability to finish on the ground is likely better than Trizano’s submission defense.

Pick: Giannetti

Jay Cucciniello vs. Brad Katona

This one I find to be very straight forward.

Brad Katona is a young guy that’s pretty athletic and well rounded in his skill set. Katona is not the most technical guy yet, but he’s very explosive and strong in everything he does. Katona doesn’t hesitate to strike and he can time takedowns quite well.

Jay Cucciniello is a solid boxer with good movement and pace. Cucciniello is not too powerful or athletic, but does everything by the book and keeps things technical. Cucciniello also has some ground game and can threaten with his submissions.

I think the key difference here is going to be Katona’s superior explosiveness and strength. Technique wise both guys aren’t too far apart, but they are quite different when it comes to athleticism. Katona should bully his way to a finish.

Pick: Katona

Alex Caceres vs. Martin Bravo

I love this fight.

Alex Caceres is a fun fighter to watch. He has a very unique style, he’s skilled on the feet and on the ground. Caceres is not a strong athlete, but he’s got reach, cardio, and good movement. Meanwhile, Martin Bravo, winner of season three of The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America, is a young, tough fighter that possesses great boxing and good takedown and submission defense.

Caceres is far more experienced than Bravo, but the Mexican fighter is a lot stronger than Caceres. Skills wise, they’re not too far apart on the feet, but on the ground Caceres is significantly better than Bravo. However, Caceres doesn’t have great wrestling and Bravo is far stronger, so I see this fight mainly playing on the feet.

Tough call. Caceres might be fluid and experience enough to outpoint Bravo, but Bravo’s pressure and power might could be too much for Caceres to handle. It should be a close fight, but I think the veteran will pull it off.

Pick: Caceres

Roxanne Modafferi vs. Barb Honchak

Roxanne Modafferi is one of the most experienced female athletes in the UFC. “The Happy Warrior” has been fighting at an elite level for several years now. She has really good jiu-jitsu, fights composed, and strikes with an odd style that can sometimes be effective depending on the opponent. Modafferi might not be a great athlete, but she’s durable and well conditioned.

Barb Honchak is another veteran of the sport. The former Invicta FC flyweight champ holds wins over notable opposition such as Leslie Smith, Nina Ansaroff, Felice Herrig, and Roxanne Modafferi. Honchak is a very technical striker that can also grapple well. Honchak is strong for the weight class and she’s one of the better athletes in the division.

This is an interesting fight, these two women have very different styles. I think Honchak should be able to muscle her way into favorable grappling positions and I believe she should be able to land the harder shots too. Modafferi could overwhelm Honchak with her pace and pressure, which makes this fight interesting. I wouldn’t be surprised if Modafferi gets the win, but I do favor Honchak.

Pick: Honchak

Alessio Di Chirico vs. Julian Marquez

Alessio Di Chirico is a tough fighter that swings hard and likes to pressure his opponents. Di Chirico has decent wrestling defense, and he’s a very athletic guy for the division. Di Chirico’s striking is pretty clean and he carries a decent amount of power.

Julian Marquez is a bit different than his Italian opponent. Marquez likes to brawl, he’s strong for the weight class, and can do a bit of everything. Marquez has strong submissions, but he can also do a good deal of damage on the feet.

I think Marquez is the more well-rounded fighter here, but I find Di Chirico to be better in the striking department. I think Di Chirico should be good enough to avoid being taken down by Marquez. I see Di Chirico backing up Marquez and landing the better strikes of the fight.

Pick: Di Chirico

Undercard:

Montana De La Rosa def. Rachael Ostovich

Luis Peña def. Richie Smullen

Allan Zungia def. John Gunther

Matt Bessette def. Steven Peterson

Oskar Piechota def. Gerald Meerschaert

Tyler Diamond def. Bryce Mitchell