So your curiosity has been piqued by the upcoming finale of The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights, but you need a refresher on who's who... Even if the only name you recognize on the fight card is "Kimbo," we've got everything you need to know to be up to speed come fight night.
Scan it, then don’t forget to make your picks in the fantasy league.
THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER: HEAVYWEIGHTS FINAL
Roy Nelson vs. Brendan Schaub
This is the biggie in more ways than one. Don’t think so? Just look at the UFC careers of past Ultimate Fighters such as Forrest Griffin, Rashad Evans, Diego Sanchez, Joe Stevenson, Mike Bisping, etc. and you’ll see what winning this reality show competition can do for you.
On Saturday night, we’ll be treated to one of the most intriguing finale matchups yet, with former football player Brendan Schaub – an ultra-talented kid with a huge upside in this game – taking on Roy Nelson – a guy with the type of world-class experience that you can’t emphasize enough, especially at this level.
Can raw talent overcome experience? If Schaub can stop the takedowns that nipped at him on the show, he may get a chance to show off his hands against Nelson. On the other side of the Octagon, Big Country has been effective, but not pretty, in pounding his way to the finals.
This matchup marks a great clash of styles that will be riveting well past Saturday night; either way we’ll see a new – and unique -- winner navigate the UFC heavyweight minefield.
Matt Hamill vs. Jon Jones
He’s only had nine professional fights (three in the UFC), but when you ask people about “Jonny Bones” Jones, the phrase “future of the sport” usually shows up in the conversation. Consider this – he’s only 22 years old, is extremely athletic, is a former JUCO national champion in wrestling, and has an array of unorthodox strikes and throws that look like they’ve come straight out of a video game. Add in a win over veteran contender Stephan Bonnar and a recent change in training camps to the renowned Greg Jackson gym in Albuquerque, and the future may be now.
That said, Saturday brings Jones his toughest test to date in Matt Hamill, a former national championship wrestler himself. Hamill shone in The Ultimate Fighter season three cast, then as the first deaf fighter to compete in the Octagon. Oh, and he can fight too, as evidenced by six UFC wins, including a highlight reel head kick knockout of Mark Munoz in March.
This is an evenly matched battle of two talented 205-pound MMA fighters, but given their history – and Jones’ desire to prove a point – don’t be surprised if a wrestling match breaks out.
Kimbo Slice vs. Houston Alexander
In the time it takes to read this paragraph, this explosive bout (which will be waged at a catchweight of 215 pounds) may be over. That’s a testament to the punching power and aggressive styles of both Houston “The Assassin” Alexander and Kimbo Slice.
Internet fans were the first to catch on to the Kimbo phenomenon as he specialized in unsanctioned fights aired on youtube.com. He has since moved up through the world of sanctioned mixed martial arts to The Ultimate Fighter and the UFC.
While many have questioned Kimbo’s ground game, he likely won’t have to worry about submisisons from Nebraska’s all-out banger Alexander. The Assassin has not been out of the first round since 2005 and owns opening round victories over Keith Jardine and Alessio Sakara.
You’ve heard it before, but this time we mean it – don’t blink.
Frankie Edgar vs Matt Veach
MTV “True Life” fans met Frankie Edgar as he prepared for his 2008 bout against Gray Maynard and for his wedding to his longtime girlfriend. Since then, “The Answer” has tied the knot, had a son, and continued to roar up the lightweight ranks of the UFC with wins over perennial contender Hermes Franca and former 155-pound champ Sean Sherk.
On Saturday, he takes on Illinois’ Matt Veach, a hard-nosed fellow wrestler with heavy hands and the type of resilience that can pull victory from the jaws of defeat. Stylistically, this is a matchup that can’t miss when it comes to fast-paced action.
Marcus Jones vs. Matt Mitrione
Viewers of TUF 10 know that there is no love lost between these two former NFL players. While they never had the opportunity to meet on the gridiron or TUF, Big Baby and the show’s biggest baby will finally settle the score with each other Saturday night.
Marcus Jones has made it clear that Matt Mitrione is not on his Christmas card list, and that could lead him to get emotional and toss his gameplan out the window. Mitrione will have his own issues to deal with in terms of making his professional debut in the UFC against an imposing (6 foot 6, 265 pound) opponent looking to take his head off.
Stylewise, Jones is a bit more versatile, as he has knockout power and a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Rob Kahn. But Mitrione is no slouch with his hands, and he has the type of heat behind his fastball that can change a fight around in a split second. Whatever way it goes, this is a great way to open up the TUF10 finale card.
PRELIM HEAVYEWIGHT BOUT:
Darrill Schoonover vs. James McSweeney
Win or lose, you may not see Darrill Schoonover in the UFC for a while, as the vet is being called back into active Army duty following his bout. Between that and opposing coach Quinton Jackson’s nonstop barbs, he should be good and motivated to leave an impression inside the Octagon. Add Schoonover’s unbeaten pro record, and the American Top Team member may just be a slight favorite.
But Schoonover likes to stand, and his Team Rashad squadmate James McSweeney is a world-class kickboxer who LOVES to stand. McSweeney’s record is spotty, but he does have Greg Jackson leading him into battle, so expect him to arrive with solid gameplan. Whether or not he can execute it is on him.
PRELIM HEAVYEWIGHT BOUT:
Jon Madsen vs. Justin Wren
Put two wrestlers like Justin Wren and Jon Madsen together and most of the time you’ll wind up with a kickboxing match. If that’s the case, Wren will have a slight edge in the standup department -- The Viking almost got a third round against Roy Nelson, which could have landed him in the semis. This is a great chance for Wren to stamp his TUF10 experience with a final win before moving on to the big show.
But Madsen, unbeaten in his pro career thus far, can’t be counted out, especially given his wrestling ability and training partners at Matt Hughes’ H.I.T. Squad like Robbie Lawler, Matt Veach, and Brian Foster.