Can RDA Rebound against the Nigerian Nightmare – TUF Finale Preview

The Ultimate Fighter season 28 has just concluded and I wanted to use this platform to thank the creators of the show. When I discovered MMA, I was in my sophomore year of college and was kind in a slump, I felt completely isolated from the rest of campus and I wanted to find a way to keep my mind at ease, just by chance I happened upon the Ultimate Fighter season 22 on FS1, the season coached by Urijah Faber and Conor McGregor. I luckily came in just as the episode was starting and I remember watching a few coaching sessions, interviews with the fighters fighting that episode and Faber taking his team to a Savers to get a bunch of fake fancy clothes to match Conor McGregor’s panache. I remember rooting hard for a fighter named Thanh Le as he went up against the much taller Martin Svensson. I felt my heart drop as soon as I saw the tap, as Le Succumbed to a Rear-Naked Choke. At the time I didn’t even know what an RNC was and I was captivated by the raw nature of the show. I managed to dig up Season 5 of the show and watched that season in full by the next episode of the current season and my love of the sport began there. The Ultimate Fighter has hit a lull since it’s hay day and when the company moves over to ESPN, the show might be in jeopardy of being cut from programming. I just wanted to thank the UFC for putting that show on TV and introducing me to my (now) favorite sport.

Women’s Flyweight: Antonina Shevchenko (-367) Vs. Ji Yeon Kim (+283)

Antonina Shevchenko is the sister of Future Flyweight Title Challenger Valentina Shevchenko and has trained with her sister for most of her life and is an expert in Muay Thai and Kickboxing. Her 5-0 record earned her a shot on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series where she dispatched her opponent with vicious knees and elbows and earned a contract. Shevchenko will battle Ji Yeon Kim on Friday and she is no slouch. With a 2-1 UFC Record, she comes in as a strong opponent for Shevchenko. I believe that Shevchenko will win due to her likely high level of preparation but I think the fight will end via decision. Antonina Shevchenko Def. Ji Yeon Kim

Middleweight: Edmen Shabazyan (-122) Vs. Darren Stewart (+108)

Edmen Shabazyan came up big in his shot on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series when he knocked out Antonio Jones in less than a minute. That performance earned him a UFC Contract and he looks to build on that performance by Knocking out Darren Stewart. Darren “The Dentist” Stewart has won two straight after going 0-3-1 to start his UFC Career and both wins were impressive TKO victories. There are avenues to victory for both Stewart and Shabazyan. Stewart needs to stay out of Shabazyan’s boxing range and look out for Judo techniques while Shabazyan needs to take Stewart down and look for the submission finish. The Pimple on the Mustang’s back in this fight is the Fact that Shabazyan fights out of Glendale fight club, Ronda Rousey’s old training grounds where coach Edmond Tarverdyan has garnered some criticism for changing the fortunes in the careers of Travis Browne and Jake Ellenberger as well as giving Ronda Rousey a lot of false confidence. I’m picking Darren Stewart to take the victory based solely on training camps. Darren Stewart Def. Edmen Shabazyan

Bantamweight: Bryan Caraway (+205) Vs. Pedro Munhoz (-270)

Bryan Caraway is still a man with a lot to prove inside the Octagon. The Las Vegas resident recently lost his Head Coach Robert Follis to Suicide and is looking to get a win for his late coach. Caraway spent some time away from the octagon before returning at UFC 222 where he took a loss to Cody Stamann by Split Decision, Caraway looked good in that fight and this fight would be a good one for him to get back on track with, at least record wise. Caraway’s opponent Pedro Munhoz has shown that he can hang with the big boys of the UFC and currently sits in that 8-12 range of UFC Bantamweights. He is able to dispatch lesser fighters with ease and has even been able to crack the codes on some higher valued opponents such as Rob Font and Brett Johns. But when he faces people in the top 7 of the division, he falters as shown in his three professional losses to Raphael Assuncao, John Dodson, and Jimmie Rivera. The questions about this fight are, is Munhoz ready to jump up to the big boys? and is Caraway one of them? We’ll find out on Friday. Pedro Munhoz Def. Bryan Caraway

(This is where the TUF Finalists will fight)

Welterweight: Rafael Dos Anjos (+172) Vs. Kamaru Usman (-208)

Kamaru Usman is always a man on a mission when he steps on the canvas. The Nigerian Nightmare is on a short list of men who, if they continue to win, will likely challenge current Welterweight Champion Tyron Woodley within the next year. Kamaru is currently 13-1 and 8-0 inside the Octagon with premier wins over Demian Maia, Sergio Moraes, Sean Strickland, and Warlley Alves. Kamaru’s typical MO is to overpower the opponent with his wrestling and look for either a TKO or a submission. Inside the UFC, Usman has gone to decision six times and has been accused of being a boring fighter based on the lack of finishes. I personally find Usman’s style interesting as the opponent always needs to look out for the takedown but also must be wary of overhands that can knock you out (Sergio Moraes). With Usman, it’s like playing a master of chess but instead of a worthy opponent, you’re a 3rd grader who has never moved a pawn. RDA most recently fought for the Interim Welterweight Championship against Colby Covington where Colby dictated the pace with ease. Given how much clout Usman holds inside the octagon, RDA will surely have his hands full. Kamaru Usman Def. Rafael Dos Anjos

Other Selections:

Featherweight: Kevin Aguilar (-120) Def. Rick Glenn (-110)

Flyweight: Joseph Benavidez (+105) Def. Alex Perez (-130)

Lightweight: Roosevelt Roberts (-270) Def. Darrell Horcher (+210)

Welterweight: Tim Means (-340) Def. Ricky Rainey (+265)

Bantamweight: Raoni Barcelos (-465) Def. Chris Gutierrez (+340)


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