In our first preview covering The Ultimate Fighter Season 10 Finale that will take place this Saturday at the Pearl at the Palms in Las Vegas, Nevada, we'll look at a clash of two former NFL players who will be competing in a completely different environment than the gridiron. The former Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Marcus Jones (4-1) will take on former Minnesota Viking, San Francisco 49er, and New York Giant Matt Mitrione (0-0) in a match-up that is being sold as a settlement of a grudge. That grudge formed after Jones found out that his good friend within The Ultimate Fighter house, Scott Junk, received two tears in his retina from the eye poke he received during his battle with Mitrione. Jones took the news very emotionally and proceeded to walk up on Mitrione in an angry rage.... yeah, don't ask me how Jones went from accidental eye poke to Mitrione ruined Junk's career on purpose. In any case, they'll settle the "grudge" on Saturday.
This isn't a tough match to break down by any means. Jones is obviously a load on the ground as he has size and strength coupled with some jiu-jitsu know-how from his training at Gracie Tampa. There are plenty of former NFL players out there who will tell you that Jones was one of the strongest guys they've ever faced while they were in the NFL, and he certainly uses that power in the cage. Unfortunately, he's slow and inexperienced in the striking department, the area in which Brendan Schaub took full advantage in the semi-finals.
Mitrione's best chance relies on his horribly formed striking game. While his show performances didn't give any of us confidence that he'll be a good fighter in the future, the proper training camp can have some surprising results. Just look at Ben Saunders. Mitrione has some good coaches in Chris Lytle and Jake O'Brien to help form his raw repertoire of skills, but will it be enough to stop "The Darkness" from crushing him inside one round?
I won't beat around the bush when it comes to my feeling about how this match-up came about or why its even happening. Obviously, Marcus Jones is a guy who can be a formidable opponent if he can improve his striking and avoid exposing his chin to punishment. He has a dominating ground game, but he obviously has major holes. He does have some major upside if he can improve his weaknesses and ground tactics though, and this is likely a chance for the UFC to give him some more exposure to the casual fan base.
Marcus Jones takes this fight on the ground as Mitrione's stand-up is just horrific to watch. Hands down, quick jab with some reach, and chin up in the air... it's just not the recipe for success. Jones won't capitalize on his chin, but he'll surely clinch up and plop Mitrione on his back. Look for Marcus to win in the first round.