On tonight's episode of UFC's The Ultimate Fighter Live Dominick Cruz sends his #3 pick Myles Jury to take out Urijah Faber's #1 Al Iaquinta. Just as we saw last week, this is an exciting battle between two of the contenders that many saw as possible finalists. Now, one will be out of the competition early. Every week, join us here as we break down the night's match-up, including video of each contestant to get you ready. The Ultimate Fighter airs live on FX Friday night at 10 p.m. ET / 8 p.m. PT.
So far, Team Cruz is up 2-0 over Team Faber, with Faber's #2 and #3 picks eliminated in the first two weeks of competition. Daron Cruickshank's loss in week 1 was a surprise upset where Cruickshank got caught, but last week was a more definitive loss for the team, as Faber's camp came up with a pretty bad game plan, leading to Cristiano Marcello getting KO'd. Faber really needs a win here, both to redeem the team, and to keep at least one of his big picks in the competition. But this is a very close fight, and despite Iaquinta's high pick for Team Faber, a Jury win would not be a big upset by any means. These are two very evenly matched fighters, and I expect a real technical battle tonight. Let's take a closer look.
AL IAQUINTA (5-1-1)
5'9.5" | 24 years old
TUF record: def. Jon Tuck (Dec)
Iaquinta is a product of the Serra Longo team where he trains with former UFC Welterweight champion Matt Serra and Ray Longo. That team has produced some solid UFC prospects lately, with both Chris Weidman and Constantinos Philippou rising up the ranks. Iaquinta has been a pro since 2009, with all of his fights taking place in New Jersey's Ring of Combat promotion. His last fight before TUF was a loss to UFC veteran Pat Audinwood; he comes to this fight having defeated Jon Tuck via unanimous decision in a fight primarily remembered for Tuck's horribly broken toe.
On Iaquinta's UFC profile he lists his specialty as "considers himself well-rounded," which pretty well sums him up. Iaquinta is one of those fighters who is solid in every area of the game. As expected from anyone who trains with Serra Longo, he has nice hands that he uses more like a traditional boxer than an MMA fighter. That boxing is helped by some nice movement on his feet. He also has good submission defense (though that one loss is via armbar). He's comfortable on the feet or ground, and does a nice job transitioning between the two. But his hands are probably his best area. He has good power, and ended one of his fights via a spectacular 15 second KO.
Against Jury, look for Iaquinta to try and keep the fight standing and outbox his opponent, but if it goes to the mat, he'll be comfortable as well, making him a tough opponent to plan for.
MYLES JURY (9-0)
5' 11" | 23 years old
TUF record: def. Akbarh Arreola (Dec)
Jury is an undefeated fighter out of the San Diego area. There, he has trained with various camps, including working with Dominick Cruz and his team at Alliance MMA. He was briefly on The Ultimate Fighter: Team Lesnar vs. Team Dos Santos, but left during the first episode with a torn ACL. On paper, he has a very impressive record. Nine fights, nine wins, nine stoppages, all in under 3 minutes of round 1. However, as you dig deeper, you notice that his quality of competition in those 9 fights has not always been great. Many of his opponents have pretty lopsided records - like, 2-15 lopsided. Ouch. So while he has indeed looked impressive in these wins, it's a bit hard to get an accurate read on him.
Stylistically, Jury is similar to Iaquinta in that he is a well rounded, comfortable fighter. On the feet, he is skilled at using the Muay Thai idea of 8 limbs - kicks, punches, knees, and elbows. On the ground, he has nice ground and pound, particularly using his elbows. His TUF win over Arreola was a bit of an exception for Jury, who normally goes for the finish more actively, but that win showed that he is a smart fighter who can play against his opponent's weaknesses. He's not the same kind of aggressive finisher as someone like Justin Lawrence. He's patient, but will capitalize and go for the kill when ready. But again, I have to ask - how much weight can we put on these finishes? Many of his opponents seemed to really wilt and just give up - a sign of Jury's power, or more a comment on his opponents? This fight will really tell us a lot about him.
Against Iaquinta, I would expect Jury to try and use kicks to maintain range, while also trying to put Iaquinta on his back and use elbows to pound him out.
Prediction: Al Iaquinta by decision
I've gone back and forth here a lot, and I'm still not 100% sold on my pick. I think Jury has the more varied striking, and will be able to outpoint Iaquinta at first. But the difference maker to me will be that Iaquinta has been in trouble before. He's been in long fights, he's been pushed, and he's come through. Jury's fast finishes work against him in that he's never seen a 2nd round, never really been in trouble. As the fight progresses, I think Iaquinta will get stronger, and end up taking the win. But if Cruz helps Jury put together the right gameplan, he can take this.
Videos from both men in the full entry.
Al Iaquinta vs. Tim Sylvester
June 12, 2011 - Ring of Combat 25
A 15 second KO from Iaquinta that shows off his power.
Al Iaquinta vs. Joshua Key
Nov. 20, 2009 - Ring of Combat 27
Nice ground control on display here.
Myles Jury vs. Marcus Ajian
Nov. 26, 2008 - King of the Cage
See what I mean about questioning Jury's level of opponent?
Myles Jury vs. Karl Kelly
April 4, 2009 - King of the Cage
Myles Jury vs. Tyronne Holmes
June 19, 2009 - King of the Cage