TUF Live: Team Cruz vs. Team Faber Poster by Anton Tabuena
After weeks of being the only UFC game in town, The Ultimate FIghter Live is stuck taking a backseat this week to UFC 145 and Jon Jones vs. Rashad Evans. It's hard to get too amped up for the continuing antics of Urijah "short-contest champion" Faber and Dominick "bad one liners" Cruz this week. Which is a shame as the featured fight this week pits Team Cruz #6 Vinc Pichel vs. Team Faber #6 John Cofer in what could be a pretty great fight. As always, here is our in-depth breakdown, plus fight videos. The Ultimate Fighter airs live on FX Friday night at 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT.
Neither Pichel nor Cofer have been featured much on the show, which is often the kiss of death in pre-taped reality shows that set up a narrative for the winner early on. But thanks to the live format, that's not the case here - it just shows that these two men have remained relatively quiet. They're an intriguing contrast - Pichel is the dynamic fighter "From Hell" while Cofer is the more laid-back Southern folk potter. Yes, you read that right - in case you missed it on the premiere, Cofer's non-fighting life is making folk pottery in Georgia. Which is a first for TUF, and kind of makes me root for the guy. But let's see what each man brings to the Octagon.
Breakdown of Pichel and Cofer, plus fight video and prediction in the full entry.
VINC PICHEL (7-0)
5'10" | 29 years old | 72" reach
TUF record: def. Cody Pfister (Sub, R1)
Vinc "From Hell" Pichel hails from California where he trains under Big John McCarthy at his BJMUTA training academy. He's a perfect 7-0 and has won all 7 of those fights via TKO or KO stoppage from strikes, with 6 of those 7 wins coming in the second round, where he likes to come out heavy and hunting for the stoppage. There's a bit of confusion over his record, as Sherdog lists him at 6-0, but video of a fight not included on his record exists, which I suspect accounts for #7.
Last week, Joe Proctor was presented as the show's dark horse, but honestly, I think that distinction goes to Pichel. He's an excellent, well-rounded talent with a great finishing ability. On the feet, he's a good striker who likes to blast his way to the inside, then put strikes together into vicious combos. He's less comfortable fighting at range, but still not totally out of his element there. On the mat, Pichel has a highly active guard, constantly working for numerous submission attempts. That also makes him very hard to submit. On top, he has nice ground and pound, highlighted by absolutely brutal elbows - he used one such elbow to slice open Pfister on the TUF premiere, opening up a serious gash. And once he has an opening he capitalizes - this guy is a finisher.
For this fight, look for Pichel to try and rough Cofer up standing, keep very active if he gets taken down, and try to reverse for the top position to land some ground and pound.
JOHN COFER (7-1)
5'10" | 27 years old | 72" reach
TUF record: def. Mark Glover (UD)
Souther folk potter John Cofer (sorry folks, but I find that endlessly fascinating) is a tried and true wrestler. He trains with Rory Singer at his Hardcore Gym where he has put together a nice 7-1 record. That record shows a good mix of decisions, submissions, and TKOs, which is a nice thing to see in a fighter.
Stylistically, Cofer's game is very straight forward - he's coming to outwrestle you. His gameplan is generally to use strikes to close the distance, secure the clinch, and take you down. He has nice takedowns in his arsenal, and is able to use them well to gain top position. From there, sorry to say, he's a bit from the "lay and pray" school of wrestling. He's not always actively looking to pass the guard or get the stoppage, but instead dominates with his smothering control. That can be incredibly frustrating for his opponents - Glover was visibly upset throughout their fight. On the feet, Cofer fights southpaw. Again, his strikes are there to set up his wrestling. And they do a good job with that offensive goal in mind. Defensively, his strikes are a concern. He keeps his hands very wide, inviting his opponent to come inside, but he doesn't have the technical skill with his hands to get away with that, and as a result, he is wide open right up the center. But if he gets you down, he's very good at keeping you there.
Against Pichel, I expect he'll stick to his basics: take him down, smother him for as long as needed.
Prediction: Vinc Pichel, Decision
I like Pichel a lot, but this is a tricky fight for him. He's not someone who picks his opponents apart standing at range, which means he'll get inside with Cofer. That opens him up to the takedown and ground control. And in 10 minutes, it's entirely possible Cofer can get enough ground control to eek out a decision. But I think Pichel will be too active on his back and will take this. Though I fear a close judgement going Cofer's way.
Vinc Pichel vs. Rodney Rhoden
This is not on his record, but I believe is Pichel's 4th pro fight. Great action here.
Vinc Pichel vs. Matt Bahntge
March 25, 2011
Pichel's in red here. Part of round 1 is missing.
John Cofer vs. Marius Cujba
October 1, 2011
Highlights here from Cofer's final pre-TUF fight