Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale staff picks and predictions

Esther Lin for MMA Fighting

The Bloody Elbow staff makes their picks for Saturday's Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale in Vegas.

Urijah Faber vs. Scott Jorgensen

Tim Burke: These two are basically the same type of fighter, and it's no surprise that they've trained together a lot. Faber's just better at everything other than maybe ground and pound. The big question is whether Faber can finish Jorgensen or not. And I'm leaning no. Urijah Faber by decision.

Mookie Alexander: Honestly, I am not too eager to see this fight. Will it be exciting? Probably. But Faber is pretty much odds on to win this, and the worst case scenario is that we have to watch Faber in yet another title fight in just one year. As for actual analysis, I agree with Fraser that Jorgensen has "lost a step" more than Faber, and I think Faber hurts Jorgensen with some punches in the 3rd round and finishes him with a guillotine choke. Urijah Faber by submission, round 3.

Fraser Coffeen: This doesn't have quite the same ring it would have if it was a WEC main event in like early 2011, but it's still a good fight between two tough contenders. Both men seem to have lost a step since their best days, but Faber has lost less. At this point, I won't pick Faber to ever beat the champ again - but for now, I also won't pick him to lose to anyone else. Urijah Faber by decision

Zane Simon: I hate it when someone walks in and says everything I was going to say. Then I come in and I'm like hey, I've got this great opinion... Today is that day, Mookie is that person.

David Castillo: This fight is easy to predict because few fighters are more reliably spunky than Faber; he has a knack for punishing opponents in the transition, and for a flat footed plodder like Jorgensen? That's a death sentence. By choke. Urijah Faber by RNC, round 2.

Dallas Winston: I'm not sure whether Jorgensen's lost a step or his limited capabilities are just better recognized. He struggles if/when he can't impose takedowns and I think Urijah is more diverse, quicker, a much better phase-shifter and will just overwhelm Scotty with pressure.

Staff picking Faber: Matt, Mookie, Fraser, Zane, David, Stephie, Tim, Grant, Dallas
Staff picking Jorgensen:

Kelvin Gastelum vs. Uriah Hall

Tim Burke: Uriah Hall by TKO, round 2.

Mookie Alexander: There's only one way for Gastelum to win and that's wrestling. Chris Weidman did it and savagely defeated Uriah, but I think it's oversimplification to think that anyone with a semblance of a takedown game can replicate Weidman's success. Hall is probably going to clean up Gastelum on the feet and stuff the takedown attempts if necessary. I think it should be clear that Hall is by no means an immediate top 5 or top 10 MW right now, but he's definitely a cut above the rest of this cast. Uriah Hall by KO, round 2.

Fraser Coffeen: This seems like a ridiculously obvious pick. Hall has been a killer on TUF, Gastelum has been a dark horse. I've picked against Gastelum every fight, and he's proved me wrong every time. The kid has definitely shown real improvement over the course of TUF, and I underestimated him. I still don't think he has enough to deal with Hall, but probably enough to make it a fight. Uriah Hall by KO

Zane Simon: When I think back to last weeks Fuel picks and how I blindly went along with Mousasi by first round TKO, despite my misgivings, I have a moment's pause. Maybe this too will drag out to a harder/slower/less enthralling than expected decision. Or not. Uriah Hall by 1st Round KO.

David Castillo: I wouldn't be surprised to see Gastelum start out with the edge. The kid is tough, and will move forward which is a good way to begin a fight against an offensive juggernaut like Hall, but the size disadvantage is too great to consider. Uriah Hall by Decision.

Dallas Winston: I have nothing more to add other than that Gastelum has the type of tenacity and style to cause serious problems for Uriah. A quick KO blowout will probably always be possible for any Hall scrap but I think Gastelum will put up a valiant fight and this will be closer than many think. Hell, Dylan Andrews was able to take Hall down and contain him for the majority of a round, so Gastelum has the potential to eke out the win here. Uriah Hall by decision.

Staff picking Gastelum:
Staff picking Hall: Matt, Fraser, Mookie, Zane, David, Stephie, Tim, Grant, Dallas

Miesha Tate vs. Cat Zingano

Tim Burke: It kind of shocks me that Zingano is a small favorite here. Tate has fought on the much bigger stages, she's physically bigger than Cat, and has very good grappling. People (and linemakers, apparently) are holding Tate's performance in the Kedzie fight against her, but it's one fight. Tate's just the better fighter. Miesha Tate by decision.

Mookie Alexander: I'm thinking the 2nd ever women's MMA fight in the UFC will win FOTN honors. Tim raises a good point about Tate's size advantage over Zingano, and I definitely think Tate is a better grappler. Zingano holds the edge in striking, but it won't really factor if she is unable to cope with Miesha's wrestling. All that said, by no means count Zingano out here just because she's the less familiar name. Miesha Tate by submission, round 3.

Fraser Coffeen: Tate is one of the very (very) few fighters to have any measure of success against Rousey, plus her ability to pull off a win against Coenen was impressive. She's not a flawless fighter by any means, but she's a solid top of the ranks fighter for the division. Zingano is good, with a nice win over Hashi, but she lacks the big fight experience and all around skill set of Tate. Rousey/Tate 2 coming soon. Miesha Tate by submission

Zane Simon: Maybe, I'm just biased against her for her terrible cornering advice. In fact I'm sure I'm being overly dismissive of Miesha, but I feel like this is one of those fights where one fighter will be much hungrier than the other. I feel like there's an upset in the works. Cat Zingano by Decision

David Castillo: Even though I think Tate is a solid fighter, she never makes it easy on herself.It's not very scientific, but I think Zingano is gonna be able to muscle her way to a decision against a fighter who can be inconsistent in the cage despite some usually dynamic grappling which I think Cat can neutralize. Cat Zingano by Decision.

Dallas Winston: I'm also surprised that Cat is the favorite but still think she poses an extreme threat to Miesha. Cat's BJJ acumen seems pretty solid and I feel her ground and pound -- especially her elbows -- are much fiercer than Tate's. Miesha's wrestling should dictate the outcome here: her top game should be good enough to stave off submission attempts but she's in trouble if she can't impose takedowns regularly or ends up on her back. Miesha Tate by decision.

Staff picking Tate: Fraser, Mookie, Tim, Grant, Dallas
Staff picking Zingano: Matt, Zane, David, Stephie

Travis Browne vs. Gabriel Gonzaga

Tim Burke: Gonzaga's big and scary, but when he gets hit hard, he crumbles like a Chips Ahoy in front of the Cookie Monster. Browne has power and athleticism, and that will be the major difference. Travis Browne by TKO, round 2.

Mookie Alexander: I want Gonzaga to do well, but he hasn't beaten anyone in or nearing the top 10 in ages, and I have little reason to believe that he can suddenly restart that now. Travis Browne by KO, round 2.

Fraser Coffeen: I tend to think both of these guys are a bit overrated, but there's no reason for Browne to not take this. Travis Browne by KO

Zane Simon: Travis Browne is streets ahead of Gabriel Gonzaga athletically. He's big, he's fast, he's coordinated. But I like Gonzaga's sub game, and I think he's a high pressure enough fighter to make Browne uncomfortable, tie him up, and squeeze something till Browne taps. Gabriel Gonzaga by 1st round submission

David Castillo: I'm not high on either fighter. Both are inconsistent, and both grow inert the longer the fight goes. Tough one to pick, but I think Browne will make Gabe uncomfortable long enough to make him feel insecure going into the latter rounds. Travis Browne by Decision.

Dallas Winston: Browne was on top of the world before blowing out his knee in the Bigfoot fight. If he's in top form, his graceful stand up should be too much for Gonzaga, who desperately needs to strike his way into the clinch in order to work takedowns and apply his biggest advantage in submission grappling. "Hapa" isn't on Gonzaga's level on the mat but I'm thinking he'll hold his own well enough. Travis Browne by TKO.

Staff picking Browne: Matt, Fraser, Mookie, Stephie, David, Tim, Grant, Dallas
Staff picking Gonzaga: Zane

Bubba McDaniel vs. Gilbert Smith

Tim Burke: Bubba McDaniel by TKO, round 1.

Mookie Alexander: This is such a waste of a main card slot. Gilbert looked awful in the Barnatt fight and Bubba is the only fighter on the show to lose twice. On paper, Bubba is the better fighter, but he's so much of a head case that I'm picking against him because of it. Gilbert Smith by unanimous decision.

Fraser Coffeen: Not stunned to see Bubba get a main card slot, as he was one of the clear "stars" of the TUF season. He really should win this against the overmatched Smith, but it's hard to predict how Bubba's fights will go. Pretty clearly the pressure of the show got to him and he lost in his head before he even fought. I'm fairly confident he's better than what we saw. But it's not like this is a low-pressure situation - a fight on the main card in what could be his final shot at the UFC? Hopefully being out of the house and away from the cameras makes him more comfortable and he performs more in line with his abilities. Bubba McDaniel by KO

Zane Simon: I haven't seen anything impressive from Bubba, or from Gilbert for that matter. But I've seen a lot more that was unimpressive from Bubba. Gilbert by Unanimous Decision

David Castillo: I feel like I should pick Bubba because Smith looked so mediocre on the show, but then I remember how mediocre Bubba himself looked. Coin toss/who cares. Bubba McDaniel by Decision.

Dallas Winston: I like Bubba here with a few months to prepare physically and mentally, but Smith has the type of wrestling/submission combo that can negate everything else. Bubba's takedown defense will be imperative. Bubba McDaniel by decision.

Staff picking McDaniel: Matt, Fraser, Stephie, Tim, Grant, David
Staff picking Smith: Mookie, Zane

Kevin Casey vs. Josh Samman

Mookie Alexander: I highly doubt Casey troubles Samman in any way. Josh Samman by double punch TKO, round 2.

Fraser Coffeen: Samman all day. He's significantly more well rounded, way better on the feet, mentally tougher, with superior cardio. The only advantage Casey has is his jiu jitsu, but Samman is skilled in that area as well. I'm surprised King even got a shot after quitting on the stool during the show - this is almost definitely a make or break for him. Josh Samman by KO

Zane Simon: He may not have made it to the final, but he starched Troeng and showed enough along the way to suggest he at least belongs in the big leagues. Samman by TKO

David Castillo: Talk about being given a gimme fight. Casey is supposed to be some self-made grappling prodigy (knowing his age would be useful here: odd that wiki and sherdog don't have it listed on his profile), but on the show routinely displayed little off his back, and constantly found ways to lose (or gassed out). Josh Samman by TKO.

Dallas Winston: Count me in as a Samman mark, but I was genuinely surprised at the way Gastelum finished him. The same elements of wrestling/submission in Casey's game are cause for concern, but Samman was my original pick to win the show and I still want to see him square off with Hall. I can't stop trying to force the words "Ham" and/or "Sandwich" in as a nickname for Josh .... The "Ham" Samman "Wich"? I'm so close. Josh Samman by TKO.

Staff picking Casey:
Staff picking Samman: Matthew Kaplowitz, Fraser, Mookie, Zane, Stephie, Tim, Grant, David, Dallas

Luke Barnatt vs. Collin Hart

Mookie Alexander: I only just remembered Collin Hart's nickname is "The Dick". I'm not sure The Dick can withstand a 15 minute beating. Luke Barnatt by unanimous decision.

Fraser Coffeen: Barnatt is the easy pick here, but I like Hart's chances. He's a gritty fighter who likes to pressure opponents and rough them up, and Barnatt doesn't respond all that well to that game. That's how Andrews knocked him out of the competition. But I fear I'm overthinking this. Barnatt is just the better fighter, and when it comes to TUF guys, that's usually enough. Luke Barnatt by KO

Zane Simon: Luke Barnatt has insane size at MW, in fact I wouldn't be surprised if he ends up at LHW. Along with a diverse skill set of Muay Thai and counter-grappling he just has way more ways to win. Barnatt via TKO

Dallas Winston: Barnatt was a standout on the show but his takedown/sub defense will undergo a big test here. Logically, I think Hart has a great style for him as long as he doesn't try to "showcase his hands" again. Collin Hart by grinding decision.

Staff picking Barnatt: Matthew Kaplowitz, Fraser, Zane, Mookie, Stephie, Tim, Grant, David
Staff picking Hart: Dallas

Dylan Andrews vs. Jimmy Quinlan

Fraser Coffeen: One of the harder TUF fights to call here. Andrews showed incredible heart on the show - enough to get him by any deficiencies in his game. Quinlan has a good ground game and a dogged determination to get the fight there. I don't think Andrews will fight that ground game as much as say Clint Hester did, but I do think he'll surprise Quinlan once it goes there. Dylan Andrews by decision.

Dallas Winston: Not to rag on Quinlan, but the one aspect that stands out for Andrews is his fighting spirit, and Quinlan kind of admitted to giving up when Samman unleashed the Double Skull-Busters. Dylan Andrews by decision.

Staff picking Andrews: Fraser, Zane, Mookie, Stephie, Dallas
Staff picking Quinlan: Tim, David

Clint Hester vs. Bristol Marunde

Mookie Alexander: Hester has power but I haven't really seen much of anything else to think he'll last longer than 3 fights in the UFC. Marunde has fought (and beaten) much better competition and certainly holds an advantage on the ground. Bristol Marunde by submission, round 2.

Fraser Coffeen: Hester is a good striker who could very easily KO Marunde early. But he's also a real front runner who fades badly as the fight progresses. Marunde is a veteran who has faced a decent level of competition. He's also a smart fighter. I see him slowing things down to survive the early storm, then taking control as Hester fades. Bristol Marunde by decision

Zane Simon: In a fight between two limited fighters I'm taking the one with the higher athletic upside. Bristol isn't a bad fighter, but he's not a particularly good one either, and I think he getsput away early. Clint Hester via 1st round KO

Stephie Daniels: Marunde is coming in on 10 days notice, and is coming in light. I interviewed him last night, and by HIS calculation, he thinks Hester will have at least 20 lbs on him come fight time. Hester has the advantage on the feet, Marunde on the ground, but is Bristol gonna be able to muscle him to the ground? I'm not so sure. Marunde is on a long layoff if you exclude his TUF stint. I'm only weighing in here because I have fresh insight. Hester via 2nd round TKO

Dallas Winston: Marunde has the type of relentless and grinding style that's not conducive to short-notice fights. Clint Hester by decision.

Staff picking Hester: Zane, Stephie, Dallas
Staff picking Marunde: Fraser, Mookie, Tim, Grant

Cole Miller vs. Bart Palaszewski

Tim Burke: Miller has looked bad at FW. Bart has looked decent, but has had to face much tougher competition. I'll take Palaszewski's wrestling/grinding over Miller's length and submission prowess. Bart Palaszewski by decision.

Mookie Alexander: I love watching Cole Miller fight, but I'm ready to give up on him as a potential dark horse contender at any weight class. He's looked weak at 145 and is losing to some less than stellar competition. Palaszewski is the more powerful striker and I don't think Cole can get this to the ground and get a submission. Bart is also better than both Phan and Siler in my opinion, and I expect him to dominate this one to save his UFC career. Bart Palaszewski by TKO, round 2.

Zane Simon: Cole Miller turned a lot of heads with his win over Ross Pearson, a win in part caused by a Pearson knee injury. And I feel like it was a win that did him more harm than good; it gave him confidence in the wrong skills. If he tries to go strike for strike with Bartimus he'll lose, badly. Palaszewski via TKO

Dallas Winston: Cole Miller was a hot prospect ever since his admirable showing against "Lion" Takeshi in Shooto, but I really expected his striking and footwork to blossom much more than it has. Bart should be more technical on the feet, his strong wrestling should counteract Cole's size and his grappling chops are good enough to hang. Bartimus by TKO.

T.P. Grant: Cole Miller mark right here. Cole Miller by Flying Gogoplata, Round 1 at 0:05

Staff picking Miller: Grant
Staff picking Palaszewski: Fraser, Mookie, Zane, Stephie, Tim, David, Dallas

Justin Lawrence vs. Daniel Pineda

Tim Burke: Lawrence is the flashy striker and Pineda might be a little too quick to wade into his range. But I think Pineda is the more complete fighter and if he can get it to the floor, he can finish it. Daniel Pineda by submission, round 2

Mookie Alexander: Lawrence isn't anything to write home about, but he's probably going to send Pineda packing quickly. Justin Lawrence by KO, round 1.

Staff picking Lawrence: Fraser, Mookie, Zane, Stephie, Grant, Dallas
Staff picking Pineda: Tim, David

Maximo Blanco vs. Sam Sicilia

Tim Burke: This will either be a really good brawl to start the card, or some sort of tumbling competition again. In other words, I have no idea what to expect from Blanco. I bet on Sicilia, but I'll take Maxi here. Maximo Blanco via TKO, round 1.

Mookie Alexander: Whatever the hell that fight with Marcus Brimage was shan't be repeated on Saturday night. Blanco takes this. Maximo Blanco by KO, round 1.

Zane Simon: I don't know why I believe in Maxi at this point, but I do. Maximo Blanco via TKO

Staff picking Blanco: Fraser, Mookie, Zane, Stephie, Grant, David, Dallas
Staff picking Sicilia:

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