The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino will stage tonight's The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale from Las Vegas, Nevada. Atop the 5-piece main card on the FX Channel sits a bantamweight brawl between battle-hardened vets Urijah Faber and Scott Jorgensen.
The complete card is listed below and followed by the main-event analysis.
FX Main Card (9:00 p.m. ET)
Urijah Faber vs. Scott Jorgensen
Kelvin Gastelum vs. Uriah Hall (TUF 17 Finals)
Miesha Tate vs. Cat Zingano
Travis Browne vs. Gabriel Gonzaga
Bubba McDaniel vs. Gilbert Smith
Urijah "The California Kid" Faber
Record: 27-6 (15 subs, 7 TKO's)
Strengths: Phase-shifting, quickness/agility, diversity, pressure/pace
Accolades: Former WEC Featherweight Champion, most consecutive WEC FW title defenses (5)
Scotty "Young Guns" Jorgensen
Record: 14-6 (5 subs, 2 TKO's)
Strengths: Wrestling, ground-and-pound, athleticism
Weaknesses: Mediocre striking, one-dimensional
Accolades: 3-time Pac-10 (D1) wrestling champion at Boise State University
Faber and Jorgensen are top-of-the-food-chain bantamweights, so it's somewhat rare to see such a wide gap in the betting lines between fighter's of fairly equal status -- but there's a good reason for that; several, in fact.
The most glaring basis is that Jorgensen's destiny is almost entirely predicated on enforcing his wrestling acumen. Generally, if he can, he wins, and his chances not only plummet when he cannot, but Jorgensen seems to shut down a little when forced to rely on his average striking skills.
To magnify that aspect: the key to imposing his wrestling is the manner in which Jorgensen shrinks the gap and sets up his shots. The importance of this factor is heightened drastically by the fact that Faber will undoubtedly will be well aware and fully prepared for this course of action, as Jorgensen's core competency and Achilles Heel is quite apparent. In plain terms, it's no walk in the park for multidimensional bantamweights to set up and secure takedowns on the fleet footed Faber, so Jorgensen's pathways to victory are extremely predictable and altogether limited.
Jorgensen has definitely evolved throughout his years in the trenches, tightening up his striking defense and form while spearing out a busy jab to control distance and camouflage his entries. However, even by complementing his takedown set-ups with the jab, Jorgensen's M.O. is still a bit clunky and foreseeable. "Young Guns" is a deceivingly strong 135er with exceptional balance and athleticism, and his rock-solid center of gravity makes him one of the most physically imposing wrestlers in the division. Jorgensen achieves this by having his feet rooted firmly to the canvas in a somewhat crouched stance, but the trade-off is that his footwork and motion suffers.
When Jorgensen comes in with a prodding jab from out on the fringe while looking to dash into close quarters to clinch or drop levels for a takedown, he generally moves forward in a straight line and stays heavy on his feet, particularly on his lead foot. His broad-built stature does him no favors from a distance either, as his 66" reach makes the issue of getting inside that much more difficult.
Faber will have a 3" reach advantage, which isn't monumental alone -- but when combined with his exemplary cage motion, intelligence, superior striking and full awareness of Jorgensen's intentions, I expect Urijah to be significantly resistant to Jorgensen's takedowns and clinch entries.
Though Faber has a definitive boxing advantage, he does still keep his hands -- especially his left -- dangerously low in the heat of conflict, or just lets them stray too far from his chin amidst engagements. Jorgensen isn't as polished or technical as Faber on the feet, but the man hits like a truck and his straight right might be just as important as his jab in this encounter, especially if he can dupe Faber into dropping his hands by faking a takedown attempt on the way in.
In a head-to-head collision, Jorgensen will have the edge with raw power -- both in the thump of his strikes and the efficacy of his clinching and wrestling -- but Faber is a phenomenal scrambler and one of the phase-shifters in the game; meaning he can seamlessly transition between striking, clinching and grappling, whereas Jorgensen is a tad cumbrous when cycling between striking and wrestling. Faber has no glaring weaknesses and a stable guard, but the worst possible position to be in against Jorgensen is underneath him on the ground, where the Pac-10 wrestling champ's base is suffocating and his ground-and-pound is flat-out devastating.
On paper, this is all Faber. Since winning a shootout on the feet is highly unlikely for Jorgensen, Faber will have painstakingly scrutinized Jorgensen's entries and should be prepared to avoid being cornered, backed up in a straight line or falling for Jorgensen's jab-heavy set ups. Faber's hefty advantages in almost every other category offer a multitude of options for him, while Jorgensen just kind of has the one. Barring Jorgensen rolling out a whole new arsenal of tricks to close the distance, Faber should be able to keep himself out of the clinch or phone-booth range and wreak havoc with his hands from outside.
Range should have the largest influence on the outcome: Jorgensen is at his best in contact range, where his massive punching power is a looming threat and he can overpower his foes by digging in underhooks and steering them around the cage at will. In the Free-Movement Phase, Faber simply shines -- the angles and pivots with his footwork are ever-changing, making his crisp boxing difficult to predict and defend. Faber also has the luxury of throwing some surprises at Jorgensen, especially if he gets frustrated and starts to chase Faber: such as vaulting forward with vicious strikes after setting the tone with elusive footwork (ala Lyoto Machida) or even springing for a double-leg on Jorgensen if he closes distance too aggressively. Overall, Faber's diversity endows him with more weapons and options, while Jorgensen's chances (and maybe spirit?) greatly diminish if he can't dominate with wrestling.
Urijah Faber by decision.