When we last left our heroes...For as much as fans, and observers (myself included) like to bag on the fashion in which TUF has degenerated into lame faux rivalries between coaches, and fear factor level antics, the show continues to quietly produce decent fighters. No, nothing on the level of a Rashad Evans, or a Forrest Griffin (he was champion...haters...) but more like your Joe Stevenson's of the world. And that's completely ok.
Rony Jason is chiseled in the same mold, more or less. He's coming off a tough loss in the biggest fight of his career; a knockout loss via head kick just 40 seconds into round 1 against Jeremy Stephens at the Vitor Belfort vs. Dan Henderson show. As a result, the Team Nogueira product is now 13-5.
Across from him is the pride and unassuming joy from The Pit Elevated. Siler reminds me of Jason Thacker if Jason Thacker could...ya know...fight (with all due respect?). If we judged a fighter's inability to enact ultra violence on looks alone, Siler would score a 9 Reese's Pieces trails out of 10.
And yet, he's not only good, but has an impressive finishing rate. And he famously beat both of the proud Miller brothers. Granted, we're talking about the lesser Miller brothers (Cole and Micah as opposed to Dan and Jim), but each Miller is pretty damn tough. Especially Cole.
Like Jason, Siler is coming off a loss; this one to the surging Dennis Bermudez. Siler is another example of the Joe Stevenson factory TUF has turned into. Again, that's ok. Besides...Joe Stevenson vs. George Sotiropoulas is one of my favorite fights ever. I doubt this one will be, but it should deliver as both of their styles compliment one another well.
What both men can do: I was pretty shocked when Stephens dusted Jason like that. I believe I actually picked Rony to win. In part because Jason is a very technically sound fighter. He throws a very stiff left hook, complimented by a stiff overhand right. He prefers to stick to boxing, opting for kicks only sporadically. While he's very good from his back (he can chain submissions expertly), he's just as good in top control. In addition, his movement on the feet and on the ground are well above average.
As for Siler, it's easy to forget that he's a massive FW. While he's not particularly dynamic, he is a very good positional grappler (offensively at least). He doggedly pursues the submission when it presents itself, and on the feet, he uses his reach well to slip in punches. He's not especially powerful, despite the KO over Brown, but he throws stiff, often accurate punches and is aggressive in the clinch with knees especially. He also has a hell of a guillotine (6 submission wins with it to be exact).
What both men can't do: As underrated as Siler is, Jason is even more underrated. The exponential level of underratedness will be the difference. Facetiousness aside, Jason is just so much more polished overall. He's got much better power in his hands than Siler, and like many before him, Siler's height becomes a curse when his hands are kept low. Siler keeps a wide base, and when pressed, throws wide punches that leave him vulnerable for that straight kill shot.
Jason is no defensive magician either, but other than the KO loss to Stephens, his TKO losses were to a doctor stoppage, and a "stomp to the body". I don't think either is likely, and Siler doesn't have half the KO power that Stephens does. As is, I feel like Jason vs. Stephens is still a competitive match 9 times out of 19.
X-Factor: Not too many unknown variables in this one. Jason is a solid talent, while Siler is a solid journeyman.
In-Fight Soundtrack: I feel like this fight will have its moments. No soundtrack to this one...just the great Daryl Reaugh losing his mind watching a a pretty typical hockey fight.*
Prediction: Rony Jason by RNC, round 2.
*This feels like it's own category from now on; a UFC bout's hockey fight equivalent (?). I have a sad encyclopedic knowledge of these things.