If you didn't get your fight fix at UFC 175, don't worry - the UFC is ready with another card for you. The Ultimate Fighter 19 Finale airs Sunday, July 6, live on Fox Sports 1 at 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT and features Frankie Edgar vs. B.J. Penn along with the two TUF finals. Prior to that, we have six prelim fights starting at 6:00 p.m. ET on Fight Pass and then 7:00 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1. Get ready for a big night with our Bloody Elbow fight preview. In this edition, a look at the main card. Let's get to it.
This battle of coaches is quite the fight for a TUF Finale. It's also a fight filled with X factors that makes it tough to predict. Edgar is 2-0 against Penn, as he defeated Penn for the Lightweight title in a close fight back in 2010, then defeated him more soundly in a rematch. Since those fights, Edgar has gone 2-3-1, has lost the Lightweight belt, and has moved down to 145 where he's 1-1. He's also taken a fair amount of time off, as this will be his first fight in a year. Meanwhile, Penn is 1-2-1 since the Edgar fights and has not won a fight since 2010. After his 2011 loss to Nick Diaz he retired. A 2012 return against Rory MacDonald did not go well at all for Penn, and now he's down at Featherweight just for one fight to try and get revenge on Edgar.
Clearly, much has changed for both men since they last met. At that time, Edgar showed he has the superior wrestling and conditioning and was able to dominate Penn. Now, it's much harder to anticipate. Penn looked to be in very good shape during TUF, and he seems driven to get that revenge on Edgar. That adds up to, perhaps, the return of the elusive "motivated B.J. Penn", who has traditionally been one of the very best in the sport. But with just one fight in the past three years, can even a motivated Penn get the job done? As for Edgar, his style seems to no longer get the nod from judges like it used to, and though he has not shown any of the decline we have seen from Penn, his sporadic recent schedule also makes him hard to evaluate. Based on all of that, you have to give the nod to Edgar, but in this rematch, there's enough up in the air that anything could happen.
Prediction: Frankie Edgar by decision
This fight crowns the Ultimate Fighter season 19 winner in the Light Heavyweight division and, just as is the case on the Middleweight side, it's an all Team Edgar final (sorry Team Penn). You have here the wrestling of Anderson vs. the brawling of Van Buren. Corey Anderson brings very little pro experience to this fight, as he has only been a professional since 2013. There's also a bit of question as to his record, as various sources list it as 2-0, 3-0, or 4-0, though the UFC goes with 4-0. Prior to the transition to MMA, Anderson had strong wrestling experience and was a former teammate of Ben Askren. In fact, it was Askren who brought Anderson to MMA. Anderson also has a significant amount of amateur MMA experience to draw on. In the cage, he is effective with his wrestling as you would expect, but also uses his boxing quite a bit. That boxing got him into the finals as he beat up Patrick Walsh on the feet, but Anderson's inability to finish a clearly exhausted Walsh was a concern.
Van Buren trains at Alliance MMA - one of the top gyms in the sport. He developed a pretty grating personality on the show, and his first fight was an absolute stinker of the boring lay & pray variety. But in the finals, he stepped it up and put a beating on the favored Dan Spohn, outworking Spohn in the 2nd round and showing a lot of aggression to earn a very strong TKO win. Van Buren is 2-2 in Bellator.
Overall, Van Buren is perhaps the better total package fighter, as he is one of those middle of the road fighters who can do decently well on the regional circuit, while Anderson is a fighter with some gaps in his game still. But of everyone on this season, I think Anderson has the greatest potential. That wrestling pedigree, combined with steadily improving (though still not quite there) striking makes him a threat. More than that, his attitude just feels right. I don't know that he's a future world champion, but I think in a few years he is the clear standout from the season, and he shows why here.
Prediction: Corey Anderson by decision
TUF final #2 here, this time at 185, and again, all Team Edgar. Dhiego Lima is the brother to Bellator champion Douglas Lima. Like his brother, he's a good technical fighter with a sound grasp on fundamentals. But while Douglas tends to lean more towards the striking game, Dhiego's best area is his submissions, and it's that submission game that got him to the finals. On this season there were only 3 finishes - 2 of those were Lima submission finishes, including a lightning quick armbar win over Roger Zapata to get to the finals. His one loss comes against underrated veteran Nathan Coy, and that speaks to his weakness (again, one he shares with his brother) - Lima can be beaten by a grinding game, as his ability to get off his back against a good wrestler is not the best. Still, those submissions make him dangerous on the mat.
Eddie Gordon is an old friend of UFC Middleweight champion Chris Weidman, and it was Weidman who pulled Gordon in to MMA by getting him to train with him at Serra-Longo. Gordon has been a much heavier fighter in the past, fighting with excess pounds in higher weight classes, but he seems much better suited to 185. His best asset is his physicality, as he was able to use those physical skills to take out favorite Cathal Pendred to get to the finals. He's a fine, if somewhat raw stand-up fighter who again uses strength to push his way to a win.
Lima is the easy pick here, as his submission game is better than anything in Gordon's arsenal. The concern though is that size and power. Gordon has dropped down to 185, while Lima is likely to drop down to 170 after this fight. It's entirely possible Gordon bullies his way to a win with a measured and calculated pace, but I think Lima can be explosive and shine on the mat.
Prediction: Dhiego Lima by submission
This Heavyweight battle looks to be a stand-up clash as that is where both fighters are most comfortable. Derrick Lewis is a heavy handed fighter with an impressive 9 of his 10 wins coming via KO or TKO. That includes pre-UFC wins over Bellator Heavyweight Ryan Martinez and rising UFC fighter Jared Rosholt, whose lone loss is a 2012 KO at the hands of Lewis. He continued that KO run in his UFC debut against Jack May earlier this year, though it should be noted that he struggled against May prior to the KO. Opponent Guto Inocente makes his UFC debut here after a two year absence from the sport. Inocente is a Strikeforce veteran who holds a win over TUF Brazil 3 finalist Vitor Miranda. Inocente has a fair amount of experience on the Brazilian kickboxing scene, where he has had solid success. He now trains with the Balckzilians, who are no doubt helping him continue to refine that kickboxing game into MMA.
This is a power vs. technique stand-up battle with the power of Lewis vs. the more studied kickboxing skills of Inocente. Typically, I tend to favor technique in those areas, but the time off is a real concern. Again, this ends a two year gap in fights for Inocente, and that one fight in 2012 came after another two year layoff. It's just too hard to see him jumping right back in and being able to deal with the aggression and power of Lewis, so in this case, I'll take the power edge. Prediction: Derrick Lewis by KO
This is the fight with the most diviosnal relevance on the card, main event included. Top 15 contender Ortiz takes on the highly touted Scoggins in a fight that has hardcore fans buzzing. Ortiz is a Roufusport trainee with good experience in Strikeforce, Tachi Palace Fights, and now the UFC. He's currently on a 5-1 run, with that one loss coming against former #1 contender John Moraga. As you would expect from a Duke Roufus student, Ortiz is a skilled stand-up fighter, but he also has a good submission game. Opponent Scoggins is only 22 years old, but already has a lot of momentum behind him. This undefeated fighter trains at the superb American Top Team, and is already 2-0 in the UFC. He has a unique stand up style built upon a very strong amateur foundation in kenpo karate. A lot of people are predicting big things for Scoggins - this could be his coming out party.
Stylistically, this is a fascinating fight as both men bring a lot to the table. The argument I am most frequently hearing is that Scoggins is just a bit too good for Ortiz and has the edge in most areas. While that may be true, I see Ortiz's work with Duke Roufus here as a real key. Scoggins does have that unique kenpo style, but if you are facing someone with an unorthodox striking skill, there are few better coaches to have in your corner then kickboxing great Roufus. If Ortiz is well prepared, I think he can employ better technique on the feet and slow down the Scoggins hype train, but this is a very tough one to call. Prediction: Dustin Ortiz by decision