Tracy Lee, Combat Lifestyle
The Ultimate Fighter 16 Finale goes down tonight in Vegas, and I'm here to take a brief look at each of the undercard fights. There are seven fights in total, and the featured attraction will be a welterweight bout between Mike Pyle and James Head. There are three bouts being aired on Facebook, and four on Fuel TV before the main card kicks off on FX. The Facebook stream is expected to begin around 5:25pm ET/2:25pm PT, while the Fuel TV portion begins at 7pm ET/4pm PT. The main card starts at 9pm ET/6pm PT, but will be tape-delayed for those on the west coast.
Mike Pyle (23-8-1, 6-3 UFC) vs. James Head (9-2, 2-1 UFC)
Pyle comes into the bout off a big knockout of Josh Neer at UFC on FX 3 in June, which was his second win in a row. He's known for being very well-rounded, but his major strength is his submission game. Head has won two bouts in a row since dropping to the welterweight division, including an impressive win over Brian Ebersole in his last bout. Head is well-rounded too, and probably has better standup than Pyle. So the key for Head is probably going to be keeping the fight standing.
Both men were contestants on The Ultimate Fighter - Bedford on season 14, Vinicius on the TUF Brazil. Bedford has good wrestling and has shored up his submission game nicely after a few losses earlier in his career. Vina is a submission specialist who is making his first appearance in the UFC at bantamweight. Vina will likely have the size advantage, but he'll be giving up a little in the wrestling department. Both men have no problem staying on the feet though, which should make for a good fight.
Pichel was a cast member of The Ultimate Fighter 15, making in to the semi-finals before losing to Al Iaquinta. All of his seven official wins have come by KO or TKO, but both his wins in the house came by submission. Khabilov is a former Combat Sambo world champion and trains at Jackson's. He has competed in M-1 and One FC, and picked up a win over UFC vet Jason Dent in his last bout. While Pichel is okay on the ground, this is primarily a striker vs. grappler matchup.
Waldburger enters the fight trying to erase the memory of a loss to Brian Ebersole in his last bout. Catone had a two-fight winning streak stopped by Chris Camozzi in his last fight. This is Catone's debut at welterweight, and he looked okay at the the weigh-ins yesterday. Both of them were NCAA Division 1 wrestlers, but Waldburger has an edge in submissions while Catone has an edge on the feet. Catone will be the bigger man physically but is giving up 2.5 inches in reach. It might not be the most exciting fight, but on paper it looks pretty interesting.
Both men were contestants on The Ultimate Fighter 15. Rio didn't get to fight on the Finale due to broken ribs, while Cofer was knocked out by Justin Lawrence. Both men have wrestling backgrounds, though Cofer's is at a much higher level. Rio's probably going to try and keep it standing to knock Cofer out, but it remains to be seen how successful he'll be at that.
Duran is a well-rounded scrapper who looks for the finish, while Viana is a patient guy who mostly goes to decisions. Viana will be a little bit bigger (this being his bantamweight debut in the UFC), but he's going to have his hands full with Duran.
Papazian is dropping to flyweight for the first time, and meets wrestler Elliott. Neither man has won a fight in the UFC as of yet, but each of their encounters has been fun to watch and this bout should be no different.