Saturday, December 13, 2014

TUF 20 Finale thoughts (and UFC on Fox picks)

I'm going to make kind of quick picks for this card simply because I've got quite a bit going on today.

First, though, I wanted to wish a hearty congratulations to Carla Esparza, who defeated Rose Namajunas via Sub 3 to win the inaugural UFC World Strawweight Championship.

Looks like I was right about the third-round submission part. Just had the wrong fighter.

In all honesty, I should have seen it coming. Rose tore through her end of the bracket, but she only faced one fighter ranked in the top four seeds. She also had the advantage of the house putting fighters in matches on short rest.

Esparza finished the 16-seed easily and then beat the third- and fourth-seeded fighters in back-to-back decisions. And with a full camp, she certainly looked every bit the champion she was in Invicta, and will surely be for the UFC as well.

With the win, I feel fairly certain that Esparza is the best 115-pound fighter in the world right now. Jessica Aguilar certainly has an argument, but when you shun UFC and Invicta to fight in a barely-there World Series of Fighting division, you don't get to lay claim over a fighter who just won a tournament of top-flight, international talent.

The question now turns to who Esparza faces next. To me, the obvious answer would be Joanne Calderwood, who was seeded second in the tournament and dominated Seo Hee Ham, who had been a top-ten fighter at atomweight.

A rematch with Jessica Penne or Tecia Torres (especially Torres) could be fun, and Felice Herrig looked good in her fight (though I'd rather see her fight Heather Clark).

For Namajunas, I'd like to see her fight Aisling Daly, who surprised me and won by round 1 submission despite missing weight. Daly and Namajunas would be a cool clash of unorthodox strikers with deadly submission games.

Overall, I was TERRIBLE at picking the male fights, going 0-2-1 in them, but I went 5-3 with the women's fights, including 5-1 on the undercard (Daly's weight mishap throwing me off the trail of a perfect record). Certainly not my best effort, but seeing as I'n still getting my feet back down in terms of consistent picking, .500 isn't bad.

Heck, I had a winning record with fights involving TUF fighters.

But back to Esparza, I thought she was definitely the favorite going in and I had been rooting for her. While I got fooled by Namajunas' run, I certainly am glad to see a deserving fighter in the position of champion and wish her the best as she joins Ronda Rousey as a face of women's MMA.

Well, that was long. Let's make some picks!

UFC on Fox main card

Stipe Miocic vs. Junior Dos Santos - Dos Santos via KO 1

Nate Diaz (missed 155 lb weight limit) vs. Rafael dos Anjos - dos Anjos via decision

Stefan Struve vs. Alistair Overeem - Overeem by KO 3

Matt Mitrione vs. Gabriel Gonzaga - Gonzaga by Submission 2

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