The UFC heads to Las Vegas for two straight nights of MMA action, but it all begins with the UFC Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale. The event is going to be headlined by a lightweight division attraction as former WSOF Lightweight Champion Justin Gaethje faces Michael Johnson. Also, Jesse Taylor faces Dhiego Lima in the TUF 25 finals and Elias Theodorou faces Brad Tavares in a key middleweight division fight.
UFC Lightweight Division Fight
Justin “The Highlight” Gaethje (17-0-0) vs. Michael “The Menace” Johnson (17-11-0)
Gaethje is going to be making his UFC debut in this fight, but he was the first and only World Series Of Fighting Lightweight Champion. Johnson has only won just one of his last four fights, with that lone win coming over Dustin Poirier at UFC Fight Night 94. Gaethje fought and defeated three UFC veterans during his WSOF run, those UFC veterans are Dan Lauzon, Brian Foster and Melvin Guillard. Johnson was a finalist on the UFC Ultimate Fighter 12, but lost to Jonathan Brookins by unanimous decision in those finals.
Prediction: Gaethje is just going to come forward and bring the violence, but Johnson is great at using his boxing for keeping the range and landing counter strikes. Gaethje throws wildly, but eventually gets clipped by Johnson as Johnson takes home a first round TKO win.
UFC Ultimate Fighter 25 Finals
Jesse “JT Money” Taylor (30-15-0) vs. Dhiego Lima (12-5-0)
Taylor earned his spot in the finals of TUF 25 by defeating Mehdi Baghdad, Hayder Hassan and James Krause. Lima was able to punch his ticket to the finals by defeating the trio of Hayder Hassan, Gilbert Smith and Tom Gallicchio. Taylor would have been a finalist on the UFC Ultimate Fighter 7, but his actions outside of the TUF House wound up costing him his spot. Lima only won just one of four during his first UFC run, with that lone win coming over Jorge Antonio Cezario De Oliveira at UFC Fight Night 56.
Prediction: Taylor is going to hunt for the takedown right when the bell rings, but Lima picks him apart with strikes for an early first round finish.
Marc “Bone Crusher” Diakiese (12-0-0) vs. Drakkar Klose (7-0-1)
Diakiese has already earned three wins under the UFC banner, having defeated Lukasz Sajewski, Frankie Perez and Teemu Packalen. Klose has won just a single fight in the UFC thus far, defeating Devin Powell at UFC Fight Night 103. Diakiese has also competed a total of four times in the UK-based BAMMA promotion, with a notable win coming over Jack McGann at BAMMA 19. Klose also competed once in the Resurrection Fighting Alliance, defeating Hugh Pulley at RFA 44.
Prediction: This is going to be a slugfest for as long as it lasts, but Diakiese is the more dynamic striker and he finishes Klose with strikes in the first round.
UFC Light Heavyweight Division Fight
Jared “The Killa Gorilla” Cannonier (9-2-0) vs. Nick Roehrick (7-0-0)
Cannonier has won two of four fights in the UFC thus far, with those victories coming over Ion Cutelaba and Cyril Asker. Roehrick is going to be making his UFC debut in this fight and he took the fight on less than two weeks’ notice. Cannonier is a former Alaska Fighting Championships Light Heavyweight Champion, but gave up the belt when he signed with the UFC. Roehrick also competed once in the Legacy Fighting Championships, defeating Garrett Olson at LFC 60.
Prediction: Roehrick has the skills to be in the UFC, but the late notice call is going to hurt him here as Cannonier grinds out a decision win.
UFC Middleweight Division Fight
Brad Tavares (14-4-0) vs. Elias “The Spartan” Theodorou (13-1-0)
Tavares has won two of his last three in the UFC heading into this fight, those two wins came over Nate Marquardt and Caio Magalhaes. Theodorou has won five of six fights during his UFC tenure, with that lone loss coming to Thiago Santos at UFC Fight Night 80. Tavares is currently winless against past TUF Champion, dropping a bout to TUF The Smashes winner Robert Whittaker at UFC Fight Night 65. Theodorou was the middleweight winner of the TUF Nations, defeating Sheldon Westcott by TKO in the finals.
Prediction: Tavares is the better striker, but Theodorou uses the takedowns and clinch to earn a decision win.
Jordan Johnson (7-0-0) vs. Marcel “Maozinha” Fortuna (9-1-0)
Johnson has already competed once under the UFC banner, having defeated Henrique Da Silva by unanimous decision at UFC On Fox 23. Fortuna is also undefeated thus far during his UFC tenure, defeating Anthony Hamilton by knockout at UFC Fight Night 104. Johnson is a former Resurrection Fighting Alliance Light Heavyweight Champion, defeating LaMarcus Tucker at RFA 46 to win the gold. Fortuna made his UFC debut at heavyweight, but he has competed as a light heavyweight outside of the promotion.
Prediction: These two have a solid ground game, but Fortuna’s striking makes the difference as he earns a decision win.
Preliminary Card Quick Picks
Angela Hill over Ashley Yoder
Ed Herman over CB Dollaway
Aspen Ladd over Jessica Eye
James Krause over Tom Gallicchio
Teruto Ishihara over Gray Maynard
Tecia Torres over Juliana Lima
View the discussion thread.