The live TUF experiment will come to a conclusion here with a card packed with TUF talent and a MMA fight to determine the upper crust of the Welterweight division. Being as this is a TUF Finale card though, we’re going to have some slim pickings for wagers. I never condone wagers on TUF fighters at the finale due to the copious amount of X-factors involved with tough training conditions, big show jitters, inside knowledge of opponents and changing camps.
If you see some outrageous odds feel free to hit them, but for my betting corner I’m just going to focus on the scant non-TUF fights, with the exception of the final itself. Now, onto the fights!
Jake Ellenberger -160
Martin Kampmann +130
Props: Fight Goes Distance/Over
The Welterweight division might be a mess right now, but the top guys are staying active for their eventual shot at the title. Coming off two different come-from-behind victories, Jake Ellenberger and Martin Kampmann have braved dangerous waters and have managed to stay ahead of the pack, making this a pivotal MMA fight at 170 pounds. Ellenberger brings some dynamite in his hands and one of the better defensive wrestling games in the business, which should mesh well against Kampmann’s muay thai and submission savvy approach. While Kampmann’s submission game isn’t something to toy with, Ellenberger has rolled with many lethal grapplers and come out no worse for wear, which could be key to taking a close fight on the cards. Unless someone makes a grievous error I don’t see a finish happening for anyone here, although I’d say Ellenberger has the better chance at a quick win. For my money, the Over should cash here, and perhaps a small wager on Ellenberger if you can find a nice straight line.
Al Iaquinta -200
Mike Chiesa +160
Props: Iaquinta by KO
This isn’t at all the final I thought we’d be seeing, yet Iaquinta and Chiesa will face off as opponents for the six-figure contract. I’m going to be brutally honest and say that, while Chiesa comes into this MMA fight with a great story of rising above tragedy, he is in no way UFC caliber. This will become painfully clear as Iaquinta brings his excellent skill set to bear on the grappler and delivers a stunning KO through Chiesa’s porous defense. That said, we haven’t seen enough of Iaquinta’s ground game to rule out the effectiveness of Chiesa’s grappling attack, so I suggest caution in wagers here.
Charles Oliveira -130
Jonathan Brookins EV
TUF 13′s Jonathan Brookins and Brazilian Featherweight Charles Oliveira will clash in one of the better match-ups on the TUF 15 Finale. This is a rough match-up for both fighters, as Oliveira will need to finish Brookins before he finds himself stuck in a defensive position on the mat, while Brookins needs to stay sharp standing and mind his arms on the mat. While I don’t normally pick against the wrestler in a circumstance like this, Brookins is one of the worst strikers in the UFC and I’m not convinced his chin can carry him here. Oliveira has the accuracy and power to harm Brookins standing, and his submission game is a slick one, giving him an edge in being able to finish this one out. This could go several directions though and I wouldn’t recommend anything other than the straight bet on these MMA fight.
Max Hollaway -120
Pat Schilling -120
Two somewhat interesting prospects with bad luck in their debut fights in the octagon as Hollaway and Schilling will give this whole UFC thing one more shot. Hollaway seems to be an incredible athlete with far too much gusto for his own good, but someone who could develop if given reasonable match-ups in the UFC. For Schilling, we have someone with natural boxing ability and a world of grappling experience, but who seems to be fighting a weight class above where he should and with difficulty dealing with pressure intelligently in the fight game. Overall, this is anyone’s fight due to the defensive flaws of both men, yet I have to side with Hollaway having the better ability to learn and come in here with some tricks Schilling won’t be ready for.
John Albert -185
Erik Perez +145
My favorite dark horse from TUF 14 will return to action, as John Albert faces Sanshou specialist Erik Perez. Albert brings a fantastic blend of raw power, striking acumen and high level submission wrestler to the cage that saw him easily walk through cast mate Dustin Paige and nearly dispatch veteran fighter Ivan Menjivar. For those unfamiliar, Perez is a tricky fighter who trains in muay thai and sanshou, and has used his takedown defense and slick striking to decent effect throughout his career. My issue here is that Perez has stuffed the takedowns of novice wrestlers, but someone with Albert’s brute strength and talent should have him down anytime he needs this fight to hit the mat. Cardio issues aside, I see Albert being too much for the newcomer, although the finish of this fight is difficult to predict. Hit Albert straight if his line is within grasp, but avoid those O/U plays, as they’d all be a crapshoot in this MMA fight.