The UFC kicks off its 6th Annual International Fight Week on Friday with The Ultimate Fighter Finale: Johnson vs Gaethje LIVE on FoxSports1 (FS1). In the Co-Main Event, Ultimate Fighter: Redemption finalists Jesse Taylor and Dhiego Lima will battle for a $250,000 grand prize. Former Ultimate Fighter competitors will be squaring off against one another throughout the card, including Gray Maynard on the UFC Fight Pass Early Prelims and also a matchup between TUF Redemption semi-finalists James Krause and Tom Gallicchio on the FS1 prelims. Action starts:
6PM ET UFC Fight Pass Early Prelims
7PM ET FS1 Prelims
9PM ET FS1 Main Card
FS1 Main Card
Jordan Johnson (-240) vs Marcel Fortuna (+200)
Light Heavyweight prospects Jordan Johnson (7-0-0) and Marcel Fortuna (9-1-0) will get things going in the opening bout on the main card. Both fighters were successful in their UFC debuts, as Fortuna was awarded a Performance of the Night bonus for his first round knockout of Anthony Hamilton back in February. Jordan Johnson is an skilled grappler and heavy wrestler. Fortuna is a well rounded fighter with an impressive ground game to boot. Johnson will enjoy a five inch reach advantage, and will have to use his length to effectively impose his will on a very game opponent. I think Johnson’s wrestling and top control will earn him the decision victory.
Crystal Ball Prediction🔮: Johnson via Decision
Brad Tavares (+105) vs Elias Theodorou (-125)
Ultimate Fighter Nations Middleweight Winner Elias “the Spartan” Theodorou (14-1-0) has won two straight, and will be looking to make it three in a row when he takes on seasoned veteran Brad Tavares (14-4-0) Friday night. Tavares will be making his fourteenth appearance inside the Octagon and is looking to string together back to back wins for the first time since 2014. Tavares is 3-1 when fighting in Las Vegas.With another win, Theodorou will be looking to propel himself into the Middleweight rankings. Considering he only has one defeat on his record and was victorious against #15-ranked Sam Alvey, it would tough to argue that “the Spartan” does not deserve to be discussed amongst the upper echelon of the 185lbs division. I predict Elias will overwhelm Tavares with his heavy pressure and output, and earn a late stoppage victory.
Crystal Ball Prediction🔮: Theodorou via Third Round Submission
Jared Cannonier (-275) vs Nick Roehrick (+225)
Jared “the Killa Gorilla” Cannonier (9-2-0) will be looking to rebound from his last loss in which he was dominated for all three rounds by Glover Teixeira at UFC 208. His opponent, newcomer Nick Roehrick (7-0-0) will be making his Octagon debut on just days notice, as a late replacement for Steve Bosse. Cannonier is only 2-2 in the UFC, but received Performance bonuses in both of his victories. Roehrick is confident in his abilities wherever the fight goes, and I believe this duel has Fight of the Night potential. Keep your eye on the short notice replacement.
Crystal Ball Prediction🔮: Roehrick via Decision
Marc Diakiese (-260) vs Drakkar Klose (+220)
Undefeated British superstar Marc Diakiese (12-0-0) will be seeking another Performance on the Night bonus when he faces off against the explosive Drakkar Klose (6-0-1). Klose earned a unanimous decision victory in his UFC debut against Devin Powell back in January this year. He will be ramping up the level of competition when he steps into the cage versus “the Bonecrusher” Diakiese. Diakiese is 3-0 in the UFC, and has put on exciting performances each time he has been in the Octagon. In his last bout, “the Bonecrusher” finished Teemu Packalen in just 30 seconds, collecting $50k in the process. I expect this bout between undefeated Lightweight prospects to be a doozy. Both fighters looked amped up, getting into a heated exchange during the fighter weigh ins.
Crystal Ball Prediction🔮: Diakiese via Second Round KO
Ultimate Fighter: Redemption Finale
Dhiego Lima (+145) vs Jesse Taylor (-175)
The winner of the Ultimate Fighter: Redemption finale will be taking home the largest cash prize in TUF history. Either Dhiego Lima (14-5-0), or “JT $” aka Jesse Taylor (32-15) will wake up tomorrow $250,000 richer. Dhiego has looked much improved this year and won a decision against RNC choke artist Tom Galicchio in the semifinals. Jesse Taylor has looked like a man possessed this season of the Ultimate Fighter. He battered and beat number one contender James Krause, and earned his spot in the finals by locking in and putting Krause to sleep via Third Round Guillotine submission. Taylor has been on the road to redemption all season and is one victory away from erasing the memory of being disqualified from competing in the TUF Season 7 finale. It will be Dhiego Lima’s his second appearance in an Ultimate Fighter finale. Lima lost via First Round KO to TUF Season 19 winner, Eddie Gordon.
Both of these guys have worked very hard to put themselves in the position to be a TUF Champion and take home the grand prize. I believe that the Jesse Taylor will impose his will on Lima, and ultimately get his hand raised.
Crystal Ball Prediction🔮: Taylor via decision
#5 Michael Johnson (-160) vs Justin Gaethje (+140)
Former World Series of Fighting Lightweight Champion Justin Gaethje (17-0-0) will make his highly anticipated Octagon debut against Michael “the Menace” Johnson (18-11-0). The two fighters have been going back and forth, talking smack all fight week. The newcomer, Gaethje has handled himself very well in his appearances with the media, and looks to hit the ground running against the highest profile opponent he has faced to date. Johnson will be looking to get back into the win column, as he was trounced by Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 205 last November. “The Menace” has gone 1-3 in his last four fights. This should be a very entertaining fight. This spot for Gaethje is kind of reminiscent of when Eddie Alvarez made his UFC debut against Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. Alvarez lost his debut via decision, but something tells me that Gaethje is going to get it done. I think Gaethje will overcome adversity and stop Johnson late via strikes.
Crystal Ball Prediction🔮: Gaethje via Third Round KO
On the FS1 Prelims, TUF Season 7 alum CB Dolloway returns to the Octagon for the first time since December 2015 to face longtime veteran Ed Herman. Let us know what you think in the comments section below. And get ready for the doubleheader, as UFC 213: Nunes vs Shevchenko 2 has a stacked card and will be coming to you LIVE from Las Vegas tomorrow night!!👊👊