The first of two straight UFC events is tonight, as the TUF 27 Finale will take place as an appetizer for UFC 226. Here are Cageside Press’ picks for the Friday night card.
|Staff Writers||Di Chirico vs. Marquez||Modafferi vs. Honchak||Caceres vs. Bravo||Cucciniello vs. Katona||Trizano vs. Giannetti||Tavares vs. Adesanya|
|Paarth Pande (66-35)|
|Dan Doherty (64-37)|
|Mike Straus (63-38)|
|Jesse Gillette (56-35)|
|Gabriel Gonzalez (58-38)|
|Jay Anderson (57-44)|
|Mike McClory (49-43)|
|Josh Evanoff (22-8)|
The TUF 27 Finale has an appealing main event, as kickboxing superstar Israel Adesanya attempts to continue his rise against former TUF competitor Brad Tavares. Adesanya is 2-0 in the Octagon with one knockout and was a title contender in GLORY Kickboxing before making the move to MMA. Brad Tavares has had a great run in the UFC since joining the ranks in 2010, going 12-4 and riding a four-fight win streak into this bout. Six of eight writers sided with the Nigerian hype train Adesanya.
In the co-main event, an undefeated lightweight will be crowned The Ultimate Fighter. Mike Trizano is one of the finalists, holding a 6-0 record with two submissions and two knockouts. He won via second-round knockout and three-round decision on his way to the finale. Joe Giannetti is also 6-0 but has submitted five opponents and also submitted his two foes on the way to the finals. Trizano was unanimously picked by the staff.
In the first of two TUF finals, Jay Cucciniello will take on Brad Katona to determine the featherweight victor. Cucciniello is 8-0 with one no contest, finishing all of his opponents thus far. He was eliminated in the first round of the tournament, however, but re-entered after Ricky Steele suffered a concussion. Katona is 6-0 with three finishes, making his way to the finals with a decision and submission. The Canadian Katona was picked by all but one writer.
Alex Caceres, AKA Bruce Leeroy, battles Martin Bravo on the main card. The unorthodox Caceres has struggled recently, losing six of his last nine fights. Bravo is looking to recover from a brutal knee KO suffered in August. Bravo was another unanimous pick by the staff.
Women’s MMA veterans Roxanne Modafferi and Barb Honchak will square off for the second time. Honchak was victorious the first time in 2011, but is coming off a loss in her first bout after retiring in 2014. Modafferi has won two of her last three and was a finalist on the last season of TUF. Five of eight writers gave Honchak the edge.
Opening up the main card will be Julian Marquez and Alessio Di Chirico. Marquez won via submission in his UFC debut last December, but missed weight for this bout. Di Chirico is 2-2 in the UFC coming off a win against Oluwale Bamgbose. All but one writer picked Marquez.