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Opening Round: And the Next Ultimate Fighter…

Tomorrow night the UFC will crown the promotion’s first bantamweight and featherweight Ultimate Fighter winners at an event with the unique stamp of being the final live show on Spike TV. Both bouts are befitting of an event with such significance, as is the headliner between TUF 14 coaches Michael Bisping and Jason Miller, with each match-up featuring an extremely talented competitor and lack of guaranteed outcome.

On one side you have Dennis Bermudez vs. Diego Brando in a classic battle between a grappler and striker, while on the other you have two wrestlers with cardio for days in the form of TJ Dillashaw vs. John Dodson. Here’s how I see things playing out come showtime on Saturday evening…

Dillashaw vs. Dodson

One of the primary factors influencing my pick here has to do with dimensions as Dodson is without question a natural flyweight. At 5’3”, like Demetrious Johnson, he will almost always be the smaller fighter until the UFC opens up the 125-pound pool. Dodson’s main weapons are his speed and wrestling, neither of which should throw Dillashaw for a loop considering he regularly trains with two of the top bantamweights in the world at Team Alpha Male (Urijah Faber/Joseph Benavidez). I see Dillashaw latching hold of Dodson at some point in all three rounds, then using his size/strength to hold the infectious little fella down while picking up points on the scorecards.

Winner – TJ Dillashaw def. John Dodson via Unanimous Decision

Bermudez vs. Brandao

If there’s a hype-train for Brandao consider me on board, head hanging out the window like a happy hound dog as I wave goodbye to all the people left back at the station. I know the Brazilian is 13-7 as a professional but he finished three straight opponents entering TUF 14 and clearly continued his streak during the show. At 24, and packed with emotion, I honestly believe Brandao probably took a lot of fights early on in his career without much technique at his disposal. It was clear how raw he was throughout the season. Now he’s nestled in at Greg Jackson’s camp, a great sign where Brandao’s development is concerned.

Bermudez, on the other hand, came into TUF 14 on a two-fight slide with both losses involving opening round submissions. He’s a great wrestler but has little to offer outside of that, at least from what I’ve seen, so he’ll rely on takedowns in the same way Bryan Caraway was. I think Brandao will stuff them before landing a few shots at some point as a few of Bermudez’s opponents did during taping. However, the difference is that when Brandao touches someone’s chin it’s more or less over.

Winner – Diego Brandao def. Dennis Bermudez via TKO Round 1

Miller vs. Bisping

Since it’s a special occasion, what with it being the last TUF on Spike and the coaches fighting, I figured I’d give a bonus pick and do one for Bisping/Miller. It seems fairly obvious that Bisping is the better striker while “Mayhem” holds the advantage in grappling. That being said, I think Bisping has the takedown defense and strength to keep Miller at bay and pick him apart while standing. As long as the Brit’s conditioning is on point I expect him to eek out a semi-close decision with Miller winning at least one round but succumbing to overall damage/aggression.

Winner – Michael Bisping def. Jason Miller via Split Decision

What do you think about the subject on today’s “Opening Round”? Tell us on our Twitter account (@mmatraining)!

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