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411’s MMA Roundtable Preview – The Ultimate Fighter 16 Finale

December 15, 2012 | Posted by Dan Plunkett

Roy Nelson fights Matt Mitrione in the main event of the TUF 16 Finale! Also, a new welterweight Ultimate Fighter winner will be crowned when Mike Ricci fights Colton Smith. Elsewhere on the card, heavyweights Pat Barry and Shane del Rosario clash. At lightweight, Melvin Guillard takes on Jamie Varner. Plus, Dustin Poirier fights Jonathan Brookins, Mike Pyle vs. James Head, and more!


  • From The Blueprint, Patrick Mullin!
  • From MMA’s 3R’s, Jeffrey Harris!
  • From Occupy The Throne, Jeremy Lambert!
  • From The 411 MMA Top 10, Alex Rella!
  • And from The Greatest MMA News Column, Dan Plunkett!


    First three prelims to air on, rest on FX

    Flyweight Bout: Jared Papazian vs. Tim Elliot

    Patrick Mullin: Jared Papazian, Unanimous Decision
    Jeffrey Harris: Jared Papazian, Unanimous Decision
    Jeremy Lambert: Papazian, Decision
    Alex Rella: Papazian, Decision
    Dan Plunkett: Papazian, Decision
    The staff picks Jared Papazian, 5-0.

    Lightweight Bout: Mike Rio vs. John Cofer

    Patrick Mullin: Mike Rio, Round Two, TKO
    Jeffrey Harris: John Cofer, Decision
    Jeremy Lambert: Rio, TKO, Round 1
    Alex Rella: Rio, TKO, Round 1
    Dan Plunkett: Rio, Decision.
    The staff picks Mike Rio, 4-1.

    Bantamweight Bout: Reuben Duran vs. Hugo Viana

    Patrick Mullin: Reuben Duran, Round Two, Submission
    Jeffrey Harris: Reuben Duran, Decision
    Jeremy Lambert: Viana, Decision
    Alex Rella: Viana, Decision
    Dan Plunkett: Duran, Decision.
    The staff picks Reuben Duran, 3-2.

    Welterweight Bout: TJ Waldburger vs. Nick Catone

    Patrick Mullin: TJ Waldburger, Unanimous Decision
    Jeffrey Harris: TJ Waldburger, Submission, Round One
    Jeremy Lambert: Waldburger, Submission, Round 2
    Alex Rella: Waldburger, Decission
    Dan Plunkett: Waldburger, Decision.
    The staff picks TJ Waldburger, 5-0.

    Lightweight Bout: Vinc Pichel vs. Rustam Khabilov

    Patrick Mullin: Vinc Pichel, Round Three, KO
    Jeffrey Harris: Vinc Pichel, TKO, Round One
    Jeremy Lambert: Pichel, TKO, Round 1
    Alex Rella: Pichel, TKO, Round 1
    Dan Plunkett: Pichel, Decision.
    The staff picks Vinc Pichel, 5-0.

    Bantamweight Bout: Johnny Bedford vs. Marcos Vinicius

    Patrick Mullin: Marcos Vinicius, Round Three, Submission
    Jeffrey Harris Johnny Bedford, Decision
    Jeremy Lambert: Vinicius, TKO, Round 2
    Alex Rella: Vinicius, TKO, Round 2
    Dan Plunkett: Bedford, Decision.
    The staff picks Marcos Vinicius, 3-2.

    Welterweight Bout: Mike Pyle vs. James Head

    Patrick Mullin: This is an interesting bout that could really go either way. If Head leans on his boxing to keep Pyle at bay and control the fight from long distance he stands a good chance to win. However he has a tendency to throw a lot of leg kicks from too close of a distance and becomes easy pickings for takedowns which plays into Pyle’s hands. Ultimately I think Pyle’s veteran instincts will find openings in Head’s game that will allow him to take the ‘W’ here.

    Winner: Mike Pyle, Round Three, Submission

    Jeffrey Harris: A bit of a close fight here. Head is coming off a win over Brian Ebersole and demonstrated good takedown defense. Pyle on the other hand has put on a good group of wins as of late with a lone loss in five fights against Rory MacDonald. In this fight I’m favoring the striking ability of Pyle which has looked really sharp and crisp lately with knockouts over the extremely hard to knockout Josh Neer and also Ricardo Funch.

    Winner: Mike Pyle, TKO, Round One

    Jeremy Lambert: Pyle is a good veteran who will beat mediocre guys or worse but won’t advance too far past that level. Since I don’t think Head is anything but mediocre, I favor Pyle in this fight. Head showed good takedown defense against Brian Ebersole, but Pyle is a much better wrestler than Ebersole. He’s also a better striker and has found power from some MMA God in last few fights. Head is a decent striker, but I don’t think he’ll be able to keep the fight on the feet very long as Pyle will be able to land consistent takedowns en route to a grinding victory.

    Winner: Pyle, Decision

    Alex Rella: Both guys are coming off back to back wins and while this wont have a huge impact on the welterweight division, the winner should continue to move up the 170 lb ladder. Mike Pyle is a very solid veteran that has had some solid wins in the UFC but he’s fallen short against the top fighters. Head recently beat Ebersole but Pyle is much better on the ground. Head would be smart to keep the fight standing up with his boxing but even then Pyle has had some great striking recently. I just think Pyle is the better overall fighter.

    Winner: Pyle, Decision

    Dan Plunkett: The reason we’re breaking down a prelim fight is because some genius screwed up the main card fights. I like Pyle here.

    Winner: Pyle, Decision.

    The staff picks Mike Pyle, 5-0.


    Featherweight Bout: Dustin Poirier vs. Jonathan Brookins

    Patrick Mullin: This has ugly written all over it. These guys are decent grapplers and have no idea how to stand up and fight. I really couldn’t care less about this fight as both guys really offer nothing. I guess I’ll go with Poirer for having fought better opposition as of late.

    Winner: Dustin Poirer, Split Decision

    Jeffrey Harris: I see Poirier turning things back around here. Between the two I see Poirier having the superior grappling game. Brookins is tough but I’ve just not been impressed with his UFC run thus far and how he got dominated and submitted by Charles Oliveira. I think they will feel each other out in the first round before Poirier takes over and gets the submission in round 2.

    Winner: Dustin Poirer, Submission, Round 2

    Jeremy Lambert: Poirier was close to a title shot, but he lost to The Korean Zombie and Brookins hasn’t done much of anything since winning whatever season of TUF. Brookins is very good in the clinch and has some underrated grappling, but the dude has zero striking defense. Poirier is a solid, albeit a tad overrated, striker with good takedown defense. That means he should be able to hit Brookins with every strike he throws and avoid the takedown. Brookins will do his fair share of clinching but it’ll lead to nothing and he’ll picked apart on the feet. Brookins is a tough dude so I don’t think he gets finished, but he’s on the wrong side of a clear decision.

    Winner: Poirier, Decision

    Alex Rella: This is really just a fight to get Poirier back on track. The featherweight division is pretty shallow and Poirier was one fight away from a title shot before the Korean Zombie beat him. Brookins is a solid grappler but he’s really just an example of how bad TUF has become in recent years. I’ll be surprised if Poirier doesn’t finish him.

    Winner: Poirier, Submission, Round 2

    Dan Plunkett: Brookins is a solid grappler, but his striking defense is still fairly poor. Poirier should get back on track here.

    Winner: Poirier, Decision.

    The staff picks Dustin Poirier, 5-0.

    Lightweight Bout: Melvin Guillard vs. Jamie Varner

    Patrick Mullin: Varner became one of the feel good stories of MMA with his comeback into the UFC. Guillard is a perpetual letdown with mental errors eroding his immense physical talent. It’s because of that we should favor Varner. If he can withstand Guillard’s early attack he’s likely to wear him down and lock in a fight ending submission as Melvin still does not have adequate submission defense at this stage.

    Winner: Jamie Varner, Round Two, Submission

    Jeffrey Harris: Both guys are very tough and have good boxing and wrestling. Guillard’s submission defense though has proven to be one of his biggest flaws in the UFC. Varner I think if he’s patient and use good movement will be able to deal with Guillard’s striking. I think Varner eventually gets this to the and submits Guillard.

    Winner: Jamie Varner, Submisson, Round 2

    Jeremy Lambert: Guillard fights usually go one of two ways: he catches his opponent early and manages to finish them or he catches his opponent early, doesn’t finish them, and then gets submitted. I’m gonna go with the former here, just because Varner is a pretty flakey fighter as well. If Guillard has Varner hurt, I don’t trust Varner’s survival skills, so I think Guillard is able to put him away. Of course if Guillard doesn’t finish Varner, there’s a great chance that Varner gets a takedown, gets the back, and then chokes out Guillard. I’ll put my faith in Guillard and prepare to look stupid come Sunday.

    Winner: Guillard, TKO, Round 1

    Alex Rella: This should be fight of the night. Both guys are hard hitting lightweights that are coming off losses in exciting fights. Guillard is one of the best strikers at 155 lbs but his submission defense is disgusting. Varner has gotten back on track in 2012 and has always been very solid all around. I think Varner’s chin is good enough to survive Guillard’s initial flurry and then pull out the eventual submission.

    Winner: Varner, Submission, Round 1

    Dan Plunkett: This is probably the most interesting fight on the card. Guillard is very talented and hits hard, but he can be woefully inconsistent and at times loses to fighters he probably shouldn’t. Varner has had an interesting two fight return to the UFC, with a surprise TKO win over Edson Barboza and a great fight against Joe Lauzon. However, he can be inconsistent as well. I’m going with Guillard early here.

    Winner: Guillard, TKO, Round 1

    The staff picks Jamie Varner, 3-2.

    Heavyweight Bout: Pat Barry vs. Shane del Rosario

    Patrick Mullin: Shane del Rosario nearly had his promising career ended by some drunkard behind the wheel. His comeback fight after a long layoff was far from an easy draw in Stipe Miocic, and he even had his moments in that bout. Pat Barry is basically a kickboxing trained brawler facing a world class Muay Thai fighter with outstanding BJJ for someone who only took up the sport a few years ago. Look for this to be SDR’s coming out party and a big victory in style for him. Barry just has nothing for him to fear.

    Winner: Shane del Rosario, Round One, Submission

    Jeffrey Harris: del Rosario in his last fight came off an extremely long layoff facing a very tough and game fighter in Stipe Miocic, not exactly an ideal situation when his career was almost ended by a drunk driver. I think del Rosario will shake off the cage rust here and get the win here. Barry’s a good fighter but he’s got historically really bad submission defense and he seems to constantly mess up when he has victory in his grasp. Del Rosario is a quality striker who has some good submission work off his back. If he was able to submit Lavar Johnson in Strikeforce, I believe he can submit Pat Barry here.

    Winner: Shane del Rosario, Submission, Round Two

    Jeremy Lambert: I really want Barry to succeed, but it’s becoming more and more obvious that that isn’t going to happen anytime soon. Rosario lost his last fight, but they were under tough circumstances and I do think that he’s better than what he showed in that fight. If it stays standing, obviously Barry has the technical advantage, but I doubt Rosario will want to stay on the feet too long given his superiority on the ground. Even if Rosario can’t get a takedown, it’s possible that he’ll pull guard and work from there. If Barry can keep the fight standing, he can definitely win, but I’ve given up on him keeping any fight standing at this point.

    Winner:Rosario, Submission, Round 1

    Alex Rella: I could see this fight going either way. del Rosario was looking pretty good in Strikeforce before a drunk driver put him on the shelf. And while Barry has not looked great in his UFC career, he’s still a very dangerous striker. Del Rosario has had some solid submission victories in the past and he would be wise to take Barry to the ground. Though del Rosario is a solid striker too. Hopefully he looks better here without the ring rust as he is still a solid prospect in the heavyweight division

    Winner: del Rosario, Decision

    Dan Plunkett: This was put together to be a good fight. I think a lot of it depends on how far del Rosario has come along since his car accident, which seemed to impact his performance in his last fight. I think he’ll return to form, and Barry always seems to find a way to lose, so I’m going with del Rosario.

    Winner: Shane del Rosario, TKO, Round 2

    The staff picks Shane del Rosario, 5-0.

    Welterweight Bout: Mike Ricci vs. Colton Smith

    Patrick Mullin: If Rory MacDonald is Patrick Bateman, than Mike Ricci is the talented Mr. Ripley. Colton Smith has beaten guys in this tournament just by being in superior physical condition and outlasting them to win on points. Mike Ricci has shown a good mix of skills with grappling and striking and appears to be the best TUF prospect to come around in a long time. I look for him to make a statement in this fight and have a prosperous UFC career.

    Winner: Mike Ricci, Round Two, Submission

    Jeffrey Harris: In this fight I think I’m favoring the slight experience factor for Mike Ricci. Overall, I’ve been more impressed by the skillset Ricci’s has shown on TUF and with more time to train for this fight, I think he gets the win here.

    Winner: Mike Ricci, Decision

    Jeremy Lambert: I don’t remember a single Smith fight from the show and I wouldn’t have remembered a Ricci fight had he not finished his semi-finals opponent. I also remember Ricci because he got KO’d by Pat Curran and he’s friends with Rory MacDonald. In fact, MacDonald is the reason I’m picking Ricci because I’m afraid of him and Ricci should be afraid of what might happen to him should he lose.

    Winner: Ricci, TKO, Round 1

    Alex Rella: I barely watched this season but I remember Ricci fighting in Bellator so I’m gonna take him in this one.

    Winner: Ricci, Decision

    Dan Plunkett: I haven’t watched this season of The Ultimate Fighter, but Ricci should take this.

    Winner: Ricci, Decision.

    The staff picks Mike Ricci, 5-0.

    Heavyweight Bout: Roy Nelson vs. Matt Mitrione

    Patrick Mullin: I don’t think this fight is the walkover it seems to be. Roy Nelson beats guys who allow him to grapple with them or allow him to tee off with his right hand. Say what you will about Mitrione but he tries to stay light on his feet to avoid opposing strikes and throw his own. While ultimately I believe Roy will close in and take Mitrione down. Once there Mitrione is at a complete disadvantage and Roy can probably finish him.

    Winner: Roy Nelson, Round Two, Submission

    Jeffrey Harris: I like Mitrione and I’d like to see him win here, but I don’t think that’s happening. Both guys have some heavy hands and pretty granite chins. However, Nelson will be the more experienced and talented grappler here. Mitrione has terrible takedown and ground defense and Nelson I think easily takes advantage of that here. Maybe some of the work Mitrione has done with the Blackzilians has rubbed off and he will be better prepared against Nelson but I doubt it.

    Winner: Roy Nelson, Decision

    Jeremy Lambert: I was high on Mitrione, then he did absolutely nothing in a loss to Cheick Kongo. He’s light on his feet and has solid striking, but I feel like nothing he can do over the course of 25 minutes will really faze Nelson, who is as tough as they come. Nelson on the other hand as a heavy overhand right and very good grappling. Mitrione’s best chance is to stay on the outside and pick apart Nelson, but that’s going to be pretty tough to do for 5 rounds. Nelson on the other hand just needs to land one big right hand or get a takedown and he can end this thing. Mitrione’s takedown defense is getting better but Nelson has good trips from the clinch and even though Mitrione is semi-active off his back, I doubt he’ll catch Nelson with his telegraphed triangle. Mitrione is pretty tough, but by the third round, when both fighters will be pretty tired, I figure Nelson can put him away on the ground with strikes.

    Winner: Nelson, TKO, Round 3

    Alex Rella: Carwin vs Nelson had potential to be a good fight. Unfortunately, this does not have the same potential. Mitrione has turned into a solid heavyweight but he doesn’t have the tools to beat Nelson. He has a pretty good chin though so he should be able to last a while. Hopefully it’s a quick fun heavyweight fight.

    Winner: Nelson, TKO, Round 2

    Dan Plunkett: I like Nelson here. He’s better on the ground and has power in his shots. Mitrione tries to be the heavyweight Dominick Cruz, and he’ll be able to fight that way with success against some fighters, but I don’t think he’s skilled enough to use it with great success against guys of Nelson’s caliber. Plus, Mitrione hasn’t fought in more than a year.

    Winner: Nelson, Decision.

    The staff picks Roy Nelson, 5-0.

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