While it it not the most star-studded card of the year and will likely be overshadowed by UFC 213 the following night, there are still plenty of reasons to be excited about the TUF Finale.
1. Jared Cannonier vs Steve Bosse
This fight has had me excited from the moment it was announced. I love the lower tier of the Light Heavyweight division. While the fights are rarely pretty, they often result in a quick finish (See: Ion Cutelaba vs Luis Henrique da Silva) or a war that is outright insanity (See: Steve Bosse vs Sean O'Connell). This fight could go either way.
Jared Cannonier has shown very high level striking with vicious knockout power in his UFC tenure, featuring some of the best footwork in the division. Steve Bosse has shown some vicious knockout power of his own, along with incredible explosiveness and an almost unparalleled willingness to brawl. Additionally, both guys have the cardio to work at a high pace for 3 rounds, which is very rare for the division. Combine all of these elements, and you've got fireworks in the making. If this fight is a fraction as wild as Bosse vs O'Connell or Cannonier vs Cutelaba, it is almost a lock for Fight of the Night. The possibility also exists that one of these stone-fisted 205ers ends the fight early; so either way, don't blink.
2. Prospects, prospects, prospects
This card is filled with intriguing and exciting up-and-comers in various divisions.
Main eventing the Fight Pass portion of the card is Teruto Ishihara, competing against a veteran in Gray Maynard. With the exception of his fight with Artem Lobov, Ishihara is known as a wildman in the octagon. He will wildly pursue the knockout with little regard for his own safety. He has an exciting style and a personality that is... unique, to say the least. You'll love the guy or you'll hate him, but either way he is a guy that you will want to see. This fight is a big test for him, going against such a seasoned veteran with strong grappling. This fight could be the beginning of big things for Ishihara, and possibly the end for Gray Maynard. Or, Maynard can use his wrestling and stymie the potential of Ishihara, keeping his own career alive in the process.
The featured prospect bout of the night is Marc Diakiese vs Drakkar Klose. If you haven't seen Diakiese's previous fights in the UFC, you should. He scored a highlight reel knockout in his last fight, and had a pretty crazy war with Frankie Perez in his prior fight. He is a flashy striker with some powerful wrestling, giving him all the tools to be a major player in the UFC some day. His opponent, Drakkar Klose is no slouch either. He smothers his opponents with relentless pressure, and is comfortable wherever the fight goes. Both men are undefeated, so somebody's 0 has to go.
There is one more prospect on this card, which leads us to our next point...
3. JUSTIN GAETHJE
If you have not seen Justin Gaethje fight before, you need to prepare yourself. This man is the personification of violence. The best way to describe his fights are as a demolition derby in human form. Gaethje is nonstop action, willing to take as many shots as he gives, ALWAYS looking for a way to finish the fight. Gaethje also possesses high-level wrestling, but chooses not to use it as he would rather stand and bang.
This won't upset Michael Johnson in the slightest. Johnson loves a striking battle, and has some of the fastest hands in the company. Can he finally be the guy to knock Gaethje out? Or will he get sucked into brawl, and eventually fall victim to the swarm of chaos that is Justin Gaethje?
Gaethje isn't your typical "prospect." He's coming in as a champion, a ranked contender, and the main event. This fight has all the makings to be something that we remember for a long time. Don't believe me? Check out some highlights from Gaethje's past fights in the video atop of this article.
And lastly, one final reason to be excited for the TUF Finale:
Yes, you can bet every card, but it's always exciting! While there are plenty of good fights, there are a few that look pretty uninteresting on paper. So at the very least, there are a few Over 2.5 bets you can make to keep yourself engaged, and make some money.
I will be providing more betting analyses closer to the card, as well as giving out several free picks which I will be making myself.
So, don't think that UFC 213 is the only show in town next weekend. The TUF Finale has a lot to get me excited, and don't be surprised if it's the event that we're talking about on the Sunday after all is said and done