THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER 18 FINALE: DIAZ VS. MAYNARD ODDS, PICKS & PREDICTIONS
TUF 18 FINALE: DIAZ VS. MAYNARD
NOVEMBER 30, 2013 @ 7:30
TV: 1st Prelim fight starts at 7:30ET on Facebook, Undercard and Main Card start at 8:00ET on FOX Sports 1
This Saturday night will conclude the latest Ultimate Fighter series: TUF 18 live from the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. The first female Ultimate Fighter will be crowned as Julianna "The Venezuelan Vixen" faces off against former pro boxer, Jessica Rakoczy. The main event will feature Nate Diaz and Gray Maynard as they battle for the third time, second time officially since being on TUF 5, which Diaz won. Six of the eight girls that were featured on the house will be on the card as they all try to make a name for themselves in the womens 135 bantamweight division. Coaches Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate are set to face off December 28th at UFC 168. This might not be the best card on paper but there are some very interesting matchups and i'm thinking the women might steal the show. I will break down the fights on the main card and give you my predictions and best bets.
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Nate Diaz (16-9) Vs. Gray "The Bully" Maynard (11-2-1)
Both of these fighters are in need of a win as Diaz has lost his last two and Maynard has gone 1-2-1 in his last four. Maynard is coming off a devastating knockout loss to TJ Grant as he was knocked out unconscious for the first time in his career. The two have faced off three times, the first time was a semi-final bout in the TUF house where Diaz caught Maynard in a guillotine. The second time they fought Maynard eeked out a split decision win at UFC Fight Night 20. This should be another war as both fighters love to exchange standing up and they both need a win if they want to stay relevant in the lightweight division. Diaz comes in as the underdog at +120 and Maynard the favorite at -140, I believe this fight should be a pick'em and because of that I see some good value in Diaz at more than even money. Diaz has proved in the past he can beat Maynard and Diaz has been much more active lately and that worries me about Gray Maynard. I can see Diaz picking Maynard apart with his boxing and Gray will have to rely on takedowns and try to turn it into a wrestling match, but Gray will have to be careful on the ground as Diaz's jiu-jitsu is excellent. My lean is on a Diaz decision but I could also see a submission in the later rounds.
Julianna "The Venezuelan Vixen" Pena (4-2) Vs. Jessica Rakoczy (1-3-1)
Both Julianna and Jessica had pretty good showings in the house, I would say Julianna is a more well-rounded fighter as Jessica is more of a boxer who turned to MMA later in her career. There's a lot on the line, as this is for the first ever female TUF winner, both of these women are going to try to make a name for themselves. I think Julianna has the edge in this one and I believe she will try to take Jessica down the first chance she gets. Pena's the favorite at -260 and Rakoczy is at +200, when the line first came out Pena was close to a 3 to 1 favorite. I see Pena controlling this fight on the ground and having her way with Rakoczy.
Pena - 260
Chris Holdsworth (4-0) Vs. David Grant (8-1)
There hasn't been much hype around the men in TUF 18 as most of the focus have been on the women. Either way these two were easily the best two out of the whole bunch so atleast the matchup is right. Holdsworth's path to get to the final was a lot harder than Grant's, whose last two opponents couldn't even make weight. Grant comes in as the underdog at +165 while Holdsworth is hovering somewhere a little over -200, i'm not sure where the oddsmakers pulled this number out from because we haven't seen much from Grant and they might be overvalueing Holdsworth. While I know most of the public is on Holdworth, I think David Grant has a really good chance to win this one. I'm leaning towards a Holdsworth decision but I can definitely see a late round submission.
Jessamyn Duke Vs. Peggy Morgan
This fight should be fantastic as these two females are very tall for the 135 division and probably matchup the best out of all the girls in the house. I'm hoping this fight will be the female equivalent to Bonnar/Griffin and bring more attention to women's MMA. We haven't seen much from either woman as they both got eliminated in the first round of the tournament but I feel like Jessamyn is a little more well rounded than Peggy and probably has the edge on the ground. The oddsmakers have Duke at -210 and Morgan at +160, I think getting Duke at that number is pretty good and i'd be willing to lay it.
Raquel Pennington (3-3) Vs. Roxanne Modafferi (15-10)
This is the first fight on the main card and it features womens MMA vet Roxanne Modafferi and semi-finalist Raquel Pennington. I was expecting to see Pennington in the finals but her last fight against Jessica Rakoczy wasn't the best performance. I like Roxanne Modafferi as she is a very interesting character and at first glance you would never expect her to be a cage fighter but she is. The trouble with Roxanne is that she is a one dimensional fighter and she will only excel if she can get the fight to the ground. Pennington on the other hand is more of a stand up fighter and holds a huge edge in this aspect. It's probably not going to be pretty as I see Pennington landing some vicious shots and probably ending this fight via KO/TKO.
Pennington - 300
The undercard features
Maximo Blanco (-185) Vs. Akira Corassani (+160)
Rani Yahya (-115) Vs. Tom Niinimaki (-105)
Jared Rosholt (-210) Vs. Walter Harris (+175)
Sean Spencer (-200) Vs. Drew Dober (+170)
Josh Sampo (-120) Vs. Ryan Benoit (+100)