Lightweight Bout: Justin Gaethje (17-0) vs. Michael Johnson (17-11)
Luke Irwin: Much as I love Gaethje, the track record for UFC debuts in high-level positions isn’t good. Call it stage fright, call it being uncomfortable, but Johnson is the kind of hard out a first-timer is going to have a tough time with. Johnson via UD.
Nolan Howell: While Johnson is probably more technical standing, he doesn’t really have the sort of power Gaethje does and Gaethje’s pressure should tell the tale here. Expect the constant blitzing of Gaethje to press Johnson against the fence, where he can tee off or get the takedown if he so chooses. It only takes one and I’d wager it is more than likely that Gaethje has the ability to land the fight if he can get in the pocket and swing. Justin Gaethje by second-round TKO.
The Ultimate Fighter Finale: Dhiego Lima (12-5) vs. Jesse Taylor (30-15)
Luke: Dhiego Lima and Jesse Taylor. Redemption, indeed. At least, it’ll be a fun scrap with two gamers. Darkhorse FOTW, actually. Lima via SD.
Nolan: With Lima’s size and striking ability combined with decent grappling, it would seem that he has the better tool belt here. Taylor’s wrestling and power game up top has been unstoppable this tournament however and the storybook ending just seems all too fitting to be stopped here. Jesse Taylor by unanimous decision.
Lightweight: Drakkar Klose (7-0-1) vs. Marc Diakiese (12-0)
Luke: Diakiese is going to be a very big deal, very soon. Diakiese via R1 KO.
Nolan: Diakiese is just the all-around more impressive fighter and while it wouldn’t be a surprise if Klose could ugly his way out to a decision, this feels more like a showcase. Marc Diakiese by first-round TKO.
Light Heavyweight Bout: Jared Connonier (9-2) vs. Nick Roehrick (7-0)
Luke: Roehrick is a week-of replacement who had to cut weight in a damned hurry. Cannonier is going to roll here. Cannonier via R1 TKO.
Nolan: While Cannonier was preparing for a limited opponent in Bosse initially, he should be above losing to late replacement filler at this stage. Jared Cannonier by first-round TKO.
Middleweight Bout: Brad Tavares (14-4) vs. Elias Theodorou (13-1)
Luke: This is gonna be a rough, tough, and probably ugly fight, both have decent enough hands to end it if they want to, but I think this is going to be a grappling/boxing affair. Theodorou via SD.
Nolan: Neither of these two are afraid to ugly it up, but Tavares is just generally the more well-versed fighter with a competent striking game the ability to get the fight to the ground and stay in control on top. Brad Tavares by unanimous decision.
Light Heavyweight Bout: Jordan Johnson (7-0) vs. Marcel Fortuna (9-1)
Luke: Johnson via UD.
Nolan: Johnson has the stronger credentials and should be able to survive on top or patiently strike his way to a win. Jordan Johnson by unanimous decision.
Women’s Strawweight Bout: Angela Hill (6-3) vs. Ashley Yoder (5-2)
Luke: This is going to be a really, really fun grappling battle. Hill via R3 Submission.
Nolan: Angela Hill by unanimous decision.
Welterweight Bout: James Krause (23-7) vs. Tom Gallicchio (19-9)
Luke: Krause is a hard-nosed gamer. Gallicchio is a late-replacement coming off of a TKO loss. Krause via R2 Submission.
Nolan: James Krause by first-round KO.
Light Heavyweight Bout: CB Dollaway (15-8) vs. Ed Herman (23-12)
Luke: CB needs this win, as he’s on a three-fight losing streak, and he’s facing another future middleweight that had to move up to get a shot. This could go either way. Dollaway via UD.
Nolan: C.B. Dollaway by split decision.
Women’s Bantamweight Bout: Aspen Ladd (5-0) vs. Jessica Eye (11-6)
Luke: Jessica Eye is still getting fights, so that’s something. Knowing Eye, we’re in for some judging weirdness, here. Ladd via SD.
Nolan: Aspen Ladd by split decision.
Featherweight Bout: Gray Maynard (12-6-1) vs. Teruto Ishihara (9-3-2)
Luke: I think Gray throws up a Hail Mary of uglying a fight up and wrestling Ishihara to an ugly decision. Maynard via SD.
Nolan: Teruto Ishihara by second-round TKO.
Women’s Strawweight Bout: Juliana Lima (9-3) vs. Tecia Torres (8-1)
Luke: Torres via UD.
Nolan: Tecia Torres by unanimous decision.