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Handicapping the TUF 11 Semi-Finalists

(If you’re wondering why Tito has his jersey tucked in, it’s because he has to go out to dinner after this.)

Tomorrow night marks the last episode of The Ultimate Fighter: Team Liddell vs. Team Ortiz before the finale show, featuring both of TUF 11‘s semi-final matches. By now, most of the season’s early standouts — Nick Ring, Kyacey Uscola, Jamie Yager — have fallen by the wayside, and we’re left with four guys who scrapped their way to the semis through effective strategies and unbelievable toughness. It’s still anybody’s game, so let’s take a close look at who’s left…

BRAD TAVARES (Team Liddell)

Pro record:
4-0, all wins by stoppage
TUF record: 3-0
How he got here: The dynamic Team Tompkins product knocked out Jordan Smith in less than a minute to make it into the house, then outworked James Hammortree to win a three-round decision. His quarterfinal match against Seth Baczynski started out well until Baczynski soccer-kicked him in the face and was disqualified.
Odds of winning the show: 4-1. Though he’s a little unseasoned, Tavares is the only fighter in the group who never seemed like an underdog. He’s well-rounded, aggressive, and always exciting to watch. In this semi-final field, his success will depend on his ability to defend takedowns and avoid being smothered.

COURT McGEE (Team Liddell)

Pro record:
8-1. Holds a win over DaMarques Johnson; only loss came in a decision against Jeremy Horn in 2007.
TUF record: 2-1
How he got here: Defeated Seth Baczynski by three-round decision in the elimination round, but lost his next fight to Nick Ring in a controversial two-round majority decision. Came back to replace the injured Rich Attonito. Was supposed to have a rematch with Ring, but instead submitted James Hammortree via standing guillotine choke when Ring dropped out due to knee injury.
Odds of winning the show: 10-1. McGee’s unwillingness to be finished will serve him well, but Tavares is not an easy draw for the semis. If he can get past Tavares’s striking, he’ll have to face an opponent in the finals who is just as much a tough, wrestling-skilled grinder as he is. To pull it off, he’ll need everything to go his way.

KRIS McCRAY (Team Ortiz)

Pro record:
5-0, all wins by stoppage
TUF record: 3-1
How he got here: By fighting non-stop. Kris’s elimination match ended abruptly when Cleburn Walker’s shoulder gave out. But in his next fight, he submitted Kyacey Uscola with an armlock. McCray used his takedowns to defeat Kyle Noke by decision in the quarterfinal round, and secured his spot in the semis.
Odds of winning the show: 7-1. His wins over veteran fighters Uscola and Noke proved that McCray should never, ever be counted out. But with his fifth match scheduled in such a short period of time, fatigue has to be an issue at this point. Plus, he’s facing a guy who previously beat him (even though it was close). Speaking of fighters who should never be counted out…

JOSH BRYANT (Team Liddell)

Pro record:
TUF record: 3-0
How he got here: Bryant entered the house with a majority decision over Greg Rebello, then won the aforementioned unanimous decision against Kris McCray. His most impressive performance was his most recent: In the quarterfinals, he faced a tremendous size and speed disadvantage against Jamie Yager, but hung in, took his lumps, and made Yager feel it whenever he landed. After scoring with some hard punches, well-timed takedowns, and ground-and-pound, Bryant made Yager quit after two rounds.
Odds of winning the show: 3-1. He has to be the favorite against McCray in the semi-finals, and I like his chances against the other side of the bracket; McGee wouldn’t present him with anything he hasn’t seen from McCray, and Tavares is like a more mature version of Jamie Yager (minus the wild jumping kicks). He should probably be competing at welterweight, and his fights aren’t guaranteed excitement, but he has enough experience and mental toughness to come out on top and win the contract. 


Cagepotato Comments

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ghostboner- June 10, 2010 at 1:18 am
Shoots brudda cuzin, my mans Court just schooled Brad! On to the finals and on to the win for "Divorce" Court McGee. 10-1 odds. Shame on you Goldstein.
Bare Grappler- June 9, 2010 at 7:44 am
Don't take this the wrong way, because I love TUF. I hate all the bashing of it on this forum (if you want the best fights, watch the f'in PPV's. These are unpolished guys trying to break in the sport. I love the show).

This year's champion is likely to be the worst champion of all time. Or at least, most non-relevant. Say what you want about TUF. The winners have been relevant. This'd be surprising to see anyone get somewhat close to being ranked in the top 10 in their weight class ever.
Mr_Misanthropy- June 9, 2010 at 2:03 am
Ho brah, stoopid hoales talkin like Brad un fucking cabbage. Brad un fucking banga brah un fuckin banga. Shoots.
ghostboner- June 8, 2010 at 9:45 pm
my money is also on Court vs Bryant. And I think Court takes it in the final.
Walrus- June 8, 2010 at 3:52 pm
I got Court vs. Bryant at the finale
Almost North- June 8, 2010 at 3:15 pm
Your DMV must be far more classy than mine.
Mr_Misanthropy- June 8, 2010 at 3:07 pm
Props to whomever sequestered the photos to accompany the article, I'm surprised you could find such stupid looking photos of all four gentlemen. I'd accuse you of raiding the DMV computer system but three of them have their shirts off.
Nealio- June 8, 2010 at 3:07 pm
Wow interesting picks CP.

I have Court as the favorite: He's tough as nails, always getting better, and seems to be able to take anything that the remaining 3 can give out.
Next I'd take Bryant. Kid is tough and showed he has some hands (now if he only had confidence to wade in and use them).

Tie for "no way they will win the show" goes to Tavares (who I like, but hasn't done anything impressive) and McCray (who seems to be well rounded, but not that good at anything).
Mr_Misanthropy- June 8, 2010 at 3:03 pm
I'd say they're all going to be handicapped by the end of the season. Didn't you read my crystal ball predictions about a month ago? Don't make me go find that shit and get all copy'n'paste on that ass.
Get Off Me- June 8, 2010 at 2:57 pm
@El Famous
I know one......but it "sounds expensive"....Bisping.

POP quiz everyone:
Which head coach, seen above, will no longer fight in the UFC?*

*answers must forecast UFC 115, will be validated June 13th 2010.
ben- June 8, 2010 at 2:45 pm
 @JHustle:Odds are listed for entertainment purposes only and are not to be used as evidence that I suck at math.
JHustle- June 8, 2010 at 2:17 pm
Please Please Please open up a bookmaker Potato!

4:1 = 25 % chance
10:1 = 10 % chance
7:1 = 14.3% chance
3:1 = 33.3% chance

I'd like to put 25 on Tavares, 10 on McGee, 14.3 on McCray and 33.3 on Bryant.

I risk: 25+10+14.3+33.3 = 82.6 units
You pay me: 100 units.

Let me know when you'd like to pay me.

El Famous Burrito- June 8, 2010 at 2:17 pm
He was a last-minute addition that I threw in there because I couldn't think of anymore lousy middleweights. It is, after all, MMA's toughest division.

Or so Chael Sonnen told me.
Almost North- June 8, 2010 at 2:09 pm
Ouch brrrro, why you got to pile on Lawlor like that?
El Famous Burrito- June 8, 2010 at 2:09 pm
I'm more interested in who's going to be the winner's first post-TUF can?

Kendall Grove?
Phil Baroni?
Tom Lawlor?
Elentius- June 8, 2010 at 1:56 pm
They should all have their shirts on.
I hope Franklin retires Liddell by doctor recommendation. Maybe then we will see Liddell mentor a young fighter who he will have to beat on the street one day. Years later his brain damage will mysteriously go away and he can come back to fight for a title.
burnknuckle1010- June 8, 2010 at 1:55 pm
LOL...Tito looks like MegaMan in that pic...
BONGTAR- June 8, 2010 at 1:51 pm
your momma by north south ass-phixiation
VisitingDeadAncestors- June 8, 2010 at 1:51 pm
* puts large stack of 1's on Tavares *
Elentius- June 8, 2010 at 1:49 pm
No McGay... yeah that's right I said it.
I say Court is going to take it.
Angry Whopper- June 8, 2010 at 1:47 pm
I can't see McCray winning this.
Almost North- June 8, 2010 at 1:45 pm
Please no more McCray. I can't take it. Nice enough guy but damn hes boring and thats saying something on this season.