Twitter Mailbag: Will Michael Bisping really retire? Would Georges St-Pierre really defend?

In this week’s Twitter Mailbag, is the UFC middleweight champ really considering retiring, or just playing us for a few extra pay-per-view buys? Plus, is the UFC Fight Night 117 headliner the weakest in recent memory? And should we care why someone failed a drug test, or is it the fighter’s responsibility to test clean no matter what?

All that and more in this week’s Twitter Mailbag. To ask a question of your own, tweet to @BenFowlkesMMA.

I believe that multiple people in Michael Bisping’s life are telling him to retire after the Georges St-Pierre fight, and why wouldn’t they?

He’ll be 39 in a few months. He’s taken a lot of damage over the course of his very memorable career. And the other top 185-pounders who are gunning for his spot? They are a group of terrifying individuals. If Bisping wins this fight and has to defend his UFC middleweight belt against actual UFC middleweight contenders, there’s no way he doesn’t end up in tougher fights for less money than he’ll make at UFC 217.

If there was a time to take the money and run, brother, it’s now.

But Bisping’s savvy enough to know a good sales angle when he sees one. He knows that a large number of MMA fans always want to see him get beat up, which is why he’s teasing retirement now. He wants those people to think that soon they won’t have Michael Bisping to kick around anymore, so they better pay their money and enjoy this last ride.

Will he really do it? I have my doubts. Bisping is a stubborn and fiercely competitive person, which is a big part of how he’s made it this far in his career. If he beats GSP, could he admit to himself that he’s better off not testing himself against the likes of Bobby Knuckles? Could he turn down that one extra payday? Could he walk away as the middleweight champ who never defended his title against a single middleweight contender?

Seems like he’s spent his whole career trying to get to this very spot. I have a hard time believing he’ll give it up without being forcibly ejected.

That’s easy: Elias Theodorou, who also happens to be one of my favorite fighters on social media. You’re telling me you don’t want to see a polite Canadian roll in there with his wavy locks and put the hurt on some Twitter troll who way overreacted to his reasonable opinions? Of course you do. Watching him kick the Mtn Dew out of an online hater would be pay-per-view material.

 

That is one thing that might hurt interest in the Bisping-GSP fight. When Luke Rockhold said that St-Pierre wouldn’t fight any top middleweights even if he does win, it had the ring of truth. And Bisping is already talking about getting out, win or lose, after UFC 217.

So how excited are we supposed to get for a middleweight title fight that might end up meaning nothing at all for the middleweight division?

If you ask me who you’d have to beat to become the top middleweight in the world right now, without question I say it’s Robert Whittaker. But if his interim title morphs into the real thing just because no actual champ will fight him, that’s bound to feel a little anti-climactic.

If it’s not, it’ll do until the weakest gets here. But let’s be honest, it’s not like any of us were that heartbroken to hear that Ovince Saint Preux vs. Mauricio Rua II was off. That rematch made no sense and mattered not at all to the light heavyweight division. It was an attempt to throw the Japanese fans a bone.

Hey, you guys used to like “Shogun,” right? Well here he is again, held together by duct tape and chewing gum, back to fight for your nostalgic pleasure.

Is it really so much different to go from Rua to a hometown figure like Yushin Okami? Yes, the fight itself is silly and doesn’t mean much. (The UFC decided Okami wasn’t worth keeping as a middleweight, and now he’s back as a light heavyweight?) Then again, the fight it’s replacing was silly and didn’t mean much, albeit for different reasons. It might be weak, but at least it’s not here in place of something strong.

The changes to the USADA rules announced earlier this year make it easier for replacement fighters to slide in without a long testing period, which seems both practical and about as fair as it can realistically be. If you need a replacement on six days’ notice, you’re probably going to have to go outside the UFC to find one. If the USADA policy didn’t allow for that possibility at all, we’d seen even more canceled fights.

Does it open the door to potential dopers sliding into a fight without having faced the same vetting their opponents did? Sure. But if you know you’ve been doping and getting away with it thanks to minimal or even non-existent testing in another organization, and you also know that USADA will be waiting for you in the UFC, wouldn’t that make you less likely to accept a short-notice fight? You won’t have time to clean out your system, and even if you get through the fight before getting popped, then you’re faced with a long suspension.

It’s not a perfect system, but when you take into account the practical realities at work, it seems like a reasonable compromise.

Sure, no problem. When I’m done with it, should I go ahead and solve crime next? How about unhappiness?

Look, we can’t set the bar for anti-doping success at complete eradication. We will never get there. As long as steroids work and winning fighters earn more money than losing ones (whether in the short or the long term), someone will be willing to take the risk.

The best we can hope for is that the testing is good enough and the punishments strong enough to act as a deterrent. I suspect that’s already happened to some extent. I’m sure somewhere out there is a UFC fighter who would have doped, who seriously considered it, but decided that the chances of being caught were too great, and the consequences too severe to make it worth it.

If we get to a point where no one is getting caught, we shouldn’t take that as a sign that the battle has been won. We should take it as a sign that the testing probably isn’t working.

First of all, GSP’s been out of the sport for that long, but not out of the public eye. In a way, it feels like he’s been back in our lives for at least a year now, because he wouldn’t stop talking about this fight while he was on the very slow train to Comebacktown. If you gave Conor McGregor a year to talk before fighting, I feel like he’d do just fine. So would Ronda Rousey, I expect.

But it is worth wondering how the former “king of pay-per-view” will draw in his return. This feels like a different era for the UFC. It’s the era where “money fight” came into our lexicon. It’s when we learned that shirts are actually optional at press conferences, and energy drink cans are pretty aerodynamic.

Can you still be the star of the show as the clean-cut French-Canadian who’s super polite to the point of being kind of boring? And what if St-Pierre loses, which is a real possibility going up a weight class after such an extended layoff? Will a lot of newer fans just write him off as someone who used to be good according to a bunch of old fogies?

The good news is, right now the UFC doesn’t have a whole lot else planned for the coming months. If you want in on a big fight, you’ve pretty much got to show up for this one. So at least the payday should be worth it.

Is it too late to get Brian Stann back? Could we sprint to the train station just in time and run along the platform, shouting at him that we can change before we run face first into a pole?

Then again, I guess it depends what we want out of a president. Dana White has his flaws, but for many years he also had the virtues of his faults. Those media scrums he used to do after press conferences? Those were so popular precisely because he was so unguarded, so free with the news nuggets, so likely to say something worth reporting. That’s the upside of the same personality defect that leads to him getting on Twitter and telling his customers that they’re fat, ugly idiots.

But White was definitely what the UFC needed for a long time. He was a loud, bombastic carnival barker who could shepherd people into the tent when the show was about to start. And maybe the UFC still needs that more than it needs a buttoned-up professional-type like Stann, but you don’t see White doing nearly as much of it. These days it’s not even a given that he’ll show up to his own events.

I pick Demian Maia, for sure. Because if I get choked out by Maia, at least I can go tell the story to all my jiu-jitsu buddies and maybe even trick them into buying me lunch in the process. If I get flattened out by Rockhold, I might end up drinking that lunch through a straw.

Definitely the best boxing movie, one of the best sports movies, even one of the best biopics. How could it not be? It’s a Martin Scorsese film about a tragic figure, and it’s got Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci in it. The death of Jake LaMotta is as good an excuse as any to go back and watch it. If you’d prefer to do some reading, I’d also recommend this story on LaMotta.

I’m old enough to remember when Carlos Condit said he was unsure of his future due to concerns about head trauma, so it’s tough to be totally enthusiastic about seeing him come back for more. Still, Condit’s so much fun to watch. If he feels up to it, how can I not get hyped to see him jump back into the fire?

Who he should fight is a tough question, though. You look around the welterweight class and you see a lot of young hitters who’d love a chance to make their name off a potentially rusty Condit. That’d be a little depressing, even if the cannibalization of yesterday’s heroes is something of a sad tradition in combat sports. Plus, Condit has fought most of the guys at or near the top, so what else can you do with him if he really wants to fight within a few months?

Just saying, if the MMA gods won’t give us Mike Perry vs. Robbie Lawler, then “Platinum Mike” vs. The NBK would be a very acceptable substitute.

For the most part, yes, I agree. But if we can do so with a reasonable degree of certainty, it is worth the effort to distinguish the intentional dopers from the careless pill and supplement-takers. That’s especially true when the supplement industry is so unregulated that you could conceivably buy a new batch of the same product you took without incident six months ago and still end up with banned substances in your system. It doesn’t make you blameless, but it also doesn’t quite make you a cheat.

For more on MMA’s upcoming schedule, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

Ben Fowlkes is MMAjunkie and USA TODAY’s MMA columnist. Follow him on Twitter at @BenFowlkesMMA. Twitter Mailbag appears every Thursday on MMAjunkie.

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The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale salaries: Justin Gaethje banks event-high $200k

Justin Gaethje (18-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) earned the largest disclosed payday at this past Friday’s The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale, taking home a disclosed $200,000 purse in addition to the $100,000 he earned in post-fight bonuses for a “Fight of the Year” candidate against Michael Johnson (17-12 MMA, 9-8 UFC).

MMAjunkie today obtained the list of official disclosed salaries from the Nevada State Athletic Commission.

The TUF 25 Finale took place at T-Mobile in Las Vegas. The bulk of the card aired on FOX Sports 1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

The next highest earner on the card was two-time title challenger Gray Maynard (13-6-1 MMA, 11-6-1 UFC), who took home $102,000 for a unanimous decision over Teruto Ishihara (9-4-2 MMA, 2-2-1 UFC) on the UFC Fight Pass-streamed prelims.

The total disclosed payroll for the event was $1,028,000.

Official TUF 25 Finale payouts included:

Justin Gaethje: $200,000 (includes $100,000 win bonus)
def. Michael Johnson: $47,000

Jesse Taylor: $30,000 (includes $15,000 win bonus)
def. Dhiego Lima: $15,000

Drakkar Klose: $24,000 (includes $12,000 win bonus)
def. Marc Diakiese: $24,000

Jared Cannonier: $100,000 (includes $50,000 win bonus)
def. Nick Roehrick: $12,000

Brad Tavares: $68,000 (includes $34,000 win bonus)
def. Elias Theodorou: $24,000

Jordan Johnson: $24,000 (includes $12,000 win bonus)
def. Marcel Fortuna: $14,000

Angela Hill: $36,000 (includes $18,000 win bonus)
def. Ashley Yoder: $12,000

James Krause: $48,000 (includes $24,000 win bonus)
def. Tom Gallicchio: $10,000

C.B. Dolloway: $86,000 (includes $43,000 win bonus)
def. Ed Herman: $54,000

Tecia Torres: $60,000 (includes $30,000 win bonus)
def. Juliana Lima: $17,000

Gray Maynard: $102,000 (includes $51,000 win bonus)
def. Teruto Ishihara: $21,000

Now, the usual disclaimer: The figures do not include deductions for items such as insurance, licenses and taxes. Additionally, the figures do not include money paid by sponsors like Reebok, which can oftentimes be a substantial portion of a fighter’s income. They also do not include any other “locker room” or special discretionary bonuses the UFC sometimes pays.

For example, as previously reported, UFC officials handed out additional $50,000 TUF 25 Finale bonuses to Gaethje, Johnson and Torres who all earned “Performance of the Night” awards.

In other words, the above figures are simply base salaries reported to the commission and do not reflect entire compensation packages for the event.

For complete coverage of The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

TUF 25 Finale's Brad Tavares thought about clipping Elias Theodorou's hair backstage

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LAS VEGAS – After jawing with Elias Theodorou online, Brad Tavares contemplated a sneak attack backstage to settle things.

UFC middleweight Theodorou had offered Tavares a wager. If he lost, he’d shave the long hair that won him an endorsement from Pert Plus. If he won, he’d get all of Tavares’ purse.

“I was like, buddy, your (expletive) hair ain’t worth that much,” Tavares (13-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) said backstage after outpointing Theodorou (15-4 MMA, 9-4 UFC) on the FS1-televised prelims of The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale at T-Mobile Arena. “Get the (expletive) out of here.

“But even (Thursday), I was standing behind him, and I thought, ‘How funny would that be if I just buzzed his head?’ But then he’d probably try to sue me, and he’d probably win because he has some sponsorship for his hair. What fighter does that that is not a girl?”

In the end, Tavares settled the matter the old-fashioned way, taking home a unanimous decision to pick up his second consecutive win in the octagon.

Despite repeated questions, Tavares expressed no preference on his next opponent aside from an opponent who would move him up the rankings.

But after all his pre-fight talk with Theodorou, it proved to be not much more than a distraction – one that Tavares brushed aside.

“Some guys, they feel like they’ve got to run their mouth, but I issued that challenge, and even after they read the decision I went up to him jokingly and said, ‘Hey, let’s shave that head. And he was like, ‘No, no, (expletive) no.’

“He was talking a lot of (expletive), and I’m the type of guy that (believes), ‘Hey, we’re going to let our fists do the talking.’”

Check out the video above for more from Tavares on his fight and rivalry with Theodorou.

And for complete coverage of The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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TUF 25 Finale Athlete Outfitting pay: Justin Gaethje gets $2,500 payout for thrilling debut win

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LAS VEGAS – Fighters from Friday’s The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale event took home UFC Athlete Outfitting pay, a program that launched after the UFC’s deal with Reebok, totaling $122,500.

The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale took place at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, and the card aired on FS1 following early prelims UFC Fight Pass.

The headliner, which featured Justin Gaethje (18-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) earning a thrilling second-round TKO over Michael Johnson (17-12 MMA, 9-8 UFC), featured a large pay discrepancy. “The Highlight” was on the lowest payout tier for his promotional debut and received $2,500, compared to $15,000 for promotional vet Johnson.

The full Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale UFC Athlete Outfitting payouts included:

Justin Gaethje: $2,500
def. Michael Johnson: $15,000

Jesse Taylor: $2,500
def. Dhiego Lima: $2,500

Drakkar Klose: $2,500
def. Marc Diakiese: $2,500

Jared Cannonier: $2,500
def. Nick Roehrick: $2,500

Brad Tavares: $10,000
def. Elias Theodorou: $5,000

Jordan Johnson: $2,500
def. Marcel Fortuna: $2,500

Angela Hill: $2,500
def. Ashley Yoder: $2,500

James Krause: $5,000
def. Tom Gallicchio: $2,500

C.B. Dollaway: $15,000
def. Ed Herman: $15,000

Tecia Torres: $5,000
def. Juliana Lima: $5,000

Gray Maynard: $15,000
def. Teruto Ishihara: $2,500

Under the UFC Athlete Outfitting program’s payout tiers, which appropriate the money generated by Reebok’s multi-year sponsorship with the UFC, fighters are paid based on their total number of UFC bouts, as well as Zuffa-era WEC fights (January 2007 and later) and Zuffa-era Strikeforce bouts (April 2011 and later). Fighters with 1-5 bouts receive $2,500 per appearance; 6-10 bouts get $5,000; 11-15 bouts earn $10,000; 16-20 bouts pocket $15,000; and 21 bouts and more get $20,000. Additionally, champions earn $40,000 while title challengers get $30,000.

In addition to experience-based pay, UFC fighters will receive in perpetuity royalty payments amounting to 20-30 percent of any UFC merchandise sold that bears their likeness, according to officials.

Full 2017 UFC-Reebok sponsorship payouts:

Year-to-date total: $2,930,000
2016 total: $7,138,000
2015 total: $3,185,000
Program-to-date total: $13,253,000

For complete coverage of The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Fight Tracks: The walkout songs of TUF 25 Finale with Zeppelin and Nirvana, Cash and Madonna

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While it takes intense training, world-class skills and maybe even a bit of luck to register a UFC win, picking the right song to accompany you to the cage is a key talent, as well.

See what the fighters of Friday’s Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale event in Las Vegas went with as their backing tracks.

* * * *

Justin Gaethje def. Michael Johnson via TKO (strikes) – Round 2, 4:48

Justin Gaethje: “Champion” by Keznamdi

Michael Johnson: “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood/M.A.A.D. City” by Nina Simone/Kendrick Lamar

Jesse Taylor def. Dhiego Lima via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2, 0:43

Jesse Taylor: “Highwayman” by The Highwaymen

Dhiego Lima: “God’s Not Dead” by Newsboys

Drakkar Klose def. Marc Diakiese via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)

Drakkar Klose: “Congratulations” by Post Malone

Marc Diakiese: “Cool Nuh” by Giggs

Jared Cannonier def. Nick Roehrick via TKO (elbows) – Round 3, 2:08

Jared Cannonier: “It’s Like That” by Big Pokey feat. Lil’ Keke

Nick Roehrick: “Immigrant Song” by Led Zeppelin

Brad Tavares def. Elias Theodorou via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Brad Tavares: “Tears” by Alborosie

Elias Theodorou: “Oh Canada”

Jordan Johnson def. Marcel Fortuna via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Jordan Johnson: “Like a Prayer” by Madonna

Marcel Fortuna: “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” by Johnny Cash

Angela Hill def. Ashley Yoder via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27

Angela Hill: “Battle Hymn” by Manowar

Ashley Yoder: “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up)” by Fall Out Boy

James Krause def. Tom Gallicchio via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

James Krause: “Hootie Hoo” by Outkast

Tom Gallicchio: “Work” by Gang Starr

C.B. Dollaway def. Ed Herman via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-27, 29-27)

C.B. Dollaway: “Loud and Heavy” by Cody Jinks

Ed Herman: “When the Lights Go Out” by The Black Keys

Tecia Torres def. Juliana Lima via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2, 0:53

Tecia Torres: “Dreamer” by Charlie XCX

Juliana Lima: “TNT” by AC/DC

Gray Maynard def. Teruto Ishihara via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-26)

Gray Maynard: “In Bloom” by Nirvana

Teruto Ishihara: “Lion No Ko (Yashabo Version)” by Spinna B-ill

For complete coverage of The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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TUF 25 Finale results: Brad Tavares outscores Elias Theodorou for narrow unanimous decision

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Neither Brad Tavares nor Elias Theodorou looked to risk making a mistake against the other.

The result? A chess match of sorts.

Tavares (13-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) defeated Theodorou (15-4 MMA, 9-4 UFC) by unanimous decision with all three judges scoring it 29-28, though one would believe it was by the narrowest of margins.

The middleweight bout was part of the main card for today’s UFC event, The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale, at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. It aired on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

It was hard to tell what could’ve been the difference in the fight, with the second round especially proving to be difficult to score.

Theodorou came out in the third round going for takedown, which was stuffed once, though he succeeded on his second attempt sort of. With both men on the ground, they remained there in a stalemate until Tavares pulled a nifty switch to stand up. Theodorou continued to try and impress the judges with another takedown near the fence, but Tavares was back up quickly.

They struggled for position against the cagem with Tavares taking Theodorou’s back and attempting a rear-naked choke. As Theodorou broke free, the fight turned into a chess match on the ground with both men executing transitions for dominant position. They stood and threw strikes in the final 15 seconds, with Tavares landing the final few significant strikes to potentially earn the nod from the judges.

Asked how he felt about the win over Theodorou, Tavares was a man of few words.

“Stoked,” Tavares said. “That guy is tough. That guy is tough.”

Backstage, he elaborated.

“He moved a lot,” Theodorou said. “The one thing that did surprise me is that I’ve never seen him be that wrestling heavy, taking shots. But I was ready for it. The choke in the third wasn’t as close as I wanted it to be, but I think I had him worried. I’m healthy and I’m ready to go whenever the UFC wants.”

Up-to-the-minute TUF 25 Finale results include:

For more on The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

(MMAjunkie’s John Morgan and Steven Marrocco contributed to this report on site in Las Vegas.)

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Source: MMA Junkie

TUF 25 Finale staff picks: Will it be a rude awakening for Justin Gaethje's UFC debut?

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Johnson
vs.
Gaethje
Lima
vs.
Taylor
Diekiese
vs.
Klose
Cannonier
vs.
Roehrick
Tavares
vs.
Theodorou
Fortuna
vs.
Johnson
MMAjunkie readers’
consensus picks
2017: 58-47
gaethje2017
Gaethje
(67%)
jessetaylor2017
Taylor
(59%)
diakiese2017
Diakiese
(84%)
cannonier2017
Cannonier
(76%)
theodorou2017
Theodorou
(65%)
jordanjohnson2017
Johnson
(53%)
Simon Samano
@SJSamano
2017: 68-37
gaethje2017
Gaethje
jessetaylor2017
Taylor
diakiese2017
Diakiese
cannonier2017
Cannonier
theodorou2017
Theodorou
fortuna2017
Fortuna
Matt Erickson @MMAjunkieMatt
2017: 66-39
mjohnson2016
Johnson
jessetaylor2017
Taylor
diakiese2017
Diakiese
cannonier2017
Cannonier
theodorou2017
Theodorou
jordanjohnson2017
Johnson
Dann Stupp
@DannStupp
2017: 64-41
trophy copy 2015 Champion
gaethje2017
Gaethje
jessetaylor2017
Taylor
diakiese2017
Diakiese
cannonier2017
Cannonier
theodorou2017
Theodorou
jordanjohnson2017
Johnson
Steven Marrocco @MMAjunkieSteven
2017: 64-41
gaethje2017
Gaethje
dhiegolima2017
Lima
diakiese2017
Diakiese
cannonier2017
Cannonier
theodorou2017
Theodorou
fortuna2017
Fortuna
Ben Fowlkes @BenFowlkesMMA
2017: 63-42
trophy copy 2016 Champion
gaethje2017
Gaethje
jessetaylor2017
Taylor
diakiese2017
Diakiese
cannonier2017
Cannonier
theodorou2017
Theodorou
fortuna2017
Fortuna
Brian Garcia
@thegoze
2017: 62-43
mjohnson2016
Johnson
jessetaylor2017
Taylor
klose2017
Klose
cannonier2017
Cannonier
btavares2017
Tavares
fortuna2017
Fortuna
Fernanda Prates @nandaprates_
2017: 61-44
gaethje2017
Gaethje
jessetaylor2017
Taylor
diakiese2017
Diakiese
cannonier2017
Cannonier
theodorou2017
Theodorou
fortuna2017
Fortuna
Mike Bohn @MikeBohnMMA
2017: 59-46
trophy copy 2014 Champion
gaethje2017
Gaethje
jessetaylor2017
Taylor
diakiese2017
Diakiese
cannonier2017
Cannonier
theodorou2017
Theodorou
jordanjohnson2017
Johnson
George Garcia @MMAjunkieGeorge
2017: 58-47
mjohnson2016
Johnson
dhiegolima2017
Lima
diakiese2017
Diakiese
cannonier2017
Cannonier
btavares2017
Tavares
jordanjohnson2017
Johnson
John Morgan @MMAjunkieJohn
2017: 56-49
gaethje2017
Gaethje
jessetaylor2017
Taylor
diakiese2017
Diakiese
cannonier2017
Cannonier
btavares2017
Tavares
fortuna2017
Fortuna

The UFC’s “International Fight Week” has two events this year, including another live finale of “The Ultimate Fighter.”

The TUF 25 Finale takes place Friday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The card airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

(Click here to open a PDF of the staff picks grid in a separate window.)

In the main event, Michael Johnson (17-11 MMA, 9-7 UFC) takes on former WSOF lightweight champ Justin Gaethje (17-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC), who makes his UFC debut. Johnson is the betting favorite at -170, but it’s Gaethje who has a 7-3 edge from our 10 MMAjunkie editors, writers and radio hosts.

In the co-main event, the latest “TUF” winner will be crowned. The 25th season of the show featured former cast members, including finalists and winners. The welterweight final will be between Season 19 runner-up Dhiego Lima (12-5 MMA, 1-3 UFC) and Season 7 finalist Jesse Taylor (30-15 MMA, 0-1 UFC) – who never made it to the final because he was kicked off the show. He has his shot at redemption nine years later, and he’s got an 8-2 edge in our picks.

Also on the main card, Marc Diakiese (12-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC) puts his unbeaten record on the line against fellow unbeaten lightweight Drakkar Klose (7-0-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC). Diakiese is one of the biggest favorites on the card at 3-1 and is a 9-1 pick from our staff members. At light heavyweight, Jared Cannonier (9-2 MMA, 2-2 UFC) takes on short-notice replacement Nick Roehrick (7-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC), and Cannonier is the event’s only unanimous pick.

Elias Theodorou (13-1 MMA, 5-1 UFC) has an 7-3 picks edge over Brad Tavares (14-4 MMA, 9-4 UFC) in their middleweight fight, and Marcel Fortuna (9-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC) is a 6-4 pick over Jordan Johnson (7-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) in their light heavyweight bout to open the main card.

In the MMAjunkie reader consensus picks, Gaethje, Taylor, Diakiese, Cannonier, Theodorou and Jordan Johnson are the choices.

Check out all the picks above.

For more on The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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MMAjunkie reader predictions: Make your picks for the TUF 25 Finale in Las Vegas

(Editor’s note: This story will be updated late Wednesday after the second finalist for Season 25 of “The Ultimate Fighter” is announced. That welterweight fight, which already includes Dhiego Lima, will serve as the co-main event.)

We want your predictions for Friday’s TUF 25 Finale event in Las Vegas.

Our staff picks feature includes the consensus picks from MMAjunkie readers. Simply cast your vote for each bout below, and we’ll use the official tallies that are registered by Thursday at noon ET (9 a.m. PT).

Those MMAjunkie MMA reader consensus picks will be part of the TUF 25 Finale staff picks we release on Thursday ahead of the event. The TUF 25 Finale takes place Friday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The card airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

* * * *

Michael Johnson vs. Justin Gaethje

Records: Michael Johnson (17-11 MMA, 9-7 UFC), Justin Gaethje (17-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC)
Past five: Johnson 2-3, Gaethje 5-0
Division: Lightweight
Rankings: Gaethje No. 7, Johnson No. 12
Odds (as of 7/2/17): N/A

Take Our Poll
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Marc Diakiese vs. Drakkar Klose

Records: Marc Diakiese (12-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC), Drakkar Klose (7-0-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC)
Past five: Diakiese 5-0, Klose 4-0-1
Division: Lightweight
Rankings: None
Odds (as of 7/2/17): N/A

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Steve Bosse vs. Jared Cannonier

Records: Steve Bosse (12-2 MMA, 2-1 UFC), Jared Cannonier (9-2 MMA, 2-2 UFC)
Past five: Bosse 4-1, Cannonier 3-2
Division: Light heavyweight
Rankings: None
Odds (as of 7/2/17): N/A

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Brad Tavares vs. Elias Theodorou

Records: Brad Tavares (14-4 MMA, 9-4 UFC), Elias Theodorou (13-1 MMA, 5-1 UFC)
Past five: Tavares 2-3, Theodorou 4-1
Division: Middleweight
Rankings: None
Odds (as of 7/2/17): N/A

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Marcel Fortuna vs. Jordan Johnson

Records: Marcel Fortuna (9-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC), Jordan Johnson (7-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC)
Past five: Fortuna 5-0, Johnson 5-0
Division: Light heavyweight
Rankings: None
Odds (as of 7/2/17): N/A

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For more on The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie