It's a sweep for Team Darkside as two of Chael Sonnen's pupils inside the TUF house, Kelvin Gastelum and Uriah Hall, are set to do battle at The Ultimate Fighter Finale this Saturday in Las Vegas. Team Jones brought two men to the semi finals but both fell under Team Darkside's mind tricks, so to speak.
In the first semi, Gastelum submitted Josh Samman via rear naked choke, and Uriah Hall took out Dylan Andrews via TKO in the second round of the second semi final battle. At the end, Team Jones was swept out of the finale and now, Sonnen's second and last pick will battle for the TUF title.
Stylistically, Gastelum and Hall are completely different fighters except for both having one-punch knock out power. On one side, Hall, with a record of 7-2, four of those wins via KO or TKO, two submissions, and only one fight going the distance. His first loss, a first round TKO at the hands of current UFC middleweight number one contender, Chris Wiedman, followed by a majority decision loss to top ten UFC middleweight, Costa Phillipou.
On the flip side, Gastelum, undefeated in five outings, all finishes with three by way of KO or TKO and two submissions. No notable names in his five fights, not that it matters.
Both men finished their opponents in the tournament, except for the fight to get into the house. Hall, Sonnen's second pick after Luke Barnatt, was anonymously acclaimed as season favorite by UFC head honcho Dana White during the first weeks of filming, also tagging Uriah as "the fighter everyone is scared of in the house." Gastelum, the eternal underdog, having the downside of the betting lines in every one of his fights.
Hall's knockout of Adam Cella, sent everyone in the MMA blogosphere into a frenzy. From Dana White to the fan that started to watch MMA and TUF in this very season, everyone pinned the "favorite to win" batch on Uriah Hall's chest. Gastelum in the other hand, was being doubt at every turn.
It is now that we get to witness which of these two amazing young talents will take one more step in the TUF ladder this Saturday. How do you break down this match up and what are their keys to victory?
Hall, a solid striker with a Muay Thai and Karate base, took the season by storm with his knock outs over Adam Cella and Bubba McDaniels. Controlling the distance and avoiding the clinch would be his best options. Uriah's KO power is a proven fact, but we are yet to see how good of a chin Kelvin Gastelum has.
For Gastelum, closing the distance will be the key. The early takedown and top control will put Hall's stamina to the test. Will Hall still have knockout power in a second round after being controlled from the top by Gastelum? We are yet to see that. Gastelum has a very underrated ground game and is capable of submitting his opponent.
As the popular MMA cliche says, styles make fights. I ask you, my MMA brothers and sisters, who do you have winning The Ultimate Fighter finale this Saturday?
Either way, it is a victory for Team Sonnen, or as christened by Coach Jamie Huey from Sonnen's coaching staff, Team Darkside, now it is up to Sonnen to keep the dream alive when he faces Jon Jones for the UFC light heavyweight belt at UFC 159 next April 27.
To Uriah Hall and Kelvin Gastelum, congratulations and thank you for inspiring all of us. To all of the Team Darkside staff and their leader, Chael Sonnen, congratulations, and thank you for the memories!
Thank you for reading. Please leave your comments and fight predictions in the comment section!
Tickets for The Ultimate Fighter® Finale are on-sale now. To purchase tickets visit the Mandalay Bay Events Center Box Office, all Ticketmaster locations, www.ticketmaster.com, or charge-by-phone at 800.745.3000.
The Ultimate Fighter® Finale takes place Saturday, April 13, live from the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nev. The event will air live on FX at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.