This Wednesday on Fox Sports 1, the 24th iteration of The Ultimate Fighter wraps up, as the final of the tournament to determine the next challenger to Demetrious Johnson’s flyweight title will be decided. That will lead right into Saturday’s TUF 24 Finale card, which will be headlined by Johnson defending his belt against that contender. The card will feature a co-main event between TUF 24 coaches Joseph Benavidez and Henry Cejudo. Rumors have stated for months that former UFC fighter — and current Titan FC flyweight champion — Tim Elliott won the season when it was taped several months ago. If that turns out to be the case, Elliott will be in a position similar to Matt Serra and Travis Lutter of TUF 4, being a returning UFC veteran granted a title shot through TUF. The betting odds will also likely mirror those of the TUF 4 title fights, and several of Johnson’s recent fights as well, with the only flyweight champion the organization has ever known being a massive favorite. The line will be significantly closer in the co-main event, which is the only bout to have a line currently released. After opening a -260 favorite at 5Dimes Sportsbook, Benavidez has dropped to -185 (bet $185 to win $100), with the comeback on Cejudo at +160 (bet $100 to win $160). Benavidez has racked up five straight wins since dropping his second shot at the flyweight title back in 2013 while Cejudo looks to start a streak of his own after suffering his first career loss to Johnson. The main card also features a welterweight showdown between Jake Ellenberger and Jorge Masvidal. After losing five of six recently, Ellenberger got back into the win column in a big way, stopping Matt Brown in the opening round. Masvidal has been up-and-down since moving to welterweight, going 2-2 with a pair of split decisions going against him in the losses. The remaining three bouts on the main card (tentatively) include a matchup of former women’s bantamweight title challengers, as Alexis Davis returns from the birth of her first child to face Sara McMann. Jared Cannonier also moves from heavyweight down to light heavyweight to take on Ion Cutelaba. Finally, TUF 24’s Brandon Moreno looks for his second consecutive win since getting a short notice replacement call from the UFC. MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened the betting odds for the full TUF 24 Finale card today at 5Dimes Sportsbook. The new lines include the preliminary card, which is headlined by featherweights Gray Maynard and Ryan Hall. Check them all out below: ——————– The Ultimate Fighter 24 Finale DECEMBER 3, 2016 The Pearl at Palms Casino Resort | Las Vegas, Nevada MAIN CARD (Fox Sports 1, 10pm ET)
——————– PRELIMINARY CARD (Fox Sports 1, 8pm ET)
——————– PRELIMINARY CARD (UFC Fight Pass, 7pm ET)
——————– Brad’s Analysis: The line for Johnson/Elliott can’t be released until the fight is official, but when it does, the number is going to be big. Probably not Chris Cariaso big, but close, and rightfully so. We’ve already seen that Elliott didn’t have what it took to be successful against top flyweights, and now he’s facing a guy significantly better than them all. The only value that will likely be on Johnson is when props come out, and you can find the one which most closely mirrors how you think the fight will play out. For me, that’s Johnson by submission, so I’ll be looking at that prop. Ellenberger was able to exploit a massive weakness in Brown’s game to pick up his latest victory, and good on him. It won’t be so easy against Masvidal, however. Masvidal’s biggest weakness is his inactivity, and Ellenberger simply isn’t built to take advantage of that. Masvidal’s striking and takedown defense will leave Ellenberger swinging at, and then gasping for, air. Once that happens, Masvidal can be as inactive as he likes, and he’ll still outwork a gun shy Ellenberger. Cannonier is dropping down from being a 240-pound heavyweight to fight at light heavyweight. We still don’t know much about him cardio-wise, but his chin didn’t hold up great at heavyweight. Cutelaba seems like his chin will hold up anywhere, and he has some serious cardio. Being the naturally smaller fighter, he should also take away the speed advantage Cannonier had against most heavyweights. I like Cutelaba here, but who knows, the drop in weight might be just what Cannonier needs. Then we have a doozy. We have the prototypical “I fight for my daughter” mom against the “I just had a kid” mom. If McMann’s camp hasn’t been drilling body work like it’s going out of style, she needs to move immediately. We’ve seen on multiple occasions (most recently Reneau/Dudieva), that after having a child, female fighters simply don’t seem to be able to absorb as much punishment to the body. Between that factor, and the layoff, I think McMann gets this done whether it’s with those strikes or with her wrestling. She’s a tough fighter to back at this point though. I don’t think we know enough about Moreno at this point for him to be favored so highly in the UFC. He’s obviously got some submission skills, but I didn’t see enough in the Smolka fight to assume he can replicate the performance against Benoit, who is a big hitter. Benoit’s wrestling is also decent enough that he could turn this into a striking match. If that happens, a dog shot on Benoit would very much be in play. Maynard’s chin is broken, and everyone is going to be fading him in this fight because of it. However, he has so many advantages against Hall that I will take him at any dog price. Hall can’t out wrestle Maynard, is still extremely limited on the feet, and can really only control this fight if he’s able to act as a backpack like he did to Artem Lobov. I just can’t see that happening to someone as seasoned as Maynard. Schnell is a solid flyweight who would have ended up in the UFC regardless of this season of TUF. He’s a good grappler, and has shown surprising pop in his hands. The key word in that description however is “flyweight”. He’s taking his UFC debut on short notice at bantamweight against a very big bantamweight who can keep the fight standing. That’s a problem, because Font is well ahead of Schnell as a striker. I’m not sure if Font can finish him off, but he can certainly score points at will en route to a decision victory here. Moyle has looked alright in her Invicta career, and Curran has consistently under performed (especially against grapplers). Moyle has shown a bit on the ground, but she’s no phenom there. I expect a tight contest here where either fighter could conceivably win, and I have no interest in playing anything but a highly priced dog in this fight, which Moyle could be. I’m not sure if Clark has a questionable chin, or if Alex Nicholson just hits really hard. I’m willing to give Clark the benefit of the doubt heading into this fight, and I think that’s important, because if he doesn’t get knocked out I expect him to be the more effective striker. Even though Stansbury displayed decent takedown defense in his UFC debut, I think Clark will give him enough to think about that he could sneak in a takedown as well. I’ll pick Clark tentatively, but the line would need to get up past +150 for me to even begin considering a bet. At his best, Smith is more dynamic than Mutapcic. However, “at his best” Smith lasts for about seven minutes. If he can’t get rid of his opponent in that time, he fades drastically. Mutapcic has never been stopped, so I can’t see Smith getting him out of there, and then I think Mutapcic takes over the fight in the latter half. Pointing to how much he fades, Smith has only won two decisions in his 37 pro fights. This could be another good spot to find some value in a dog. Kim’s last fight saw him fade noticeably, and that could repeat here against a fairly durable fighter in O’Reilly. Kim has a decent base, so he could easily stay on his feet and outpoint O’Reilly early, but if he doesn’t sustain, this fight could be trickier than most expect. I’d need more to bet it on O’Reilly’s side, so I’ll probably just stay away altogether.
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