While the strawweight title fight that will headline the TUF 20 finale has not yet been made public — that will happen on Wednesday as Carla Esparza takes on Jessica Penne, and Rose Namajunas battles Randa Markos in the semifinals — most of the card has been announced already. While the season itself did not reinvigorate the TUF franchise as many had hoped and/or expected heading in, it has at least given some of the top female fighters in the work a bigger platform to ply their trade. That will prove even more the case on Friday night when the inaugural 115lb champion is crowned on Fox Sports 1. As for the fights we do know, six involve TUF 20 cast members, and Justine Kish (who suffered a torn ACL during the show) is the only one who appeared on the show who won’t make her UFC debut on the card. There are also three additional bouts on the card at the moment. Featherweights Charles Oliveira and Jeremy Stephens should put on a highly entertaining scrap, while lightweights Daron Cruickshank and KJ Noons bring their differing striking philosophies into the cage. Fresh off of impressive stoppages wins, 155ers Yancy Medeiros and Joe Proctor look to build some momentum as well. MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened the betting odds for the nine fights on the TUF 20 finale that have been announced thus far. The odds can be found below, and are available at 5Dimes Sportsbook. Take a look: ——————– Jeremy Stephens -125 Charles Oliveira -115 Daron Cruickshank -165 KJ Noons +125 Yancy Medeiros -230 Joe Proctor +170 Felice Herrig -380 Lisa Ellis +260 Tecia Torres -600 Angela Magana +400 Joanne Calderwood -565 Seo Hee Ham +375 Bec Rawlings -270 Heather Jo Clark +190 Aisling Daly -285 Alex Chambers +205 Angela Hill -165 Emily Kagan +125 ——————– Brad’s Analysis: I don’t think there’s much question that Charles Oliveira is the more talented fighter in his bout with Jeremy Stephens, but the Iowan is the exact type of fighter that has given Oliveira the most problems in his UFC career thus far. Two of Oliveira’s four losses have come at the hands of strikers who have marched him backwards and landed big shots. Stephens is certainly capable of the same, but I don’t think he’s at the level of Donald Cerrone or Cub Swanson. Also, Oliveira has improved his striking game from a technical standpoint, and I’m hoping he’s learned his lesson from some of those earlier losses. I wouldn’t be surprised if the public support is on Stephens, but I see Oliveira having more ways to wins this fight, and I think he takes it. I like the evolution I saw from Daron Cruickshank in his last fight, and I think if he approaches this bout similarly, he’ll pick up his fourth win in five fights. On the feet, either Cruickshank or KJ Noons could land a big shot that ends things, but Noons doesn’t have the wrestling game Cruickshank possesses. If that sounds oddly familiar to Cruickshank’s last bout with Anthony Njokuani, that’s because it is. The question there was whether Cruickshank would use his wrestling or not, as we had seen him not necessarily follow the smartest gameplan in the past. Knowing that he is willing to go that route to pick up a win was a good sign, and I like him here because of it. I still haven’t been particularly impressed by Joe Proctor. He’s decent in all areas and seems to be developing some power, but nothing jumps off the page at all. I suppose the same could be said of Yancy Medeiros, but he’s had a much tougher row to hoe in his UFC tenure, with his two losses coming to a pair of fighters ranked in the top 15. I think Medeiros should be able to win a firefight in this one, or keep Proctor off of him long enough to earn a decision. Outside of her first two career bouts, Felice Herrig has only lost to very good fighters (Carla Esparza, Tecia Torres, and Barb Honchak). She doesn’t bring much in terms of finishing ability to the cage, but she’s a pretty solid athlete and can outwrestle a good chunk of the women at 115. I think that will be the case against Lisa Ellis, who looked pretty helpless against Jessica Penne in her lone bout on the show. Herrig is also one of the more notable fighters who was featured on the show, so it makes sense that the UFC would want her to pick up a win here. Speaking of notable fighters from the show, Angela Magana has gone on a bizarre twitter campaign in the past few weeks, and I don’t think anyone is quite sure of the goal. One thing that does seem certain is that it won’t help her against Tecia Torres. Many expected Torres to still be alive in the competition at this point, but she struggled against the two wrestlers she faced, and lost twice. Unless her confidence is completely shattered, she should pick up a win here, as Magana doesn’t offer much in terms of a wrestling threat. Seo Hee Ham is the lone female fighter who wasn’t on the cast who appears on this show, and I don’t see it going well for her. While her losses have come against some of the better female fighters in Japan, she’s basically going to be reduced to a grappler in this fight and should be competing at 105lbs. Against Calderwood, the South Korean will struggle on the feet, and even if she tries to mix in takedowns. This may end up the largest line of the night come fight time. This is a case where the two fighters have similar records (Clark is 6-4 and Rawlings is 5-3), but their levels of competition have been vastly different. Rawlings’ two most recent losses have been to Esparza and Mizuki Inoue — a pair of the top 115lb fighters in the world (in relatively competitive fights) — while Clark has lost to much lesser competition. I expect Rawlings to control most of the grappling exchanges en route to a decision victory here. To me, Aisling Daly’s rank on the show may have been the most surprising of all, as she had gone 1-3 in her four fights leading up to the show and hadn’t looked particularly impressive. She did pick up one win on the show, and was competitive with Jessica Penne through two rounds, but I’m just not sure I see the skill set for her to hang around and be a player in the division. The same could be said of Alex Chambers however, and she also belongs at 105lbs. I’m leaning towards Daly in this one, but expect the line will move too far in her favor, meaning that if there’s a bet to be made (and I won’t be making one on this fight, for the record) that it would be on Chambers. Angela Hill will probably be the fighter who benefits most from the TUF experience, as she was so green heading into the show that it would be almost impossible for her not to make massive improvements. Coupled with the fact that she’s a much better athlete than Emily Kagan, and I expect she’ll be a completely different fighter come the finale. I think she might be able to keep this on the feet where she’s the better striker and simply rack up points on Kagan. It wouldn’t shock me to see Kagan get some takedowns and grind this one out because of Hill’s lack of experience, and that’s enough to keep me away from Hill for a bet.
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