Matches to Make After TUF 17 Finale

By: Brian Knapp
Apr 14, 2013
Urijah Faber became the first fighter to claim two UFC wins in 2013. | Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

Urijah Faber has made a healthy living on the strike-scramble-and-submit web he weaves, and Scott Jorgensen was the latest man to wander into his traps.

Faber submitted “Young Guns” with a rear-naked choke 3:16 into the fourth round of their “The Ultimate Fighter 17” Finale main event on Saturday at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. Though much has been made of Faber’s recent failures on center stage -- he has lost five straight title fights to Mike Thomas Brown (twice), Jose Aldo, Dominick Cruz and Renan Barao -- the 33-year-old remains one of the sport’s premier bantamweights and one of the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s most trusted performers.

The Team Alpha Male patriarch was in prime form against Jorgensen, a longtime friend and former training partner. Faber stayed a step ahead and answered an impressive third round from Jorgensen with a how-to tutorial on seizing back control and finishing chokes. Before Jorgensen knew it, Faber was attached, with his hooks secured and the rear-naked cinched; once the blade of “The California Kid’s” forearm slipped underneath the chin, the fight was over.

Because he has already stubbed his toe against Cruz and Barao, Faber does not fit into the current title picture at 135 pounds -- unless an injury occurs. Still, his star power and track record of sustained excellence makes him a valuable commodity for the UFC, and Faber figures to partake in high-profile scraps for at least another two or three years, if not longer.

Perhaps a date with another world-ranked bantamweight in American Top Team’s Brad Pickett should come next. The well-rounded 34-year-old British export has won 13 of his past 16 bouts and recently took care of business against Mike Easton, earning a split decision over “The Hulk” at UFC on Fuel TV 9 on April 6 in Sweden.

In the wake of “The Ultimate Fighter 17” Finale, here are six other matches that ought to be made:

Kelvin Gastelum vs. Ronny Markes-Derek Brunson winner: Gastelum sprang the upset and completed his Cinderella run with a split decision over favored former Ring of Combat champion Uriah Hall in “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 17 middleweight final. There is a lot to like about the tenacious 21-year-old Arizonan, who flew under the radar despite a diverse skill set and serious drive to succeed. Considering his age and lack of experience, Gastelum will likely be brought along slowly by the UFC. Markes and Brunson will lock horns at UFC on Fox 7 on April 20 in San Jose, Calif.

Cat Zingano vs. Ronda Rousey: Zingano will coach opposite Rousey on Season 18 of “The Ultimate Fighter” and, barring injury, will challenge the undefeated judoka for her UFC women’s bantamweight crown later this year. They are a combined 15-0, with 14 finishes between them.

Scott Jorgensen vs. Ivan Menjivar: Jorgensen fell short in his bid to knock Faber from his lofty perch and advance his own position within the 135-pound weight class. Even so, the man they call “Young Guns” remains a formidable foe, with his quick, powerful hands and proven wrestling pedigree. That Jorgensen has now lost three of his past four bouts only enhances the danger factor for the next opponent who climbs in the cage with him. Menjivar, 30, met a similar fate against Faber at UFC 157 in February, as he was submitted for the first time in more than a decade.

Uriah Hall vs. Lorenz Larkin-Francis Carmont loser: As is often the case with promising but unproven young athletes, reality did not line up with the hype surrounding Hall. The dazzling striker was on the defensive for much of his match with Gastelum and ultimately dropped a split decision to the hard-nosed 21-year-old Arizonan. The setback may prove to be a blessing in disguise for Hall, who can now shed some of the pressures of expectation and focus on the important work of improving as a mixed martial artist. He has all the tools, and his future remains bright. Lorenz Larkin and Francis Carmont will toe the line against one another as part of the UFC on Fox 7 lineup on April 20 in California.

Miesha Tate vs. Liz Carmouche: A rematch with Rousey was within reach for Tate, until Zingano’s knees collided with her face. “Cupcake” stifled the undefeated newcomer with takedowns and swarming punches for the better part of two rounds, only to see her good work unravel. A series of knees and a standing elbow on the already bloody Tate was all referee Kim Winslow needed to see to call for the stoppage and send the former Strikeforce champion back to the drawing board. Carmouche raised her profile considerably with an admirable but unsuccessful outing against Rousey in February.

Travis Browne vs. Roy Nelson-Cheick Kongo winner: Browne has become an intriguing figure within the heavyweight division and only strengthened his standing with a violent technical knockout against former title contender Gabriel Gonzaga. Pinned to the cage and defending a takedown from the Brazilian, Browne unleashed a hellacious barrage of elbows for the finish just 71 seconds into round one. Nelson and Kongo -- a fighter with which Browne has some unfinished business -- will collide at UFC 159 on April 27.

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