The first women’s strawweight champion in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s history will be determined at the TUF 20 Finale on Dec. 12 at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, Nev.
Here are my TUF 20 Finale predictions:
Jeremy Stephens vs. Charles Oliveira
Ever since a 2012 first-round KO loss to Cub Swanson, Oliveira (18-4-0, 11 submissions) has been pretty impressive inside the Octagon. He lost his next outing to Frankie Edgar, but he was impressive nonetheless, winning “Fight of the Night” honors.
Oliveira looked even better following the loss to Edgar, securing slick submissions against Andy Ogle and Hatsu Hioki. The message sent to all featherweights has been loud and clear: Don’t mess with Oliveira’s ground game or you’ll be sorry.
Stephens (23-10-0, 15 KOs) could care less about taking Charles down. The alliance MMA pupil prefers to keep his fights standing, and he packs more than enough power in his hands to put any featherweight to sleep. Stephens lost his last outing to Cub Swanson, but he did enjoy some success with his boxing during the earlier rounds.
Oliveira is just as competent standing up thanks to his ever-improving Muay Thai, and he’s more than capable of dominating the fight standing up. That gives Oliveira more than one way to win this fight, and if he manages to drag Stephens to the ground (most likely by pulling guard), a submission is sure to follow.
Prediction: Charles Oliveira wins via submission.
K.J. Noons vs. Daron Cruickshank
After a lackluster UFC debut that ended with a loss to Donald Cerrone, Noons (13-7-0, 9 KOs) has won consecutive bouts inside the Octagon. The former Strikeforce lightweight champion now has a chance to establish himself as a force to be reckoned with in the UFC’s lightweight division.
Cruickshank (16-5-0, 9 KOs) bounced back from a loss to Jorge Masvidal with a unanimous decision victory against Anthony Njokuani during his last outing, and he’s clearly one of the better strikers in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s lightweight division.
Both men are more comfortable on their feet, so I expect a majority of this bout to be contested standing up.
Noons might have a slight advantage with his hands, but he’ll likely have a hard time dealing with Cruickshank’s diverse arsenal of kicks.
Prediction: Daron Cruickshank wins via decision.
Remaining TUF 20 Finale Predictions:
Rose Namajunas defeats Carla Esparza
Randa Markos defeats Jessica Penne
Yancy Medeiros defeats Joe Proctor
Felice Herrig defeats Lisa Ellis
Bec Rawlings defeats Heather Jo Clark
Joanne Calderwood defeats Seo Hee Ham
Tecia Torres defeats Angela Magaña
Aisling Daly defeats Alex Chambers
Angela Hill defeats Emily Kagan
David is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and boxing practitioner who has watched and studied MMA for the past 9 years. Send him your questions @davidkingwriter.
Don’t forget to check out my TUF 20 Finale Predictions FightPicks shortly before the prelims start. Up +17.94 units so far this year.