Freelance: The Ultimate Fighter 25: Finale Odds and Predictions

Another season of the UFC’s hit reality television show The Ultimate Fighter has come and gone. The finalist’s for this season, TUF: Redemption, the 25th season of the show which has been on now for ten years, have been announced as well as the full card betting odds from Bovada for the live finale. Check out the bout previews below!

Note: The last taped episode of the season, which revealed the tournament finalists, just aired last night (July 5) so the betting odds for that bout between Jesse “JT Money” Taylor and Dhiego Lima were not yet available at the time of this writing (July 6.) Krause vs. Gallicchio was also added late. Cannonier vs. Roehrick’s odds are unavailable as well—see below.

Main Card (Fox Sports 1)

Michael “The Menace” Johnson vs. Justin “The Highlight” Gaethje

The UFC knew what they were doing when they booked this fight! Both Johnson and Gaethje are former collegiate champions in wrestling, so it’s quite possible that the ground game gets canceled out and the two both use the wild swinging brawling they have become known for.

Gaethje has been known for that approach for some time, sloppy in the eyes of some while both have evolved from solely being wrestlers to stand-up fighters. The former World Series of Fighting lightweight (155-pound) champion (five defense) has a tendency to not only brawl, but keep pressuring his opponents even as he takes damage. He is currently undefeated at 17-0-0 in MMA overall will only two wins from points.

Meanwhile, Johnson has “batted .500” so to speak over the last year, taking out Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier in just 1:35 with a knockout punch. That was before falling to the 22-0-0 phenom Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov by submission due to a kimura lock at the historic UFC 205 pay-per-view event at Madison Square Garden in New York last November. He is 2-3 in his last five fights.

A significant portion of Johnson’s recent performances have gone the distance (four consecutive fights before the Poirier bout, possibly meaning that he takes longer to pull the trigger. Gaethje is on a four fight KO/TKO streak with two of those coming thanks to leg kicks, which he favors (the Jose Aldo game-plan of making it difficult to even stand up.

The Current Odds: Johnson is Bovada’s favorite ahead of this fight at -160, but the odds are close thanks to his opponent’s streak. It appears that he is only the underdog (+130) because WSOF fighters are viewed as lesser fighters than those in the UFC.

Johnson even referred to the promotion, now known as the Professional Fighters League (PFL) as “the C-league.” The other question is whether or not Gaethje will be able to stand up to the striking power of Johnson, which is more than that of his WSOF foes, as he tries to keep the pressure on him.

To his credit, the debuting challenger has stepped up and asked for the toughest fights he can get, previously saying that he expects to get knocked out within his next ten fights despite his unblemished MMA resume thus far. Still, he seems supremely confident.

Fans come for a shot of adrenaline, and that's what I give you," he recently said to Fox Sports’ Karyn Bryant. "I'm building a brand, and that brand is violence. I promise you I'm the most violent guy in this division. Like I said, I won't go for a submission if I drop him. I'm gonna tell him to stand back up so I can do it again. Knockout, and if he survives ‘til the end of the fifth, I'll give him a high five.”

The smell of an upset is in the air!

Predicition: Justin Gaethje def. Michael Johnson by way of KO/TKO

Dhiego Lima vs. Jesse “JT Money” Taylor (TUF 25 Finale fight)

To understand this fight, you need to understand the motivations of both men. The American Top Team product in Lima, brother to Bellator’s welterweight (170-pound) champion Douglas”The Phenom” Lima, was on season 19 of the show and simply fell short. Taylor on the hand had season 7, but was removed from the finals of that season after spending a few extra days in Las Vegas after winning the show prior to the live finale.

He was a problem drinker at the time and was removed after kicking out the window of a limousine and terrorizing guests at the hotel he was staying at. When security got involved, he then claimed to be a UFC fighter despite the fact that he had not yet made his official UFC debut (TUF fights are considered exhibition bouts as they are not overseen by the Nevada State Athletic Commission or NSAC.)

After failing to make it into the world leader in MMA, Taylor then got his drinking under control with counseling and then went on a seven-fight winning streak with six coming by way of finishes (going 24-12 overall since his UFC fight with C.B. Dollaway in 2008.)

Taylor favors a combination of wrestling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, getting two tap-out wins over the course of TUF 25 along with an initial unanimous decision victory over Mehdi Baghdad in his preliminary fight to make it into the TUF house (with 16 wins by way of submissions making up the majority of his wins, a rate of 53 percent.)

More impressively, Taylor had to go into a third, sudden-victory round with “The” James Krause (the only active UFC fighter on the show, competing for the $250,000 cash prize while the rest were also competing for a UFC contract.) Taylor got his ticket to the finals after submitting Krause by way of a guillotine choke around halfway through the round.

“I can’t believe this is happening again, Taylor said afterward. “It’s incredible. I’ve finally finished the job. It’s been nine years in the making, but I feel exuberant. I couldn’t be more proud of myself. I couldn’t ask for more. It’s a total dream. It still hasn’t set in yet. It’s been a dream-like experience.”

Perhaps because Lima has kept his nose clean and because his season was more recent, if you look at records, he has a far less difficult path back to the UFC. Including his loss to Eddie “Truck” Gordon on TUF 19’s live finale, Lima’s record in the UFC stands at 1-3 but he rebounded by going 2-1 for various mid-level organizations (although both wins were decisions.)

All of Lima’s TUF 25 tournament wins were also by way of unanimous decisions. While he may not be a threat as a finisher, this definitely proves that he is durable. However, Taylor is the more experienced of the two at 30-15 compared to the 12-5 Lima.

This fight should go Taylor’s way depending on how well Lima defends against takedowns as it became very obvious over the course of the show that was his bread and butter as opposed to standing and trading with his opponents. Although, Lima was finished due to strikes in just over a minute in his last official fight prior to the filming for TUF 25, so Taylor could have an edge in that aspect as well.

If Lima does lose, at 28 years of age, he may still get another shot at the UFC while the 33-year-old Taylor has openly admitted that the finals of TUF 25 are probably his last shot. Even though odds are not yet available for this specific fight, Taylor should probably open as the favorite.

59 percent of USA Today’s readers picked Taylor as well as eight of ten writers asked to give a prediction. Although, Lima has never lost by submission before.

Prediction: Jesse Taylor def. Dhiego Lima by way of a Unanimous Decision

Marc “Bonecrusher” Diakiese vs. Drakkar Klose

“The Bonecrusher” is a perfect 12-0 overall in MMA (3-0 in the UFC) with seven finishes (three in the UFC.) The English native of the Congo fights using a collection of styles including submission wrestling, BJJ (he is currently ranked as a purple, just two rankings below the highest of black belt,) boxing, capoeira, kickboxing, and muay thai.

It could be said that his opponent in Klose had gone largely untested while at the lower level of the sport, scoring six wins and a draw before winning his UFC debut.

That debut along with the lone appearance he had for the developmental Resurrection Fighting Alliance (now the Legacy Fighting Alliance or LFA) went the distance (3 decisions overall,) proving that he is facing tougher competition. Meanwhile, Diakiese needed just 30 seconds to end his last fight.

The Current Odds: Diakiese is the -300 favorite with Klose at +230 as the underdog. However, Diakiese is becoming known for being kind of a wild striker, although a positive for him is his looping strikes.

The fight could come down to whether or not Diakiese gasses himself out. suggested that he should mostly use leg kicks and evasive movement to save as much of his energy. On the other side of the coin, Klose is a talented wrestler and used that artform to shut down his last opponent when he attempted to change the fight to his strong-suits against Klose.

Prediction: Marc Diakiese def. Drakkar Klose by KO/TKO

Jared “The Killa Gorilla” Cannonier vs. Nick Roehrick

Cannonier should be considered the favorite in this fight as Roehrick is making his debut for the UFC after Steve Bosse pulled out of the original fight for reasons that have not yet been disclosed. Roehrick was given just three days notice but comes in with a 7-0 record (three finishes.) Cannonier is 2-2 in the UFC after also being a fill-in against Brazil’s Glover Teixeira. Although, he does have seven finishes which include four submissions while Roerick has gone the distance four times.

If Cannonier can get the bout to the canvas,combined with how Roehrick handles his UFC jitters, the outcome should be a fairly easy guess.

Prediction: Jared Cannonier def. Nick Roehrick by way of Submission

Brad Tavares vs. Elias “The Spartan” Theodorou

There’s an excitement factor that has been missing from Theodorou ‘s fights, but he has won five of six fights inside the octagon regardless of opinion. Opposite him will stand the Hawaiian Tavares who is on a similar run of seven out of eight being triumphs.

The important thing to note with the American is that he hasn’t quite moved from being one of the fighters “on the bubble” as he has fallen to top names like Lorenz “The Monsoon Larkin (now in Bellator) and UFC 213’s interim middleweight (185-pound) title challenger Yoel “Soldier of God” Romero. He is great at keeping fights standing and utilizes decent leg kick and kickboxing when on his feet.

Theodorou has cardio to his credit, improving more as his fights approach their ends he forces the action and is constantly moving, throwing out smaller attacks that add up as he does so (in similar fashion to Clay “The Carpenter” Guida.) but when in range, Tavares should get the job done unless he needs to looks for portions of the round to gain energy back.

The Current Odds: The Canadian is also a nearly flawless fighter as far as overall records go at 13-1. Depending on the physical conditioning of both, Theodorou could take the fight if he stays to the outside. He is also the favorite at -145 with Tavares the +115 underdog.

Prediction: Elias Theodorou def. Brad Tavares by way of a Unanimous Decision

Jordan “Big Swingin’” Johnson vs. Marcel “Maozinha (Little Hands)” Fortuna

Both Jordan and Fortuna are returning to the UFC after successful debuts. The 7-0 Johnson was part of the last main event for the now-defunct RFA mentioned above and may be longing to get back on the finisher track after decision wins in that RFA bout and his UFC debut. For a guy whose nickname highlights his hands, Johnson is more of a submission fighter with a submission win due to strikes but three due to strikes.

There is a possibility that the ground game could be canceled out as the 9-1 Fortuna has five submission victories and has also been working on his wrestling ability with Olympian and UFC light heavyweight (205-pound) champion Daniel “DC” Cormier. He also has great ability with his hands, winning his UFC debut in just over three minutes. However, the first four of Johnson’s fights ended in Round 1 with two being done in under a minute.

The Current Odds: This could end up being a display of power and the odds makers have sided with Johnson. He is the -250 favorite with Brazil’s Fortuna a +195 underdog.

Prediction: Jordan Johnson def. Marcel Fortuna by way of KO/TKO

Preliminary Card (Fox Sports 1)

Angela “Overkill” Hill vs. Ashley “Spider Monkey” Yoder

Hill (6-3 in MMA overall) is another one of those fighters that does great against lesser competition. After losing her opening round fight of TUF 20, which declared the first UFC women’s strawweight (115-pound) champion, the skid continued for Hill and she was cut. She then went 4-0 in the all-female Invicta FC feeder league, even earning their strawweight belt and defending it once before dropping her UFC record to 0-3 after another shot.

The Current Odds: The 5-2 Yoder is 0-1 in the UFC and is the +215 underdog opposite the -275 favorite in Hill but all of her wins have come by submission, so that is obviously where the fight needs to go. It’s worth noting that despite her losing record in the UFC’s Hill’s UFC takedown defense rate per FightMetric is at 75 percent. If they trade hands, Hill should box her way to the final horn.

Prediction: Angela Hill def. Ashley Yoder by way of a Unanimous Decision

“The” James Krause vs. Tom “Da’ Tank” Gallicchio

Krause should be able to use his overall and UFC-specific experience (23-7 in MMA, 4-3 in the UFC) to outperform 19-9, 0-0 Tom Gallicchio. The modus operandi is also apparent for Krause as he has ended 20 of his 23 wins, 14 by submission. Da’ Tank is no slouch in that area with 13 of his own, but Krause is able to train pretty much full-time while not running his own gym. His opponent meanwhile still has a job as a candy machine salesman, so it might come down to the amount of time spent training and the quality of their conditioning.

A win on the TUF 25 finale card would put Krause on a three-fight winning streak. The major concern for him heading into the fight though would be the scratched cornea he suffered in his quarter-final win over Ramsey Nijem.

Gallicchio seems like a perfectly nice guy, just a slightly above average fighter in a class of elites.

Prediction: James Krause def. Tom Gallicchio by way of Submission

Ed “Short Fuse” Herman vs. C.B. “The Doberman” Dollaway

Ed Herman has had an up and down ride while a part of the UFC and it will have been just under a year on fight night since he last set a foot on the UFC’s canvas. He was forced to pull out of a UFC 209 bout due to an undisclosed injury and will now step in their against C.B. Dollaway.

If you’ve seen Herman (24-12 overall in MMA, 10-8 in the UFC) fight, you know that he is a striker, one that will unleash hell if he finds an opportunity to do so but is more of a submission hunter with 13 wins to his credit by that form. Dollaway on the other hand is known almost exclusively for his days as a collegiate wrestler. Despite that reputation, he has only come away with three subs (16-9 overall in MMA, 9-8 in the UFC.)

The Current Odds: Dollaway is the -210 favorite with Herman the +170 underdog.

If Dollaway can keep Herman on bottom, ground ‘n’ pound may be his best option. He is on a three-fight skid and also had to pull out of a fight due to an injury from an elevator accident.

Prediction: C.B. Dollaway def. Ed Herman by way of a Unanimous Decision

Jessica “Evil” Eye vs. Aspen Ladd

Aspen Ladd is preparing to shock the world. Eye is 11-6 overall in MMA, 1-5, 1 No Contest in the UFC so she is the obvious underdog, but to her credit, all of her losses came against championship contenders with the exception of Juliana Pena.

The Current Odds: Ladd (5-0) has been impressively well-rounded at just 22 years old heading into her UFC debut with three KO/TKO wins and a submission. She is the big favorite at -145 with Eye a +115 underdog.