Tuesday, February 28, 2012

TUF 15: Early Assessment

As another season of The Ultimate Fighter draws near, there is always some new pre-show hype to get fans ready for the show. There are two big changes for Season 15, as the fights will be broadcast live and the show moves from Spike to FX. However, the core format will stay the same, and one fighter will be crowned “The Ultimate Fighter” at the end of the season. Starting March 9, 32 lightweight fighters will enter the Octagon under the guidance of bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz or number one contender Urijah Faber. The 32 man field is filled with young prospects and veterans looking to make a name for themselves. Here are my pre-show picks for fighters that could make the biggest splash this season.

Cristiano Marcello – Hardcore fans will know Marcello as the former jiu-jitsu coach for the famed Chute Boxe Academy in Brazil. Other fans may know him for the YouTube video of him choking out Charles “Krazy Horse” Bennett backstage after an altercation between camps at a PRIDE event. Either way, Marcello has a good deal of experience, and previously fought in PRIDE, albeit in a losing effort to Mitsuhiro Ishida. Still, training alongside all those killers at Chute Boxe, one would think that he’s probably added a few things to his striking game. Add to that a solid background in BJJ, and we have our first favorite for Season 15.

Dakota Cochrane – Most people had no idea who Cochrane was until September 23, 2011. It was that day where he fought Jamie Varner on just four days’ notice on a Titan Fighting Championship card broadcast live on HDNet. He pulled off the upset, dominating Varner for three rounds to earn a unanimous decision victory. Though he lost his most recent bout, he still has an impressive 11-2 record. Plus, winning the Varner fight proved that Cochrane has a lot of guts and the capability to rise to the occasion and seize the moment. Expect Cochrane to make some noise this season.

James Krause – Krause is probably the most experienced competitor in the field. He holds a win over TUF 12 runner-up Michael Johnson, and has fought against tough veterans Ricardo Lamas, Toby Imada, and Donald Cerrone. He’s also had experience in front of the camera, fighting for televised promotions such as Bellator, WEC, Titan FC, and Shark Fights. Having been on TV numerous times before and fighting some tough veterans in the field may give Krause the experience edge to win the whole thing.

Myles Jury – You always need to pick a darkhorse, and Myles Jury is mine. It’s not just his 9-0 record that compelled me to make this pick, but it’s the fact that Jury has already been on The Ultimate Fighter (though it was technically only for one episode). He was a part of Season 13, but was forced to withdrawal with an ACL injury. Even though he was only on the show for one episode, it’s still one more episode than anyone else in the field. He already has experience dealing with the cameras and environment of The Ultimate Fighter, and that may give him a mental edge going into the season.

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