The Ultimate Fighter finale offers new beginnings

The Ultimate Fighter finale offers new beginnings
April 12, 2013, 8:30 am
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Urijah Faber and Scott Jorgensen headline The Ultimate Fighter finale card this Saturday. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

Nitesh Dutt

After a few weeks without action -- and one very forgettable event overseas -- the UFC returns with The Ultimate Fighter finale on FX this Saturday night. The card, headlined by bantamweights Urijah Faber and Scott Jorgensen, will determine the reality show's 17th season.

The 17th season of the UFC's reality competition, where fighters compete for a contract, had 14 middleweights train under UFC light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones and, the man he'll face on April 27, Chael Sonnen. This season is being lauded as one of the best ever. It combined great production with amazing fights to give viewers an enjoyable product each week. After three months, the fighters' journey concludes.

The final is between knockout artist Uriah Hall and wrestler Kelvin Gastelum. Both middleweights took different paths to the finals. Hall finished each of his three opponents via KO/TKO, including his vicious KO of Adam Cella. On the other hand, there's Gastelum. He won two of his three bouts via submission including his semifinal win over Josh Samman. Both fighters were members of Team Sonnen. 

Understandably, Hall is the much hyped favorite to win it all. He's even been dubbed by UFC President Dana White as possibly the best TUF contestant ever. It'll be up to Gastelum to prove everyone wrong. 

With the crown of TUF 17 and a UFC contract on the line, it's easy to forget how stacked the card is. 

For example, the UFC women's bantamweight division continues its growth as Miesha Tate and Cat Zingano square off. There's more than just pride on the line with an extra incentive for the winner. 

White announced that the winner of Tate vs. Zingano will coach opposite of UFC women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey on the 18th season of The Ultimate Fighter. It will be the first time the show will have female coaches and it will include 135-pound fighters -- men and women. Not only will the winner coach opposite Rousey, but they will also earn a title shot. 

Tate, who lost her Strikeforce title to Rousey, is looking to end Zingano's undefeated start and get her rematch with Rousey. Zingano, who few knew of before her signing, is looking to prove she belongs and should be considered an elite fighter in the ever-growing division. 

Two other bantamweights are also on the verge of title contention in the men's 135-pound division. 

Sacramento's Urijah Faber goes up against Scott Jorgensen on the card's main event. Faber, coming off of a submission victory over Ivan Menjivar at UFC 157 on Feb. 23, is back in the octagon less than two months later. It was rumored that Faber was on the verge of being released from the promotion and another loss could signal his end. Faber answered those rumors with one of his best performances in recent years and, with a win, could be next in line for the bantamweight title. 

On the other hand, Jorgensen has been out of action since last December. A victory over Faber could help stabilize his career and give him momentum in a shallow division. 

The top three fights on the card should give fans plenty to talk about and look forward to, but there are ten other fights hoping to steal the show:

PICKS
Faber vs. Jorgensen: Faber
Hall vs. Gastelum: Hall
Tate vs. Zingano: Zingano
Travis Browne vs. Gabriel Gonzaga: Browne
Robert McDaniel vs. Gilbert Smith: McDaniel
Josh Samman vs. Kevin Casey: Samman
Luke Barnatt vs. Collin Hart: Hart
Dylan Andrews vs. Jimmy Quinlan: Andrews
Clint Hester Vs. Bristol Marunde: Hester
Cole Miller vs. Bart Palaszewski: Miller
Sam Sicilia vs. Maximo Blanco: Sicilia
Justin Lawrence vs. Daniel Pineda: Pineda

Nitesh Dutt is a production assistant at Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter @NiteshDutt.