The preliminary portion of The Ultimate Fighter 13 Finale event in Las Vegas could be entitled “Redemption.”

For four fighters from the thirteenth installment of the UFC reality series, this portion of Saturday evening’s card represents a second chance to get their foot in the door of the eight-sided cage.  Shamar Bailey will lock horns with Ryan McGillivray and Clay Harvison will clash with Justin Edwards, with all four men hoping to prolong their UFC careers.

And for veterans Scott Jorgensen, Josh Grispi and George Roop, the TUF 13 Finale prelims allow the shot at rebound performances following disappointing losses.  Jorgensen couldn’t capture the bantamweight title from Dominick Cruz, Grispi lost his opportunity for a featherweight title bid after a decision loss to Dustin Poirier and Roop fell victim to a TKO at the hands of Mark Hominick, who used the victory to propel himself into an unsuccessful title run against Jose Aldo at 145-pounds. Now, those three men can begin the rebuilding process as they strive for another chance at championship gold.  Jorgensen will face Ken Stone, while Grispi will tangle with Roop.

Rounding out the early portion of the show, Reuben Duran will welcome Francisco Rivera into the UFC and lightweights Jeremy Stephens and Dan Downes will look to extend their current run of success at the other’s expense.

The MMA Corner’s Round Table panel of Corey Adams, Bryan Henderson and Rob Tatum gathered to break down all of the preliminary card action.  Here are their thoughts:

WW: Shamar Bailey (11-3) vs. Ryan McGillivray (11-4-1)

Tatum: Heading into this season of The Ultimate Fighter, Bailey was easily one of the favorites.  The Strikeforce veteran has a strong wrestling base and faced tougher competition than the other fighters in the house.  Bailey performed well in the opening fight, using his bread and butter wrestling to control his opponent and claim a decision.  However, after Coach Dos Santos dismissed wrestling coach Lew Polley, Bailey seemed lost.  His shot was repeatedly stuffed by semifinalist Chris Cope in the quarterfinals in an ugly performance.

McGillivray is another veteran, having largely competed for Canada’s Maximum Fighting Championship.  Nine of the Alberta native’s eleven wins have come by submission, including his last three.  After taking out Team Lesnar’s first pick Len Bentley in the opening round, McGillivray fell victim to eventual finalist Tony Ferguson in the quarterfinals.

While the Canadian has a strong submission game, Bailey has never lost by submission.  Look for Bailey to repeatedly put McGillivray on his back and control the positioning from the opening bell.  Bailey should take home a clear-cut unanimous decision victory.

Henderson: These are definitely two of the most seasoned veterans from this season of The Ultimate Fighter, and they were two of my early picks to win the whole thing.

Bailey’s resume is the more impressive of the two fighters. Losses to Justin Wilcox and Roger Bowling are nothing to be embarrassed about, and his recent loss to Kurt Kinser was due to a cut.  McGillivray has lost to lesser foes, but has also tallied a larger percentage of wins via stoppage.

I usually tend to lean towards a submission fighter over a wrestler, but Bailey’s lack of submission losses makes me a bit more tentative here.  I do think Bailey will put McGillivray on his back throughout this fight, and will quite likely appear to be on his way to a decision.  Still, despite my hesitance, I think over the course of three rounds McGillivray will find a hole in Bailey’s submission defense and force the Integrated Fighting Academy product to tap for the first time in his professional career.

Adams: This certainly has the making to be a fight that remains on the mat the entire time. Bailey will hold the strength advantage over McGillivray, but the Canadian will have a bit of a height advantage. This is a tough fight to call for me. Both Rob and Bryan have mentioned this is a match-up of a dominant wrestler vs. a slick, submission specialist. A case can be made for either guy winning, but in a bit of a toss up for me, I’m going to agree with Rob and take Bailey by unanimous decision.

WW: Justin Edwards (6-0) vs. Clay Harvison (6-1)

Adams: Edwards wasn’t originally asked to compete on the show, but whenever Keon Caldwell decided to return home, his dream came true. He was put on Team Dos Santos, and got his opportunity to fight Team Lesnar’s top guy, Tony Ferguson. His experience in the Octagon did not last long, however, and he was on the wrong end of the best knockout on the show, an up-kick to the face. He was expected to have another shot in the wild-card fight, but was told he was not healthy enough to compete.

Harvison was chosen seventh overall by Lesnar, and waited quite a while to get his opportunity to fight. He finally was chosen to take on Mick Bowman, and earned a decision victory. But during the fight, Harvison suffered a broken pinky that would’ve put his time on the show in question. Fortunately, he could continue fighting.  He was matched up against Ramsey Nijem in the quarterfinals, but lost via submission in the first round.

This fight is huge for both men, in which they could earn their way into the UFC. I’m going to take Harvison in this fight due to his kickboxing background. I think if he avoids getting taken down by Edwards (who has five submission victories in his career), then he can pick him apart en route to a unanimous decision win.

Tatum: Although Edwards did not make the show initially, from the brief assessment of both fighters during the show, I think he is the more complete mixed martial artist.  Harvison is tough as nails, as exhibited during (and after) his fight with Bowman, but he is simply a brawler.  If Edwards decides to stand in front of him, it will be a short night for both of them.

Edwards, as Corey mentioned, has submitted five of his six opponents.  I envision more of the same as he gets Harvison to the ground and ends the bout with a rear-naked choke in the second round.

Henderson: The key here for Edwards is to weather the storm of the opening round.  That’s where Harvison tends to do his work.  Win or lose, he’s never gone beyond that five minute mark outside of TUF competition.

If Edwards can stretch this fight into the second and third rounds, he’ll have an increasingly easy time taking down the kickboxer.  I look for Harvison’s striking to earn him the early advantage, but he’ll fade late, allowing Edwards to come back and score a late submission win.

BW: Reuben Duran (7-3-1) vs. Francisco Rivera (5-1)

Henderson: Duran made his UFC debut as a late replacement for Rivera against Takeya Mizugaki.  Now, he gets to thank Rivera for the opportunity by punching him in the face.

Duran appears to be the smaller fighter here, with Rivera previously competing as a featherweight. Duran holds the experience advantage and has never been knocked out.  He also has a background that includes boxing, wrestling and jiu-jitsu, as well as numerous Grapplers Quest championships, so he should be comfortable wherever the fight goes.

You could almost call this a striker vs. grappler affair, but while Rivera is primarily a striker, Duran is really a well-rounded fighter rather than just a grappler.  Rivera has a chance to knock out Duran, but Duran’s own striking combined with the other aspects of his game make it unlikely.  Add in the fact that this is Rivera’s first fight inside the Octagon and marks his shift to 135-pounds, and I think the safe pick here is Duran finishing “Cisco” on the ground.

Tatum: Having seen very little of either fighter, this is a hard fight to assess, but much like Bryan, I have to go with Duran after comparing the facts.  After re-watching the Mizugaki fight, Duran certainly gave the gritty Japanese fighter everything he could handle for fifteen minutes.

I think Duran will use his balanced attack to control where the fight goes and put Rivera in a number of uncomfortable positions throughout the contest, ultimately leading to a submission victory late in the second or early in the third round.

Adams: I also am not familiar with either fighter, but did my research on both and came up with the same conclusion as both Bryan and Rob. While Duran did lose to Mizugaki, the experience gained from fighting someone of his caliber will help him in this fight against Rivera. I agree that Duran gets the win either by decision or late submission.

BW: Scott Jorgensen (11-4) vs. Ken Stone (9-2)

Tatum: Former WEC title contender Jorgensen looks to get back to his winning ways against fellow wrestler Stone.  Jorgensen was most recently in action in December at WEC 53, where he dropped a decision to current UFC bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz.  Jorgensen entered the bout riding a five-fight win streak, including two “Fight of the Night” bonuses, but was unable to solve Cruz on the feet.

Stone, meanwhile, also came out on the wrong end of his WEC 53 fight against Eddie Wineland.  After starting his career 8-0, Stone faced a major step up in competition in the veteran and paid dearly.  Wineland slammed Stone violently to the canvas and knocked him unconscious.  Stone earned a trip to the hospital, while Wineland earned “KO of the Night” honors.

I don’t believe Stone will have a repeat of his WEC 53 nightmare at the hands of Jorgensen, but I believe that Jorgensen will use his superior wrestling to dominate Stone for three rounds.  Jorgensen will look to climb back up the bantamweight ladder with the win and Stone will be looking for employment elsewhere after a second straight loss.

Adams: Good points made by Rob. Jorgensen’s fight with the champion Cruz was a bad match up for him in all aspects. He couldn’t find angles to take down the elusive striker which caused him to come out on the wrong end of a decision.

I don’t know much about his opponent, Stone, but did watch the fight in which he was slammed by Eddie Wineland, wow! I agree that he will come back and put on a good performance, however, I am going to have to pick Jorgensen. He isn’t in the top 5 bantamweights for no reason. He will show against Stone that he deserves to be at the top of the heap and earn a dominant, decision victory.

Henderson: To me, Stone represents a bounce-back fight for Jorgensen.  Stone has gone 1-2 over his last three outings, while Jorgensen’s loss comes against the top bantamweight out there.  That’s a huge difference, and it’ll show inside the cage.  While I could definitely see Jorgensen riding out a dominant decision win, I’ll say he comes back determined to make a statement and finishes Stone via TKO.

FW: Josh Grispi (14-2) vs. George Roop (11-7-1)

Adams: In a match up of talented featherweights, “The Fluke”, Josh Grispi, will take on member of Team Tompkins in Roop. Both men are coming off big losses and are looking to get a much-needed win.

Grispi came out of the WEC organization with a 4-0 record under his belt, including notable victories over Mark Hominick and Jens Pulver. When the WEC and UFC combined, Grispi was expected to take on featherweight champion Jose Aldo, but the champ was forced out due to injury. Grispi then took on Dustin Poirer, but lost a decision. This was a huge blow for him, and he will look to rebound in this fight to earn his No. 1 contender status back.

Roop is noted as being one of the tallest fighters in the lighter divisions at 6-foot-1. He competed in the UFC early in his career and was then signed by the WEC. He racked up a 1-1-1 record before being brought back to the UFC. In his last fight, he faced a tough fighter in Hominick, and was knocked out in just the first round.

When breaking down this fight, I notice that Roop has been submitted four times in his career. And his opponent, Grispi, has won half of his fights by submission. If Grispi is able to take Roop to the ground, he is capable of getting a submission victory. I think he will be able to cancel out the reach advantage with his Jiu-Jitsu and earn a much-needed win early or midway through the fight.

Henderson: Grispi’s fight against Poirier couldn’t have been a bigger letdown for Grispi.  The 22-year-old could have been fighting for the title, but instead lost a one-sided decision to a less-heralded opponent.  Grispi is still young though, and his day will come…it just might not come soon.

Poirier might have set the blueprint for defeating Grispi by dictating the pace in the stand-up.  Roop is a striker who will enjoy a reach advantage, so he could look to duplicate Poirier’s success.  However, Roop is no Poirier.  He’s a fighter with a much less impressive record who has been inconsistent inside the Octagon.

Still, Poirier has planted a seed of doubt that I can’t seem to get past.  Sure, Grispi wins this one if he can get Roop to the ground, but what if he can’t? It might be another long night for “The Fluke” if that’s the case.  I’ll say Roop’s striking proves to be the deciding factor here, as he provides Grispi with another setback when he takes this one over the kid via decision.

Tatum: Irony is a great thing.  And I believe that Grispi’s nickname of “The Fluke” is a perfect description of his performance against Poirier at UFC 125.  Something was clearly off that night for Grispi, and I don’t expect a repeat performance against the lengthy Roop.

Grispi has faced and defeated better opponents in the past (Mark Hominick, Jens Pulver) and his well-rounded attack is likely to give Roop trouble.  Whether the fight stays standing or hits the mat, Grispi has the tools to finish the fight.

Roop, as Bryan stated, will have to try to use his reach to keep Grispi at bay.  I don’t see him being able to do it for a full three rounds.  While I have to respect Roop’s heart and grit, he’s never been a world beater inside the Octagon.

I see Grispi getting inside Roop’s range and bringing the fight quickly to the mat.  From there the 22-year-old will find a submission and rebound from the tough loss against Poirier.

LW: Jeremy Stephens (19-6) vs. Dan Downes (8-1)

Tatum: This lightweight collision is destined to be a contender for “Fight of the Night.”  Stephens will enter this fight with a significant experience edge over the Duke Roufus trained Downes.  The two striking specialists share a common claim, having never been finished by KO or TKO in their careers.  This is a recipe for fireworks.

Both fighters enter the fight coming off victories.  Stephens sent veteran and fan favorite Marcus Davis packing from the UFC while earning “KO of the Night” at UFC 125 in January.  Downes was forced to take a fight outside of Zuffa while waiting for an opponent and was victorious by triangle choke over Tory Bogguess just one month ago.  Stephens was originally slated to face The Ultimate Fighter 12 winner Jonathan Brookins at this event, but Downes stepped in on short notice to take his place.

While I would’ve picked Stephens to finish Brookins on the feet, I don’t have the same confidence against Downes.  I think Stephens’ resiliency and experience will prove to be too much for Downes over the course of three rounds.  Stephens will walk out of the cage with a unanimous decision nod.

Henderson: While I would have disagreed with Rob’s prediction of Stephens’ performance against Brookins, I can’t disagree with his pick of Stephens over Downes.  Downes did prove to be a bump in the road for the UFC’s Chinese star Tiequan Zhang, but I think this fight will play out more like “Danny Boy’s” UFC debut against Chris Horodecki, minus the submission finish.

Stephens, like Horodecki, has good striking.  That alone will spell trouble for Downes, who relies primarily on his fists to win fights.  Downes should make this a tough back-and-forth battle, but I too see Stephens’ experience as a huge edge for the veteran.  I say “Lil’ Heathen” will finish Downes via TKO in the third frame.

Adams: I have similar thoughts on this fight as both of my fellow panelists do. I agree that this will be a stand-up battle, with the advantage going to Stephens. He possesses heavy hands to go along with much more experience than the younger Downes. I’ll be interested to see how coming off a fight a month ago will affect the kid from Wisconsin. It may not affect him a bit, but it’s a factor that needs to be noted. I’m going to take Stephens in this one by a stoppage midway through the fight.

Photo: Jeremy Stephens (Credit: Rob Tatum/The MMA Corner)