Another season of The Ultimate Fighter has come to an end, and that means it’s time for new Ultimate Fighter champions to be crowned.  And this time around, those champions can claim to be the first fighters to hold the honor in their weight divisions.

It’s the first go-around on the reality series for the featherweights and bantamweights.  Emerging among the 145-pounders as the two top dogs are Diego Brandao and Dennis Bermudez.  Meanwhile, the inaugural 135-pound finalists are John Dodson and T.J. Dillashaw.  They will all fight on the same card as their TUF coaches Michael Bisping and Jason “Mayhem” Miller, who square off in a middleweight showdown.  Last season’s TUF champion, Tony Ferguson, helps round out the main card against veteran lightweight Yves Edwards and two bantamweight contestants from this season also get main card status, as semi-finalist Johnny Bedford meets Louis Gaudinot.

The action goes down at The Pearl at The Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, with the main card airing live on Spike at 9 p.m. ET and the remaining undercard bouts streaming live on Facebook.

The MMA Corner’s panel of Bryan Henderson, Brian McKenna and Richard Wilcoxon breaks down the five main card bouts in this edition of the Round Table.

BW: Louis Gaudinot (5-1) vs. Johnny Bedford (17-9-1)

Wilcoxon: Kicking off the main card are two of the more popular competitors from this season of The Ultimate Fighter.  Both put on entertaining fights and have memorable personalities.

Gaudinot is currently ranked as the No. 10 flyweight in the world, but because the UFC doesn’t have a flyweight class, he finds himself fighting up a weight class.  His trademark green hair makes him instantly memorable.  The former Ring of Combat flyweight champion has not had an official fight in over a year, but with two exhibition bouts on TUF I wouldn’t worry too much about ring rust.

Bedford made it all the way to the semi-finals before losing to Dodson on the show.  He has a long wrestling background and a long reach for the division.  He prefers to get a fight to the ground, but can win a fight standing.

I don’t put a lot of stock in flyweight rankings yet because there are so few guys in the division.  Gaudinot is a perfect example why.  Besides his last professional fight where he won the ROC title, he hasn’t exactly faced tough competition.  The size, reach, wrestling and toughness of Bedford should be more than enough to win the fight.

McKenna: From watching the final episode of The Ultimate Fighter last night, one thing stood out to me and that was that Johnny Bedford appeared to have overlooked his opponent, John Dodson.  Most fighters say the typical spiel that they are going to work their opponent only to take them down, ground-and-pound on them for a while and then end the fight from there, and that is exactly the trap that Bedford fell into.  He kept saying that he would overwhelm his opponent and that he could never be knocked out by the lack of power that Dodson has.  Well, it was quite a humbling experience after he came to and thought that he was in Ohio after getting knocked out.  The intangibles are there though, Bedford is one hell of a fighter and it was shown throughout the season, but the cockiness late really caught up to him.

Richard pointed out that Gaudinot dyes his hair green which makes him a memorable fighter.  That is true, but honestly it is pretty much all I can remember from the guy.  According to the rankings, he is indeed the No. 10 ranked flyweight in the world.  Well, this will be the second consecutive fight for Bedford against a flyweight fighter and the second consecutive fight where he should be able to use his superior size and strength among everything else in this fight.  The loss to Dodson will have humbled the runner-up to the point where there is no way he loses this fight.  Bedford starts his professional UFC career off with a bang as he wins by early knockout.

Henderson: Both Gaudinot and Bedford surprised me in their fights to make it into the TUF house.  Gaudinot defeated Paul McVeigh and Bedford eliminated Carson Beebe.  They both showed that they have the toughness to go far, but Bedford survived further into the season by making it to the semi-finals while Gaudinot lost his first fight after making it to the house.

What I don’t like about Bedford’s chances here is that he is facing another 5-foot-3 fighter.  Dodson’s small size actually seemed to turn Bedford’s reach advantage into a disadvantage, and I could easily see that happening again here.

However, judging from what I saw of Bedford prior to that loss, I think he’ll be spending a lot of time studying both anything he can find on Gaudinot and the fight tape from his performances against Dodson.  The veteran will learn from his mistakes and find a way to submit Gaudinot midway through the fight.

LW: Tony Ferguson (12-2) vs. Yves Edwards (41-17-1)

McKenna: The fight that will take us into the first final of the season will feature the man who won the 13th season of the show, Tony Ferguson.  Each and every time that Ferguson has entered the Octagon, amateur or professional, he has won the fight by either knockout or technical knockout.  His striking has gotten him to where he is today and he should continue to use it because he clearly is a gifted striker.  If you asked his last opponent, Aaron Riley, about the striking of “El Cucuy,” he would have had to mutter something due to the fact that his jaw had been broken during the first round.  While all of this is fine and good, he spends his time training with Brock Lesnar at the DeathClutch Gym in Minnesota, so you know his wrestling will be as good as it can possibly be when he heads into this fight.

Standing across the cage from Ferguson will be Yves Edwards, who will be by far the toughest opponent that he has faced in his career.  Sure, Edwards is a very well-rounded fighter in every sense of the expression, however the biggest thing that the American Top Team fighter has on his opponent is his experience.  The “Thugjitsu Master” holds 15 victories by knockout and 17 victories by submission compared to the 12 total victories that Ferguson holds.  Edwards has fought in many of the world’s top promotions including the UFC, Pride, EliteXC, Strikeforce and beyond.

But honestly, I would be surprised if the more experienced fighter wins this fight.  My instincts here are that “El Cucuy” just hits too damn hard and the size of the gloves in MMA really benefits him and hurts Edwards.  I will say though, the longer this fight goes, the better the chance that Edwards wins because of that experience factor.  I just don’t see this fight making it out of the first three minutes because Ferguson will tally another knockout victory.

Henderson: With 59 professional fights, there’s no doubt that Edwards holds the experience edge in this bout.  But I too have my doubts about his ability to win this fight.  While Edwards is experienced, and was once considered a top lightweight, I just can’t help but see him as a bit inconsistent against fighters of Ferguson’s caliber.

While Ferguson might not be as experienced as Sam Stout, who was the last man to hand Edwards a loss, he does have the power to finish Edwards, as Stout did.  Then there’s Mike Campbell, a 10-4 fighter who managed to pick up a decision over Edwards.

I agree with Brian that the longer this fight goes on, the more it favors Edwards, if only because the veteran’s experience will allow him to take advantage of any mistake Ferguson makes and possibly end the fight in a hurry. However, I don’t see Edwards as a threat to score many takedowns against Ferguson, and Ferguson’s boxing background should give him a very slim edge over Edwards in the stand-up.  Ferguson’s power in that department will be the ultimate factor, as the TUF champ scores a second-round TKO.

Wilcoxon: Make it unanimous.  I hate picking against Edwards because I always seem to end up eating my words but I can’t help it.

The “Thugjitsu Master” is an old-time veteran of the sport and he has found a way to continue to be relevant to the division.  In this stint in the UFC, he is currently 3-1.  He has solid striking and slick submissions, but he also is 35 years old and has a lot of wear on his body.  He also doesn’t have the wrestling to threaten Ferguson.  In a stand-up battle, as long as Ferguson keeps his hands up, he has the power advantage.  I also like that Ferguson can dictate where the fight happens.  I look for Ferguson to end it early with a TKO.

BW TUF Final: John Dodson (11-5) vs. T.J. Dillashaw (4-0)

Henderson: If there’s any debate as to the talent available for the UFC to add a 125-pound flyweight division, one need look no further than TUF 14 to find two of the top-ten ranked flyweights in the world. Dodson is currently ranked ninth among flyweights according to the Sherdog rankings, and his performance on the reality series backs up that ranking.

Unfortunately, he’s having to fight a weight class higher on the show, but his experience and high-level skills have been on display in his performances.  His 5-foot-3 frame did give bigger wrestlers trouble, but here he will be facing a Team Alpha Male fighter in Dillashaw who only stands three inches taller than “The Magician.”

While I do think Dillashaw’s stature gives him a better wrestling advantage over Dodson than what Johnny Bedford brought to the cage in the semi-finals, I don’t consider it enough against Dodson.  The little guy has proven impossible to stop through his 16 pro fights, with all his defeats coming via decision, and has a clear experience advantage over the four-fight veteran Dillashaw.

Dodson uses his speed to stay away from Dillashaw’s takedowns.  Don’t look for Dodson to engage in any grappling battles here, he’ll keep it standing as much as possible and look to finish Dillashaw via strikes.  Dodson will either score a late TKO or evade and out-strike Dillashaw en route to a unanimous decision.

Wilcoxon: I think this is the closest fight on the card.  Both guys come from great camps and are great athletes.

Dillashaw has a strong wrestling background.  He received a full-ride wrestling scholarship to a D-I school, he has competed in both Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling, and he has a little international experience.  To complement his wrestling, Dillashaw has a solid and technical striking game.

Dodson may have a better early wrestling background, but he did not continue with the sport in college.  His MMA game is based on his speed, athleticism and striking.

I think this fight is really a coin flip.  Dillashaw has better wrestling and is quicker than Bedford.  I think he succeeds where Bedford failed and gets Dodson down enough times to edge out a decision victory.

McKenna: Both Dillashaw and Dodson have been impressive on the show.  Dillashaw is one of those guys who is not flashy and just gets the job done however required, while Dodson is a little ball of energy and comes out of nowhere for the highlight reel ending.

But where these two differ is their attitude.  Dillashaw knows that he is good and wanted to try and get the easiest road to the finals, which was shown during his time on the show.  Meanwhile, Dodson appears to have a bit of a Napoleon complex, which has probably been there his entire life.  From watching the show, it is clear to me that Dodson is a hard worker and has worked to overcome his size throughout the years, while Dillashaw has tried to find the easiest way possible to get to where he is.

Well, at this point there is nobody else to duck in the house and Dillashaw will have to face Dodson.  I must agree with my fellow panelists and say that this fight is indeed going to be close, but I have to give the edge to Dodson by decision.  When the UFC opens its flyweight division, look for him to be an early contender for that title.

FW TUF Final: Diego Brandao (13-7) vs. Dennis Bermudez (7-2)

McKenna: Sometimes reality television truly is better than anything that Hollywood can write and produce.  On the premiere episode of this season’s show, Dennis Bermudez looked like he was headed home after getting dropped twice by Jimmie Rivera in the first round of their fight to get into the house.  If it wasn’t for his conditioning, he probably would have crumbled and been eliminated on day one, but he was able to turn the tables and get the victory by TKO en route to making his way to the finals.  To me, the biggest thing that stood out from watching “The Menace” on the show is how the kid battles.  He is very capable of taking strong punches only to survive them and come back stronger, like Chris Leben has been known to do.

Diego Brandao (Daniel S. Archuleta/Sherdog)

One thing is for sure when it comes to Diego Brandao, and that is that the kid can stand and bang.  Much like Tony Ferguson, his driving force is his ability to hit very hard and drop his opponent.  Because of this, Michael Bisping made him the first 145-pounder picked and from there, “Ceara” cruised to the finals.

I don’t want to call Brandao a one-trick pony, because after all he has submitted people before and after all that one-trick he has is a beauty of a trick, but Bermudez has never been knocked out and from watching how hard he got punched, for some reason I don’t see it happening for the first time this Saturday.  I see this fight going into the third round where “The Menace” frustrates his opponent during rounds one and two, only to get the fight to the ground and the TKO against a tired Brandao.

Wilcoxon: Both of these guys are tough.  Brian just reminded me of that opening round war and the ability Bermudez showed to bounce back.  Bermudez has a collegiate wrestling background, but showed a solid overall game on the show, winning fights by both TKO and submission.

Brandao showed a ferocious standing attack on the show.  Bisping’s number-one pick walked through all of his opponents with brutal knockouts.

As far as who is going to win the fight, I am going to have to disagree with Brian.  Brandao has more experience and trains with a better camp.  His striking is just sick.  But most importantly, in my mind, he had the more difficult road to the finals.  Bryan Caraway is a former WEC fighter and a guy I thought may win the show, but he couldn’t do anything with Brandao.  Brandao wins this via TKO in the second round.

Henderson: After watching Brandao fight on the show, my first questions was: How has this guy dropped seven fights in his career?  His last two losses have come against a 4-4 fighter and a 5-2 fighter.  That raises red flags with me.  Was it a matter of personal distractions, as suggested by what he said about helping his brother get away from drugs and help his family?  Or is it that he’s finally putting his skills together just now to become a much better fighter than he has been in the past?  Or, is it really a reason to doubt what we’ve seen so far?

Bermudez proved he had heart with his fight against Rivera, but he’s also coming off consecutive losses in his last two pro bouts before entering the TUF house.  He lost both of those fights via rear-naked choke.  That leaves me with just as much doubt about him.

What I see here is a fighter in Brandao who is with an elite camp, has surged this season and has determination that appears to have been brought upon by his desire to make things better for his family in Brazil.  His ferocity comes into play in this fight, as he’ll rock Bermudez early and really test “The Menace’s” heart to its fullest.  Bermudez will take a beating, and eventually Brandao will drop him and finish with a submission.  Yep, I’m actually saying this won’t end in a straight-up knockout or TKO.

MW: Michael Bisping (21-3) vs. Jason “Mayhem” Miller (23-7)

Wilcoxon: For the first time since season five, the coaches meet in the main event of the finale.  And this truly is an event, rather than a fight.  Both guys seem to be a little too preoccupied with creating a larger than life personality.  I just hope they remember to focus on the fight.

Bisping is just on the fringes of being a top-ten middleweight.  The former TUF winner is on a three-fight winning streak.  While Bisping has shown a  penchant for striking, he has also proved to have a very solid all-around game.

“Mayhem” is making his grand return to the UFC.  He last competed in the organization way back at UFC 52.  Since that time he has hosted the MTV show Bully Beatdown and bounced around different organizations.

Here is the thing, while “Mayhem” is funny and entertaining, he is just out of his league.  Bisping has been competing in the UFC against some of the best in the world for the last five years.  It has been four years since Miller beat Kennedy.  Since then, his biggest win is over the 41-year-old version of Sakuraba.  There just isn’t a comparison in my mind.  Bisping will dominate this fight, but Miller has proven extremely difficult to finish so I expect it to go to the judges’ cards.

Henderson: I’m in 100% agreement with Richard here.  Miller is a tough out, but he’s also overrated.  Even looking back at his record and seeing that win over Kennedy, it’s hard to believe.  Don’t get me wrong, I’d like to see him win, as I have never been a fan of Bisping’s antics, but he definitely is outclassed here.

Bisping has only lost to Dan Henderson, Wanderlei Silva and Rashad Evans over the course of his career.  He’s proven he’s always one notch below contender status, but he’s still damn near the top.  “Mayhem” just doesn’t fit in with any of those three men who have handed Bisping losses.  All of them possess a quality stand-up game, not always technically sound, but enough to get the job done.

If there’s one area where Miller is lacking, it’s stand-up.  Add to that the fact that Bisping has shown that even when he does get rocked, he can recover when the fight hits the mat.  While Miller might have an advantage in the grappling department, he doesn’t have the weapons necessary to get Bisping down and put him in a ton of trouble.

“Mayhem” likely won’t be stopped, so I’ll second Richard’s opinion and predict a unanimous decision for Bisping.

Jason "Mayhem" Miller (Esther Lin)

McKenna: I really wish that MMA had more fighters like Jason “Mayhem” Miller.  He has the feel of a down to Earth guy who will never take himself too serious.  Add in the really fun ring entrances and the hilarious personality and you have a very likable guy that you could see yourself being friends with.  Unfortunately for “Mayhem,” in this fight I really find it difficult to pick him to win against Bisping.

Richard and Bryan have laid it out there.  Bisping is and has been a top contender with the best promotion in the world, while Miller has bounced around from Strikeforce and Dream and other smaller promotions.  Sure, he had an awful draw with his first career UFC fight back in the day against Georges St-Pierre, but he didn’t do enough to warrant a second fight with the promotion.

As a fan, I will be pulling for “Mayhem” in this fight, but as a writer I have to agree with my fellow panelists here and go with Bisping in this fight.  What it comes down to is that if Miller was good enough to defeat Bisping, he would have had his second stint with the UFC a long time ago and would have hung around for a while.  The reality of it is that he isn’t, and he didn’t.  Bisping by decision.


Top Photo: Jason “Mayhem” Miller (Esther Lin)