The first season of The Ultimate Fighter being aired live on FX has been a hit so far, giving MMA fans spectacular fights, earning the UFC millions of viewers each week.

Last week’s episode saw the team of Dominick Cruz earn the first win of the season, allowing the UFC bantamweight champion to choose the next match-up. Cruz selected his No. 1 overall pick Justin Lawrence to step into the Octagon next, and oddly, gave opposing coach Urijah Faber an opportunity to choose his next guy to fight. But when no one stepped up to volunteer, Cruz chose Cristiano Marcello to be Lawrence’s opponent.

Let’s take a look at the how the fight breaks down.

Justin Lawrence (4-0) vs. Cristiano Marcello (13-3)

Many people in the MMA community had this match-up between Lawrence and Marcello has their pick for who would end up fighting in the finale. But on Friday, the two rising stars will meet in the third episode of the show, hoping to make it one step closer to earning a six-figure UFC contract.

The momentum advantage without a doubt will go to Lawrence in the moments leading into the fight. The Team Black House member defeated, in many eyes, the favorite coming into the show in James Krause. He not only defeated Krause, but scored a bonus by knocking out the veteran in a little under 90 seconds. While momentum isn’t going to automatically give Lawrence the victory, it’s a major factor that could give him some confidence.

On the opposite side of the cage will be  Team Faber’s Cristiano Marcello. Marcello was the second pick by Faber (fourth overall) and has been around the MMA circuits far longer than his opponent. The Brazilian has been fighting professionally since 1997, while Lawrence has only been competing since 2010. Since  he’s been fighting professionally for over a decade, Marcello should have no problem hanging with these young prospects.

The key that stands out in this bout will be if Marcello is able to take this fight to the ground. Marcello is a jiu-jitsu specialist, holding a fourth degree black belt in BJJ, and even coaches grappling at the Chute Boxing Academy. If this fight goes to the mat, Marcello will come out with his hand raised.

But he’s also going to have to avoid the stand-up game of Lawrence. If Lawrence comes into this fight like he did against Krause, you can put his name one step closer to winning the contract.

The No. 1 pick knows what Marcello brings to the table, but feels he’s prepared for anything once the cage door shuts.

“I’m definitely training hard for my upcoming fight against Marcello,” said Lawrence. “It’s exciting, nerve-racking.  He’s a very good grappler so I really want to try and stay on my feet and make him feel uncomfortable as much as possible. I don’t want this to turn this into a jiu-jitsu match cause I know that’s his strength. Team Cruz has been doing a phenomenal job in training and preparing me and I’m pumped. I just have to fight my fight.”

As far as who comes out on top, expect it to be the undefeated Lawrence. This kid has a ton of talent, and with the run he is on right now, he will defeat Marcello in the second round by TKO.

To find out the result of the fight and review the full episode, check out The Ultimate Fighter: Live – The Aftermath, Week Three

Photo: Cristiano Marcello (Sherdog)

About The Author

Corey Adams
Staff Writer

Corey Adams didn't grow up watching mixed martial arts, considering the UFC was just getting started the year he was born, but in his teenage years, witnessed the action and has fallen in love with the sport. Corey was the first to join The MMA Corner staff -- other than founder Josh Davis -- and has been writing for the site ever since. Corey attends Austin Peay State University, where he majors in Communications with a focus on journalism. When he's not covering MMA, Corey is still writing on many sports with both local and campus newspapers. His favorite sports teams are the Atlanta Braves and Denver Broncos. Follow him on Twitter at the link below.