The Ultimate Fighter reality fighting series has featured many great finales—like season eight, when Diego Sanchez and Clay Guida went 15 minutes of nonstop action, or even as far back as 2005, when Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar put on one of the best fights in UFC history. But on June 1 at The Pearl at The Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, fans will witness another great card of fights, and it starts on Facebook and Fuel TV with the always exciting preliminary fights.

Every year, the UFC matches up many members of The Ultimate Fighter cast to fight on the undercard, which fuels the fire under them to go out and put on a solid performance in hopes of fighting for the UFC full-time. This year’s card is no different, as 10 fighters from the recent cast will be in action on Friday, along with a solid bantamweight contest between John Albert and newcomer Erik Perez to kick off the event.

The action kicks off with Albert meeting Perez on Facebook at approximately 6:30 p.m. ET, followed by four preliminary card fights on Fuel TV, with a start time of 7 p.m. ET. The MMA Corner’s Brian McKenna, Jesse Thomas and Corey Adams break down the five prelim bouts below.

BW: John Albert (7-2) vs. Erik Perez (10-4)

Thomas: This is a very intriguing match-up, at least to me. Perez has recently fought for the British promotion BAMMA. He’s got a great jiu-jitsu background and trains with the famed Greg Jackson camp in Albuquerque. His training with the Jackson camp will help prepare him for Albert, who is fighting out of the state of Washington with UFC vet Dennis Hallman.

Albert (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

“Prince” Albert—a horrible nickname, by the way—has the Octagon edge, having fought in the 14th season of The Ultimate Fighter, where he lost a decision to eventual TUF champ John Dodson. But I will have to go with the Perez in this fight. Perez has a great ground attack and has improved his stand-up. Perez will win this fight by second-round submission.

McKenna: This fight presents an interesting way to start off the evening. As Jesse said, we have Albert making his Octagon debut with a strong training camp behind him taking on a TUF veteran with a 1-1 promotional record. Traditionally, Greg Jackson’s fighters have been outstanding throughout the sport of MMA. While this fight marks the promotional debut for Perez, he should be taken seriously given that he is currently on the second of two five-fight winning streaks.

The last person that Albert stood across from in the cage was Ivan Menjivar, who basically steamrolled him. But this is by no means a knock against Albert, as Menjivar was in consideration by many to step up and take on Urijah Faber for the interim bantamweight championship at UFC 148 this July. It should be interesting to see how “Prince” bounces back after that difficult test that was given to him by the UFC.

Perez (L) delivers a knee (Martin Rhodes/Sherdog)

One thing that shouldn’t be overlooked in this fight is that Albert has never gone to the judges’ scorecards, which tells me that we are most likely in for a fun and exciting fight. While Albert has the UFC experience edge in this fight, Perez and his corner will have the MMA experience edge, which will propel “El Goyito” to victory by a third-round submission.

Adams: The talk from both Jesse and Brian about Perez training under Greg Jackson is very tempting to lean toward, but I’m going to be the odd man out and go with “Prince” in this fight.

After his loss to Menjivar, expect Albert to come out very motivated to get back on track. Brian made a good point that the Washington native has never gone to a decision, which poses a threat to Perez.

Perez will be very prepared with a solid group of guys in his corner, but Albert will find a way to win this fight. I’ll take “Prince” to earn a late TKO over Perez.

LW: Jeremy Larsen (8-2) vs. Joe Proctor (7-1)

McKenna: Being a Boston guy, it is only natural for me to pull for Joe Proctor in this fight; however, I will stay neutral while I am here wearing my writer’s hat. The Joe Lauzon product entered the UFC Gym with a lot of hype behind him for his entry fight. Considering that the man Proctor trains under holds 17 career submissions with six of them taking place inside the Octagon, it wasn’t too surprising to see that he choked out his first two victims on the show. The only time that Proctor looked like he was struggling was when he dropped his quarterfinal fight to James Vick. The height was just too much of a mismatch for Proctor in the striking department and the Pembroke, Mass., native simply couldn’t get the fight to the ground. If he had been able to, I feel as though he would have moved on to the semifinals because of how quickly Vick turtled up when he was put on the ground last Friday.

Proctor celebrates victory (Zuffa, LLC)

Off of the show, Jeremy Larsen was able to accumulate eight professional victories with five of them coming by way of finishing his opponent. Although this is a good ratio and led viewers to believe that they were in for an extremely flashy and entertaining fighter, both of his fights inside the Octagon went to the judges’ scorecards. I don’t want to make it sound as if he came on the show and was an absolute bore, because little did we know that his first fight after earning his way into the house came by the hands of season finalist Michael Chiesa. Basically, the guy got a bad draw and fortunately we get to see him fight again so we can watch him showcase his stuff.

In the end though, I think that the ground game for Proctor will be too much for Larsen, and it will result in a late first-round rear-naked choke for Lauzon’s student.

Adams: I’m miles and miles away from the Boston area, but Proctor is my pick to win this fight as well, without any bias.

I had higher expectations for Proctor on this season of The Ultimate Fighter, but he ran into a difficult opponent in Vick who used his reach to exploit the Boston native on the feet. Brian has basically laid out the skill set of Proctor, and I agree with everything he said. With a shorter opponent on the opposite side of the Octagon on Friday, the Team Faber fighter should be able to work for a takedown and look for a submission.

While Larsen did lose to Chiesa in week five, the Arizona native still has some talent. He’s known primarily as a boxer, and if Proctor isn’t careful, Larsen could rough up his opponent early on. Look for Larsen to put up a good fight early, but slowly start to lose steam as Proctor manages to take the fight to the mat.

I’m going to agree and take Proctor by submission, but I’ll say he gets the win in round two.

Thomas: I am in the category of “expected more” as with my associate, Mr. Adams. Proctor looks, in person and on paper, to have all the tools it would take to be a champion someday. Instead, he floundered when it counted, losing to Vick on the reality show. Proctor is well-trained and versed, and if there is only one area people will say they’re concerned with, it would be his striking (which is not bad at all).

Now, Larsen will come into this fight losing on the show to finalist Mike Chiesa. No shame in that right? Larsen comes to us fighting out of Arizona Combat Sports and will bring in an 8-2 record.

I think this fight will be the turning point in the career of Proctor, win or lose. He has a ton of talent, and in my humble opinion, I believe that he will either contend for a title one day or he will take this fight very lightly and show us that mentally he can be broken. However, I will take scenario “A” and choose Proctor to win this fight by slick submission and show us a few new tricks along the way.

LW: Cristiano Marcello (12-3) vs. Sam Sicilia (10-1)

Adams: The Brazilian Marcello is the oldest, most experienced fighter on this list of The Ultimate Fighter cast, but he will struggle against the hard-hitting striker Sicilia.

Sicilia (Facebook)

If this fight goes to the ground, an immediate advantage will go to Marcello. The 34-year-old is a Chute Boxe jiu-jitsu coach, while holding a fourth-degree black belt in the art. It could be a long night for Sicilia if Marcello is able to press him against the cage, use his Muay Thai game, and pull Sicilia to the ground. But will the Brazilian be able to stand with Sicilia in the center of the Octagon?

My answer to that question is no. Marcello’s career is on a bit of a downturn at his old age, and he won’t be able to match the pace of the younger Sicilia. If the Washington native can keep the fight standing and control the pace, he will be able to put away the tough veteran.

It’s hard to pick against a guy like Marcello, but my hunch is Sicilia will be smart on his feet and TKO the Brazilian in the second frame.

Thomas: Marcello is the old man, blah blah blah. What is very interesting to me about this man is how this guy has fought all over the world and not made a bigger splash. He’s a black belt, he worked for the famous Chute Boxe team, and he better not try and stand and bang with his opponent, Sicilia.

Sicilia is a “mash your face into a puddle” fighter. To say that this man has dynamite in his hands is largely an understatement. But the question for Sicilia in this fight is, has he worked on his ground defense or at least takedown defense, because Marcello will be gunning for that tie up and takedown. If that happens, it will be a long night of trying to fight out of submission attempts.

Marcello (Sherdog)

It’s the classic match-up between grappler and striker, and both men have the ability to do damage to the other. My heart says go Chute Boxe (I know, I’m lame) but my gut says Marcello will try to stand and bang at least for the first few minutes of the first round. After that, he will wake up not knowing where he is. I got Sicilia by a first-round KO.

McKenna: In the first two episodes of the season, Urijah Faber made two key errors. The first came when he balked at the opportunity to pick someone to take down Justin Lawrence after Dominick Cruz gave Faber the chance to have someone take down his top pick, which resulted in Cruz selecting Marcello for him. The second error came immediately after, when Faber decided that he would have his fighter keep the fight standing despite his jiu-jitsu accolades. I honestly think, after watching Lawrence lose his fight on the ground against Chiesa, that Marcello could have had that victory if Faber and his coaches decided that it would be best for that fight to go to the ground.

As a result of his elite-level ground game, I am going to go with Marcello in this fight. Sure, Sicilia has a lot of power behind his fists, but other than that eight-second fight that got him into the house, I didn’t see the power. I feel as though Marcello has the ability to move on his feet to survive until he finds an opportunity to take the fight to the ground and work the submission, which is what he should have been trying to do earlier in the season. The Brazilian wins by submission in the late first round.

LW: Daron Cruickshank (10-2) vs. Chris Tickle (7-4)

McKenna: Unlucky. That is how I categorize what happened to Daron Cruickshank against Vick in his first fight on the show. The guy was controlling the entire tempo and pace of the first round, backing his opponent up and ultimately winning the fight to that point. What happened next was what was unlucky, as his opponent threw a high kick right as Cruickshank was shooting in for a takedown, resulting in a knee straight to the head that caused a knockout. I’m not taking anything away from anyone because ultimately the winning fighter put himself in the position to win and carried through with it, but it was definitely a tough way for Team Faber to start the season.

Cruickshank (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

Chris Tickle was this season’s Chris Leben. Each season, we expect one or two characters who frolic around the house and play the bad-guy role, and this season it was definitely Tickle. Coach Dominick Cruz quickly became fed up with his antics when the Illinois native showed little drive in practice, constantly forgetting something in the other room or needing to go to the bathroom, which resulted in the rest of his team working their tails off and him taking five minutes off here and five minutes off there. He showed up to the Chiesa vs. Larsen fight drunk, had his name called for the following week’s fight, and then talked Cruz into pushing him hard that week in practice to which Cruz stated that he was trying to do so the whole time. What came as a result was a late first-round rear-naked choke win for Joe Proctor, and that was the last of Tickle until now.

But it wasn’t all bad with Tickle. Coach Cruz continuously said in the early episodes that he felt that Tickle has great natural ability and if he pushed himself, he could win the tournament. The story of this fight will be whether or not he was motivated after he was eliminated. I think that he most likely is motivated here, and that natural ability will result in Cruickshank laying on his back after being the recipient of a first-round knockout.

Thomas: Chris Tickle, whew this will be a tough one. Look, both these guys have talent and both men are hungry. It took a few wacky episodes by Tickle, however, to get over to the serious side. He has good stand-up and is surprising on the ground, although he relies a lot on his stand-up game and will do so yet again if he is to win this fight.

Talking anymore on Tickle’s “episodes” on this season’s show would be a waste of my words, so I will move on to Tickle’s opponent, Cruickshank.

Cruickshank has talent, let’s not get him twisted. He has a very powerful game plan, which is to basically hurt you as quick as possible, and he has succeeded with that. Take away this stand-up fighter’s stand-up, however, and you change everything when fighting Cruickshank. Not to say he hasn’t been working on his ground game, but habits and hang-ups are tough to change.

Tickle (ISCFMMA.com)

If you take away the stuff that came with Tickle on the show, you’d get a very hungry and dangerous fighter. With Cruickshank, you get a greatly watered down version of Sean Sherk. Tickle will be the winner, whether he is hyped up to fight or not. He is simply too talented to go lose; heck, all he will basically have to do is duck.

Adams: I’m going to go in the complete opposite direction and take Cruickshank in this fight. Tickle will have to do much more than “duck” to win this fight against a guy who went 10-2 before joining the show.

Don’t get me wrong, Tickle has some talent, but I’m not 100 percent sold on him just yet. He had a very impressive knockout over Austin Lyons in his fight to get into the house, but Cruickshank will be much more difficult to put away.

As mentioned, the Team Faber fighter is good striker, and also has a solid wrestling game. The knee that Vick landed on him was a matter of luck in my opinion, as he just happened to run into it. My hunch is that Tickle will be a bit more motivated, but Cruickshank will take over the fight and win by unanimous decision.

LW: Myles Jury (9-0) vs. Chris Saunders (9-2)

Thomas: Myles Jury was a favorite on the show and started with the promise that Dominick Cruz saw in him. He eventually lost to finalist Al Iaquinta, but I feel he will show up to the finale in true form. Jury is very experienced for being such a young guy and will have the edge in total skill set, as he is fairly good at, well, everything.

Saunders (Kari Hubert/Zuffa, LLC)

Chris Saunders will not be a pushover, as he is a big powerful lightweight and has talent of his own. Good striking and a solid ground game propelled Saunders up the ladder on the show until he was stopped by Vinc Pichel. It was a surprising loss for a guy who in his last fight lost a hard-fought battle to Chris Horodecki. Still, on paper, as even as it may look, I am going with Jury to pull off the win. I just think overall he will be too much for Saunders to hang with.

Adams: Out of every preliminary bout on this card, Jury vs. Saunders is the one I’m most looking forward to.

I’ve always been on the Jury train ever since he first came onto The Ultimate Fighter’s thirteenth season. It was unfortunate that he tore his ACL that year, but the UFC brought him back for its latest season. Jury’s run didn’t last long, but he will be excited for this opportunity to finally step into the Octagon to make a case for why he should fight full-time for the promotion.

Then there is Saunders, who really impressed me while on the show, in the opposite corner. The California native is a solid kickboxer, but is quite well-rounded for the most part. To defeat Jury, Saunders needs to out-point the member of Team Cruz on the feet.

But against a guy like Jury, it will be difficult to do. “Fury” will take control over this fight, be the aggressor, and pull out a close decision win.

Jury (Spike TV)

McKenna: A lot of people were interested in how Jury would do on the show, not just because of the fact that he was supposed to be on TUF 13, but because in his nine professional MMA fights, he has won by first-round stoppage every time—four by (T)KO and five by submission. Regardless of who you’re fighting, that’s a phenomenal thing to be able to say. Sure, he went to the decision in his house entry fight and went to decision in his preliminary fight, but it goes to show you that ultimately the kid can fight, and that he can fight well.

The last pick in this season’s show was Saunders. He appeared to wear that chip on his shoulder when he took on the third overall pick, Sam Sicilia. There had been a lot of momentum riding along with Sicilia after his quick knockout to gain entry into the house, but Saunders took his time and rode out the decision victory, which earned him a spot in the quarterfinals. The decision came back to bite him in the rear as he dropped the next fight against Vinc Pichel.

When reading over my fellow panelist’s thoughts on this fight, Corey used a word that jumped out at me: “aggressor.” The aggressor in this fight will be the one that wins, and that will clearly be “The Fury.” There is something wired in his brain that makes it so that he goes for the kill, while it appears as though Saunders is more passive and seeks the victory only at opportune times. That will be the factor which will lead to a second-round technical knockout for Jury.

Top Photo: Chris Saunders (R) battles Sam Sicilia (Kari Hubert/Zuffa, LLC)

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.