The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale Preview: Uriah Hall vs. Kelvin Gastelum

One of the very best seasons of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality show comes to an end Saturday night in Las Vegas, as heavy favorite Uriah Hall takes on surprising challenger and former teammate Kelvin Gastelum.TUF 17 Finale

On the line is a brand new Harley Davidson and of course a six figure contract within the organization, although both men will surely get another UFC fight regardless of the outcome.

Hall came into the show with a 7-2 record, with both his losses coming at the hands of top ten middleweights in the UFC (Costa Philippou and Chris Weidman). He won four straight fights on “TUF” including the fight to get into the house, leaving a path of destruction that sent all three of his “TUF” housemates to the hospital. Not since Diego Brandao had a fighter struck fear in the hearts of his housemates as Hall did.

Hall clearly does his best work on the feet, where his accuracy and power have garnered some early comparisons to the sports greats. He’s able to knock guys out with one shot, whether by hands, feet, knees, elbows and he’s able to do it from anywhere as he displayed against Dylan Andrews.

His weakness is the ground game, as he was able to be taken down at times, but getting close enough to take him down usually doesn’t come without paying a hefty price. He’s not clueless on the ground by any means, but a powerful wrestler that can control position could be his Kryptonite.

Throughout the seventeen seasons of “TUF,” we have sometimes seen one competitor improve by leaps and bounds from their first fight on up and this season it was Gastelum. The last pick by Chael Sonnen’s team and the youngest fighter in the house, he came into the show with a 5-0 record debuting just over two years ago. He also finished all of his fights on the show, choking out the heavily favored and vastly more experienced Josh Samman to earn his spot in Saturday night finale.

Standing at only 5’9, Kelvin is compact and powerful, showing the ability to get the fight to the ground as well as knock people out on the feet. He’s best when getting into the clinch and forcing a takedown, gaining top position and working from there, an area where he vastly improved on during the show. He’ll need to do that Saturday night, as quickly as possible, to avoid the powerful striking of Hall. The kid is tough and he’s a winner, but he’ll have his work cut out for him Saturday night.

Hall comes into the fight well over a 3-1 favorite and in my opinion he’s deserving of that high number. His length and powerful, accurate jab should be able to keep Kelvin at a distance long enough to land one of his power shots, signaling the end of a great dark horse run for the young Gastelum. It’s possible Kelvin can get Hall to the ground, but even there I don’t know that he’s far enough along to keep him there. I think Hall gets the TKO win sometime in the ladder stages of round one.