The TUF 29 Finals are all set to take place at UFC Vegas 35 this Saturday, August 28. After 12 episodes this season of the widely popular reality series, the competition of the Bantamweights and Middleweights will come to a conclusion. This is the opportunity of a lifetime for these UFC prospects to really make a name for themselves as they fight for a spot on the roster. Here is a breakdown and prediction of the finals.
TUF 29 Finals Matchups
Bantamweight: Ricky Turcios vs Brady Hiestand
Ricky Turcios has a solid amount of professional MMA experience for a prospect. He trains in good company with the very successful Team Alpha Male and has competed in highly respectable promotions such as Bellator and Fury. The biggest opportunity of his career, prior to TUF, was an appearance on Dana White’s Contender Series back in 2017. Despite outstriking his opponent 130-66 including 110-61 in significant strikes, Turcios, unfortunately, lost by unanimous decision.
Turcios showed grit and determination in both of his victories on TUF 29 this season. His semifinal bout with Liudvik Sholinian demonstrated why he is an exciting prospect with a massive heart. After dominating the first round on the feet, he lost the second round to the grappling of Sholinian. Impressively, he bounced back strong in a slugfest of a third and deciding round to secure the UD victory.
Brady Hiestand is younger and less experienced than Turcios. He should not be underestimated and he showed why in his TUF 29 semifinal matchup with Vince Murdock. Hiestand was a clear underdog going into the fight but impressively scored a TKO in the first round to earn his spot in the final. He displayed creativity and a wide skillset in both of his fights this season that provide optimism for a bright future as he develops and polishes his game.
Keep an eye on him down the road, but he may not be quite ready to overcome the much more proven experience of Turcios.
The Pick: Ricky Turcios by Unanimous Decision
Middleweight: Gilbert Urbina vs Bryan Battle
Gilbert Urbina gets a huge opportunity to come back for the TUF 29 Finals. He was knocked out by Tresean Gore in the semis but because of an injury during training, Gore is unable to fight at UFC Vegas 35. Thankfully for him, he will get his shot on a UFC card next year after he recovers from his knee injury. That opens the door for Urbina to step in with a fresh opportunity. Before losing to Gore, he dominated replacement fighter Michael Gillmore in the quarterfinals.
Urbina has a ton of experience in and around the fight game. He comes from a family of martial artists, including his two older brothers who appeared on previous seasons of TUF. Prior to Gore, his only professional MMA loss came to a very good up and comer in Sean Brady, who is 14-0 overall including 4-0 in the UFC. Overall experience in the fight world is the biggest advantage that he has in this finals matchup.
On the other hand is Bryan Battle, who makes up for his lack of experience with pure athleticism and raw talent. He is also very big for a 185er at 6’1 tall with a massive frame. He showed great potential in both of his fights this season by creatively attacking and making savvy adjustments. In the semis, he scored a huge upset victory against the overall favorite of the division, Andre Petroski, and he did it in impressive style.
Petroski is a grappling expert with extensive experience but Battle was able to beat him at his own game by submitting him in the second round. Battle has all of the tools necessary to blossom into a legitimate contender one day.
The Pick: Bryan Battle by 2nd Round Submission
Bonus Fight: Andre Petroski vs Michael Gillmore
Andre Petroski is an elite grappler with a wrestling background. He showed enough talent and potential to earn himself a fight at UFC Vegas 35 despite being upset by Battle in the semis. He will take on Michael Gillmore, who was knocked out by Urbina. Gillmore was an alternate for TUF 29 and took the Urbina fight on just two days’ notice. This is a tough ask for any fighter and he did not look prepared.
Now he will have enough time, but time may not be enough to overcome a very difficult matchup in Petroski. Submission defense is the biggest weakness of Gillmore and that is exactly what Petroski will attack.
The Pick: Andre Petroski by 1st Round Submission