UFC’s Ultimate Fighter’s Go Head-To-Head This Weekend


The 18th finale of The Ultimate Fighter rolls into the bright lights, neon signs and 24-hour excitement of Las Vegas this Saturday November 30 which guarantees action, intrigue and, for the first time, a six-figure contract for a female MMA fighter.

Taking over the Mandalay Bay Events Center, the Ultimate Fighter finale is the perfect event to whet the appetite for next month’s UFC 168 which will see Chris Weidman take on Anderson Silva in a Middleweight Title fight.

Heading up the main event is Gray Maynard (11-2-1 MMA, 9-2-1 UFC) and Nate Diaz (17-9 MMA, 11-7 UFC) who will take each other on for the third time. The popular reality show which will culminate in Sin City with two men who have been slightly out of sorts in the ring.

The pairing have a long-standing rivalry which dates back to Season 5 of the show, which Diaz went on to win, and have a win a piece head-to-head as they prepare for the grudge match at the weekend. Look back nine months ago and this fight would have probably had title implications, but with both men having had a difficult season, it has become more about determining who stays a major player in the 155 lb. division.

For those seeking a bet on the UFC, it could end up wide open but if Diaz somehow returns to form, it could very well be his to lose. Whether that will happen though, is another question entirely. The 28-year-old Californian has a record of 3-4 in his last seven fights and will enter the ring on the back of his first career knockout.

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The Bully has also not had the best of times recently and has recorded his only two defeats in his last three fights by knockout. However, with experience in his corner, it’s thought the 34-year-old will rise to the occasion and take part in what will be an almighty battle.

Maynard will have to be wary of getting involved in prolonged stand-up exchanges against Diaz who has rapid hand-speed in the punch, whilst the man from Phoenix will look to use his power over speed to send Diaz to his third straight defeat.

Where Diaz is likely to win it, should he bring his form, is on the floor. A technical specialist, Diaz holds the record, alongside Kenny Florian and Frank Mir, for the most submission victories in UFC history with eight, and wil be looking to clear them on Las Vegas Boulevard.

One match which may not be as tense is the main fight on the undercard between Jessica Rakoczy and Julianna Pena. Fighting for a six figure contract and the first women’s ‘Ultimate Fighter’ title, the fight is likely to go the way of 36-year-old Rakoczy, who got her first career win just prior to entering TUF tournament. She earned her place in the final with a unanimous decision over Raquel Pennington, who also features on the undercard, whilst Pena has dominated her way to the final but comes in off the back of two straight defeats in official matchups.

Pennington will kick off the Main Card in Vegas with a fight against 31-year-old Roxanne ‘The Happy Warrior’ Modafferi. Pennington should provide too tough for a fighter who struggles in her striking game and could just get bullied into a knockout.

Similarly the UFC TUF Men’s Finale could also prove to be one sided. Chris Holdsworth goes into the fight unbeaten in his five official outings and with a slightly longer reach and three first-round submissions in the season, he goes into the fight in superb form. Expect an early submission when he faces up to Dangerous Davey Grant.

It’s set to be a good weekend of fighting as we build up to the big Christmas event, and with the two tall TUF ladies also set to go head to head on Saturday night, you could also be expecting to see Peggy Morgan lose her official unbeaten record when going head-to-head with the technically superior Jessamyn Duke.

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Hawks Face Tough Challenge Against Wizards

Hawks fans will be getting a little worried that their great start to the season could be hit with a major blow unless they can turn things round this weekend culminating in a trip to Washington this Saturday November 30.

Atlanta have been on the receiving end of three back-to-back defeats for the first time this season following a disappointing 113-84 loss to Houston Rockets at the Toyota Center. Tainted by a struggling offense in the last two games, failing to break 100 points in five attempts, the Hawks also faced a gruelling week before they head to the Verizon Center to take on a Wizards side who seem to have found a bit of form.

First up for Atlanta was the Rockets, who have no problems with their offense. At 11-5 this season they were always unlikely to pick up anything from Houston, especially coming in off a tough night previously and it won’t get any easier building up to the Wizards game hosting the Mavericks before the all-Southeast matchup.

The Wizards also have a tough rest of the week ahead before taking on Atlanta. Beating the Bucks on Wednesday evening and taking their win streak to three they will take plenty of confidence into what will perhaps be their toughest game of the season at the Pacers on Friday evening.

The sides have yet to face each other so far this season and it’s expected the Atlanta defence will prove too strong for the Wizards conceding under 98.9 points per game on average. Despite this the Wizards will be buoyed by recent outings, especially the points of 23-year-old Point Guard John Wall.

Leading the team to a 116-111 win over the Lakers on Tuesday night, a 360 dunk summed up the North Carolinian’s month. He’s posted scored of plus-30 for the third game in a row whilst Brazilian Nene also posted a career-30 for the Wizards earlier in the week.

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It appears to be coming together after a slow start to the Wizards season but whether they will be to take that into a matchup with the Hawks, it’s yet to be seen. They have struggled against the top sides during the early stages of this season, tasting defeat at the Raptors just a week ago whilst also being comprehensively beaten by the Spurs and Heat.

And that’s where Atlanta will find solace. In what will be an important weekend for the Hawks to get back on track, decent performances from Jeff Teague and Al Horford could prove too much for Washington, and it’s expected it probably will, especially after what will be an exhausting evening in Indiana on Friday.

Portland Look To Return To Winning In LA

The Lakers have been in a transitional period for a number of years now. Having not won a Championship since 2010 and find themselves firmly in fourth in the Pacific division. They’re without Kobe. Without Nash. And leading point scorer Pau Gasol has been playing with a strained left foot for the most part of the season.

Can they beat a team which has come off the back of an 11-game winning streak? That question probably doesn’t need answering.

LA’s one saving grace is that they will be boosted by the signature of Kobe Bryant who has committed his future to the club for the next two seasons, when it is likely Black Mamba will call it a day. The Lakers have been a shell of their former selves without him this season and whilst Gasol has tried to do all he can, his performances aren’t quite the same without his intuitive frontline partner.

24 points on November 22 against fellow Californians Golden State Warriors, in which he donated $1000 each point to aid those who were affected in the typhoon in the Philippines, has perhaps seen him closer to his best whilst he’s also averaging 10.3 rebounds per game.

They will certainly be hoping to avoid a similar evening to Tuesday however. It was more than an off night for the 16-time NBA Champions in Washington as they crashed to a 116-111 win. Whilst they will be pleased with their scoring, their sloppy play will certainly have to be addressed before they take on the Pistons on Friday and scintillating Trail Blazers on Sunday.

It was a middle period certainly to forget for the Lakers. Matching the Wizards throughout the game, it was turnovers in the middle periods that cost them dearly. Eight turnovers in the second quarter cost the Lakers 13 points whilst six in the third took the game away from LA.

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The Trail Blazers however are not suffering such problems and will pick the Lakers off like a wounded animal should they turn up to the Staples Center in similar form. They suffered a minor blip on Wednesday evening against a Suns side who are battling to advance in the play-offs but won’t feel too disheartened with so many wins behind them.

They’ve only lost twice on the road this year and are certainly up there with the Heat, Spurs and Pacers as favourites to be Championship contenders come the end of the season. The Lakers have had the better of them in recent years but the history book should fly out of the window, with Western Conference Player of the Week LaMarcus Aldridge in particular looking to keep their streak going. Aldridge averaged 22.5 points and 10.5 rebounds in his games against Milwaukee, Chicago and Golden State last week and logged 30 points and 21 rebounds against the latter.

It is likely that Portland, who now have the rest of the week off, will prove too strong for the Lakers and could cash in on a defence that are conceding almost 103 points per game.

Durant & Love Set To Face Off In Crucial Tie For T-Wolves

It’s going to be a tough weekend for the Timberwolves who will visit both Dallas and Northwest Division rivals Oklahoma City Thunder in the coming days.

Taking on OKC on Sunday December 1, Minnesota will want to avoid slipping to any further defeats after what has been a mixed start to their campaign. The Timberwolves have already gotten the better of Kevin Durant’s Thunder this year with a 100-81 victory exactly a month previous but if you fancy a flutter on the NBA don’t expect them to be coming out on top this time around.

Small Forward did a great job on keeping Durant quiet in their first game but the Minneapolis team have been in free-fall the last few weeks with just two wins in seven despite having one of the league’s form men in Kevin Love. Having not won in their last two, heavy defeats in Houston and Indiana have left them fourth in the Northwest Division and a good few wins outside the play-offs.

They will be boosted however by the signing of Luc Mbah a Moute. The Cameroonian Forward joins The Wolves from Sacramento who received Derrick Williams in exchange and will be reunited with his former college frontline teammate Kevin Love.

Known as one of the best defensive players in the league it is hoped the 27-year-old will solidify the team that are currently giving away 100 points per game. Of course this will take time. It’s unlikely Love and Moute will be able to instantly pick back up from their college days but once settled into his new team, it could help end their current dismal run.

OKC on the other hand are unbeaten in four and have proven their mettle by coming back from back-to-back defeats by beating the Bucks and Nuggets in the space of three days. Their recent performance against the Jazz on Sunday evening was moved their home record to 6-0, their best since the Seattle Sounders days, whilst the 73 baskets conceded was the fewest they’ve allowed through their defence all season.

That will worry the side that have only won two from eight on their travels, and with Kevin Durant leading the points averages they will need another all-star performance from Love to even get close to OKC’s total.

For fans who enjoy betting on basketball, results across the years have fared pretty evenly, the result will probably come down to which of the star men perform. It’ll be an exciting face-off between Love and Durant. Durant is averaging 28.6 in a season where he has regularly surpassed 30 in a game, including a staggering 38 just over a week ago. Meanwhile Love is also proving to be a contender for MVP. He was the key-man in the last match up and has consistently been shooting plus-20 as well as averaging 13.8 rebounds per game.

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It may be too much for the man who has carried the Timberwolves so far this season however, especially against a team who have just put in their best defensive performance of the year. And with Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka working some serious plays in recent weeks, expect a Minnesota win to be beyond them.

Cousins Looks For Win After Controversial Week

Having already beaten Sacramento this season and lying comfortably inside the Western Conference play-offs don’t expect this game to go any way apart from GSW.

Golden State have been fairly consistent throughout the season, and ran out 98-87 in the first leg back on November 3. Since then Sacramento have managed three wins in 10, whilst their Californian rivals have claimed seven victories including mauling’s of the 76ers, Pistons and a hard-fought final quarter to edge out Kevin Durant’s Oklahoma City Thunder.

It’s been a long old season so far for the Kings but they will believe Derrick Williams, who they recently traded for Luc Mbah a Moute will go some way to reversing their fortunes. Williams, who was once regarded as one of the most promising young talents in the NBA has been brought in from Minnesota, where he failed to get any real game time under Rick Adelman this season.

Williams will add some much needed youth to the Kings and will add more depth into the squad as they try to forget about defeats to the Los Angeles sides and focus on their impressive back-to-back victories over the Suns little over a week ago. DeMarcus Cousins starred in that game, and in fact has all season. The Center is averaging 21.3 points per game as well as carrying the Kings with 10.5 assists each run out.

It has however been a controversial week for the 23-year-old. He’s been criticised heavily in the media after pulling teammate Isaiah Thomas’ hand away from Clippers Point Guard Chris Paul during a post-match handshake, and could affect the youngster’s game as the spotlight will be focused firmly on him in the coming games.

Not such a problem in the Warriors camp. Despite defeat at the hands of Dallas on Wednesday, Mark Jackson’s men are enjoying the early season so far and their $24 million signing of Andre Iguodala seems to be a perfect fit. The former Nuggets Small Forward is currently out with a hamstring injury but has given Golden State an early advantage as they head towards the middle stages of the season. The Warriors’ offense averages 14.7 more points per 100 possessions when he’s on the court, and collectively the team experiences 29.7 plus/minus swing with him on the floor.

And it could end up being the glimmer of hope Sacramento are looking for. If there is one thing the Kings and Cousins can take advantage of it’s the loss of Iguodala, but with Klay Thompson averaging over 21 himself and GSW topping 100 points most games, it will be an uphill battle all the way for the team bottom of the Pacific Division.

It’s expected GSW will run away with this game, and after the previous weekend it’s probable captain DeMarcus Cousins will too when he’s confronted with an obligatory handshake post-game.

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Crunch Tie In Motown As Detroit Host Philly

Perhaps the weekend’s crunch tie. This Eastern Conference matchup could be a key battle in the season’s early stages to keep in touch with play-off hopefuls. The 76ers lie second in the Atlantic Division, just outside the play-off places whilst Detroit are just inside having won their last two of three.

Neither side has particularly set the NBA alight so far this season, Philly have just one win in six, whilst Detroit struggled earlier on in the campaign only to have recovered in recent weeks thanks to Point Guard Rodney Stuckey.

Stuckey has elevated his performances to lead Detroit to victory in Brooklyn and against Milwaukee on Monday evening, scoring a season high of 27 in a 109-97 win against the Nets. And they’ll be wanting the 27-year-old to kick on from there.

His early season form hasn’t been great in the team that has been branded the best Pistons side since the Championship winning 2004 team and should he cause further problems at the weekend, Detroit could find themselves major contenders for a strong finish again.

The combinations of Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond alongside Brandon Jennings who is picking up some brilliant assist statistics in the last few games, is starting to show its dominance, which not only will prove vital in Sunday’s game after Monroe was largely kept quiet throughout a 20 point defeat facing the Bulls on Wednesday.

Stuckey was once again imperious but was let down by his captain who only netted five points for the Pistons. Hoping it was just an off night, the Motor City captain will be determined to hit back with a vengeance on Saturday, which could prove problematic for Philadelphia.

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For the 76ers however, they will be hoping to pick up a win on Friday before the December 1 meeting, and also look to revenge the defeat suffered from the New Orleans Pelicans earlier in the season.

Last time out against the Pelicans they slumped to a heavy 135-98 defeat during a four game losing streak but a win against the Bucks an taking the Pacers close in the final quarter will have boosted Philly and with one of the NBA’s star men, Evan Turner, in good form averaging 21.7 points per game.

And with Turners time with the 76ers perhaps coming to an end, with him linked to a move to the Cavs and Bulls, the 25-year-old will want to continue to impress if he’s going to lure a trade away from the Wells Fargo Center.

For the NBA betting fans, looking at the form guide would suggest Detroit take this game. With an all-star team who finally look as though they are gelling together, they could prove too strong for a team stuck in a bit of a rut. The 76ers haven’t beaten a top side since Houston on November 13 and with Arnett Moultrie still not fit enough to return to the court, it could be another loss on the horizon for the Pennsylvania side.

Head to head however it works out fairly even, the Pistons took the games twice out of their three meetings last season whilst the 2012 calendar year was won 3-2 in favour of the 76ers. It looks tight going into the game, but current form should snatch it in a busy schedule running up to Christmas.


Nuggets Producing Gold Ahead Of Raptors Game

Toronto will be desperate to get back to winning ways following what will be considered an embarrassing loss to NBA whipping-boys the Nets. It was important that they should gain the win on Tuesday night to keep confidence high heading into the next run of games, so defeat to the side that started the season with a record of 0-10 will be a huge thorn in their side as they host Miami Friday, the Nuggets Saturday before travelling to California for a fixture with Golden State on December 3.

Despite being 6-8, the Raptors lie top of the Atlantic Division and comfortably inside the Eastern Conference play-offs, but may struggle to hold their position during the next week’s run of games.

And Denver will pose major problems. A four-game winning streak has seen them record back-to back victories over Dallas, whilst a 117-110 result against the free-falling Timberwolves on Wednesday in their Northwest Division matchup has left them in a great position heading into weekend ties with the Knicks and Raptors.

The Raptors will be feeling threatened by a potent Nuggets attack. The side from Colorado failed to amass 100 points in only one of their last ten games. JJ Hickson picked up a season best of 22 on Monday night, whilst Guard Ty Lawson has been picking up 20’s all season including coming up trumps in big games with OKC and the Rockets.

Lawson’s big-game playing should come into play as they travel to Toronto on Saturday night, and he will be very much needed by the Western Conference side, as the side have held a tight ship in defence since the beginning of the season on October 30. Having only given away 100 points four times during their fourteen games, the Raptors seem to gather strength as the quarters draw out and were unlucky not to take Tuesday evening’s game after a late push by star-man DeMar DeRozan.

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Denver will have to make sure they build their points early as the fourth has been Toronto’s in almost every game this season, keeping a strong defence and pushing a hard attack. This is in stark contrast to the Nuggets. Strong attacking finishes are met with a careless defence, which sets Saturday’s game up to be one that will go right down to the wire. Expect the winner to have a strong final quarter but with the Raptor’s qualities with their backs to the wall should see them get back to winning ways at the Air Canada Centre.

Pacers Hoping To Go 16-1 In LA

The Pacers will face their toughest test of the season when they take on the Clippers at the Staples Center on Sunday December 1. The Pacers have been blowing away their opposition so far this season with only the Bulls managing to tame the Eastern Conference leaders.

Meanwhile the Clippers have also been flying high and posting some pretty big points totals in the process. Defeat to the Grizzlies and OKC in recent weeks have been the only signs of the Californians slipping up whilst a 40 point victory against the Bulls on Sunday night was a clear sign they are gunning to end the Pacers incredible start to the season.

What’s sure is it’s going to be a tight game in Los Angeles. Both sides have in-form players although the clippers high-scoring could in fact prove too much for a Pacers side who are averaging under 100 points per game.

Whilst you would expect Indiana to be on the front foot it could prove a game of attack versus defence in the Clippers favour. Blake Griffin in particular will look to get at the Pacers. The 24-year-old Forward has been averaging 22 PPG this season and has come up trumps in the big games collecting 27 against the Heat and Thunder as well as 25 hosting the Timberwolves.

And it isn’t just Griffin who’s checking in with a good average. Chris Paul is also approaching a 20 PPG average and could prove to be a tricky opponent for the Pacers defence. It will be a chance for the form team so far to test their mettle against a good side and the likes of Paul George will no doubt cause plenty of problems himself.

Previous matchups would suggest the game will be a close matchup, and the current form wouldn’t suggest otherwise. The last 10 games have been split evenly between the two and you wouldn’t be surprised to see overtime come Sunday evening.

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What could prove to be the difference for those looking to play the NBA odds is the Pacers main-man Paul George. Combined with the other George, George Hill, the team have been far and away the best in the NBA so far and took 50 points between them from the Timberwolves in a 98-84 mauling on Monday, whilst a leaky Clippers defence is only going unnoticed thanks to a superstar attack.

It is a game that cannot be called, but a game that will no doubt prove to be the game of the weekend.

Boston Hoping To Stay Close To The Play-Offs Against Bucks

It hasn’t been the best start to the season for the 17-time NBA Championship winners, but then again nor has it been for the Milwaukee Bucks. Boston go into three games in the space of four days on the back of two straight wins and a loss, whilst the Bucks have only won two all season.

A poor record should see the Celtics pick up points, regardless of what happens in the games prior, with the Bucks having one of the worst defences in the league. Nine straight defeats for the Beer City has left confidence at an all-time low and they don’t look like they’ll be shifting from the foot of the Eastern Conference any time soon.

And whilst nine straight defeats sounds awful for the Bucks, they have got out of the way some tough opposition. Detroit, OKC, Pacers and Trail Blazers have all left the Bucks shell-shocked but it will guarantee them an easier run-in a little later down the line.

But with Boston desperate to pick up the points as they aim to keep pressure on the 76ers in the Atlantic Division, it will be another difficult evening for the Wisconsin side.

Jordan Crawford has been playing like a man on a mission in recent weeks picking up 21 points at the Time Warner Cable Arena on Monday whilst he’s been leading the assist tables all season for the Massachusetts franchise.

But whilst Crawford is taking his game to the next level, the likes of Jeff Green are seemingly not living up to their potential. Expected to be a key player in his second season with Boston, the Forward has only averaged 15.1 points per game and has failed to show that star quality in what has been an inconsistent season for Brad Stevens men.

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The Bucks will feel buoyed by this. The Celtics on an off-day are a very beatable side and with back-to-back games with them, may fancy their chances of doubling their season wins.

One of their two wins came against the Celtics in only the second game of the campaign overcoming a 22-point deficit to win 105-98. If the Bucks remember this, they could surprise the Bostonians and move one step close to Brooklyn in the standings who they entertain in just a few weeks time.

Nets Seeking To End Embarrassment

The Grizzlies were looking good seven days ago, unbeaten in four and Zach Randolph scoring plus-20 in an instrumental few games for the Power Forward. Now two defeats on the bounce, Dave Joerger’s men will be wanting to get the Western Conference play-off hopes back on track when they welcome the Nets on November 30.

Memphis lie 8-7 after a seven days with matchups against the irresistible play of the Spurs and powerful offense of the Rockets on Friday and Monday respectively. Late surges from the Western Conference powerhouses tamed the Grizzlies, with Houston claiming the fourth quarter 38-23 in their 93-86 victory.

It’s an area Brooklyn will feel encouraged by. Whilst the Nets have only one win in seven, a 102-100 win in Ontario against Atlantic Division leaders the Raptors will boost their hopes building up to the weekend. Despite a close loss to the Lakers on Wednesday, they should take confidence from the game having won three out of four quarters following a slow start.

It’s unlikely the Nets will have the strength to take out the home side in Tennessee however. Despite a two-game losing streak, Randolph and his side have had a relatively good few weeks. They have seen off the Clippers, Golden State Warriors twice and the Lakers in November whilst they have a good track record against the New York side.

The Grizzlies haven’t lost to the Nets since the beginning of 2011 and with both sides seasons so far, you would be brave to back Brooklyn if you’re involved with NBA betting.

Both Randolph and Mike Conley will cause major problems for a defence that are shipping in over 102 points per game, and the Memphis pair will be licking their lips at the prospect of picking up season highs when the visitors arrive at the FedEx Forum.

Offering little resistance the only player earning their wage at the moment is the injured Brook Lopez with 20.5 points per game, whilst star-man Kevin Garnett has recently described their performances this season as embarrassing.

It’s not just Lopez on the injury list however, Derron Williams, Andrei Kirilenk and Jason Terry have all had to sit games out, and whilst Andray Blatche stepped up to the plate in Canada, it’s unsure whether that can continue as the season goes on.

It looks like this season has already been written off for the New Yorkers but will want to make sure the embarrassment will end starting Saturday, though if it doesn’t, with a reported good looking draft for 2014, they’ll get a good pick on the best for next season.

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