Following a couple tough weeks that included one of the greatest knockouts of all-time, Team Jon Jones finally got on track with Collin Hart's dominant win over Kevin Casey to put the fight selection back in their control over Team Chael Sonnen.
For his first fight pick, Jones chose his real life teammate Bubba McDaniel to take on the last pick for Team Sonnen and one of the quietest members of the cast, Kelvin Gastelum, in the next round of the tournament.
McDaniel came to The Ultimate Fighter season 17 on his third attempt to make the reality show, but he also enters the fray as one of the most experienced competitors to step foot inside the Octagon for the tournament. With a 20-6 record, McDaniel is a veteran inside the cage and also has big fight experience competing in other major promotions throughout his career.
Training out of Team Greg Jackson in New Mexico, McDaniel works on one of the most elite teams in all of mixed martial arts, and actually serves as a regular sparring partner for his coach and UFC light heavyweight champion Jones.
McDaniel may come off a bit cocky on the show, but he's got the record to back up his attitude. He's got 20 career wins with only one going to decision, 15 victories by submission and 4 knockouts. McDaniel's credentials speak for themselves, but could he possibly be overlooking Gastelum?
Kelvin Gastelum could easily be described as the quiet guy on The Ultimate Fighter because we haven't seen much of him since he was the final pick by coach Sonnen on the show. Gastelum was chosen it seems because Team Jones is looking to put one of their strongest competitors against one of Team Sonnen's perceived weakest links.
With only four professional fights to his name, Gastelum doesn't come near the experience of McDaniel, but he does work with a good group of fighters in Arizona. Gastelum comes from a wrestling background and is a former Arizona state high school champion and works alongside UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson and his cast of regulars at the MMA Lab in Arizona.
Gastelum has four finishes in four fights so he's no slouch, but his best bet in this fight is to use his wrestling to negate McDaniel's overall MMA game. It's a tall order, and Jones knew exactly the type of fight he was putting together when he matched these two fighters up for the next round of the tournament.
McDaniel is a huge favorite going into the fight and he should be favored to win. He has the veteran experience, knockout power and complete arsenal to give anyone in the Ultimate Fighter house a challenge. Gastelum is still a solid underdog who has nothing to lose in this fight, but his best bet is grinding out a fight on the ground. McDaniel's attitude may be rubbing some people the wrong way on television, but he's got the game to back up his mouth and he has a great chance to do it in this matchup.
TUF 17 Fantasy Preview: McDaniel vs. Gastelum
By Damon Martin February 18, 2013
Play TUF Fantasy at fantasy.ultimatefighter.com