Five new fights are now official for next week’s The Ultimate Fight Live Finale, and eight of the competitors are eliminated cast members from the show.
They include lightweights Justin Lawrence (3-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) vs. John Cofer (7-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC), Myles Jury (9-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) vs. Chris Saunders (9-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC), Cristiano Marcello (12-3 MMA, 0-0 UFC) vs. Sam Sicilia (10-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC), and Daron Cruickshank (10-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) vs. Chris Tickle (7-4 MMA, 0-0 UFC).
In non-”TUF” action, Erik Perez (10-4 MMA, 0-0 UFC) has replaced Byron Bloodworth (6-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC) and now meets fellow bantamweight John Albert (7-2 MMA, 1-1 UFC).
The TUF Live Finale takes place next Friday, June 1, at The Pearl at Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. The main card, including a Jake Ellenberger vs. Martin Kampmann headliner, airs on FX. FUEL TV is expected to carry the prelims, including all the above fights.
Lawrence, Dominick Cruz’s first pick on “TUF,” quickly emerged as the show favorite following a pair of stinging knockouts of big-show vets James Krause and Marcello before an upset loss to Mike Chiesa in the quarterfinals. He now meets Cofer (Team Faber’s sixth of eight picks), who topped Mark Glover before a submission loss to Vinc Pichel in the following round.
Jury (Team Cruz’s No. 3 pick) also appeared on “TUF 13″ before an ACL tear forced his early departure. He got a second chance on “TUF: Live,” where he topped Akbarh Arreloa before a close split-decision defeat to Al Iaquinta in the following round. He takes on Saunders (Team Faber’s last pick), who got by Chase Hackett and Saunders before a majoirty-decision loss to Pichel in the quarterfinals.
Meanwhile, Team Faber’s Marcello takes on fellow No. 2 pick and Team Cruz’s Sicilia. After he submitted Jared Carlsten in the elimination round, PRIDE vet Marcello suffered a knockout loss to Lawrence in the following round. Sicilia, meanwhile, knocked out Erin Beach in the elimination round before a split-decision loss to Saunders.
In other action, Cruickshank (Team Faber’s No. 3 pick) meets Tickle (Team Cruz’s No. 7 pick), who both won elimination-round fights before they suffered first-round losses in the preliminary round of the competition.
Finally, Mexican fighter Perez makes his UFC debut on the strength of a five-fight win streak that included recent BAMMA victories over notables James Brum and Paul McVeigh. He gets another test with Albert, a quarterfinalist on “TUF 14″ who secured a UFC contract with a dominant 69-second of castmate Dustin Pague on the undercard of the show’s live finale. He now looks to rebound from a submission loss to Ivan Menjivar.
The latest card for The Ultimate Fighter Live Finale includes:
MAIN CARD (FX)
Jake Ellenberger vs. Martin Kampmann
“TUF” finalist No. 1 vs. finalist No. 2
PRELIMINARY CARD (FUEL TV)
Max Holloway vs. Pat Schilling
Jonathan Brookins vs. Charles Oliveira
Justin Lawrence vs. John Cofer
Myles Jury vs. Chris Saunders
Daron Cruickshank vs. Chris Tickle
Cristiano Marcello vs. Sam Sicilia
John Albert vs. Erik Perez