Last week, we saw Team Sonnen’s Luke Barnatt defeat Team Jones’s Gilbert Smith by knockout, due to a flying knee in the second round. It wasn’t a surprising result, as after Team Jones made that fight pick, seemingly everybody involved had doubts about Smith’s ability to win that fight. My new TUF rating system gave Barnatt a 77 percent chance to win, and while Smith did have a couple takedowns in the fight, his offense was mostly futile.
It’s always hard to tell, because reality TV producers are very good at manufacturing a narrative, but I got a very strong impression that Team Sonnen knew what it was doing, and Team Jones did not. One reason is that Team Jones showed an utter inability to properly motivate Smith for his fight, and made a poor fight choice to begin with. By contrast, when Team Sonnen got control of the fight selection, they chose Uriah Hall (#2 in my rankings) to face Adam Cella (#13). This came after Sonnen selected the top four fighters in my ratings (Zak Cummings, Hall, Tor Troeng, Barnatt). I won’t be surprised if this becomes one of the more lopsided seasons in terms of wins and losses for each team.
Then again, I’ve been told in no uncertain terms that Cella is going to knock Hall out, based on what I can only imagine was a frame-by-frame forensic analysis of the video footage showing a barely visible fighter being stuffed into the back of an ambulance.
Here are my fighter rankings for TUF 17:
- Zak Cummings – 8.022 (Team Sonnen)
- Uriah Hall – 7.383 (Sonnen)
- Tor Troeng – 7.348 (Sonnen)
- Luke Barnatt – 7.127 (Sonnen)
- Josh Samman – 7.009 (Jones)
- Dylan Andrews – 6.532 (Jones)
- Robert McDaniel – 6.421 (Jones)
- Kevin Casey – 6.234 (Sonnen)
- Clint Hester – 5.995 (Jones)
Gilbert Smith – 5.917 (Jones)
- Jimmy Quinlan – 5.893 (Sonnen)
- Kelvin Gastelum – 5.655 (Sonnen)
- Adam Cella – 5.428 (Jones)
- Collin Hart – 5.154 (Jones)
Adam Cella vs. Uriah Hall
Cella has a 4-0 professional record with four first-round stoppage wins. That sounds good, but the wins were against Dominic Brown (16-22), Chance Moore (0-2), David Colter (0-2), and Willie Rose (0-2). Wins against that level of fighter really don’t tell us much about a fighter’s ability to compete at a high level. Sure, Cella did presumably all anybody could do by stopping all of them quickly, but it’s just not particularly useful information. By contrast, Hall is 7-2, with one of the wins taking place in Bellator, and the other eight fights taking place in the excellent regional promotion Ring of Combat. Five of Hall’s wins have been against opponents who currently have a winning record. And while I normally wouldn’t get too excited about a fighter whose record is 7-2, Hall’s losses are to Chris Weidman and Costa Philippou. Those are not normal early-career losses for a fighter to have.
According to my model, which is based on a less than ideal amount of data, Hall has a whopping 88 percent chance to defeat Cella in the third episode. In the real world, Hall’s chances of winning are probably lower than that, but still very good. Of course, my model also doesn’t account for the video footage of some mystery fighter being carted into an ambulance. Just keep in mind that my model might be the best model of anything that’s ever been produced, and it still allows for the possibility that Hall loses. Let’s just watch the episode and see what happens.