I’ve been saying that I got the impression that Team Sonnen knew what it was doing, and Team Jones didn’t. After last week’s episode, I take it back a little bit with Team Jones. They did a nice job of preparing Collin Hart to take on Kevin Casey, and followed that up with a nice fight pick – more on that a bit later.
With that said, Casey put on a uniquely uninspiring performance against Hart. Hart did a nice job of landing a takedown off the opening bell, but when he did, my immediate thought was: “OK, now we get to see what Casey is made of on the ground.” But Casey just wasn’t active at all. By the time Casey got back to his feet, it appeared he was already fading, and while he did get the better of Hart in the few standing exchanges that took place, it just wasn’t nearly enough.
One of the most important aspects of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is energy expenditure. The idea is that a good Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighter will allow his opponent to waste energy on inefficient techniques, and when the opponent is exhausted, the submission will come soon afterwards. Because Casey has such a muscled physique, he simply doesn’t have the build of a fighter ready to go even two five-minute rounds. As a result, when the fight against Hart went into round two, and Casey needed to make something happen, he just wasn’t able to.
So it was a nice upset win for Collin Hart, who showed that he does have the wrestling to at least be a threat on the show. I still highly doubt that Hart will make it too deep into the tournament, but nobody can be counted out completely.
Here are my TUF 17 fighter rankings:
- 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)
Kelvin Gastelum vs. Robert “Bubba” McDaniel
Instead of being down 3-0, like I thought would happen, Team Jones is now down 2-1, and will probably tie things up 2-2 after this fight. But Gastelum is not somebody to just dismiss – he’s a good wrestler who has the potential to take Bubba McDaniel to the ground and stifle him. He also hits reasonably hard, and one thing that has haunted McDaniel in the past is that he has been stopped by one-strike TKO multiple times.
But this really is McDaniel’s fight to lose. He profiles as the type of fighter who has a lower ceiling, but has made the most out of his talents. McDaniel is a grinding kind of fighter who is at least somewhat skilled in all areas, and just as Gastelum has the potential to take McDaniel down, McDaniel could do the same thing to Gastelum. The difference is that McDaniel figures to be the better striker and grappler as well.
My model gives McDaniel a 68 percent chance to win this fight, and this is the first time I’ve felt that it wasn’t overestimating a fighter’s chances of victory. Even Chael Sonnen admitted that McDaniel is the favorite to win this one. We’ll find out what happens tonight.