Last week, we saw Clint Hester, the top pick of Team Jones, take on Team Sonnen grappler Jimmy Quinlan. The first round was mostly controlled by Hester, who was able to thwart Quinlan’s wrestling and land a number of hard strikes from awkward positions. Luke Barnatt argued for Quinlan winning the round because of takedowns, but that brings up a point I like to mention for scoring rounds: what good is landing a takedown if a fighter can’t do anything with it? Hester won the first round for sure.
In the second round, however, Quinlan did something with the takedown, advancing to dominant position and finishing Hester with a rear naked choke. It was a body blow to Team Jones, which was clearly hoping for great things out of Hester in the tournament. The talent level of TUF is much maligned, but even there, it’s important to be well-rounded, particularly with striking defense and submission defense. Hester has talent, but he just hasn’t tightened up his submission defense enough to compete at a UFC level. The silver lining is that we probably haven’t seen the last of Hester – he’s almost a lock to be one of the wild card participants.
For Quinlan, it wasn’t a performance that blew me away. Quinlan is one of the least experienced fighters in the house, and it showed with the lack of variety in his attacks. Against Hester, he was able to overcome the rough start to pull off the victory, but it’s hard to see Quinlan going all the way in this tournament. I have nothing but respect for his BJJ credentials, but it takes more than that to win consistently in MMA.
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)
Dylan Andrews vs. Zak Cummings
Finally, in the last fight of the first round, we’re going to see my top-ranked fighter in action. There’s been a lot of hype around Uriah Hall, and a lot said about Luke Barnatt, Josh Samman, and even Tor Troeng and “Bubba” McDaniel, but barely anything has been said about Zak Cummings. Cummings might not have the raw upside of fighters like Hall and Barnatt, but he has easily the most impressive record out of anybody in the house. Cummings began his MMA career at a perfect 10-0, earning a chance to fight Tim Kennedy in a Strikeforce Challengers show. He was submitted by Kennedy, and then defeated by Elvis Mutapcic, but followed those losses with five wins in six fights. The other loss was by decision to Ryan Jimmo, who is not only a very good fighter, but also much bigger than Cummings. Overall, Cummings enters at 15-3, and while he hasn’t beaten many big names, he does have a plethora of victories against quality opponents with winning records.
His opponent is Dylan Andrews, the last fighter to be picked by a team, but almost certainly not the worst fighter in the house. At 15-4, Andrews has a similar record to Cummings, although his level of competition hasn’t been quite as high. So far, Andrews’ fight history has been one of beating low-level opponents, and losing when he steps up in competition. The biggest name Andrews has beaten is Shonie Carter (a perfect example of a fighter who has competed far too long), and his most notable losses are by TKO against Brian Ebersole, and by submission against Jesse Taylor. But that doesn’t mean Andrews is a slouch – 10 of his 15 wins are by TKO, and a few of those are against fairly good opponents.
Three of Andrews’ four losses are by submission, so Cummings, who has eight submission wins, will probably want to take him to the ground. If Cummings is successful in doing so, he should have a big advantage, but if Andrews can keep the fight standing, he may prove to be the better striker. My model, which has been much maligned by myself, thinks Cummings has an 82 percent chance of winning. As usual, his real-world chance of winning is probably lower than that, but I do expect Cummings to win the fight tonight.