TUF 18 Men’s Bantamweight Final: Chris Holdsworth (4-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) [-200] vs. Davey Grant (8-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) [+160]

Season 18 of The Ultimate Fighter has come to an end – all that remains is the final two fights to determine the winners of both the men’s bantamweight and women’s bantamweight divisions. The Ultimate Fighter 18 Finale hosts the men’s finals between Chris Holdsworth and Davey Grant.

Grant, a fighter hailing from North East Top Team in Auckland, gained some serious momentum starting in 2010 extending his win streak to eight in a row – all finishes, 7 being submissions and 6 of them being inside of the first round. Landing a spot in the TUF house served Grant well as he dominated his way to the semi finals where he unfortunately received a bye due to Anthony Gutierrez failing to make weight. Grant brings a very tenacious style paired with a very deadly submission game,  his primary submissions being a rear naked choke and the guillotine. His striking is improving and he puts an effort to attack from all angles – mixing in knees, kicks, and punches relatively effectively but his strikes are generally used to set up submission attempts and positional dominance.

Holdsworth, one of the top prospects to come out of the highly regarded Team Alpha Male, is undefeated in his four fight career earning himself four straight submissions varying from rear naked chokes, arm bars, and triangle chokes. Holdsworth makes sure to utilize his Jiu-jitsu (in which he is a black belt) which could result in a very exciting submission showdown between the two. However, as seen on the show, Holdsworth also has very effective striking – leading up to this fight (and prior to The Ultimate Fighter) Holdsworth will be training with the world renowned striking coach Duane “Bang” Ludwig – fighters under the tutelage of Ludwig have had a large amount of success since he joined Team Alpha Male’s coaching staff; expect Holdsworth to be no different.

The keys to victory for both fighters in this final match up is to be the one that mixes it up better. Both fighters are sufficient in grappling and both fighters have effective enough striking to survive and land against each other. The fighter that is able to impose a better well rounded game – striking when a taken down is assumed, attempting a take down when a punch is assumed, and attempting submissions when ground and pound is assumed – will be the one to take this fight. The two defining characteristics between these  two appear to be the tenacity of Grant and the technical superiority of Holdsworth – both of which can beat out the other if applied correctly.

Prediction: Chris Holdsworth defeats Davey Grant via unanimous decision.

While I believe both fighters were leaps and bounds ahead of their competition in the house, I also believe Holdsworth is just a step ahead of Grant and has received better training since starting mixed martial arts. Training with Team Alpha Male is likely more difficult than anything he had to endure going through The Ultimate Fighter and his sparring partners will provide a level of comfort for him that Grant will not have going into this fight. Because of this, Holdsworth will be much looser early on and will establish his rhythm and proceed to mix up his striking with his grappling far more effectively than Grant will be able to. While Grant’s only loss has come by submission, this loss was in the first fight of his career – I in no way see this as a weakness in his game and I believe he is formidable enough on the ground to survive should he end up on his back. I also do not see Holdsworth knocking out Grant, but I do see him picking Grant apart slowly and exploiting holes in his game for 15 minutes earning himself a decisive unanimous decision and a UFC contract.