Opinion: ‘Don’t Sleep On This’ The Ultimate Fighter: Heavy Hitters Edition

‘Don’t Sleep on This’ is a new segment I’m going to pump out leading up to every card about a fighter and/or matchup that should not be missed (a/k/a slept on).

The Ultimate Fighter: Heavy Hitters is the last season that will air on FS1 before moving over to ESPN next year. Title challenger hopefuls Kamaru Usman and Rafael dos Anjos will headline the event, which will feature a new heavyweight and women’s featherweight Ultimate Fighter champion. Underdog Justin Frazier will try to continue his Cinderella story to become like his coach and win after being picked last, but he has to get through Juan Francisco Dieppa. Invicta FC vets Pannie Kianzad and Macy Chiasson will battle it out for the women.

Former World Series Of Fighting featherweight champion Rick Glenn will take on former LFA featherweight champion, Kevin Aguilar. Rick Glenn is coming off a split decision win against vet Dennis Bermudez after going 2-2 in his UFC career. Kevin Aguilar picked up a win on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, but did not pick up a contract. After a scheduled matchup between Gilbert Melendez and Arnold Allen fell through, Glenn was scheduled to face Allen before Aguilar stepped in on short notice. Aguilar is 15-1 and carries a seven-fight win streak into the contest. Aguilar captured the featherweight title in LFA by knocking out Thanh Le back in May. Aguilar looked sluggish on DWTNCS and barely walked away with the decision, while Glenn is coming into this bout with confidence in picking up his second straight win. My pick: Glenn by decision

The sister of current flyweight title challenger Valentina Shevchenko, Antonina Shevchenko makes her much anticipated debut against short-notice replacement Ji Yeon Kim. Shevchenko went 5-0 before headlining Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series at the end of June and impressed with a dominant 2nd-round TKO of Jaymee Nievara. Shevchenko is also a reported 39-1 in the world of kickboxing. Ji Yeon Kim is taking this fight on short notice after picking up her second straight win back in June. Kim is 2-1 in the UFC with wins coming over Justine Kish and Melinda Fábián. This seems like a mismatch and should be Shevchenko’s fight to lose. My pick: Shevchenko by finish

One of the most intriguing fights of the night should be between Pedro Munhoz and Bryan Caraway. Pedro Munhoz was on a four-fight win streak, taking out talent such as Russell Doane, Justin Scoggins, Damian Stasiak and Rob Font before losing a split decision to John Dodson at UFC Fight Night 119 back in March (a fight in which I thought he won). Munhoz bounced back in August with a win over Brett Johns. Bryan Caraway returned in March after a two year absence, and lost a split decision to Cody Stamann (another fight in which I thought it should have went the other way). Caraway was in talks for a title shot before injuries sidelined him and the title picture became more complicated. This has all the makings for a fight of the night, especially if Munhoz can stop Caraway’s ground game and keep the fight standing, though Munhoz is no slouch on the ground. I believe Pedro Munhoz will be title challenger in 2019, and it starts here. My pick: Munhoz

Invicta FC vet Pannie Kianzad was riding a two-fight win streak before joining the Ultimate Fighter, where she will face Macy Chiasson in the finale Friday. Chiasson only has two professional fights to her résumé and has also fought under the Invicta banner. Chiasson advanced with a TKO win over Leah Letson. Kianzad holds wins over current UFC fighters Milana Dudieva and Jessica-Rose Clark, but hit a bit of a rough patch with three straight losses from 2015 to 2018, one of those being UFC bantamweight Tonya Evinger. Kianzad has been riding high since her May win over Bianca Diamoni, but Chiasson will have a healthy height and reach advantage. This should be a good scrap. My pick: Pannie Kianzad will be the new Ultimate Fighter

Kamaru Usman has been calling for a title shot for a while now. Currently riding a 12-fight win streak, the Ultimate Fighter: American Top Team Vs. Blackzilians winner has taken out Hayder Hassan, Leon Edwards, Warlley Alves, Sean Strickland, Sérgio Moraes, Emil Meek and most recently BJJ ace Demian Maia along the way. It looks like this bout will determine who will face the winner of Tyron Woodley and Colby Covington. Rafael dos Anjos is coming off a loss to Covington, who controlled RDA roughly throughout the entire fight. RDA was riding a three-fight win streak before that bout, taking out former champion Robbie Lawler. It’s hard to see this fight playing out any differently than RDA’s last fight, as Usman has all the tools to capture the welterweight title if and when he gets his shot. My pick: future champ, Usman

The Ultimate Fighter Finale: Heavy Hitters begins on UFC Fight Pass @ 6:30PM ET/3:30PM PT and continues with the prelims on Fox Sports 1 @ 8:00PM ET/5:00PM PT followed by the main card starting @ 10:00PM ET/7:00PM PT.

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