The Ultimate Fighter 18 Finale: Davey Grant vs. Chris Holdsworth

The Ultimate Fighter 18 Finale: Davey Grant vs. Chris Holdsworth

Davey “Dangerous” Grant (8-1) vs. Chris Holdsworth (4-0)

 It all comes down to this, the fight for all the marbles that determines which fighter walks away with the illustrious UFC contract and which fighter doesn’t (sometimes). For a season in which the men were completely outshined by the women, the men’s finale may just allow the guys to close things out with a bang. The two fighters who will be throwing down on Saturday are clearly the cream of the men’s crop from this season and are fully capable of putting on an entertaining display of high level mixed martial arts. Somewhat similar in style, skill, and appearance, here we will shed some light on what sets one fighter apart from the other and what makes each a threat to win.

Davey “Dangerous” Grant

Grant came to TUF a promising prospect from the UK MMA scene where he did very well capturing a few regional titles along the way. He comes from respectable gym North East Top Team and has also trained with UK MMA powerhouse, The Wolf’s Lair with fellow UFC fighters such as Curt Warburton and Tom Blackledge. Grant trained strictly in MMA from the beginning and has faced tough but mostly unknown competition in the UK, building his skills to a respectable level and now brings solid skills to this fight. He impressed just about everyone during his run on TUF dispatching both of his opponents by submission before advancing to the finale. Grant’s hopes of capturing the contract rest in the following areas:

- Grappling is a definite strength for Grant both offensively and defensively. He is a big strong 135er and is great at fending off takedowns by securing a body lock and basing out to maintain his balance. In the event that he is taken down he will usually look to sweep/reverse to top position right away rather than play the guard game and with 7 of his 8 pro wins coming by submission from on top, including that slick arm bar finish on TUF, he is obviously very good at this. For his own takedowns Grant relies on trips and sweeps more than your standard single and double leg which is very common in the UK where Judo and Japanese jiu-jitsu are much more prevalent than wrestling.

- Grant’s aforementioned size and strength also benefit him greatly and he uses reach quite well for a fighter who stands just 5 feet 8 inches tall. Despite being a stronger fighter he has not fallen into the habit of trying to use brute force to make his attacks work, it is obvious in watching him fight that he has a sound understanding of technique and with the savages he would face in the UFC this is encouraging.

- Grant’s striking, though not his primary weapon has also been effective thus far. He mixes up straight punch combos, knees, and kicks nicely and although he is not going to be confused with Anderson Silva any time soon he strikes good enough to make his grappling more effective.

If Grant gets into trouble on Saturday it will likely be due to the following:

- He is a bit chinny; obviously not enough to say his jaw is made of glass, but he has been rocked or dropped in a number of his fights and although his recovery has been good enough to win in spite of this it will be a whole new ballgame in the UFC. Grant would be well served to sow up any holes in his defense and seeing him on TUF with chin tucked and hands up it seems he knows this.

- The quality of Grant’s opposition is a definite cause for concern with his last 5 opponents having a combined record of 25 wins & 96 losses. Grant did all he could and finished them all impressively but it still could be worrisome.

 

Chris Holdsworth

 Chris was equally as impressive during his run through TUF and brings an undefeated record through 4 amateur fights, 4 pro fights, and 3 TUF fights, finishing all but one of these fights in the first round! He came into the show with a great deal of hype due to his impressive grappling background composed of top notch coaching and his BJJ black belt. Holdsworth made the rounds on the submission grappling circuit and has faced ADCC vet Baret Yoshida and world no gi championship medalist Rodrigo Ranier. He has trained BJJ primarily under famed Cobra Kai Jiu Jitsu founder Marc Laimon while also spending time with the world renowned Rafael Lovato Jr. Holdsworth’s considerable strengths are:

- Obviously with a resume like that Chris is one of the best BJJ players to compete on The Ultimate Fighter. It is clear when watching Chris fight that he is a top grappler with seamless transitions, thorough understanding of leverage, emphasis on positioning, and nice use of hand fighting/ wrist control. Chris will not hesitate to pull guard or give up a takedown to get the fight to the floor and he immediately starts working when down there. He is very dangerous on bottom and those long legs on a 5 foot 11 inch frame work quite well in this position as 2 of his 3 opponents on the show found out the hard way. An added element to his ground game is nasty elbow strikes from bottom when he has a foe tied up in guard.

- Armed with the element of surprise he had from being labeled a BJJer, Chris displayed some very crisp, accurate, striking on TUF as well. When paired with explosive striker Chris Beal many thought Holdsworth HAD to get the fight down ASAP, not true. Holdsworth more than held his own landing clean straight rights and sharp left hooks to the head and totally changed the perception of him in the process. He wasn’t just using strikes to set up the grappling (which he also does well), he had Beal hurt, BAD, and submitted him shortly after.

- Holdsworth is also as game as they come. He has a true knack for combat and it is obvious he feels comfortable in that cage. These cannot be taught and should be nice advantages against his foreign foe come fight night.

- Another obvious advantage owned by Holdsworth is the aforementioned quality of his opposition and instructors. There is no substitute for facing (in grappling), and being trained by, the world’s best, and Holdsworth has done both for a while now.

As impressive as that list of attributes is, Holdsworth has some possible weak spots as well.

- Wrestling may prove to be a problem style for Chris. Sure pulling guard and giving up the takedown has worked just fine up until now but in the UFC he will be facing fighters who can wrestle AND fend off subs, all while simultaneously smashing your face in. It is this next level of opposition that Chris still has not been proven against.

- While Holdsworth may be scrappy as all hell and certainly won’t lay down for anyone, if he is going to remain at 135 in the UFC it would be smart to hit up Martin Rooney or Norm Turner and get on an advanced strength and conditioning program. No stone can be left unturned at this level of MMA including hitting the weights.

Conclusion

These two fighters both impressed during their time on the show and both fully deserve to be here. I expect both fighters to be improved and look good and I am honestly a bit torn on who to pick. But considering that these two fighters came from complete opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of quality of opposition and quality of instruction, I am picking Holdsworth to take this in a very fun, all action fight.

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