TUF 19 finals set for Sunday

Elias Cepeda

(Dhiego Lima fights his way into the TUF 19 house against Adam Stroup)

Every so often, an Ultimate Fighter contestant stands out from the outside of a season as a clear favorite to win a UFC contract. In this year’s season 19, Dhiego Lima was one such fighter.

The welterweight Lima may have moved up in weight to compete as a middleweight in TUF 19, but he still brought with him the benefit of ten fights as a pro against top regional and international competition. True to expectations, Lima submitted Roger Zapata quickly in the TUF 19 middleweight semi-finals to advance to this Sunday’s finals.

Lima believed that he was close to getting a call to the UFC before getting cast on TUF 19, and now he’s closer than ever to making his fighting comes true. “I felt it was coming,” he recently told UFC.com.

“I thought I needed one or two more fights, but the way I was training and the way I was fighting with hard opponents, I felt like I was ready.”

Lima recently opened up a gym in the Atlanta area with his brother Douglas and says that after Sunday, he plans to drop back down to welterweight. In the middleweight finals bout Lima will meet Eddie Gordon.

Gordon may have flown under the radar a bit more than Lima did en route to the TUF 19 middleweight finals, but the “Truck” has the motivation and pedigree to continue to impress. His Serra/Longo teammate Chris Weidman will defend his middleweight title the day before Gordon takes on Lima, at UFC 175.

A great deal of Gordon’s confidence comes from the expert coaching and training he gets from his team. “It’s definitely a blessing because these guys have been around the block,” he told UFC.com.

“They know the ins and outs of not only the fight game, but just everyday living. To have a coach like Ray, who has cornered two world champions at the highest level, you try to take everything he says like scripture. He’s been there, he’s done that, he knows what to think, he knows when to pull the reigns back. So, it’s a blessing. Not many guys have one UFC champion in the gym, let alone two. So, for me, I just follow their lead, and what they say, goes. I ultimately want to be where they are, and there’s no better way than to train with them.

Light heavyweight finals

In the TUF 19 light heavyweight finals, Matt Van Buren meets rookie Corey Anderson. Van Buren earned his spot in the finals with one of the best fights of the entire season, when he knocked Dan Spohn out in the second round of their bout, aired last night.

Van Buren has righted his ship since losing two straight bouts in 2012 in the Bellator promotion. For his part, Anderson’s only two official pro fights came in 2013.

The 24 year-old former wrestler Anderson got into MMA and TUF 19 almost reluctantly, but he has all the confidence of a fighter who has won both of his pro fights, pre-TUF, via first round TKO. “I’m just a normal person with crazy dreams to be the best in the world,” he recently told UFC.com

As for “Gutter” Van Buren, his simple approach is to leave everything in the Octagon on fight night. “Every fight is the next biggest fight and there’s more pressure,” he told UFC.com.

“And being on the show is a lot of stress and pressure because, at the end of the day, your job is always kind of on the line. So, you don’t hold back. You go in there and fight hard and hope for the best. That’s all you can do in this sport.”

Who are you picking to win at the TUF 19 Finale card on Sunday? Let us know in the comments section!

Follow Elias on Twitter @EliasCepeda & @YahooCagewriter

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