With the expansion of “The Ultimate Fighter” into multiple seasons happening at once it was bound to happen: a pair losing finalists from two seasons of TUF are meeting in their first post-TUF fight in the UFC. Colin Fletcher was runner up in a fairly exciting fight on ‘The Smashes’ and Mike Ricci came up short against Colton Smith on Season 16 of the American version. Now they get paired off against one another in what perhaps could be somebody’s final fight in the UFC for the time being.
Fight Breakdown – Both guys are similar in their approach: good strikers with solid submission games vulnerable to wrestle first oriented game plans. It’s a much more even match on paper than it normally would be because of one thing: which Ricci shows up.
Ricci was a good Canadian prospect who started out 5-0 and got on people’s radars as someone to watch. Since then he’s gone 2-3 and didn’t really show anything against Colton Smith, who smothered him with a relentless ground attack. He has a great pedigree, coming from Tri-Star in Canada and training alongside Rory MacDonald and headliner GSP, and seemed like he should’ve been the man to beat on Season 16 of “TUF” even at welterweight instead of his natural lightweight. Ricci is a good athlete with underrated power who is set for a good matchup. He’s a smaller version of Rory without nearly as much of an emphasis on takedowns.
Fletcher is not a great athlete but he’s maximized what he’s been given. He likes to stand and throw, has good power and isn’t going to be shooting a double leg anytime soon. He’s a British fighter in the classic MMA sense: good off his back to a certain degree but has solid stand up skills.
This is a great opening fight because neither guy is going to look to turn this into a NAGA match.
Why it matters – This is a fight that’s going to give us the exact heights both fighters should be able to reach.
We pretty much know where Fletcher’s ceiling is ultimately going to be: a guy who might last for a while on the fringes of the UFC but unless he can take another step up he’s probably going to stay around until there’s another UK card for him to be on the undercard of. Fletcher is a great personality, and has an excellent back story, but he hasn’t looked like he’s got a higher gear he could reach. He’s a nice guy, too, and made “The Smashes” worthwhile watching on YouTube. So far he just hasn’t shown the ability to be a Patrick Cote type where he’s good enough to be in the UFC but needs creative match-making to stay there for any stretch of time.
Ricci is a bit of an enigma when it comes to where he stands, career wise. He has the pedigree to be a great fighter, trains with some of the best talent in the world and feels like he should be the next great Tri-Star product. He also joins his best friend and teammate Rory MacDonald in kind of being the douchy hipster type of fighter that’s a direct opposite to the meat-head style of bro that populates much of its fan base, which is never dull. But so far he just hasn’t shown that he deserves to be mentioned as a top Tri-Star guy. A loss here, especially a bad one, hastens his exit from Zuffa sooner than later.
Prediction - Ricci