TUF 27 Roster Rundown: The Lightweights

TUF 27 Lightweight Tournament Competitors

Look, The Ultimate Fighter hasn’t been what it used to be, but TUF 27 is shaping up to be one of the best seasons yet. It’s by far their most lethal group of prospects in the history of the TUF house; a house that has seen several champions and MMA legends walk through it.

These guys are the future of our sport, but how many of you know the fighters participating?

Chances are, you don’t at all. Well, we should fix that shouldn’t we? Let me give a quick rundown of the contestants before you plop down in a couple of hours to watch it play out. Let’s move on to the lightweights.

Thai Clark (7-0)

A Bellator veteran and an EFC staple, Thai Clark enters the house on the heels of a year and a half layoff.

Since October of 2016, Clark has been on the sidelines of the MMA scene, perhaps waiting for an opportunity like this. He did have a fight booked in December, but it was of course cancelled for the chance to compete in The Ultimate Fighter.

Prior to the layoff, Clark had just 2 finishes in seven tries and though he’s undefeated, Clark will be experiencing a massive step-up in competition. Granted, all these fighter’s will to a certain extent. And based on how little we’ve seen from him over the past couple years, it’s safe top say we have no clue how he’ll look.

Joe Giannetti (6-0)

Joe Giannetti is a South Shore Sportfighting product and a top contender under the Cage Titans banner. His amateur career saw him defeat all seven of his opponents, most by finish. Now that he’s a pro, Giannetti has gotten even more lethal.

“Skeletor” has submitted five of six opponents and seemed destined for a shot in the big show. Well, now he gets it though it’s got a bit of a twist to it. Competing in the TUF 27 house is going to be very interesting for Giannetti, but I suspect he’ll do quite well. Over the years we’ve seen the grappling heavy fighter’s fare very well in the tournament. Joe fits that bill and should take advantage of what’s in front of him.

John Gunther (6-0)

John Gunther trains with “The Baddest Man on the Planet”, Stipe Miocic who as you know is a coach this season. So, it’s pretty reasonable to suggest he’d be taken by his teammate.

His in cage performance has been superb. At 32 he’s one of the older competitors in the tournament, but also one of the more skilled. He went 7-1 as an amateur and he is of course undefeated since turning pro.

With three finishes in six fights, he’s capable of shutting the lights out, but won’t rush to do so. Tapology ranks him s the #1 lightweight in Ohio and the UFC has clearly had an eye on him for a while.

Jose Martinez Jr. (4-0)

Training out of Hooligan boxing club in Ohio, Jose Martinez Jr. has proven worthy of this opportunity. He began his career as a pure striker and suffered a couple submission losses in his amateur days.

But he’s now cleaned up his takedown defense and has become more of a martial artist than a straight boxer. He’ll need every once of that new knowledge to accompany him into the TUF 27 house. The lightweights have a couple of serious grappling threats. However, there are some striking match-ups that would intrigue me with him. Which brings me to our next competitor.

Luis Pena (4-0)

They call him “Violent Bob Ross” and he’s a savage. Fighting out of St. Charles MMA in Missouri by way of Naples, Italy, Pena has really got some hype surrounding him. He’s been impressive professionally, having won all four fights by stoppage; 3 submissions and a KO.

He’s got a wrestling background, but he set the world on fire thanks to his rangy and creative striking attacks. His boxing is clean, his kicks are measured and his length allows him to land from parts unknown. This is the guy to watch at lightweight.

I predict he’ll be in the finals which makes him the only man i’ll call my shot on.

Richie Smullen (3-0-1)

Ah, you can’t have a TUF tournament without a McGregor connection.

Richie Smullen is an SBG Ireland product and has an undefeated record including 2 submissions and a KO. Smullen has competed under the BAMMA banner twice, most recently against now champ Rhys McKee; a fight that ended in a majority draw.

That’s a nice little feather on his cap, but he’ll need to up his game in a house full of experienced fighters. Certainly training with the guys at SBG have turned him into a nice little prospect. He could be the surprise of the tournament. But, we’ll have to see how his grappling prowess holds up under intense scrutiny.

Mike Trizano (6-0)

Trizano trains out of Tiger Schulman, the same gym that produced Uriah Hall, Jimmie Rivera and Shane Burgos.

He most recently fought on the undercard of Bellator 186 and won via second round submission, which he more or less predicted. “The Lone Wolf” is also the former Ring of Combat and Maverick MMA champion at featherweight and lightweight respectively. He’s finished four of his last five opponents and hopes to add to that run at TUF 27.

Allan Zuniga (13-0)

Zuniga has by far the most pro MMA experience on the entire TUF 27 roster. He’s compiled those 13 wins over the course of seven and a half years

That experience should help him in the cage as many of the men tasked with opposing him will be younger up and comers looking for their break. Though in that respect he’s in the same boat. He has a healthy finish rate at 54% and has shown a well-rounded game while building that statistic.

I also believe he’d be the first Costa Rican fighter in UFC history if he were to get out of the house on top. So a bit of history for you guys to ponder.

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