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18 months after being let go, Tim Elliott has a chance to shock the best fighter in the UFC

He headlines tonight’s TUF 24 Finale against Demetrious Johnson.

UFC On Fox MMA Tim Elliott made his UFC debut against John Dodson in May 2012. Source: Gregory Payan

THE VAST MAJORITY of observers will insist that The Ultimate Fighter no longer serves a purpose, but Tim Elliott is unlikely to be among them.

When the reality TV show first aired on Spike TV in the US back in 2005, it played a pivotal role in transforming the UFC from a struggling fight promotion into a booming business that would eventually sell for $4.2 billion.

Geared towards unearthing the most talented fighters in mixed martial arts, it provided a platform for the likes of Forrest Griffin, Diego Sanchez, Rashad Evans, Michael Bisping, Nate Diaz, TJ Dillashaw and Tony Ferguson to carve out successful careers.

However, the programme gradually went stale, despite efforts in recent years to revitalise it with fresh concepts such as broadcasting live — as opposed to pre-recorded — shows, an all-female season, a gym-versus-gym format and even a coaching stint for Conor McGregor.

The UFC’s latest throw of the TUF dice came in August when a flyweight season of The Ultimate Fighter debuted, which featured champions from a host of regional organisations. The prize for the winner? The dubious honour of sharing the octagon with the UFC’s most dominant and longest-serving current champion.

UFC 197 Mixed Martial Arts UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson. Source: John Locher

The idea wasn’t well received at first, but for the UFC it made perfect sense. They needed something new to keep The Ultimate Fighter alive, but they also needed someone to fight Demetrious Johnson. In his 11 outings as a flyweight, nobody — from Joseph Benavidez to John Dodson, Henry Cejudo to Ian McCall, among others — has been able to get the better of the only champion the organsation’s 125lbs division has ever had.

It also made sense for Tim Elliott. In June of last year, he was a surprise inclusion on a list of 10 fighters who had been released by the UFC. The 29-year-old from Kansas had lost three fights in a row but prior to being submitted by Benavidez and decision defeats to Ali Bagautinov and Zach Makovsky, it was widely agreed that Elliott had shown enough promise in his victories over Louis Gaudinot and Jared Papazian to earn another shot.

Instead, he returned to the relative obscurity of the US regional circuit in an attempt to rebuild his career. Elliott quickly became Titan FC’s flyweight champion, winning three fights on the trot between July 2015 and March 2016. When a chance to return to the UFC via The Ultimate Fighter then arose, he capitalised and won the show outright.

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Tonight in the main event of the TUF 24 Finale at the Palms Casino, Elliott makes his UFC comeback against the man who’s ranked as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the organisation.

Elliott will look to emulate Matt Serra, who defeated Georges St-Pierre in 2007 to become the UFC welterweight champion after winning the fourth season of The Ultimate Fighter. At 8/1 at the time of writing, Elliott is a massive outsider. But in the year of Brexit, Donald Trump, Leicester City and Connacht, stranger things have happened.

Source: UFC - Ultimate Fighting Championship/YouTube

Can Tim Elliott cause an upset tonight against Demetrious Johnson tonight?

Poll Results:

No, there's more of a chance of Conor McGregor fighting Floyd Mayweather (650)
Yes, anything is possible (283)

TUF 24 Finale

Main card — 3am, BT Sport 2

Demetrious Johnson vs. Tim Elliott
Joseph Benavidez vs. Henry Cejudo
Jake Ellenberger vs. Jorge Masvidal
Ion Cutelaba vs Jared Cannonier
Sara McMann vs. Alexis Davis
Brandon Moreno vs. Ryan Benoit

Prelims — 1am, UFC Fight Pass and BT Sport 2

Gray Maynard vs. Ryan Hall
Rob Font vs. Matt Schnell
Dong Hyun Kim vs. Brendan O’Reilly
Kailin Curran vs. Jamie Moyle

Early prelims — 12am, UFC Fight Pass

Elvis Mutapcic vs. Anthony Smith
Josh Stansbury vs. Devin Clark

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About the author:

Paul Dollery

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