The TUF 22 Finale takes place on Friday night in Las Vegas and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights below.
Frankie Edgar vs. Chad Mendes
This is a fantastic fight between two of the very best featherweights around and in some ways it’s a shame it’s not going to get as much attention as it deserves due to everything else that’s going on during this hectic three days spell in the fight capital.
Edgar is as tireless a worker as anybody in the UFC, able to push a hard pace for five full rounds with his elusive striking style, constantly in motion while picking his moments to dart in and out with quick combos that are more designed to rack up points rather than produce a devastating finish.
Meanwhile, Mendes does have a limit to his gas tank, but on the plus side his striking has improved significantly since his earlier days in the WEC and these days he’s one of the heaviest hitters in the division. We’ve seen Edgar get hurt several times in the past from big strikes, so even although he’s never been stopped in his career, it’ll still give Mendes hope that he can be the first to put him away.
Both fighters are excellent grapplers. In terms of pure wrestling Mendes has the more decorated background and is the stronger of the two, but Edgar integrates his wrestling within an MMA context so fluidly that I really don’t feel there’s much to choose from between them in that regard.
It wouldn’t be a surprise to see either man emerge with their hand raised on Friday night, with Edgar’s most likely route to victory coming by way of decision due to his superior workrate and volume of punches, or Mendes landing a power punch at some stage that leads to a TKO inside the distance. It’s a hard one to call, but I feel Edgar’s footwork and angles will prevent Mendes from being able to really plant his feet and land that telling blow, so I’m siding with ‘The Answer’ to edge this one out on the scorecards.
Frankie Edgar to win by decision.
Edson Barboza vs. Tony Ferguson
There should be some high level striking to enjoy in the co-main event when top 10 lightweight talents Edson Barboza and Tony Ferguson battle it out.
Barboza is a terrific muay thai fighter with particularly powerful kicks being his favored weapon, while Ferguson brings more forward pressure with his crafty combinations of punches and kicks and good movement.
When it comes to grappling Ferguson has a clear advantage as Barboza is really just a striker through and through who relies on his takedown defense to keep the fight standing. Ferguson mixes up his striking to takedowns well though and on the mat he’s got a good submission game.
I like Ferguson to win here. Barboza likes space to utilize his kicks and Ferguson won’t give him the time or space to operate and I think he’ll engage him in the stand-up to begin with, but at some stage will take him down and tap the Brazilian out with a choke.
Tony Ferguson to win by submission in Rd2.
Evan Dunham vs. Joe Lauzon
Two battle hardened lightweight veterans go up against each other in another fun fight on the TUF 22 Finale main card.
Dunham is a durable, solid all-rounder who’ll have a wrestling advantage over Lauzon. While he’s not a stand-out striker I do also favor him in the stand-up exchanges too as he’ll look to push the action and isn’t afraid to stand and trade, whereas these days Lauzon has a bad habit of going into a defensive shell and not utilizing good footwork when sustained offense comes his way.
On the mat Lauzon is extremely crafty with submissions, so Dunham will have to be very careful not to leave a limb exposed, but I believe he’s well versed enough to do so and overall I think Dunham edges this one.
Evan Dunham to win by decision.
Ryan LaFlare vs. Mike Pierce
A big factor to consider heading into this fight is the fact that Pierce has been out of action for over two years due to a series of injuries, so ring rust is a real concern for the 35 year-old.
These are two fighters who like to use their wrestling to grind out victories, so that could potentially lead to a bit of a stalemate on that department.
With that in mind LaFlare has a bit more to offer on the feet and will be the more offensive of the two with a decent arsenal of kicks, and when you take into consideration Pierce’s long layoff, I think LaFlare can push the harder pace, land more strikes and secure a decision victory.
Ryan LaFlare to win by decision.
Prelims: (Predicted winners in bold)
Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Konstantin Erokhin
Tatsuya Kawajiri vs. Jason Knight
Geane Herrera vs. Joby Sanchez
Ryan Hall vs. Artem Lobov
Julian Erosa Vs Marcin Wrzosek
Chris Gruetzemacher Vs Abner Lloveras