Skip to main content

The Ultimate Fighter 22 Preview: 5 storylines to watch, betting odds & predictions

The Ultimate Fighter 22 Finale takes place on Friday night.

It is night number two of UFC action in the biggest UFC fight week in history in Las Vegas. Friday night brings the next edition of the finals of "The Ultimate Fighter". It will be The Ultimate Fighter 22 Finale taking place at The Chelsea at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, Nevada. The entire card will air on FS1 as preliminary card action takes place at 8 PM eastern time leading into the main card at 10 PM eastern time.

The event will be headlined by a five-round bout in the featherweight division in what could be the fight of the weekend as former UFC Lightweight Champion and former featherweight title challenger Frankie Edgar takes on former title challenger Chad Mendes. In the finals of TUF 22, it will be Team McGregor's Artem Lobov taking on Team Faber's Ryan Hall. Also on the card is an elite lightweight bout as Edson Barboza looks for his second straight win when he takes on Tony Ferguson, winner of six straight fights. Let's take a closer look at the action and bring you five storylines to keep an eye on during The Ultimate Fighter 22 Finale on Friday night.

1. Will Frankie Edgar and Chad Mendes have the best fight of the week?

The main event of The Ultimate Fighter 22 Finale is a featherweight bout that could end up being the best fight of the weekend when former featherweight title challengers Frankie Edgar and Chad Mendes meet in a high-level contest that could produce the next title challenger. Edgar is a former champion at 155 pounds who has moved down to 145 pounds. He has fought for the title once at featherweight, dropping a decision to Jose Aldo, but he has since won four straight fights. Mendes has fought for the gold three times, coming up short each time. He has two losses to Aldo, one by knockout and one by decision in one of the best fights of 2014, and a loss in an interim title fight to Conor McGregor at UFC 189 in July. These two are clearly two of the top four fighters in the division alongside Aldo and McGregor, and this is a fight that fans have been looking forward to happening ever since Edgar made the move down.

We have two very similar fighters as both have excellent wrestling credentials and solid striking abilities. Mendes is a better pure wrestler though Edgar may have the better wrestling MMA-wise. Both men are explosive with takedowns. When it comes to the striking, Edgar has some of the best pure boxing in the sport. Mendes is a power puncher and his striking got better while Duane Ludwig was coaching Team Alpha Male. He has better movement on his feet than in the past, but Edgar's footwork is elite. Edgar has underrated power in his hands, and his kicks are fast and clean. The biggest thing Edgar does is he can leave himself open just enough to get hit, and if Mendes lands a clean right hand, we could see Edgar go into retreat mode like he did in his fights against Gray Maynard.

The thing about those bouts with Maynard was that it showed Edgar come overcome adversity in a fight. Mendes may be the featherweight Maynard to Edgar. Mendes will likely be the one to initiate the takedowns but getting Edgar down will be challenging, and keeping him there will be tougher. Both men have the conditioning to go 25 minutes and have, but Edgar's gas tank is on another level in MMA. He is arguably the best conditioned fighter in the sport. That may be the key in this bout. Mendes has solid conditioning, barring taking the McGregor fight on short notice, but he likely won't be able to match Edgar's pace. That will be the difference maker in a fight that likely goes the distance. I see Edgar winning a very close decision based on winning the latter rounds.

2. Who takes the crown of this season's "The Ultimate Fighter"?

The most recent season of "The Ultimate Fighter" had a good dynamic between the coaches, Conor McGregor and Urijah Faber, that carried out through the season. The fights on the show were solid battles, and it led to an interesting final. It will be Artem Lobov and Ryan Hall squaring off for the six-figure contract, and it will be the first time that two fighters who were eliminated at one point during the show meet in the finals. Lobov was eliminated in the fights to get into the house, but was selected by McGregor to return to the show in a new wrinkle put forth by Dana White this year. Hall replaces Saul Rogers, the man who eliminated him from the show en route to the finals. Rogers was unable to secure a visa to come to the US to compete in the finals.

It leads to an interesting fight between Lobov and Hall. Hall has excellent grappling credentials and is 4-1 since making the transition to MMA in 2012. Lobov has a spotty record at 11-10-1 with 1 no contest, and he is the main training partner to McGregor. He won his three bouts by knockout after returning to the competition, so he did earn his spot here. He has knockout power and underrated submissions. Hall is a legitmate prospect coming off the show whereas Lobov may not have much to offer in the UFC outside of being someone to put on a card in Ireland. We know Hall will be looking to take the fight down to the mat so it is up to Lobov to show he can keep the fight upright. Lobov has to try to land the big punches, but I see Hall's grappling being too much for him.

3. Can Tony Ferguson make it seven straight wins against Edson Barboza?

Tony Ferguson is flying under the radar in the UFC's lightweight division, but he has amassed a six-fight win streak heading into Friday night's bout against Edson Barboza. Ferguson was originally scheduled to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov at this event, but another injury kept Nurmagomedov from returning to action. Barboza is a high-level replacement who is creeping up on top five status himself. Ferguson is right behind him and looking to leap frog Barboza with a win. Ferguson has posted wins over the likes of Josh Thomson, Gleison Tibau, Abel Trujillo and Danny Castillo during his win streak, and four of those six wins have come by stoppage. Ferguson may be the most underrated "TUF" winner of all-time as he has gone 9-1 in his UFC career. Barboza is 10-3 in his UFC career but remains just on the cusp of title contention after an impressive win over Paul Felder in his last bout.

For all of the great fights going on this weekend, this match-up is one of the best. Barboza has amazing kickboxing skills and great takedown defense. Ferguson is very creative on his feet and is a pressure fighter. He is the type of opponent that Barboza has had trouble with in the past. He also outputs a lot of volume and isn't afraid to get inside the range of an opponent. Barboza is flashy and will come out with spinning kicks and he doesn't get hit a lot. Ferguson may look to utilize a clinch and wrestling game to keep Barboza from unleashing his striking. Ferguson can be suffocating and is solid with his submission game. Ferguson is also a pace setter and that is going to make the difference in this fight. Barboza isn't neccessarily a fighter who will push the pace, and that will allow Ferguson to control the action in the fight. It should be a great fight, but Ferguson has the tools to take home a decisive decision win.

4. Will Joe Lauzon add another bonus to his UFC record?

Joe Lauzon is the UFC bonus king as he has won thirteen post-fight bonus awards during his UFC career, with six "Fight Of The Night", six "Submission Of The Night" and one "Knockout Of The Night" awards. He will be looking to add to that on Friday night when he takes on Evan Dunham, a man who is also familiar with post-fight bonus awards, having won four during his career. They enter the fight in an interesting position in their careers as both have been firmly established as lightweight gatekeepers. Each were on the cusp of entering the title picture before setbacks have knocked them out of the rankings, but they both will be employed for a long time due to their ability to put on the best fight on any card they are featured on. Both men can still deliver great winning performances as well.

Lauzon is an aggressive fighter who looks to put his opponent on the mat so he can start showing off his high-level submission game. Dunham is an excellent wrestler and he is difficult to put on the mat. Dunham has high-level striking with a lot of output and he is a grinding fighter in the clinch. Lauzon will likely have trouble taking Dunham to the ground, but if it goes down, Lauzon has excellent transitions on the mat. He has some vicious ground-and-pound that he uses to set up the submissions as 17 of his 25 wins have come by submission. Dunham showed real improvement in his recent win over Ross Pearson with his striking and overall game. If he continues to show that, he has the clear path to winning on the feet. It will likely be a close fight but one that should lead to Dunham winning. With this match-up, win or lose, Lauzon has a very good chance at adding to his bonus record.

5. What else is there to look out for on the card?

Outside of three solid match-ups, this middle event of the three-fight week is likely the weakest of the three events. It's main event keeps this event from being dismissed and there are some showcase bouts to keep an eye on. Tatsuya Kawajiri looks to add another win to his record when he takes on Jason Knight. Knight is a late replacement for Mirsad Bektic, and while he sports a 15-1 record, he has never fought a fighter like Kawajiri. This is Kawajiri's fight to lose. Another fight that was changed on short notice is a flyweight bout between Joby Sanchez and Geane Herrera. Herrera is a replacement for Justin Scoggins. Neither man may be truly UFC ready at this stage, but Sanchez is more ready than Herrera and should take the win here.

In a welterweight bout, Ryan LaFlare will be looking to rebound from his first career loss when he takes on Mike Pierce. Pierce has been out of action since a submission loss to Rousimar Palhares in October 2013. It was that fight that led to Palhares getting cut from the UFC as he kept holding onto Pierce's leg for too long after Pierce tapped, and the UFC had enough with his antics. Pierce suffered knee and ankle injuries due to that, but a broken hand was what has kept him out of action for 26 months. He had won four straight prior to the loss to Palhares. Also on the preliminary card is a heavyweight bout between former title challenger Gabriel Gonzaga and Konstantin Erokhin. Gonzaga has lost three straight fights and could be fighting for his UFC career while Erokhin is looking to rebound from a loss in his UFC debut.

Full The Ultimate Fighter 22 Finale Fight Card, Betting Odds and Predictions


Featherweights: (#2) Frankie Edgar vs. (#3) Chad Mendes
Betting Odds:
Edgar (-130), Mendes (+110)
Prediction: Edgar by decision

TUF 22 Lightweight Finals: Artem Lobov vs. Ryan Hall
Betting Odds:
Lobov (-175), Hall (+145)
Prediction: Hall by submission in round 2

Lightweights: (#6) Edson Barboza vs. (#7) Tony Ferguson
Betting Odds:
Barboza (+175), Ferguson (-190)
Prediction: Ferguson by decision

Lightweights: Joe Lauzon vs. Evan Dunham
Betting Odds:
Lauzon (+170), Dunham (-200)
Prediction: Dunham by decision

Featherweights: (#13) Tatsuya Kawajiri vs. Jason Knight
Betting Odds:
Kawajiri (-240), Knight (+220)
Prediction: Kawajiri by submission in round 1

Lightweights: Julian Erosa vs. Marcin Wrzosek
Betting Odds:
Erosa (-140), Wrzosek (+110)
Prediction: Erosa by decision


Heavyweights: Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Konstantin Erokhin
Betting Odds:
Gonzaga (-105), Erokhin (-105)
Prediction: Erokhin by knockout in round 1

Welterweights: Ryan LaFlare vs. Mike Pierce
Betting Odds:
LaFlare (-225), Pierce (+205)
Prediction: LaFlare by decision

Flyweights: Joby Sanchez vs. Geane Herrera
Betting Odds:
Sanchez (-110), Herrera (-110)
Prediction: Sanchez by decision

Lightweights: Chris Gruetzemacher vs. Abner Lloveras
Betting Odds:
Gruetzemacher (-185), Lloveras (+155)
Prediction: Gruetzemacher by decision