Opportunities Taken in Vegas (TUF 22 Finale Review)

tuf_22_finaleIt was the end of another season of The Ultimate Fighter and this time it was a very interesting match-up in the house.

Europe versus America was the season theme for the 22nd version of the show and the Europeans showed just how dominant they were.

When all was set and done Europeans accounted for three of the four fighters in the semi-finals and two Europeans found their way to the finale.

It was exactly what head coach Conor McGregor had predicted to Dana White before the show began as he believed in his European team.

This is where a strange season got only stranger as the European match-up was cancelled and an American was brought in to fill one of the spots.

It was the latest in a number of unexpected twists in the season and the biggest was saved for the very last episode.

It began with the fights to get into the house that were all great fights and eliminated a number of promising fighters.

Then White decided that he wanted to add a new wrinkle to the show and said that one American and one European fighter who lost their fights to get into the house were going to get a spot anyway.

They weren’t just any fighters though as White allowed each coach to select the fighter they believed had the most exciting loss, McGregor chose his training partner Artem Lobov and Urijah Faber chose Johnny Nuñez.

With the new fighters there were going to be nine quarter-finals and the winning fighter with the worst performance was going to be eliminated from the competition.

Lobov took full advantage of this second chance earning a spot in the quart-finals at the expense of Chris Gruetzemacher who won but was eliminated.

Lobov knocked everyone out on his way to the finale and became an early favourite against Saul Rogers who had impressed with ground and pound throughout the show to earn his spot.

Then it was revealed that Rogers had lied on his visa application and would not be allowed into the country to fight meaning his chance at a contract was gone.

Instead of bringing in one of the European fighters to fill his spot like the man he beat to get into the finale the UFC went with a fighter that Rogers had beaten and one of the few Americans to make it into the quarter-finals.

To make things a little more interesting for the show they added Ryan Hall to the finale who had been training with Lobov before being told about the change and is one of the most unique fighters in MMA.

While Lobov is a classic powerful striker, Hall is a Jiu Jitsu practitioner who specializes in the 50-50 position.mma-sidebar.fw

He attacks the legs almost exclusively and will go from stand-up to rolling towards his opponent’s legs just to get in his position.

Two fighters with a second chance at a dream to become a UFC fighter were set to face-off in what was sure to be a thrilling end to a very interesting season.

Although Lobov took full advantage of his second chance throughout the season he couldn’t do anything in the finale.

Hall smothered him bringing the fight to the ground in every round and although he did sit on his back for most of the second round he had Lobov’s back more often than not.

Hall couldn’t finish the fight despite some close calls but he clearly was in complete control and for that he took the unanimous decision win and the contract after it looked like his dream was over after the quarter-finals.

It wasn’t only a big night for Hall though as two great featherweights were headlining the match-up in what was considered to be a top contender fight.

With UFC 194 set to take place the day after with the featherweight title unification there was no guarantee that either Frankie Edgar or Chad Mendes were going to get another shot at the title after their main event.

If Jose Aldo beats McGregor easily it was a pretty good bet that the winner of Edgar-Mendes was the next in line but if there was any controversy in the fight and if McGregor could win Edgar or Mendes were likely going to have to wait for a rematch.

Either way this main event was a chance for either fighter to take another big step towards another title shot after both had been beaten by Aldo.

In fact Mendes has only ever lost to champions, twice to Aldo and once to McGregor, while the former lightweight champion in Edgar lost his first featherweight fight to Aldo and never dropped another.

It set up a great matchup between two of the best lighter fighters in the world with great wrestling from both fighters and a technical (Edgar) and powerful (Mendes) match-up on the feet.

It was always going to be a fast fight nut few expected it to end the way it did as it was a quick knockout but not from the guy you expect the power to come from.

Some quick exchanges saw Edgar land a big right one on the nose of Mendes that had him out and forced the referee to end the fight.

For the win Edgar will sit at ringside at UFC 194 watching closely at the main event and seeing if he will get his title shot or not.

It will all depend on how the fight goes as Edgar is surely the next in line but might have to wait for the rematch to get that shot and might need one more fight to get another shot.

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tuf-22-finale.fw

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