International Fight Week in Las Vegas opens with The Ultimate Fighter Finale on Friday. Headlining the TUF Finale is Hawaiian Brad Tavares taking on Nigeria’s Israel “The Last Stylebender” Adesanya.
This fight is seen as a pick em with both fighters coming in at -115. These two up-and-coming brawlers are sure to turn heads in this main event and don't blink because he could be over before you know it.
Adesanya is Difficult to Deal With
The Last Stylebender (13-0-0) enters the Octagon for the third time in his career, with the latter two also this year. The 28-year-old comes from a kickboxing background in which he had a record of 75-4, including 29 KOs. He was the heavy favorite in his first two scraps in the UFC, winning the first by KO/TKO over Rob Wilkinson at UFC 221 and earning a split-decision victory over Marvin Vettori at Fight Night: Glendale.
Adesanya uses his long form – he’s six foot four and has an 80-inch reach – to keep his opponents at range and use his flashy, spinning attacks from afar. He is known for switching his stance and firing unorthodox strikes toward his opponents. The Nigeria native has been vulnerable to the takedown, though, despite stuffing 76 percent of attempts against. He has been brought to the mat five times in his two matches against much easier competition than he will face against Tavares. The Last Stylebender will celebrate his birthday just 16 days after this brawl and would love nothing more than a knockout for an early birthday present.
Tavares is Tough and Experienced
Tavares (17-5) comes into this bout riding a four-fight winning streak. Since 2012, the Hawaii native holds a record of 10-3 with his three losses coming from top-ranked opponents: current champion Robert Whittaker, Yoel Romero and Tim Boetsch. Tavares has gone to decision in nine of his last 10 victories and has averaged an output of 3.19 strikes per minute. The 30-year-old is a grinder with good cardio and a willingness to stand and trade. This will be the 17th walk to the cage for Tavares, who made his UFC debut at the TUF 11 Finale in 2010.
Overall, Tavares has rhymed off four straight wins over more ground game-oriented fighters and will be chomping at the bit to get back to more of a standup war. What the Hawaiian may have going in his favor headed into this battle is he’s coming off a victory against Krzysztof Jotko, who has some odd striking patterns that kept Tavares guessing, much like Adesanya will surely do.
Odds as of July 5
TUF Lightweight Bout: Giannetti Favored vs Trizano
The co-main event in the lightweight division sees Joe “Skeletor” Giannetti taking on Michael “The Lone Wolf” Trizano for their opportunity to get to be crowned the ultimate fighter as well as earn a UFC contract. Giannetti opened as a -170 favorite with Trizano coming back at +140.
Giannetti has a Vicious Ground Game
Giannetti is, as all the TUF competitors were, undefeated at a perfect 7-0 including six wins coming by submission. The 23-year-old made quick work of his two opponents on the show, ending John Gunther, also on the TUF Finale card, with a first-round guillotine, followed by a mounted guillotine victory over heavy-striking Allan Zuniga – also in the first round.
Skeletor’s two fights combined didn’t last five minutes. The six-foot Boston native showed improved striking against the much shorter Zuniga, having landed shots accurately and frequently with tremendous use of range with his kicks.
Trizano has Crisp Striking
Trizano spent more time in the cage during the show than Giannetti. The 26-year-old was Team Miocic’s first pick and made his way to the finale by stopping Thailand Clark in the second round and earning a unanimous decision vs John Gunther in the semifinals.
The New York native showed off his tremendous standup ability over his two fights in the Octagon and if wasn’t for Gunther’s incredible chin, Trizano would have had two finishes. Through the three-round brawl with Gunther, The Lone Wolf didn’t slow down one bit as he continued the full 15 minutes with intense pressure.
Trizano’s leg up against Giannetti is that he’s only one inch shorter. Giannetti, at six feet tall, usually towers over his opponents and uses that to his advantage, securing submissions and keeping his foes at distance. However, with Trizano being nearly the same height, that’ll negate much of Giannetti’s attack. This is a classic striker vs grappler match that will surely entertain.
Odds as of July 5
TUF Featherweight Bout: Katona favored over Cucciniello
In the featherweight division, Jay “MellowFellow” Cucciniello battles Brad “Superman” Katona with a UFC contract and title of the ultimate fighter on the line. Katona opened as a heavy -250 favorite with Cucciniello coming back at +205.
Katona’s a Smart Fighter
Just listen to an interview with Superman and you will know this guy is a cerebral assassin and this is on display when he enters the cage. Katona has a great ability to understand what his opponent is trying to do to him, he changes and becomes the aggressor. The 26-year-old is 7-0 with four finishes, including one knockout and three submissions. Katona had two wins in the show, including being a large underdog against Bryce Mitchell, whom he finished in the third round. Superman is well-rounded and trains out of SBG Ireland, which is the camp of Conor McGregor.
Katona has had most of his career fights at bantamweight and will be the smaller man in this scrap. However, that hasn’t stopped him thus far and with his ground-game skills, he will likely try to move this fight to the ground where the size may not be as much of an issue.
Cucciniello Has a Strong Mental Game
MellowFellow was the beneficiary of an injury, having lost his Sportsbook fight in TUF but becoming a replacement after another competitor was injured in their fight. Cucciniello’s mental toughness was on display as he bounced back from that defeat to earn a TKO victory over Tyler Diamond in the semis. The Ireland native is good all around but not overly great anywhere.
As mentioned before Cucciniello will be the bigger fighter in this fight and will use that size to his advantage. He should keep the fight standing where he can use his reach to keep Katona away. He will no doubt not let Katona frustrate him as Superman will pick his shots and look for any opportunity to put Cucciniello away. This is going to be a back-and-forth fight with a lot of mental games with each looking for the edge.
Odds as of July 6