Written by @JonTPaterson
As part of an impressive three-card fight week in Las Vegas, The Ultimate Fighter 22 Finale takes place Friday, December 11th. This event will be the conclusion of the Team McGregor vs. Team Faber TUF series. As part of the lightweight focused card, Evan Dunham and Joe Lauzon will be matched together in a fight which will be a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.
Dunham and Lauzon hold a combined nine “Fight of the Night” bonus awards and are known as some of the most exciting lightweights in UFC history. As for predictions, this bout has some interesting action leading up to Friday night. Joe Lauzon currently sits as the betting underdog around +160 with Evan Dunham as a -200 favourite under most books. However, the UFC Pick’Em statistics currently show 88% of contributors believing that Lauzon will take the win, with the majority assuming a submission victory. A close fight to call, but sports bettors and fight fans seem to disagree on how things are going to shake out between these two.
Evan Dunham (16-6) is a well rounded grappler who has shown a penchant for resilience and cage aggression. After a rough past couple of years, Dunham is coming off two victories so far in 2015, most recently against Ross Pearson. One important factor in this match; the Oregon native has an impressive takedown defence, sitting at 79% in the UFC. This could prove useful in defending the submission aggression of Lauzon, and may explain the current fight odds as they stand. Dunham’s strategy should be to try and fight more conservatively than his opposition and reverse the takedown attempts if they present themselves. Nonetheless, this will be a very tough brawl and Dunham will need to dig deep to remain undefeated this year.
Joe Lauzon (25-10) holds the most UFC bonus awards of all time and is known as a submission artist who is not afraid to brawl. ‘J-Lau’ has been with the UFC for nearly a decade and has remained a constant in the lightweight scene throughout the years. Lauzon has illustrated some diversity in his recent performances, so it will be interesting to see what game-plan he chooses to adapt. Just recently in July of this year, Lauzon finished Takanori Gomi via TKO after an unexpected takedown and followup strikes. Evan Dunham has been finished early twice in his career before. It’s unlikely, however, that Lauzon has the immediate striking power to cause a similar situation in this clash on Friday.
So, how does this elite grappling confrontation boil down? Although submissions are the specialities of both men, Dunham and Lauzon are certainly not afraid to stand and trade with their opponents. A smart wager for this match would be taking the ‘over 2.5 round’ proposition. Dunham and Lauzon have proven themselves durable over the years and an early finish is highly unlikely. It is difficult to decide who will emerge victorious between Dunham and Lauzon on Friday night, but it is a good bet that the fight will go longer than two minutes and thirty seconds into the second round. Although the pair are offensively minded, fans should expect to be entertained for at least more than one round.
This particular card is loaded with entertaining potential and promises to be a worthy preamble to UFC 194 on the following night. TUF 22 will be headlined by Frankie Edgar and Chad Mendes. Along with the Team McGregor vs. Team Faber lightweight finals (Artem Lobov vs. Ryan Hall), this card also features a lightweight clash between Edson Barboza and Tony Ferguson.
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