The Ultimate Fighter Finale: Heavy Hitters Preview

The Ultimate Fighter Finale: Heavy Hitters Preview

A preview of the latest TUF Finale, set to take place in Las Vegas.

Updated: Nov. 28, 2018 • 1:09 PM ET

The TUF Finale will take place in Las Vegas this weekend.

The Ultimate Fighter 28 Finale will take place this Friday at The Pearl in the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. The main event will feature a welterweight fight between top 5 contenders, No. 3 Rafael Dos Anjos and No. 5 Kamaru Usman, with the winner perhaps being next in line to challenge for the title. Currently, though, all signs point to champion Tyron Woodley defending his belt against No. 1 contender Colby Covington.

Dos Anjos will try to rebound from a unanimous decision loss to Covington in June. The fight was Dos Anjos’ fourth since moving up a weight class to welterweight from lightweight, and a victory would have likely granted him a title shot. He has looked much more healthy and comfortable at welterweight, collecting three straight victories over Tarec Saffiedine, Neil Magny and former champion Robbie Lawler before running into Covington. Dos Anjos couldn’t overcome Covington’s relentless pressure, losing a unanimous decision for the interim welterweight belt.

The 34-year-old Brazilian is a former lightweight champion, and aside his victories over Saffiedine, Magny and Lawler, he has defeated a who’s who of opponents with wins over Donald Cerrone (twice), Anthony Pettis, Nate Diaz, Benson Henderson, Jason High and Evan Dunham.

Usman called out Dos Anjos’ after his victory over Magny in September 2017, but Dos Anjos was uninterested in a fight with Usman, who was five spots behind him in the rankings at the time. They now find themselves closer together in the rankings, and it’s time to square off.

Usman is 8-0 in the UFC and riding the biggest victory of his career, a unanimous decision win over former title challenger Demian Maia, who stepped in on short notice for Santiago Ponzinibbio in May. The 31-year old-Nigerian has consistently called out fighters in the top 5 for more than a year and will finally get his wish on Friday. A win over Dos Anjos would solidify his position as a title contender, and he may sit and wait for the outcome of a Woodley and Covington title fight. The question is: will the UFC grant him the next shot or pair him against another top 5 contender first?

Usman (13-1) was the TUF 21 winner and followed that victory by quietly going on a seven-fight win streak. His fight against Maia put the welterweight division on notice, but a victory over Dos Anjos would announce his presence worldwide. He has key victories over Maia, Emil Meek, Sergio Moraes and Leon Edwards, and hasn’t lost since 2013.


Co-main event

Friday’s co-main event will be a bantamweight fight between No. 9 Pedro Munhoz and No. 14 Bryan Caraway.

Munhoz (16-3, 1 NC) is coming off a unanimous decision victory over Brett Johns at UFC 227 in August and also has key victories over Rob Font and Justin Scoggins. Each of his losses have come by decision to some of the best in the division against John Dodson, Jimmie Rivera and Raphael Assuncao.

Caraway is coming off a split-decision loss to Cody Stamann at UFC 222 in March. He’s 6-3 in the UFC with key victories over Aljamain Sterling, Eddie Wineland and Erik Perez. The 34-year-old needs a victory on Friday if he wants to stay in the rankings and make another run at a fighter in the top 10.

 


The rest of the card

Middleweight bout - Darren Stewart vs. Edmen Shahbazyan

Women's flyweight bout - No. 11 Ji Yeon Kim vs. Antonina Shevchenko

Featherweight bout - Rick Glenn vs. Kevin Aguilar

Flyweight bout - No. 3 Joseph Benavidez vs. No. 12 Alex Perez

Lightweight bout - Roosevelt Roberts vs. Darrell Horcher

Welterweight bout - Tim Means vs. Ricky Rainey

Bantamweight bout - Raoni Barcelos vs. Chris Gutierrez

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