It’s been three long months but this Friday Night will conclude this season of the Ultimate Fighter TUF Live. It will be Al Iaquinta against his former Team Faber teammate Mike Chiesa in what has the makings of a great final fight to cap off the show. Both fighters have worked hard and overcome different types of adversity to get to this point. It’s been great for all of Iaquinta Nation to come along for the ride, supporting Al every step of the way. We’ve all felt like we’ve been right in there with him every single fight.
It’s been a long three month road for both fighters. Chiesa defeated Johnavan Vistante to get into the house, then recorded a unanimous decision over Jeremy Larsen, a TKO over Justin Lawrence, and a KO last week over James Vick. Iaquinta defeated Jon Tuck to enter the house, Myles Jury by split decision, Andy Ogle by KO, and Vinc Pichel by unanimous decision. That hard fought journey has lead both fighters to the Finale where they’ll fight each other with a UFC contract on the line.
Mike Chiesa’s journey has been an inspiring one. Right after winning his fight to get into the house his father passed away. Since then he’s dedicated each fight to his deceased father as well as his family. Mike has had his ups and downs this season while dealing with the the challenge of the show itself, as well as going through the grieving process. While he’s gotten emotional at times, he’s been able to weather the storm and stay on track. His biggest obstacle now lies in the TUF Finale in dealing with knock out power, and well rounded game of Iaquinta.
Iaquinta has stayed very reserved, out of trouble, and despite being the first pick of Urijah Faber stayed out of the spot light early on this season. He never did anything to be the center of attention. Yet following his fight against Myles Jury he started receiving a lot of well deserved respect. As each episode, as well as each time Al fought passed by, he continued to impress. He displayed on a weekly basis how hard working and dedicated he is. Each time he fought he made it clear just how tough he was not only physically but mentally as well. Each fight he looked stronger, and he continued to look more and more impressive. People who didn’t all ready know began to realize just how technical and dominant of a fighter Iaquinta is.
Friday Iaquinta will have what he once again has called the “biggest fight of his life”, fighting as the Co- Main event for a UFC contract. He’ll take on the slick jiu jitsu of Mike Chiesa. “He’s tricky” Al said in an interview earlier this week, “He’s tall, he’s long, and he’s a southpaw. He’s also very good at forcing you into his game. I need to stay focused on my game, and have him fight my fight.” Although Chiesa has shown some good jiu jitsu, he’ll have his hands full with the very well rounded Iaquinta. Chiesa has show issues in his stand up game. Al will have the clear advantage there despite the height of Chiesa. As always Al’s cardio will be a big advantage for him during the fight as well. Chiesa has shown that he tires easily. If this fight goes into the third round(fights are no longer two rounds) Al will be able to out work Chiesa. Al’s mental game has been the toughest by far of anyone in the house. Iaquinta also has a huge advantage in his coaching, having Matt Serra and Ray Longo in his corner. The fight is going to be a good one but looking at the facts you can’t help but see Iaquinta as the favorite in this one. His game is very sharp, and he’s been locked in the past few weeks.
In just two days Iaquinta will take on Chiesa in the Pearl at the Palm Casino with both fighters dreams of a UFC contract on the line. There’s no more Team Faber, and for about fifteen minutes the two are no longer friends. For Iaquinta, Chiesa becomes another road block standing in the way of his goal. It’s all on the line Friday night with all eyes on Iaquinta and Chiesa to decide who will become the next Ultimate Fighter.