On Friday, two men will step into the Octagon, but only one will receive the coveted prize of being named this year’s Ultimate Fighter. Al Iaquinta and Mike Chiesa have represented Team Faber proudly, and have made it past every competitor in their way to make it this far.

Who will be crowned this year’s winner for the six-figure UFC contract? The MMA Corner’s Corey Adams will breakdown this match-up of teammates, and determine who will walk away with the victory.

Al Iaquinta (5-1-1) vs. Mike Chiesa (7-0)

It’s been a long ride for 16 men, but only two remain. Breaking down these fights has been fun, but watching them has been the real joy. On Friday night, expect Iaquinta and Chiesa to put on another solid bout to have fight fans on their feet.

Watching these two Team Faber fighters grow into all-around mixed martial artists has been a sight. Whoever gets his hand raised at the Palms Casino and Resort in Las Vegas will have truly earned the UFC contract.

Iaquinta came onto the show and immediately became a favorite as the season progressed. Urijah Faber selected the New York native with his first pick, and Iaquinta did not disappoint his coach by edging out Myles Jury, knocking out Andy Ogle, and defeating the tough Vinc Pichel by decision.

There are two things that stand out about Iaquinta outside the cage.

First off, he has trained with two talented men, Ray Longo and former UFC welterweight champion Matt Serra. Working with a solid group of guys is always important, and Iaquinta has two of the best in the business preparing him for this fight. Also, the 24-year-old has competed in the Ring of Combat promotion his entire career. If you are unfamiliar with the ROC, it has produced many talented fighters including Jim Miller, Frankie Edgar and Chris Weidman. Iaquinta is another name that is destined to be successful in the UFC.

When he steps in the cage, Iaquinta is as well-rounded as you can find. He has the ability to get a knockout, as he has illustrated, but also has a solid wrestling game. If Iaquinta can control the Octagon early, it could be a long night for his opponent.

If you have followed Chiesa throughout the season, you have to admit that it’s hard not to root for the guy. After getting a call saying his father had passed away due to leukemia, Chiesa has been the heart-warming story of the season.

The 24-year-old Chiesa only let the loss get to him for a couple of days, and then went right back to work. His motivation and never-say-die attitude allowed him to pull off some of the greatest wins in The Ultimate Fighter history. Chiesa ran through Jeremy Larsen, came back in the final round to knockout the highly-touted Justin Lawrence, and finally upset James Vick with a knockout.

You can describe Chiesa’s time on the show in many words, but it’s just straight up remarkable.

But these wins the Washington native has been pulling off aren’t a matter of luck. Chiesa came into the show 7-0 with five submissions, but has now developed a striking game that is difficult to overcome. To win this fight, Chiesa must turn it into a war to tire his opponent out. The 6-foot-1 fighter has flourished in the later rounds of fights, so if he can wear down Iaquinta, he could put him away late in the fight.

However, Iaquinta will defeat Chiesa in the finale. After watching both perform, the guy with more talent is the New York native. This fight will be a matter of heart vs. skill, and skill will overcome. My heart really wants to pick Chiesa, but my head is going with Iaquinta to control the pace and earn a TKO late in round two.

Photo: Mike Chiesa (L) goes toe-to-toe with James Vick in the semifinals (Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)

About The Author

Corey Adams
Staff Writer

Corey Adams didn't grow up watching mixed martial arts, considering the UFC was just getting started the year he was born, but in his teenage years, witnessed the action and has fallen in love with the sport. Corey was the first to join The MMA Corner staff -- other than founder Josh Davis -- and has been writing for the site ever since. Corey attends Austin Peay State University, where he majors in Communications with a focus on journalism. When he's not covering MMA, Corey is still writing on many sports with both local and campus newspapers. His favorite sports teams are the Atlanta Braves and Denver Broncos. Follow him on Twitter at the link below.