TUF 26 Finale post-event facts: A rare finish, a new striking record and armbars galore

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History was made at The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale on Friday when the organization officially crowned the inaugural champion of its newest weight class: the women’s flyweight division.

Unheralded Nicco Montano (4-2 MMA, 1-0 UFC) completed her surprising run to the gold when she outpointed Roxanne Modafferi (21-14 MMA, 0-2 UFC) via unanimous decision in the event headliner, which took place at Park Theatre in Las Vegas and aired on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

Montano’s “Fight of the Night” effort capped off an 11-fight card, which saw seven bouts end with a stoppage. For more of the numbers behind the first of two UFC cards from this past weekend, check below for 32 post-event facts to come out of The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale.

* * * *

General

Brett Johns

The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale featured three armbar submission finishes, tied with UFC on FUEL TV 10 for the most on a UFC card in the modern era.

The UFC-Reebok Athlete Outfitting payout for the event totaled $112,500.

Debuting fighters went 6-4-2 at the event.

Montano, Modafferi, Gerald Meerschaert and Brett Johns earned $50,000 TUF 26 Finale fight-night bonuses.

Betting favorites went 7-3 on the card. One fight ended in a draw.

Total fight time for the 11-bout card was 1:42:31.

Main card

Nicco Montano

Montano became the inaugural UFC women’s flyweight champion.

Montano became UFC champion just 742 days after her professional debut.

Modafferi fell to 6-3 since her initial UFC release in November 2013.

Modafferi has suffered 10 of her 14 career losses by decision. That includes both of her UFC defeats.

Lauren Murphy (10-3 MMA, 2-3 UFC) was successful in her UFC flyweight debut.

Barb Honchak (10-3 MMA, 0-1 UFC) had her nine-fight winning streak snapped for her first official defeat since September 2010.

Honchak has suffered all three of her career losses by decision.

Gerald Meerschaert

Meerschaert (27-9 MMA, 3-1 UFC) has earned 25 of his 27 carer victories by stoppage. That includes all three of his UFC wins.

Eric Spicely (10-3 MMA, 2-3 UFC) suffered the first knockout loss of his career.

DeAnna Bennett (8-3-1 MMA, 0-0-1 UFC) had her winless streak extended to four fights. She hasn’t earned a victory since September 2015.

Johns’ (15-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC) 15-fight MMA winning streak is the second longest among active UFC bantamweight fighters behind Jimmie Rivera (20).

Johns earned just the second calf-slicer submission in UFC history. Charles Oliveira also accomplished the feat.

Johns’ 30-second submission victory was second fastest in UFC/WEC combined bantamweight history behind Patrick Williams’ 23-second finish at UFC 188.

Joe Soto (18-6 MMA, 3-4 UFC) suffered his fourth loss in his past six fights.

Soto suffered just the second submission loss of his career and his first since Aug. 5, 2011 – a span of 2,311 days (more than six years) and 14 fights.

Preliminary card

Montana De La Rose

Montana De La Rosa (8-4 MMA, 1-0 UFC) has earned all of her career stoppage victories by submission.

Christina Marks (8-9 MMA, 0-1 UFC) has suffered seven of her nine career losses by submission. All of her career stoppage losses are by submission.

Ryan Janes (10-3 MMA, 2-2 UFC) has earned eight of his 10 career victories by stoppage.

Janes earned the first knockout victory of his career.

Ryan Janes

Janes and Andrew Sanchez (9-4 MMA, 2-2 UFC) combined for 255 significant strikes landed, a new single-fight record for a UFC middleweight bout.

Karine Gevorgyan (3-3 MMA, 0-1 UFC) has suffered all three of her career losses by stoppage.

Ariel Beck (4-5 MMA, 0-1 UFC) suffered her third consecutive loss to extend the longest skid of her career. She earned her first victory since March 2016.

Beck suffered the first knockout loss of her career.

Shana Dobson (3-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC) earned the first knockout victory of her career.

Gillian Robertson (4-2 MMA, 1-0 UFC) has earned all of her career stoppage victories by submission.

Emily Whitmire (2-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC) has suffered both of her career losses by submission.

For complete coverage of The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

FightMetric research analyst and live statistics producer Michael Carroll contributed to this story. Follow him on Twitter @MJCflipdascript.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Ryan Janes glad to be 'back into relevance' with TUF 26 Finale win over tough Andrew Sanchez

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LAS VEGAS – Riding a two-fight skid into Friday’s TUF 26 Finale, Ryan Janes knew he was in a delicate spot.

But Janes (10-3 MMA, 2-2 UFC) made sure to rise to the occasion, surviving an early onslaught to score a third-round TKO over heavy favorite Andrew Sanchez (9-4 MMA, 2-2 UFC). Janes not only beat the odds – he did it in exciting fashion. And he believes he sent a message to his fellow middleweights in the process.

“Sanchez is a tough dude,” Janes told reporters backstage at Park Theater in Las Vegas. “(He was a) ‘TUF 23’ winner. Talented wrestler. With a great team, with John Wood over at Syndicate. I think this totally kind of puts me back into relevance. I’m actually a force to be reckoned with. If you don’t come in ready for me, you’re not going to take me out, so to speak.”

Janes believes he “100 percent” saved his career by wining the FS1-televised preliminary card bout. But, still, he wasn’t about to let the do-or-die status of his situation psych him out.

“I knew I had to win this one, but my attitude is pretty jovial,” Janes said. “It was more like, ‘I deserve to be here and I need to prove it.’ The one before this one was close, I almost had the finish. I finally got out with this one. For me, it was about myself. About proving I deserve to be in the UFC.

“I’m one of the best middleweights. One of the best middleweights in Canada. It’s just good to get a win over a ‘TUF’ winner, a tough guy, a known great fighter. So that was the biggest thing for me.”

Janes has now evened out his UFC record. His only octagon win to date had been on his debut, in December 2016, when he scored an unanimous decision over UFC Fight Night 102 opponent Keith Berish. He dropped consecutive losses to Gerald Meerschaert and Jack Marshman after that.

Of course, Friday’s win wasn’t exactly easy. In fact, for a few seconds, it seemed like Janes would be out of there quite quickly. But, confident in both his cardio and his toughness, Janes returned from Sanchez’s first-round storm all the more confident.

“If someone doesn’t put me away in the first, I’m not tired: they are,” Janes said. “They don’t have that in the second, no way. So you just – confident, keep doing what you do, push through it.

To hear more from Janes, check out the video above.

And for complete coverage of The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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TUF 26 Finale Athlete Outfitting pay: Montano, Modafferi get $30k each for title fight

LAS VEGAS – Fighters from Friday’s Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale event took home UFC Athlete Outfitting pay, a program that launched after the UFC’s deal with Reebok, totaling $112,500.

The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale took place at Park Theatre in Las Vegas. The card aired on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

Leading the way were inaugural UFC women’s flyweight title participants Nicco Montano (4-2 MMA, 1-0 UFC) and Roxanne Modafferi (21-14 MMA, 0-2 UFC), who each received $30,000 for going into a championship bout as a non-titleholder.

The full UFC Fight Night 122 UFC Athlete Outfitting payouts included:

Nicco Montano: $30,000
def. Roxanne Modafferi: $30,000

Sean O’Malley: $2,500
Terrion Ware: $2,500

Lauren Murphy: $2,500
def. Barb Honchak: $2,500

Gerald Meerschaert: $2,500
def. Eric Spicely: $2,500

DeAnna Bennett: $2,500
vs. Melinda Fabian: $2,500

Brett Johns: $2,500
def. Joe Soto: $5,000

Montana De La Rosa: $2,500
def. Christina Marks: $2,500

Ryan Janes: $2,500
def. Andrew Sanchez: $2,500

Rachael Ostovich: $2,500
def. Karine Gevorgyan: $2,500

Shana Dobson: $2,500
def. Ariel Beck: $2,500

Gillian Robertson: $2,500
def. Emily Whitmire: $2,500

Under the UFC Athlete Outfitting program’s payout tiers, which appropriate the money generated by Reebok’s multi-year sponsorship with the UFC, fighters are paid based on their total number of UFC bouts, as well as Zuffa-era WEC fights (January 2007 and later) and Zuffa-era Strikeforce bouts (April 2011 and later). Fighters with 1-5 bouts receive $2,500 per appearance; 6-10 bouts get $5,000; 11-15 bouts earn $10,000; 16-20 bouts pocket $15,000; and 21 bouts and more get $20,000. Additionally, champions earn $40,000 while title challengers get $30,000.

In addition to experience-based pay, UFC fighters will receive in perpetuity royalty payments amounting to 20-30 percent of any UFC merchandise sold that bears their likeness, according to officials.

Full 2017 UFC-Reebok sponsorship payouts:

Year-to-date total: $5,662,500
2016 total: $7,138,000
2015 total: $3,185,000
Program-to-date total: $15,985,000

For complete coverage of The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Fight Tracks: The walkout songs of the TUF 26 Finale with the Eminem Curse back again

While it take intense training, world-class skills and maybe even a bit of luck to register a UFC win, picking the right song to accompany you to the cage is a key talent, as well.

See what the fighters of Friday’s The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale event in Las Vegas, went with as their backing tracks.

* * * *

Nicco Montano def. Roxanne Modafferi via unanimous decision (50-45, 49-46, 49-46)

Nicco Montano: “NDN Kars” by Keith Secola

Roxanne Modafferi: “Dragula” by Rob Zombie

Sean O’Malley def. Terrion Ware via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Sean O’Malley: “Party and Bull(expletive) in the USA” by The Notorious B.I.G. and Miley Cyrus

Terrion Ware: “Amazing” by Kanye West feat. Young Jeezy

Lauren Murphy def. Barb Honchak via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)

Lauren Murphy: “Memories” by David Guetta feat. Kid Cudi

Barb Honchak: “Good Girls” by Elle King

Gerald Meerschaert def. Eric Spicely via TKO (body kick) – Round 2, 2:18

Gerald Meerschaert: “Ante Up” by M.O.P.

Eric Spicely: “Cry, Cry, Cry” by Johnny Cash

DeAnna Bennett vs. Melinda Fabian ruled a majority draw (29-27, 28-28, 28-28)

DeAnna Bennett: “Relax” by Peaches

Melinda Fabian: “In the Air Tonight” by Nonpoint

Brett Johns def. Joe Soto via submission (calf slicer) – Round 1, 0:30

Brett Johns: “I’m Shipping Up To Boston” by Dropkick Murphys

Joe Soto: “We Right Here” by DMX

Montana De La Rosa def. Christina Marks via submission (armbar) – Round 1, 2:00

Montana De La Rosa: “My Time” by Fabolous

Christina Marks: “Till I Collapse” by Eminem

Ryan Janes def. Andrew Sanchez via TKO (punches) – Round 3, 0:58

Ryan Janes: “The Islander” by Navigators

Andrew Sanchez: “Big News I” by Clutch

Rachael Ostovich def. Karine Gevorgyan via submission (armbar) – Round 1, 1:40

Rachael Ostovich: “Girl On Fire” by Alicia Keys

Karine Gevorgyan: Unknown by Djivan Gasparyan

Shana Dobson def. Ariel Beck via TKO (punches) – Round 2, 2:53

Shana Dobson: “Walk” by Young M.A.

Ariel Beck: “Just a Girl” by No Doubt

Gillian Robertson def. Emily Whitmire via submission (armbar) – Round 1, 2:12

Gillian Robertson: “P.I.M.P.” by 50 Cent

Emily Whitmire: “This is Me” by Tech N9ne

For complete coverage of The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

The Blue Corner is MMAjunkie‘s official blog and is edited by Mike Bohn.

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TUF 26 Finale results: Ryan Janes survives near finish, TKOs Andrew Sanchez in third

LAS VEGAS – In an early “Fight of the Night” contender, Ryan Janes (10-3 MMA, 2-2 UFC) survived a vicious first-round assault from Andrew Sanchez (9-4 MMA, 2-2 UFC) only to battle back and score his own third-round TKO.

The middleweight bout was part of the preliminary card of today’s The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale event at Park Theater in Las Vegas. It aired on FS1 following an additional prelims on UFC Fight Pass and ahead of a main card on FS1.

While Janes pushed forward to start, it was Sanchez who stayed busiest on the feet, firing out big punches and landing a massive kick to the body. Sanchez followed with an easy takedown, but Janes popped quickly back to his feet. Sanchez showed little respect for his opponent’s striking, absorbing a few jabs for the opportunity to fire big counters. A huge right hand sent Janes to the floor, but he somehow crawled back to his feet amid a flurry of shots from his opponent. Sanchez continued to rifle off heavy shots that seemed destined to end the fight, but Janes refused to go away.

Sanchez had to pace himself a bit to avoid exhausting himself from constant punching, but he remained the one landing the heavier shots, slipping Janes’ attacks and landing powerful counters. Janes showed incredible resolve, always moving forward and pumping out a jab that did find its mark quite often. In fact, it seemed Janes was actually gaining momentum as the opening round came to a close on the feet.

Janes was again the aggressor to start the second, landing a nice knee inside and again popping out the jab. Sanchez eventually turned to his wrestling to take the fight to the floor, but Janes again just popped back to his feet with little resistance. Sanchez appeared to tire as the round wore on, and Janes seemed only to gain momentum in return. Sanchez still fired the bigger punches, but Janes began to overwhelm him with volume. An ill-timed Janes knee saw Sanchez get a takedown, but Janes again returned to his feet with no concern and continued his unlikely assault.

Sanchez looked for a takedown immediately to start the third but was unsuccessful. Visibly fatigued, another tired shot came shortly after. Janes had little trouble pushing him away and unleashing a barrage of blows that saw Sanchez cower against the cage until the fight was waved off, completing an epic comeback.

“I knew Andrew was a tough guy going in, but I knew I had the better cardio,” Janes said after the win. “I feel I executed my gameplan to perfection and I put on a performance for the fans, and I feel I deserve that post-fight bonus.”

Up-to-the-minute TUF 26 Finale results include:

For complete coverage of The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

(MMAjunkie’s John Morgan and Ken Hathaway contributed to this report on site in Las Vegas.)

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Source: MMA Junkie

10 reasons to watch TUF 26 Finale, with a new headliner/title challenger (Updated)

(This story was originally published on 11/30/16.)

(UPDATED on 11/30/2017 at 4:30 p.m. ET to reflect the main-event change.)

The UFC crowns its first women’s flyweight champion tonight at The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale.

In a bit of a surprise, Nicco Montano faces former Invicta FC title challenger Roxanne Modafferi in the title bout. Montano, who was the No. 14 seed in the “TUF” tournament, was set to face No. 12 seed Sijara Eubanks, but Eubanks was hospitalized on weigh-in day and subsequently pulled from the card. With that, the No. 1 seed, Modafferi, whom Eubanks defeated in the semifinal round, moves in to the main event and gets a shot at UFC gold.

Montana punched her ticket to the title fight with upset wins over higher seeds in each round of the tournament, with her biggest win being her decision victory over former Invicta champion Barb Honchak in the semifinal round.

Honchak, the No. 2 seed in the tournament, now faces No. 3 seed Lauren Murphy, who weighed in as an alternate.

In the co-main event, Sean O’Malley meets Terrion Ware in a bantamweight bout.

The TUF 26 Finale takes place at Park Theatre in Las Vegas. The card airs on FS1 following one early prelim on UFC Fight Pass.

Here are 10 reasons to watch the event.

1. And new

Montano knew she was fighting for the inaugural UFC flyweight title at the TUF 26 Finale, but she didn’t know until weigh-ins that she was facing Modafferi.

Montano (3-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) took a tough path to the title fight. She opened the tournament with a decision win over Murphy before beating No. 6 seed Montana De La Rosa by decision. In her semifinal bout, Montano topped Honchak by decision. Modafferi (21-13 MMA, 0-0 UFC) earned her way to the semis with first-round TKO victories in her first two fights of the tourney. Eubanks upset her in the semis when she earned a unanimous decision win over the veteran fighter.

Modafferi, best known for her ground game, has made significant strides in her striking over the past few years. A pro since 2003, she has a major experience advantage in this matchup. She will also have a chip on her shoulder after missing out on a UFC deal following “TUF 18” and losing her shot at the Invicta FC flyweight title by split decision.

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Montano is a powerful fighter who showed a very well-rounded skill set. She’s proved extremely hard to take down and displayed excellent cardio. The 28-year old former King of the Cage flyweight champion also showed outstanding situational awareness for a fighter with only five pro bouts.

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2. Exciting, but some questions

O’Malley scored an impressive knockout win on a Dana White’s Contender Series card. The victory, the seventh stoppage of his eight-fight career, earned the 22-year-old a UFC contract. As impressive as the knockout was, O’Malley (8-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) displayed some traits that a more seasoned opponent might exploit. He gets that type of opponent in Ware (17-6 MMA, 0-1 UFC). The 31-year-old has nearly three times as many fights as O’Malley.

Ware lost his UFC debut to Cody Stamann by unanimous decision. During that fight, he showed good boxing skills that could give O’Malley trouble. The younger fighter was exciting to watch in his July bout, but he was reckless at times and showed little in the way of striking defense.

This bantamweight fight should play out on the feet, and it should give everyone a better idea as to where O’Malley stands early in his career.

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3. Coming up short

Tournament seeding is an inexact science, but when the UFC seeded Honchak (10-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) at No. 2 and Murphy (9-3 MMA, 1-3 UFC) at No. 3, it felt right. But upsets happen. Now the veteran combatants face off for pride, a spot in the flyweight rankings and a job in the UFC.

Honchak made it to the semis before she lost a decision to Montano. Murphy, who expected to face Honchak at some point in the “TUF” tournament, was bumped in the opening round by Montano.

Like the other fighters not competing for the title, these veterans have to be heartbroken over their missed opportunity. However, they need to move past that pain and strive to deliver their best so they can work toward the title shot that evaded them during the filming of “TUF.”

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4. Will the grapplers grapple?

Eric Spicely has lived and died by the choke as a UFC fighter. He has two first-round submission wins, one via rear-naked choke and another by triangle choke. Unfortunately, those victories are bookended by a guillotine loss to Sam Alvey and – in his most recent bout – a rear-naked choke submission defeat to Antonio Carlos Junior. Spicely, a BJJ black belt faces Gerald Meerschaert in a middleweight bout.

Like his opponent, Meerschaert knows something about submissions. Nineteen of his wins have come by tap-out, and he has been on the wrong end of submissions seven times in his career. His most recent fight, a July loss to Thiago Santos, was his first knockout defeat. Before the Santos bout, Meerschaert was riding a seven-fight winning streak.

As we know, when two grapplers meet, the fight tends to stay standing. Luckily, both of these men can strike, as well. Spicely (10-2 MMA, 2-2 UFC) has two knockout wins while Meerschaert (26-9 MMA, 2-1 UFC) has five KO victories.

5. Former title contender looks to get in the mix

Bennett was 4-0 when she joined Invicta FC in 2014. After four more wins, she found herself in a title fight against strawweight champion Livia Renata Souza. Souza ended Bennett’s unbeaten streak with a first-round TKO. Bennett’s losing skid continued with split-decision losses to Modafferi and Jodie Esquibel.

Bennett (8-3 MMA, 0-0 UFC), an upbeat personality with a decent ground game, lost to Eubanks via first-round TKO in the quarterfinals of the “TUF 26” tournament. Her opponent, Melinda Fabian (4-3-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC), who dealt with a leg injury during the show, was submitted by Rachael Ostovich-Berdon in the opening round.

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Fabian, one of the better strikers in the “TUF” house, has losses to UFC fighters Katlyn Chookagian and Lucie Pudilova on her record.

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Like several other “TUF” fights on this card, this one will likely come down to where the scrap takes place.

6. Extend the streak

Joe Soto was fighting for his life at UFC Fight Night 89. The California-born fighter was 0-3 in the UFC heading into his matchup against Chris Beal. Soto submitted Beal in the third round. He followed that victory with two more wins. His most recent outing was a decision victory over submission ace Rani Yahya.

Soto looks to make it four in a row when he meets Brett Johns, a bantamweight rankings honorable mention on the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA bantamweight rankings.

Johns, a former Titan FC and Cage Warriors champion, is unbeaten. The Welshman racked up 14 takedowns in his two UFC bouts. Johns (14-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC) faces an opponent with solid takedown defense in Soto (18-5 MMA, 3-3 UFC), who has stopped 70 percent of his opponent’s takedown attempts.

7. Different strengths

De La Rosa entered “TUF 26” with a pro record of 7-4. Her most notable fights during that run were stoppage losses to Mackenzie Dern and Cynthia Calvillo. De La Rosa’s run in the “TUF” tourney came to an end with a bloody decision loss to eventual finalist Nicco Montano. A good wrestler with five submission victories, De La Rosa does her best work on the ground.

De La Rosa (7-4 MMA, 0-0 UFC) is matched up against Christina Marks. We didn’t get to see too much of Marks (8-8 MMA, 0-0 UFC) on the show since Emily Whitmire eliminated her via a quick submission. A pro since 2009, Marks is 8-8. Like De La Rosa, Marks’ biggest fights, against Alexis Dufresne and Sara McMann, ended in stoppage losses. A striker by trade, Marks’ weakest work comes on the ground.

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8. Keep an eye on the cardio

Andrew Sanchez looks like he has the tools to become a player in the middleweight division. The “TUF 23” champion has good takedowns, a heavy top game and a strong clinch game that he uses to take the fight to the mat. If there’s one knock against him, it’s his cardio.

Sanchez slowed in the third round of his most recent fight, and that might have been a contributing factor in his knockout loss to Anthony Smith. If Sanchez hasn’t shored up his cardio, he could find himself in trouble against Ryan Janes.

Janes (9-3 MMA, 1-2 UFC) doesn’t do any one thing particularly well, but he is aggressive and active on his feet. He also has a deep gas tank. If he can keep Sanchez (9-3 MMA, 2-1 UFC) at distance and avoid takedowns, Janes, who has lost his two most recent bouts, could give Sanchez trouble.

9. There’s no quitting in MMA

Whitmire injured her rib training for her first fight on “TUF.” Despite the injury, the 26-year-old was able to earn a quick submission win over Marks. Whitmire drew top-seeded Modafferi in her second bout. That fight ended with Whitmire on the wrong end of a first-round TKO stoppage. After the loss, she lamented that she gave up on herself, something she said she had done in the past.

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Whitmire (2-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) faces the more experienced, but younger Gillian Robertson in this contest. Robertson (3-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) dropped her opening round fight to Honchak via TKO, but unlike Whitmire, she hung tough even while Honchak laid into her with ground strikes.

Both of these women are better on the ground than on the feet, but the real key might be confidence. Knowing Whitmire has a history of breaking, don’t be surprised if Robertson pressures her opponent early in this contest.

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10. What about a challenger?

We know the UFC will crown the first women’s flyweight champion on this card. What we don’t know is if the UFC will name the first challenger for that title at this event. With the division slowly developing and a number of current UFC fighters mulling a move to 125 pounds, there is a possibility the new champion will find out who her first title defense will be against after she is awarded the belt.

For more on The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

10 reasons to watch TUF 26 Finale, where 2 underdogs emerged for a shot at gold

The UFC crowns its first women’s flyweight champion on Friday night at The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale.

If you guessed the two finalists would be No. 12 seed Sijara Eubanks and No. 14 seed Nicco Montano – and that they would get to the title fight by getting past the much more experienced, and much-higher seeded, Roxanne Modafferi and Barb Honchak – well, you’re very gifted in your fight picks.

Eubanks and Montano punched their tickets to the final the hard way, upsetting higher seeds in each round of the tournament. Eubanks toppled Modafferi in the semifinals. Montano got the best of Honchak in the semifinals, as well. Eubanks enters the title fight with a professional record of 2-2 while Montano is 3-2.

Modafferi and Honchak, meanwhile, face off on the main card.

In the co-main event, Sean O’Malley meets Terrion Ware in a bantamweight bout.

The TUF 26 Finale takes place at Park Theatre in Las Vegas. The card airs on FS1 following one early prelim on UFC Fight Pass.

Here are 10 reasons to watch the event.

1. And new

In an unexpected development, Eubanks and Montano overcame heavy odds to earn a shot at UFC gold.

Eubanks (2-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC), the No. 12 seed on the show, made her way to the final with a submission win over No. 5 seed Maia Stevenson, a knockout of No. 4 seed DeAnna Bennett and a unanimous decision over No. 1 seed Modafferi. Montano (3-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC), the No. 14 seed, took a similar path. She earned a decision win over No. 3 Lauren Murphy before beating No. 6 Montana De La Rosa by decision. In her semifinal bout, Montano topped former Invicta champ Honchak by decision.

Eubanks is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt who isn’t afraid to trade on the feet. The 32-year-old battled the scale throughout her stay in the “TUF” house, but that didn’t seem to affect her cardio in her only fight that went the distance.

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Montano is a powerful fighter who showed a very well-rounded skill set. She’s proved extremely hard to take down and displayed excellent cardio. The 28-year old former King of the Cage flyweight champion also showed outstanding situational awareness for a fighter with only five pro bouts.

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2. Exciting, but some questions

O’Malley scored an impressive knockout win on a Dana White’s Contender Series card. The victory, the seventh stoppage of his eight-fight career, earned the 22-year-old a UFC contract. As impressive as the knockout was, O’Malley (8-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) displayed some traits that a more seasoned opponent might exploit. He gets that type of opponent in Ware (17-6 MMA, 0-1 UFC). The 31-year-old has nearly three times as many fights as O’Malley.

Ware lost his UFC debut to Cody Stamann by unanimous decision. During that fight, he showed good boxing skills that could give O’Malley trouble. The younger fighter was exciting to watch in his July bout, but he was reckless at times and showed little in the way of striking defense.

This bantamweight fight should play out on the feet, and it should give everyone a better idea as to where O’Malley stands early in his career.

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3. Coming up short

Tournament seeding is an inexact science, but when UFC matchmakers seeded Modafferi (21-13 MMA, 0-0 UFC) No. 1 and Honchak (10-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) No. 2, it felt right. But upsets happen. Now the top two seeds face off for pride, a spot in the flyweight rankings and a job in the UFC.

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Like the other fighters not competing for the title, these veterans have to be heartbroken over their missed opportunity. However, they need to move past that pain and strive to deliver their best and secure a spot in the UFC so they can work toward the title shot that evaded them during the filming of “TUF.”

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4. Will the grapplers grapple?

Eric Spicely has lived and died by the choke as a UFC fighter. He has two first-round submission wins, one via rear-naked choke and another by triangle choke. Unfortunately, those victories are bookended by a guillotine loss to Sam Alvey and – in his most recent bout – a rear-naked choke submission defeat to Antonio Carlos Junior. Spicely, a BJJ black belt faces Gerald Meerschaert in a middleweight bout.

Like his opponent, Meerschaert knows something about submissions. Nineteen of his wins have come by tap-out, and he has been on the wrong end of submissions seven times in his career. His most recent fight, a July loss to Thiago Santos, was his first knockout defeat. Before the Santos bout, Meerschaert was riding a seven-fight winning streak.

As we know, when two grapplers meet, the fight tends to stay standing. Luckily, both of these men can strike, as well. Spicely (10-2 MMA, 2-2 UFC) has two knockout wins while Meerschaert (26-9 MMA, 2-1 UFC) has five KO victories.

5. Former title contender looks to get in the mix

Bennett was 4-0 when she joined Invicta FC in 2014. After four more wins, she found herself in a title fight against strawweight champion Livia Renata Souza. Souza ended Bennett’s unbeaten streak with a first-round TKO. Bennett’s losing skid continued with split-decision losses to Modafferi and Jodie Esquibel.

Bennett (8-3 MMA, 0-0 UFC), an upbeat personality with a decent ground game, lost to Eubanks via first-round TKO in the quarterfinals of the “TUF 26” tournament. Her opponent, Melinda Fabian (4-3-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC), who dealt with a leg injury during the show, was submitted by Rachael Ostovich-Berdon in the opening round.

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Fabian, one of the better strikers in the “TUF” house, has losses to UFC fighters Katlyn Chookagian and Lucie Pudilova on her record.

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Like several other “TUF” fights on this card, this one will likely come down to where the scrap takes place.

6. Extend the streak

Joe Soto was fighting for his life at UFC Fight Night 89. The California-born fighter was 0-3 in the UFC heading into his matchup against Chris Beal. Soto submitted Beal in the third round. He followed that victory with two more wins. His most recent outing was a decision victory over submission ace Rani Yahya.

Soto looks to make it four in a row when he meets Brett Johns, a bantamweight rankings honorable mention on the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA bantamweight rankings.

Johns, a former Titan FC and Cage Warriors champion, is unbeaten. The Welshman racked up 14 takedowns in his two UFC bouts. Johns (14-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC) faces an opponent with solid takedown defense in Soto (18-5 MMA, 3-3 UFC), who has stopped 70 percent of his opponent’s takedown attempts.

7. Different strengths

De La Rosa entered “TUF 26” with a pro record of 7-4. Her most notable fights during that run were stoppage losses to Mackenzie Dern and Cynthia Calvillo. De La Rosa’s run in the “TUF” tourney came to an end with a bloody decision loss to eventual finalist Nicco Montano. A good wrestler with five submission victories, De La Rosa does her best work on the ground.

De La Rosa (7-4 MMA, 0-0 UFC) is matched up against Christina Marks. We didn’t get to see too much of Marks (8-8 MMA, 0-0 UFC) on the show since Emily Whitmire eliminated her via a quick submission. A pro since 2009, Marks is 8-8. Like De La Rosa, Marks’ biggest fights, against Alexis Dufresne and Sara McMann, ended in stoppage losses. A striker by trade, Marks’ weakest work comes on the ground.

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8. Keep an eye on the cardio

Andrew Sanchez looks like he has the tools to become a player in the middleweight division. The “TUF 23” champion has good takedowns, a heavy top game and a strong clinch game that he uses to take the fight to the mat. If there’s one knock against him, it’s his cardio.

Sanchez slowed in the third round of his most recent fight, and that might have been a contributing factor in his knockout loss to Anthony Smith. If Sanchez hasn’t shored up his cardio, he could find himself in trouble against Ryan Janes.

Janes (9-3 MMA, 1-2 UFC) doesn’t do any one thing particularly well, but he is aggressive and active on his feet. He also has a deep gas tank. If he can keep Sanchez (9-3 MMA, 2-1 UFC) at distance and avoid takedowns, Janes, who has lost his two most recent bouts, could give Sanchez trouble.

9. There’s no quitting in MMA

Whitmire injured her rib training for her first fight on “TUF.” Despite the injury, the 26-year-old was able to earn a quick submission win over Marks. Whitmire drew top-seeded Modafferi in her second bout. That fight ended with Whitmire on the wrong end of a first-round TKO stoppage. After the loss, she lamented that she gave up on herself, something she said she had done in the past.

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Whitmire (2-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) faces the more experienced, but younger Gillian Robertson in this contest. Robertson (3-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) dropped her opening round fight to Honchak via TKO, but unlike Whitmire, she hung tough even while Honchak laid into her with ground strikes.

Both of these women are better on the ground than on the feet, but the real key might be confidence. Knowing Whitmire has a history of breaking, don’t be surprised if Robertson pressures her opponent early in this contest.

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10. What about a challenger?

We know the UFC will crown the first women’s flyweight champion on this card. What we don’t know is if the UFC will name the first challenger for that title at this event. With the division slowly developing and a number of current UFC fighters mulling a move to 125 pounds, there is a possibility the new champion will find out who her first title defense will be against after she is awarded the belt.

For more on The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Tournament final/inaugural title fight set as part of Friday's official TUF 26 Finale lineup

The 16-fighter tournament has been whittled down to two, and now the matchup to crown the inaugural UFC women’s flyweight champion at Friday’s The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale is set.

Sijara Eubanks(2-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) will face Nicco Montano (3-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) in the UFC’s first 125-pound female title fight, which headlines the FS1-televised fight card from Park Theatre in Las Vegas. Early prelims stream on UFC Fight Pass.

Eubanks and Montano came into “TUF 26” tournament as unheralded names with the No. 12 and No. 14 seeds, respectively. Once in the house, though, they proved to be much better than that.

Eubanks began her run with a submission victory over No. 5 seed Maia Stevenson. In the quarterfinals, she scored the most violent stoppage of the season with a head-kick knockout of No. 4 DeAnna Bennett. After consecutive stoppages, Eubanks went the distance in the semifinals, upsetting No. 1 Roxanne Modafferi by unanimous decision to punch her title to the title.

On the other side of the bracket, Montano made herself known immediately with a decision win over UFC veteran and No. 3 Lauren Murphy. She followed that up with a bloody victory over No. 6 Montana De La Rosa in the quarterfinals. Montano completely her run of upsets in the semifinals, defeating No. 2 Barb Honchak by unanimous decision.

Several other members of the “TUF 26” cast will fight at Friday’s event, including a main-card bout of semifinalists Modafferi (21-13 MMA, 0-1 UFC) vs. Honchak (10-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC), as well as Bennett (8-3 MMA, 0-0 UFC) vs. Melinda Fabian (4-3-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC).

Set for the televised preliminary portion of The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale is De La Rosa (7-4 MMA, 0-0 UFC) vs. Christina Marks (8-8 MMA, 0-0 UFC), Karine Gevorgyan (3-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) vs. Rachael Ostovich (3-3 MMA, 0-0 UFC), and Ariel Beck (4-4 MMA, 0-0 UFC) vs. Shana Dobson (2-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC).

Opening the event on UFC Fight Pass, Gillian Robertson (3-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) meets Emily Whitmire (2-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC).

The complete TUF 26 Finale lineup includes:

MAIN CARD (FS1, 10 p.m. ET)

PRELIMINARY CARD (FS1, 8 p.m. ET)

  • Montana De La Rosa vs. Christina Marks
  • Ryan Janes vs. Andrew Sanchez
  • Karine Gevorgyan vs. Rachael Ostovich
  • Ariel Beck vs. Shana Dobson

PRELIMINARY CARD (UFC Fight Pass, 7:30 p.m. ET)

  • Gillian Robertson vs. Emily Whitmire

For more on The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Tickets on sale today for The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale in Las Vegas

“The Ultimate Fighter 26” tournament will conclude with crowning of an inaugural women’s flyweight champion, and tickets for the event go on sale today.

Featuring the historic title fight between yet-to-be-revealed competitors, The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale takes place Dec. 1 at Park Theater in Las Vegas and airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

Tickets are priced at $150, $100, $75 and $50. They go on sale to the general public Friday at 10 a.m. PT on Ticketmaster.com.

UFC newsletter subscribers have access to a special pre-sale beginning Thursday at 10 a.m. PT, while UFC Fight Club members can purchase tickets Wednesday at 10 a.m. PT.

In addition to the championship bout,“TUF 23” light heavyweight winner Andrew Sanchez (9-3 MMA, 2-1 UFC) will take on Ryan Janes (9-3 MMA, 1-2 UFC) .

The latest TUF 26 Finale card includes:

  • TBA vs. TBA – for inaugural women’s flyweight title
  • Ryan Janes vs. Andrew Sanchez
  • Gerald Meerschaert vs. Eric Spicely
  • Sean O’Malley vs. Terrion Ware
  • Brett Johns vs. Joe Soto

For more on The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

'TUF 23' winner Andrew Sanchez meets Ryan Janes at TUF 26 Finale in December

The next edition of the live finale of “The Ultimate Fighter” has its latest fight booking, and it features a past “TUF” winner.

“TUF 23” light heavyweight winner Andrew Sanchez (9-3 MMA, 2-1 UFC) will take on Ryan Janes (9-3 MMA, 1-2 UFC) at the TUF 26 Finale in December. UFC officials recently announced the new booking.

The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale takes place Dec. 1 at Park Theatre in Las Vegas. The event will air on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

“El Dirte” Sanchez won “TUF 23” at light heavyweight with a unanimous decision over Khalil Rountree in July 2016. Then he returned to middleweight and took a decision from Trevor Smith at UFC Fight Night 102 this past December. But in April, he had his four-fight winning streak snapped with Anthony Smith knocked him out after a head kick at UFC on FOX 24.

Ryan Janes

Janes is in need of a win. After starting his career 9-1, including a unanimous decision over Keith Berish at UFC Fight Night 102, he has dropped back-to-back fights. At UFC Fight Night 105 in February, he was submitted by Gerald Meerschaert. And at UFC Fight Night 113 in Scotland in July, he dropped a decision to Jack Marshman. The losses were the Canadian’s first since 2009.

With the addition, the latest TUF 26 Finale card includes:

  • Gerald Meerschaert vs. Eric Spicely
  • Sean O’Malley vs. Terrion Ware
  • Ryan Janes vs. Andrew Sanchez

For more on The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie