Episode No. 6 recap: 'The Ultimate Fighter 26: A New World Champion'

Episode No. 6 of “The Ultimate Fighter 26: A New World Champion” opens with a strength and conditioning session for Team Alvarez. Coach Eddie Alvarez brings in his personal coach to help the fighters, who are beginning to feel a bit worn down by the intensity of training.

Team Alvarez’s Lauren Murphy believes the coaching methods present some danger of overtraining, but nevertheless, the sessions continue. Barb Honchak, the #2 seed who meets #15 Gillian Robertson of Team Gaethje later in the episode, is beginning to ramp up the intensity of her fight preparation.

Honchak, the former Invicta FC flyweight champion, may be 37, but she is considered one of the favorites in the tournament, which is evident by her high seeding. Although Honchak hasn’t fought in more than two years, she feels primed and prepared to show why she was once considered the top 125-pound fighter in the world.

Focus shifts to Team Gaethje’s Robertson, who at 22 is the youngest fighter in the competition and 15 years the junior of her opponent. Coach Justin Gaethje begins to go over some strategy with Robertson, who he knows is lacking some confidence but urges her to use the entirety of her skillset, not just grappling.

Back at the TUF house, Melinda Fabian of Team Alvarez is struggling with some homesickness. She’s also dealing with a lingering leg injury, which she says has hindered her from training at 100 percent. She believes she can make weight and fight, but is having some doubts about the level at which she can fight.

Fabian visits the UFC Performance Institute in Las Vegas. She’s treated with massage therapy and cupping, and while her injury “is still very painful,” Fabian has not put any consideration into withdrawing from the competition.

At the weigh-in, Honchak and Robertson come in under the 126-pound flyweight limit. A friendly staredown follows, and the sixth opening-round tournament bout is official.

Fight day arrives, and Honchak and Robertson head to the TUF gym for their fight. They finalize preparation in the locker rooms with their respective coaching staffs before making the walk to the octagon. They enter the cage, and the sixth tournament fight is underway.

#2 Barb Honchak (10-2) vs. #15 Gillian Robertson (3-2)

Round 1 – They trade leg kicks to open the fight. Honchak moves forward while pumping the jab to the head and the body. Robertson is circling away and picking her shots. Honchak changes levels for a takedown and pushes Robertson’s back toward the cage. Robertson fights away from the fence and turns the position around. Robertson is controlling from inside the clinch but she can’t hold Honchak for long. They trade strikes off the break. Honchak is beginning to get loose with her hands and that forces Robertson to close the distance and force a clinch. Robertson is working knees and trip attempts but eats a hard knee to the gut which forces her to break away and back up. Robertson is clearly hurt but puts on a good poker face. Honchak changes levels and gets an easy double-leg takedown. Honchak begins to work from inside the guard. Robertson throws up an armbar attempt but her positioning isn’t right and Honchak avoids any real danger. Honchak passes to half guard and starts to land some hard blows which are slowing Robertson down. Honchak postures up and lands a flurry of strikes before the end of the round.

Round 2 – Honchak pounds Robertson’s thigh with a pair of leg kicks then follows with some hand combinations. Robertson shoots for a takedown but Honchak easily sprawls. Honchak muscles Robertson onto her back and is in a dominant top position. Honchak goes back to work from half guard as Robertson searches for submissions from her back. Honchak moves to side control and is working to isolate Robertson’s left arm for an Americana. Robertson powers through it and rolls Honchak over, but Honchak immediately stands up to escape the position. Robertson is driving for a single leg takedown against the fence but Honchak’s strength is once again too much and she’s powered onto the back. Honchak steps over into mount and is unleashes hard punches and elbows. The referee gives Robertson multiple warnings before stepping in and waving it off.

Barb Honchak def. Gillian Robertson via TKO (punches, elbows) – Round 2

“It felt good,” Honchak says after her victory. “I think everybody came in here looking at me. Now they know that I am what I was. They’re still looking at me, I think.”

Team Alvarez ties the competition 3-3 with Honchak’s victory. Team Gaethje takes control of fight selection, and with only two opening-round matchups remaining, coach Gaethje selects #10 Rachael Ostovich to go up against #7 Fabian of Team Alvarez next.

Also see:

Catch new episodes of “The Ultimate Fighter 26: A New World Champion” every Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET (7 p.m. PT) on FS1. MMAjunkie recaps each episode of the reality series.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Episode No. 4 recap: 'The Ultimate Fighter 26: A New World Champion'

Episode No. 4 of “The Ultimate Fighter 26: A New World Champion” opens with focus on No. 3 Lauren Murphy, who is fighting No. 14 Nicco Montano in the fourth opening-round tournament bout later in the episode.

Team Alvarez’s Murphy admits she’s had to stop and catch herself from looking too far ahead in the tournament when the most important fight is right ahead of her with Team Gaethje’s Montano. Murphy tells teammate Barb Honchak that she was already thinking about a fight between them prior to the start of the tournament, which creates some awkwardness.

During preparation, coach Eddie Alvarez calls Murphy a “coach’s dream.” He believes her four fights of UFC experience, which is more than all the rest of the tournament field combined, is a great advantage. Murphy says her well-rounded game is going to be too much for Montano to handle.

At the “TUF” house, Murphy, a former Invicta FC champion, opens up with some of her teammates about her troubled past. She discusses how her father passed away in a plane crash when she was young. That led her to a downward spiral of drug and alcohol abuse which resulted in an overdose. Murphy eventually got past her addiction and turned to a career in MMA.

Team Gaethje has its next training session, and Montano continues preparation for her upcoming fight. Despite only five pro bouts, Montano won a championship in the King of the Cage organization. UFC President Dana White calls Montano a “dark horse” in the tournament. Coach Justin Gaethje says the goal for Montano to turn it into a “dog fight.”

The official weigh-ins for the fight takes place, and both fighters come in under the 126-pound women’s flyweight limit. A tense staredown follows.

Fight day arrives, and the fourth tournament bout is nearly underway. Murphy and Montano finalize preparation with their coaches, and the athletes walk to the cage for the debut contest of the season.

#3 Lauren Murphy (9-3) vs. #14 Nicco Montano (3-2)

Round 1 – Murphy presses the action to begin the fight and is throwing combinations. Montano attacks with leg kicks and counter strikes. Montano is landing the better shots early, but Murphy is starting to settle in. Murphy works the jab, but Montano is coming at her with body and leg kicks. Murphy gets the clinch, but Montano pressures her against the fence. Montano misses with an elbow on the break, and Murphy takes the center of the cage. Montano lands a hard body kick followed by a grazing kick to the head. Murphy is struggling to find her range and is consistently being tagged with kicks. Murphy catches one of the kicks and turns it into a clinch situation. She attempts to drag Montano to the mat, but her takedowns are well defended. Montano is keeping busy with short punches and knees to the body before turning Murphy in the clinch. She works for a body-lock takedown of her own but has no success. They continue to battle in the clinch before separating. Murphy is starting to land some better shots before the end of the round.

Round 2 – Murphy is throwing with bad intentions to begin the round. Montano is keeping a solid range, but eventually they fight into the clinch. Murphy drops for a takedown. Her initial entry is stuffed, but she partially gets Montano down. Montano hammers Murphy with elbows before fighting her way back up to the feet. They are still in the clinch, and Montano is landing some good knees. Murphy refuses to disengage and is still fighting for takedowns. Montano refuses to go down and cuts Murphy open with a knee to the head. Montano lands more solid blows before turning Montano around. They finally separate from the clinch, and Montano lands a left kick to the body followed by a right hand. Murphy shoots for another takedown, but Montano has it easily scouted. Murphy is pressuring from the clinch, but she can’t get Montano down before the round ends.

Nicco Montano def. Lauren Murphy via unanimous decision (20-18, 20-18, 20-18)

“I did what I had to do to get the win,” Montano says after her stunning upset victory. “‘Whatever it takes’ is our team motto, and I think I demonstrated that pretty well tonight.”

Murphy, who is the first higher seed to fall so far in the tournament, becomes emotional back in the locker room.

“I’m tired of losing,” Murphy says. “I’m so (expletive) tired of losing. I was already coming off a loss coming into this showm and I thought maybe dropping to 125 was going to be the answer to all my problems, and clearly it’s not. I’m away from my family and I just miss them so much. It’s hard to go through a loss like this and be the upset in the show and not have them here to comfort me.”

Team Gaethje takes a 3-1 lead in the competition with Montano’s victory. Team Gaethje takes control of fight selection, and with his choice, coach Gaethje selects No. 5 Maia Stevenson to go up against No. 12 Sijara Eubanks of Team Alvarez next.

Also see:

Catch new episodes of “The Ultimate Fighter 26: A New World Champion” every Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET (7 p.m. PT) on FS1. MMAjunkie recaps each episode of the reality series.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Twitter Mailbag: Demetrious Johnson chases UFC history, makes a questionable nickname change

Should the UFC flyweight champ be worried about his challenger making weight for a potentially historic bout? Are we buying “Mighty” as a new nickname? Is Reebok finally taking some strides in the right direction?

All that and more in this week’s Twitter Mailbag. To ask a question of your own, tweet to @BenFowlkesMMA.

In order for Demetrious Johnson to “fix” it, he’d first have to care about it. If we can believe anything he’s said in the past, he doesn’t. He feels like he’s made his case, he does what he does, and either you want to watch him or you don’t.

So sure, if we need to assign blame, we can give him his portion based on that. Then again, if you’re paying close attention you’ll see he gives us a lot of the stuff we say we want from fighters.

Finishes? He put away two of his last three challengers, and six out of 10 overall. Mic skills? Here he is explaining how pretty he looks after a successful title defense, and here he is calling out Chael Sonnen and Conor McGregor. You want an aggressive mean steak? Here he is telling Herb Dean to get out of the way so he can keep beating up John Dodson even after being kicked in the junk.

Anyone who has interviewed the man can tell you, Johnson is not boring to listen to. One problem might be that, aside from his social media presence, which is great if you’re into video game streaming stuff and maybe not so much otherwise, we don’t get a chance to hear from him that often. The only time he really gets the mic is right before and right after his fights, then he goes back to being ignored.

Still, that doesn’t explain it all. Part of it is his size. The same way people will watch even garbage heavyweights, just because they’re so mesmerized by the spectacle of all that power, they’re less interested in the smallest fighters, even when they’re basically modern-day ninjas.

Part of it is also the entrenched narrative surrounding him. The story with him is always that he’s so good, yet so few people seem to care. Even UFC President Dana White has complained about it. It’s a guaranteed discussion point before every title defense, and it kind of has to be, but it doesn’t exactly make people want to check out his fight.

As for what he could do to fix it, clearly winning a bunch of fights isn’t enough. Neither is dominating and finishing people. Neither is straight-up telling us how great (and pretty) he is. Unless he feels like gaining roughly 100 pounds, I’m at a loss.

Ray Borg has missed weight for two of his last four flyweight fights, so yeah, it has to be a concern. But unlike T.J. Dillashaw, Borg has also made the flyweight limit many, many times in his career. As in, way more times than he’s missed it. So at least we know he’s capable of it, which we didn’t know about Dillashaw.

Sorry, no, I just can’t sit here and pretend like that’s his nickname now. I get that “Mighty Mouse” is a copyright-protected character, but if he’s going to change up, he needs to change all the way up. A lot of people can go by “Mighty.” People with the last name Johnson are not among them.

Personalized gear is a huge improvement. Ideally, it wouldn’t be something reserved for champions and headliners, since it’s usually those lower down on the totem pole who are most in need of a way to stand out, but still.

You might recall that personalized merchandise was one of the early promises of the Reebok deal. Then we watched a bunch of fights between one dude in white-with-black shorts against another dude in black-with-white shorts, and gradually we lowered our expectations.

Things have improved since then, and it looks like they’re improving still. Hopefully that trajectory holds, because if you actually want to sell this stuff to fans of these individual fighters, you probably need to do more than just spell their names right.

Gilbert Melendez fought for the WEC back when it was still in single digits in terms of events. He fought for Shooto back when it was cool. He fought in PRIDE. He fought in the very first Strikeforce event. He fought in one of the last Strikeforce events.

The point is, Melendez had a whole well-traveled career’s worth of fights before he even got to the UFC. Now he’s 35, riding a three-fight losing streak, and the main question is how much longer he’ll try to hold on.

If he loses to Jeremy Stephens at UFC 215 on Saturday, that’s four straight, at which point it would make some sense to let him go. Of course, his old pal Scott Coker would probably love to reunite with him in Bellator, so there’s that to consider, too.

What I’m curious about is which Melendez we’ll see here. He can put his head down and brawl when he wants to. But then, Stephens would love that more than anything. Typically, the alternative for Melendez is to wall-and-stall, and that’s no fun to watch. But then, if your future might be on the line, maybe you don’t care so much what we want to see.

One of the things that I secretly like about MMA is that it will never get so mainstream or so corporate and professional that we won’t be able to find a bizarre event somewhere in the world filled with all manner of ridiculousness.

And, be honest, if I told you that a fighter in the UFC had jumped out of the cage after trading fouls with his opponent, you’d have to at least check a few websites before you felt sure enough to call me a liar.

Barb Honchak was the Invicta FC champ. Lauren Murphy’s been in the UFC since 2014. Roxanne Modafferi has fought all over the place, seemingly forever.

My point? There are some legit fighters on this season of “The Ultimate Fighter.”

But, OK, there are also some with far less experience. That’s par for the TUF course though, isn’t it? You can never accuse the producers of forgetting that it’s reality TV and not just an athletic competition. On every season there are people who are there to win and move on, and then there are people who are there to make things interesting. It’s been that way since the beginning, and it’ll be that way until TUF is finally cancelled in the year 2098.

Give it a few more months and it might turn out to be USADA’s sample cup.

Oh boy, where to even begin with this. First of all, does pointing out that someone is one of the best fighters in the world really count as “defending” him? Because apart from that, I can’t see what there is to defend Johnson from. He doesn’t run around committing crimes or failing drug tests. He doesn’t say a bunch of stupid stuff on Twitter. He doesn’t need much defending, as far as I can tell.

But then there’s the unstated premise of your question, which is that the MMA media should limit itself to covering only those topics that “mainstream fans” care about. So, basically, just wall-to-wall coverage of Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey, with a sprinkling of Jon Jones and Brock Lesnar.

And the thing is, there are already is tons of coverage of all those subjects. Any excuse to write about them, we do. But the media’s job isn’t just to accumulate clicks. The media has a responsibility to pursue and report relevant, meaningful stories. They won’t always be the most popular or profitable stories, but they’re still important, even if they occasionally get in the way of rehashing whatever was on McGregor’s Instagram page today.

Ben Fowlkes is MMAjunkie and USA TODAY’s MMA columnist. Follow him on Twitter at @BenFowlkesMMA. Twitter Mailbag appears every Thursday on MMAjunkie.

Filed under: Featured, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Meet 'The Ultimate Fighter 26' cast: Ex-Invicta FC champ Barb Honchak, who's been M.I.A. since 2014


Filed under: News, UFC, Videos

LAS VEGAS – “The Ultimate Fighter” returns tonight for its 26th season, which will culminate with the crowning of the inaugural UFC women’s flyweight champion.

MMAjunkie recently sat down with all 16 cast members. Watch the video above to get to know former Invicta FC champion Barb Honchak (10-2), who discussed why she hasn’t fought since 2014, the difficulty of leaving her terminally ill dog with her husband, and more.

“The Ultimate Fighter 26,” featuring former UFC and Bellator champion Eddie Alvarez and former WSOF champ Justin Gaethje as coaches, airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET on FS1.

Also see:

For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, visit the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: News, UFC, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie

Twitter Mailbag: Is Jon Jones now the biggest screw-up in MMA history?

Who’s the biggest screw-up in MMA history? Who was really being represented when an MMA fighter took on a boxer? And now that the circus is over, what actual MMA fight are we most looking forward to in the month ahead?

All that and more in this week’s Twitter Mailbag. To ask a question of your own, tweet to @BenFowlkesMMA.

* * * *

First of all, let’s examine what we mean by “(expletive) up,” and what it would really take to claim the top spot in a sport that has produced multiple felons, some of whom will likely spend the rest of their lives in prison.

Does committing horrible crimes against others make you a (expletive) up? Because if so, War Machine is definitely a frontrunner for the all-time title. Are we looking at the sheer scale of your (expletive) up? Because if that’s the case, how about Lee Murray being the alleged mastermind behind the biggest cash heist in history? Are we going for sheer dirtbag points? Then you have to at least mention former UFC heavyweight champ and vet Ricco Rodriguez and his “Celebrity Rehab” story about dragging what he thought was his girlfriend’s dead body into the driver’s seat of a car he wrecked, all to avoid punishment.

But I suspect that what Joe Rogan was talking about was the fighter who had done the most to squander immense talent with unforced errors outside the cage. And since Jon Jones has arguably the most talent to begin with, and since he may have just ruled himself ineligible for up to four years, yeah, it’s hard to argue with Rogan’s characterization.

As far as who comes in second by that metric, I’m tempted to say it’s Drew Fickett, whose list of (expletive) ups is pretty extensive. Everyone who ever trained with or fought him talks about him like his raw talent was almost limitless, but he did his best to sabotage almost every big opportunity he ever got. He went to jail instead of going on “The Ultimate Fighter.” He showed up to fight drunk. He got himself kicked out of the UFC on a win.

Did he have as much talent to squander as Jones does? Maybe not. But the thing that gets him on this list is that we never really got a chance to find out.

A little bit of all three, but in different amounts. The main entity that Conor McGregor represented in the ring this past Saturday night was himself. It was his personal brand on the line more than any other, and he represented it surprisingly well, considering the circumstances and the expectations.

He lost, but didn’t get embarrassed. He took it well and showed off the charisma that’s helped make him a star. If you showed up to watch this without any idea who he was or why he was famous, you probably went away feeling like you understood the appeal, at least a little.

But whether or not he wanted to, he was also representing the sport and the UFC. If he’d proven to be a feeble boxer, plenty of people would have used that to disparage the striking skills of all MMA fighters. If he’d gone and got himself disqualified with too many hammerfists to the back of the head, stories the next day would have focused on what thugs these UFC fighters were.

Instead, McGregor managed to put up a decent fight in someone else’s world. And it’s not like there are too many top boxers aching to try the same thing in reverse right now.

“Intriguing” is a very nice way of putting it. One week after a boxing mega fight that may or may not have shattered pay-per-view records, the UFC returns with Stefan Struve vs. Alexander Volkov in a fight that features nearly 14 combined feet of humanity competing for unclear stakes.

Is this a contender fight? Not really. Is it the setup to a contender fight? Maybe, if some of the guys higher up the list aren’t available. Will the current champ even care enough to fire up his UFC Fight Pass and watch it? Possibly, assuming he’s not fighting fires that day.

Basically the only reason it’s a main event is because the event is in Rotterdam and Struve is a local. Beyond that, and the sheer tonnage of humanity that will occupy the same cage at the same time, I can’t say there’s anything special going on here.

You’re joking, but you’re also not wrong. Right about the time I saw a boxer make his entrance while cosplaying as Grimace, I was reminded of all the weirdness that’s possible when you’re not hemmed in by Reebok fight kits. It made me miss the old days when Akihiro Gono could dress his cornermen up in evening gowns and Rich Franklin could show up looking like a damn ice cream cone.

Plus, I think we can agree that McGregor’s decision to have his cornermen all look like old-timey barbers ready to whip out the hot towels and straight razors was undeniably awesome. How are they supposed to go back to the Reebok jumpsuits after that? How are any of us?

Honestly? You probably could have convinced me that Clay Guida and Joe Lauzon did fight each other five years ago.

For all we know, it might be Joanna Jedrzejczyk herself who moves up and takes that women’s 125-pound belt from the eventual “TUF 26” winner. The thing that makes it hard to predict the future of that division is the fact that it was created so long after the two on either side of it. You had women fighting up or down a weight class from where they might be best suited, all because it was the only way to get into the UFC. Now this door is being opened, and it’s tough to say who’ll walk through it.

If I had to pick an early favorite, however, it’d probably be Barb Honchak, who held the 125-pound title in Invicta FC until an extended absence. If she can come back as good as she left, she’ll be tough to beat.

There are definitely more meaningful fights on the schedule, but man, Mike Perry vs. Thiago Alves at UFC Fight Night 116 has violence written all over it. Should be a fitting appetizer for the UFC debut of Gokhan Saki the following weekend.

It’s still too early to make too many sweeping assessments of WME-IMG’s purchase and whether it got in at the right time or price. Remember, it’s only been a little over a year since the sale. So far, we can’t say we’ve seen too many changes instituted by WME, apart from all the layoffs and the elimination of those cushy do-nothing jobs for retired star fighters.

The lack of pay-per-view draws ought to be somewhat concerning, but that well has a way of replenishing itself when given the right opportunity and environment. I’d be more worried about the potential legal and regulatory issues on the horizon. The UFC is only a few key lawsuits and/or legislative changes away from having its whole business model upended. Then there’s no telling what comes next.

I’m still unclear on what it would mean for McGregor to co-promote a UFC fight. Giving him equity in the company, sure, that’s simple enough, especially now that ownership shares are spread all over the place.

Putting his name on the canvas, as he did with the Mayweather fight? That seems like a play to his ego, especially because the company being promoted there – McGregor Sports and Entertainment – doesn’t actually appear to be doing anything else right now, at least as far as we can tell.

But playing to his ego, one way or another, is probably going to have to be part of the UFC’s attempt to lure him back. He needs to feel like he is taking a step forward rather than back, like he’s returning as a conqueror rather than just another wage-earner in the lesser-paying of the two major combat sports. And there’s only so much money the UFC can pay him and still turn a profit.

You’re preaching to the choir there, Molly. I guess it must be the same reason you can clinch and it’s an automatic sign that the ref needs to get involved. Compared to MMA, boxing is the sport that stops the fight right when it’s about to enter an interesting new phase. Let it give us an appreciation of what we have, even when it gets weird.

If I were going to pick the next MMA fighter to make a big, immediate splash in boxing, would I pick Jose Aldo – the guy known for his kicks and his somewhat flat personality? No, I can’t say that I would.

Ben Fowlkes is MMAjunkie and USA TODAY’s MMA columnist. Follow him on Twitter at @BenFowlkesMMA. Twitter Mailbag appears every Thursday on MMAjunkie.

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Episode No. 1 recap: 'The Ultimate Fighter 26: A New World Champion'

Episode No. 1 of “The Ultimate Fighter 26: A New World Champion” opens with a look back at preseason tryouts. A number of aspiring women’s flyweight fighters gather in Las Vegas in the hopes of joining the cast in order to vie for the inaugural 125-pound belt in the UFC.

UFC President Dana White discusses the tryouts, which attract more than 50 fighters from across the globe. White, along with matchmakers Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard, assess the athletes and decide on the 16 who will join the cast.

Fast forward and the fighters arrive at the “TUF” gym, where they are greeted by head coaches Eddie Alvarez and Justin Gaethje, who are scheduled to fight at the end of the season. White summarizes the stakes of the tournament via a satellite message, and the competition is officially underway.

The fighters change into training gear for coaches evaluations. Gaethje interviews each fighter on top of grappling and pad work sessions. He says his priority is to select those with mental toughness and durability.

Alvarez, meanwhile, has the fighters engage in a much more physical level of sparring. He wants to see the talent firsthand in a live-fight scenario and admits to being “shocked” by the level of talent on the cast.

At the conclusion of evaluations, Alvarez and Gaethje have the traditional coin toss to determine which team has the first fighter pick and which selects the first matchup. Alvarez wins the coin toss, and decides to pick the first fighter.

With his first overall pick, Team Alvarez selects former Invicta FC champ Barb Honchak, who is announced as the No. 2 seed. As a result, No. 15 seed Gillian Robertson joins Team Gaethje.

The rest of the fighters are selected, and the 125-pound tournament to determine the first UFC flyweight champion shakes out as follows:

Bracket A

Bracket B

With team selection finalized, Gaethje announces the first matchup: #1 Modafferi vs. #16 Dobson.

The fighters then visit the “TUF” house for the first time. A few of the athletes are awestruck by house and platform they are about to compete on. The intensity and focus is high as the fighters settle into their new living area.

Modafferi, who is the first female to ever make two appearances on the “TUF” reality series, is eager to make up for a poor effort on Season 18. She was eliminated in the first round, but has since excelled under the Invicta FC banner and wants to prove to the world that she doesn’t “suck anymore.”

At the first Team Alvarez training session, the coaching staff beings to work with Dobson, who is a sizable underdog to Modafferi with just three career fights. She calls herself the “best kept secret in MMA,” and coach Alvarez says the key to victory is to keep the fight standing.

Team Gaethje has its first training session, and right off the bat coach Gaethje brings in a special assistant coach. Former UFC women’s bantamweight champion Miesha Tate enters the gym. Tate was Modafferi’s coach on Season 18, and gives her some motivational words.

The official weigh-ins for the fight takes place, and both fighters come in under the 126-pound women’s flyweight limit. A respectful staredown follows.

Fight day arrives, and the first tournament bout has arrived. Modafferi and Dobson finalize preparation with their coaches, and the athletes walk to the cage for the debut contest of the season.

#1 Roxanne Modafferi (21-13) vs. #16 Shana Dobson (2-1)

Round 1 – They touch gloves and Dobson opens with a jab. Modafferi feints to close distance and inside, but Dobson backs her up with some straight punches. Modafferi is looking to close the distance but eats a wild hook from her opponent. Modafferi lands a body kick and Dobson responds with one of her own. Modafferi lands a jab then just misses with a spinning backfist. Modafferi continues to punch at a high rate and gets inside with a body lock. She slams Dobson to the canvas and lands in half guard after a brief scramble. Modafferi patiently works to advance position as Dobson looks to free herself from bottom. She attempts to explode free, but Modafferi instead advances to mount. Modafferi begins to land punches while Dobson is defending and trying to find an opening to escape. Modafferi postures and is landing heavy punches and elbows. The referee gives multiple warnings, but Dobson can’t get out of the mount. The referee waves it off and Dobson immediately stands up arguing that she was fine to continue. However, it’s too late.

Roxanne Modafferi def. Shana Dobson via TKO (strikes) – Round 1

“I’m so happy,” Gaethje says after his fighter’s win. “She was our first pick. We put a lot of confidence in her and a lot of trust by giving her that first fight, and she nailed it.”

The fighters return to the locker room and Modafferi begins to shed tears of joy.

“I feel spectacular right now,” Modafferi says. “I feel so proud of myself and like I redeemed myself after my last loss last time I was on ‘The Ultimate Fighter.’ I feel like I got to show more of what I built myself up too. … I’m thrilled with my win, but this is just the beginning. I’m going to make it to the end and become the champion.”

Team Gaethje moves to 1-0 on the season. Team Alvarez takes control of fight selection, and with his choice, coach Alvarez selects No. 4 Bennett to go up against No. 13 seed Gevorgyan of Team Gaethje next.

Catch new episodes of “The Ultimate Fighter 26: A New World Champion” every Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET (7 p.m. PT) on FS1. MMAjunkie recaps each episode of the reality series.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

'The Ultimate Fighter 26' cast revealed: Who's vying to become 1st UFC women's flyweight champ?

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The 16-fighter cast for Season 26 of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series was announced today, and a number of notables will be vying for the inaugural title in the newly formed women’s flyweight division.

“TUF 26,” which debuts Aug. 30 on FS1, will pit coaches and lightweight contenders Eddie Alvarez (25-8 MMA, 3-2 UFC) and Justin Gaethje (18-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) against each other as they attempt to lead one fighter to win the first 125-pound belt.

Among the notables on the cast are former Invicta FC flyweight champion Barb Honchak (10-2), “TUF 20” contestant Roxanne Modafferi (21-13) and four-fight UFC veteran Lauren Murphy (9-3).

The complete “TUF 26” cast includes:

For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: Featured, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie