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.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Friendship with Emily Whitmire almost made it easier to fight her, says Gillian Robertson

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LAS VEGAS – From sharing a bunkbed to sharing a UFC debut, there was a shift in dynamics for “Ultimate Fighter 26” teammates Gillian Robertson and Emily Whitmire.

But for Robertson (2-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC), who tapped Whitmire (2-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC) in the first round of their TUF 26 Finale encounter Friday, that was not an issue.

“To me, it’s just a sport,” Robertson told reporters after the women’s flyweight bout, which streamed live on UFC Fight Pass from Park Theater in Las Vegas. “So it’s like going into a football game. You don’t hate the other team.

“I don’t hate Emily. I would still go hang out with her right now after the fight. I have all the respect in the world for Emily and she’s a great opponent for me.”

In fact, while going up against someone who she shared a room with for six weeks was certainly an “interesting twist,” Robertson believes it might have even worked to ease possible octagon jitters.

“I feel like it almost made it easier that we did have a friendship between each other, because it’s like we’re sparring partners, almost,” Robertson said. “You’re friends with them, you punch them in the face. It’s just a little bit more comfortable.”

With a first-round armbar win kicking off her UFC career, Robertson has certainly come a long way from the fighter who somewhat unexpectedly got into MMA at 16. But, as “unreal” as it is to see the hard work of the past years pay off in such a major way, 22-year-old Robertson knows it’s just the beginning.

“I know that I do have potential to be a champion,” Robertson said. “I do have potential to be great. And that’s all I aspire to be.”

Feeling “100 percent” after the bout, the flyweight is eager to get back to doing what she loves – fighting, that is – as soon as possible. And, while she’s had quite a few fights at strawweight, a more grown-up Robertson believes she now belongs to the 125-pound roster.

Where she doesn’t really seem to belong anymore, though, is at Chili’s – where Robertson worked part-time as a hostess before starting her “TUF 26” run.

“I just get to focus on what I love right now,” Robertson said. “So it’s absolutely awesome. It’s almost like I don’t have a job. But this is my job. It’s great. I love it more than anything.”

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

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

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

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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Source: MMA Junkie

TUF 26 Finale results: Gillian Robertson taps 'TUF' teammate Emily Whitmire in first

LAS VEGAS – In a battle of fellow Team Gaethje contestants, 22-year-old Gillian Robertson (4-2 MMA, 1-0 UFC) looked composed and confident en route to a first-round submission of Emily Whitmire (2-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC).

The women’s flyweight bout opened up the preliminary card of today’s The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale event at Park Theater in Las Vegas. It streamed on UFC Fight Pass ahead of additional prelims and a main card on FS1.

Whitmire took the center to start the bout and instantly came out firing punches, but Robertson was happy to strike back, finding success with counters before shooting inside and taking the fight to the floor in the opening minute. As Whitmire looked to return to her feet, Robertson happily slipped to the back and began hunting for the choke, which Whitmire defended well until she could spin inside and take top position. Unfortunately for Whitmire, it didn’t work to her advantage.

Robertson instantly began to hunt for an armbar from her back, and while Whitmire defended the initial attempt, her opponent adjusted her angle of attack and was able to extend the limb, earning a tap at the 2:12 mark of the first frame.

“This means the world to me,” Robertson said after the win. “This is just the beginning, and this is what I’ve worked my entire life for, and I’m on the way to the top now.”

Robertson is now 4-1 in her past five official appearances, with her lone loss in that stretch coming via decision to current UFC strawweight contender Cynthia Calvillo.

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

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

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.)

Filed under: News, UFC
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

Episode No. 9 recap: 'The Ultimate Fighter 26: A New World Champion'

Episode No. 9 of “The Ultimate Fighter 26: A New World Champion” opens with the fighters getting ready to turn the page to the quarterfinal round. First, though, is some entertainment outside the house.

UFC President Dana White rents the coaches and cast members a boat for a tour of Lake Las Vegas. The fighters are able to blow off some steam before the competition resumes.

Preparation for the quarterfinals begins, and in the first matchup No. 1 Roxanne Modafferi meets No. 8 Emily Whitmire. Both are members of Team Gaethje, and coach Justin Gaethje decides he’s going to remove himself from preparation of both fighters. Instead, the assistant coaches are divided to benefit both.

Modafferi believes her experience and well rounded ability are going to lead her to victory, and she hopes to debut a special spinning backfist in the matchup.

At the weigh-in, Modafferi and Whitmire come in under the 126-pound flyweight limit. A respectful staredown follows, and the first quarterfinal tournament bout is official.

Fight day arrives. Modafferi and Whitmire 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 next tournament fight is underway.

#1 Roxanne Modafferi (21-13) vs. #8 Emily Whitmire (2-1)

Round 1 – They get into a early exchange, but nothing lands clean. Whitmire starts landing the jab and her straight right. Modafferi is standing in the pocket and pressuring with kicks and her jab. Both fighters connect with punches. Modafferi goes for a spinning backfist, but Whitmire gets out of the way and moves into a body lock position. She’s holding Modafferi against the fence and attempts to drag the fight to the ground. Modafferi keeps upright and eventually reverses the position. Modafferi lands some knees to the body and trips Whitmire down to the canvas. Modafferi is working from half guard before finally advancing to mount. Whitmire gives up her back and Modafferi begins to work for the rear-naked choke. Whitmire attempts to scramble free, but Modafferi keeps control and ends up in the mount. Modafferi begins to land some heavy elbows from on top, forcing Whitmire to give up her back again. Modafferi opens up with more heavy shots just as the 10-second warning sounds. The referee gives a warning to Whitmire to escape, but she’s can’t. Modafferi lands more shots and gets the stoppage with one second remaining.

Roxanne Modafferi def. Emily Whitmire via TKO (punches, elbows) – Round 1

“I feel awesome right now,” Modafferi says after becoming the first fighter to advance to the semifinals. “I feel very proud of myself for my fight. I feel I showcased some of my standup, good movement, and I’m just happy I could get the win. This is my third mount TKO in a row.”

Whitmire is emotional after the fight and blames herself for the outcome, saying she was hoping the fight would be stopped because she didn’t want to fight a second round. Whitmire says she needs to “work on digging in and figuring it out.”

With the first quarterfinal matchup in the books, focus shifts to the second quarterfinal match. This time it’s Team Alvarez teammates who face off, with No. 4 DeAnna Bennett scheduled to take on No. 12 Sijara Eubanks.

Bennett and Eubanks are friends and roommates in the house. They aren’t thrilled over the fact they have to fight each other.

During practice, coach Eddie Alvarez tells Bennett and Eubanks he’s not going to help either of them prepare for the upcoming fight. Similar to Team Gaethje, he will remove himself from the situation and allow the assistant coaches to provide help for each side.

A familiar narrative begins to emerge with Eubanks as the fight gets closer. She’s physically the largest athlete in the tournament and nearly missed weight for her opening-round bout. The cut goes well until the final moments, where there’s serious doubt about whether Eubanks will shed her final pound.

At the official weigh-in, Bennett comes in under the 126-pound flyweight limit. Eubanks, however, comes in at 126.75 pounds on her first attempt. Team Gaethje’s Lauren Murphy immediately jumps in the sauna and begins losing weight in the event Eubanks can’t fight.

Eubanks enters the sauna and forces Murphy to leave because it’s Team Alvarez’s training time. That flares up another conflict between Murphy and coach Alvarez, but Murphy decides to use alternative methods of cutting weight.

At the end of the one-hour weigh-in period, Eubanks makes her second weigh-in attempt. Eubanks hits the 126-pound flyweight limit, and the matchup with Bennett is now official. A friendly staredown follows.

Fight day arrives. Bennett and Eubanks 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 next tournament fight is underway.

#4 DeAnna Bennett (8-3) vs. #12 Sijara Eubanks (2-2)

Round 1 – Eubanks opens with a hard right hand. Bennett is being mobile and uses good foot movements to evade the heavy shots with her speed. Bennett presses forward and tags Eubanks with a combination. Bennett forces her way into the clinch but breaks away with a knee. Bennett sneaks an uppercut inside, but as she moves away Eubanks throws a right hand that misses. She follows with a perfect left high kick that lands clean to the side of the head. Bennett goes down hard, and Eubanks walks off with the brutal highlight-reel knockout.

Sijara Eubanks def. DeAnna Bennett via knockout (head kick) – Round 1

“I got one more fight (in) this house, and I’m through the roof,” Eubanks says after her victory. “Every time I hit a challenge, I have a rough weight cut. I fight. I had a rough weight cut, and I fight. This time it’s coming together. It feels like the suns and the moons and the stars are lining up in my favor, and I just feel so unstoppable right now. I’m so pumped.”

After the fight, Modafferi, who will fight Eubanks in the semifinal round, approaches her upcoming opponent and tells her “I was really impressed with your technique. I’m really looking forward to fighting you.”

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. 8 recap: 'The Ultimate Fighter 26: A New World Champion'

Episode No. 8 of “The Ultimate Fighter 26: A New World Champion” opens with fight preparation for No. 9 seed Christina Marks of Team Alvarez, who fights No. 8 Emily Whitmire of Team Gaethje in the final opening-round tournament bout.

With Team Gaethje ahead 4-3 in wins so far in the tourney, it’s up to Marks to get a victory and even the playing field for Team Alvarez going into the next round.

Coach Eddie Alvarez has high praise for Marks’ striking but admits that, similar to several other fighters in the tournament, she doesn’t have much grappling or ground skills. Nevertheless, Alvarez said he can guide his fighter to victory.

Back at the “TUF” house, Team Alvarez’s Lauren Murphy is still fuming over her negative interactions with her head coach following her loss earlier in the season. She is debating putting in a request to switch teams and start training with Team Gaethje.

The next day, Murphy arrives at the gym and announces she wants to be part of Team Gaethje. Coach Justin Gaethje and his staff immediately welcome Murphy with open arms, and training gets off to a smooth start.

As Whitmire begins to turn up the intensity in training, she’s also being cautious not to agitate a rib injury that’s been lingering since early in the competition. Whitmire has the support of her good friend and former UFC champion Miesha Tate, who is in the gym as a guest coach. Tate agrees to corner Whitmire for her fight.

Once Team Gaethje finishes training and Team Alvarez arrives at the gym, Murphy takes coach Alvarez aside for a personal conversation. She tells him she’s been frustrated and thinks it would be better for her situation to move to the other team. The news doesn’t sit well with Alvarez, and he tells the rest of his fighters that a “cancer” and “disease” was just cut out of the team.

With that drama aside, it’s time for one of the most anticipated events of each season: the coaches’ challenge. For the first time in the history of the reality series, the coaches will face off in a swimming competition. Coaches Alvarez and Gaethje will have to swim 16 lengths in a 50-meter pool (Olympic-size). The winner gets $10,000, and $1,500 for each member of his team.

Both men are concerned about how they will perform in the race. Gaethje gets off to a quick start while Alvarez opts to pace himself. His strategy begins to pay dividends, and Gaethje slows down significantly after just a few laps. Alvarez takes over and wins in lopsided fashion, but Gaethje is determined to finish the race despite being blown out.

At the weigh-in, Marks and Whitmire come in under the 126-pound flyweight limit. An intense staredown follows, and the eighth opening-round tournament bout is official.

Fight day arrives. Marks and Whitmire 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 next tournament fight is underway.

No. 8 Emily Whitmire (2-1) vs. No. 9 Christina Marks (8-8)

Round 1 – Whitmire open by faking an overhand right then immediately shooting in for a takedown. She puts Marks on her back less than five seconds in and establishes half guard. Whitmire attempts to advances while Marks is looking to scramble and give up her back. Whitmire gets too high and falls over the top, but before Marks can escape, Whitmire locks on an armbar. She adjusts position and forces Marks to verbally submit, ending the shortest fight of the season.

Emily Whitmire def. Christina Marks via verbal submission (armbar) – Round 1

“There’s no words to describe the emotion I’m feeling right now,” Whitmire says afterward. “I couldn’t be happier with myself and with the team. Everything just worked out perfect.”

Team Gaethje takes a 5-3 lead in the competition with Whitmire’s victory. The opening round of the tournament has come to its conclusion, meaning the quarterfinals are up next. The quarterfinal matchups are set, and the field shakes out as follows:

Bracket A

  • No. 1 Roxanne Modafferi (Team Gaethje) vs. No. 8 Emily Whitmire (Team Gaethje)
  • No.  4 DeAnna Bennett (Team Alvarez) vs. No. 12 Sijara Eubanks (Team Alvarez)

Bracket B

  • No.  2 Barb Honchak (Team Alvarez) vs. No. 10 Rachael Ostovich (Team Gaethje)
  • No. 6 Montana Stewart (Team Gaethje) vs. No. 14 Nicco Montano (Team Gaethje)

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

'TUF 26' roundtable: Cast members reflect on season to date, preview what's to come

Filed under: Featured Videos, News, UFC, Videos

With “The Ultimate Fighter 26” on hiatus this week, apparently for some sort of baseball contest, take a moment to reflect on what’s happened thus far with a few of the season’s cast members.

“The Ultimate Fighter 26: A New World Champion” debuted on Aug. 30 and features 16 competitors angling for an opportunity to become the inaugural UFC women’s flyweight champion.

Under the leadership of former UFC lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez and former WSOF champ Justin Gaethje, there are currently nine athletes left in the competition, including No. 1 seed Roxanne Modafferi, who scored a TKO win over Shana Dobson, as well as No. 8 seed Emily Whitmire, who meets No. 9 seed Christina Marks in the final opening-round contest of the season.

Modafferi, Dobson and Whitmire all participated in the panel discussion, which took place at UFC headquarters in Las Vegas. Additionally, No. 5 seed Maia Stevenson, who suffered a disappointing upset submission loss to Sijara Eubanks earlier this year, also joined the roundtable.

Check out the video above to hear their thoughts on a variety of topics.

And to learn more about each of the fighters’ personal back stories, check out the videos below.

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

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