Sean Shelby's Shoes: What's next for Nicco Montano and TUF 26 Finale's other winning fighters?

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“The Ultimate Fighter 26” came to a conclusion on Friday with the crowning of a new UFC champion.

The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale took place at Park Theatre in Las Vegas, and it aired on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass. In the headliner, Nicco Montano (4-2 MMA, 1-0 UFC) won the “TUF 26” tournament and the inaugural women’s flyweight crown with a unanimous-decision vivctory over veteran Roxanne Modafferi (21-14 MMA, 0-2 UFC).

While Montano’s win was the most significant on the card, other fighters, including Sean O’Malley (9-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC), Lauren Murphy (10-3 MMA, 2-3 UFC), Gerald Meerschaert (27-9 MMA, 3-1 UFC) and Brett Johns (15-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC), also picked up victories. Meanwhile, DeAnna Bennett (8-3-1 MMA, 0-0-1 UFC) and Melinda Fabian (4-3-2 MMA, 0-0-1 UFC) fought to a majority draw.

After every event, fans wonder whom the winners will be matched up with next. And with another night of UFC action in the rearview mirror, it’s time to look forward, put on a pair of Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard’s shoes, and play UFC matchmaker for The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale’s winning fighters.

* * * *

Brett Johns

Pedro Munhoz

Should fight: Pedro Munhoz
Why they should fight: It was clear after his first two UFC fights that Johns is a talent to watch in the bantamweight division. His 30-second submission victory over Joe Soto, however, legitimized the Welshman in a whole new light.

Johns quickly finished Soto with just the second calf-slicer submission in UFC history. It was a major statement against the former Bellator champ and UFC title challenger, and with 15 straight wins, Johns appears ready for the next level of competition at 135 pounds.

A showdown with Munhoz (15-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC), who’s also on the cusp of breaking through to the next level of the division thanks to a four-fight winning streak, could be just what the doctor ordered to give Johns his biggest test to date.

Gerald Meerschaert

Vitor Miranda

Should fight: Winner of Vitor Miranda vs. Julian Marquez at UFC on FOX 26
Why they should fight: Meerschaert delivered in the final fight of his UFC contract when he scored a thunderous body-kick knockout of Eric Spicely in their middleweight bout.

After fending off Spicely’s early submission attacks, Meerschaert found a home for his body kicks. He finally put his opponent down midway through the second round, and now Meerschaert enters free agency with three wins in four UFC fights, all of which came by stoppage.

Meerschaert excites every time he steps in the octagon, and that’s seemingly the type of talent the UFC would want to keep around. The promotion has let a variety of free agents walk over the past few years, though, so it’s no guarantee Meerschaert stays under the UFC banner for his next fight.

Assuming he does, there are some compelling bouts ahead at 185 pounds. The winner of the UFC on FOX 26 bout between Mirada (12-6 MMA, 3-3 UFC) and Marquez (6-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) would be suitable because, like Meerschaert, both men have a high finishing rate.

Lauren Murphy

Mara Romero Borella

Should fight: Mara Romero Borella
Why they should fight: It came by the skin of her teeth in the form of a split decision, but Murphy managed to get the job done in her official UFC flyweight debut against fellow ex-Invicta FC champ Barb Honchak.

After going 1-3 in her UFC bantamweight run, Murphy got the fresh start she was looking for after a frustrating “TUF 26” stint. She has championship aspirations, and though the bout could have easily gone the other way, Murphy beat a fighter who was once considered No. 1 in the weight class.

If Murphy wants the belt, though, she will need to produce more convincing victories going forward. Borella (12-4 MMA, 1-0 UFC) made a splash in her promotional debut at UFC 216 in October with a first-round submission of Kalinda Faria. Murphy could take that momentum away from her – or, oppositely, Borella could move to 2-0 in the UFC against another notable name.

Sean O’Malley

Patrick Williams

Should fight: Patrick Williams
Why they should fight: The first edition of “The Suga Show” in the UFC went off without any major hitches. O’Malley pushed his undefeated record to 9-0 with a unanimous-decision win over Terrion Ware in a fun bantamweight scrap.

O’Malley had high expectations entering the octagon after earning a UFC contract with a spectacular knockout at a Dana White’s Contender Series event. He didn’t produce the same type of finish against his most experienced foe to date in Williams, but he got a solid win that will only help the 23-year-old grow moving forward.

At such a young age and with tremendous potential, O’Malley should be getting a slow build from the UFC brass. Williams (8-5 MMA, 1-2 UFC) is certainly no pushover, but he’s been used in the past of gauge the ability of similar 135-pound prospects, including Tom Duquesnoy. He should be put in a similar spot for O’Malley.

Nicco Montano

Should fight: Valentina Shevchenko
Why they should fight: Watch the video above to see why Montano should fight Shevchenko (14-3 MMA, 3-2 UFC) in her first title defense.

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

How Gerald Meerschaert went about 'exploding' Eric Spicely's liver with shin at TUF 26 Finale

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LAS VEGAS – Gerald Meerschaert noticed The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale opponent Eric Spicely was taking his shots to the head quite well. So Meerschaert came to a conclusion.

“He’s got a pretty tough chin,” Meerschaert said after the main-card bout, which aired on FS1 from Park Theater in Las Vegas. “It usually works one way or the other, right? Either you’ve got a tough chin and a weak body. Or you’ve got a weak body and a tough chin.”

Whether or not you agree with Meerschaert’s (27-9 MMA, 3-1 UFC) logic, the fact is that his strategy paid off. After some trouble in the first round, thanks to his opponent’s notoriously dangerous grappling, the second frame saw Meerschaert’s striking prowess shine until a liver kick had Spicely (10-3 MMA, 2-3 UFC) folded onto the canvas.

The kick wasn’t just a lucky blow; Meerschaert looked to overload his opponent’s senses with numerous leg attacks. When an earlier body kick had Spicely wilting, Meerschaert got the opening he needed to proceed “exploding his liver with my shin.”

“The kick was just there and I knew I wasn’t going to get taken down off it,”  Meerschaert said. “And I know I’ve landed that body kick on a lot of good guys, a lot of times. I know if I can get that shin across your liver, it’s going to do some damage.

“Once I saw it open, I was like, ‘I’m going to make you (expletive) your pants. Or you’re going to quit. Something’s going to happen. Either way, it’s going to be awesome.’”

Granted, the kick probably wasn’t as awesome for fellow middleweight Spicely, who’s now on a two-fight losing skid. But it worked out pretty well for the viewers and for Meerschaert, who got a $50,000 “Performance of the Night” bonus out of it.

Meerschaert, who wasn’t yet aware of the post-fight bonus by the time he talked to reporters, is probably not mad about the extra money But, coming off a knockout setback to Thiago Santos into what was the last bout of his UFC contract, a finish over Spicely had him pretty happy already.

“Every fight is important, but especially that,” Meerschaert said. “I’m coming off a loss. We each have wins over coming opponents, but he beat the last guy I fought. So getting a finish on him looks really good on my resume. Like I said, the UFC is my home.

“I want to stay here the rest of my career. And I’m here to put on exciting fights and fight the toughest guys I can.”

To hear from Meerschaert, 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 bonuses: Nicco Montano, Roxanne Modafferi pick up $50,000 in title fight

LAS VEGAS – Nicco Montano, Roxanne Modafferi, Gerald Meerschaert and Brett Johns each earned $50,000 bonuses for their performances at Friday’s TUF 26 Finale event.

Montano, Modafferi earned the “Fight of the Night,” while Meerschaert and Johns each won “Performance of the Night” honors.

UFC officials announced the winners following the event, which MMAjunkie attended.

Montano (4-2 MMA, 1-0 UFC) topped Modafferi (21-14 MMA, 0-2 UFC) with a five-round unanimous decision to win the inaugural UFC women’s flyweigh title. Montano earned her spot in the final with a 3-0 run on Season 26 of “The Ultimate Fighter.” But Modafferi only got the fight after Sijara Eubanks was hospitalized with weight-cutting issues. Modafferi had lost in the semifinals.

Meerschaert (27-9 MMA, 3-1 UFC) took out Eric Spicely (10-3 MMA, 2-3 UFC) in their main-card middleweight fight with a sickening left kick to the liver. It dropped Spicely immediately, and the TKO came a second later.

Johns (15-0 MMA, 4-0 UFC) opened the main card with a rare submission against Joe Soto (18-6 MMA, 3-4 UFC) in their bantamweight fight. Johns caught Soto with a calf slicer and forced him to tap just 30 seconds into the fight.

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

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

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

TUF 26 Finale pre-event facts: Inaugural title fight comes with dubious footnote

The UFC will crown its 12th divisional champion Friday when the first UFC women’s flyweight titleholder is determined at The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale at Park Theatre in Las Vegas.

The UFC first announced the 125-pound weight class in May. Since then, 16 fighters have battled on “TUF 26” for the chance to compete for the inaugural championship.

That 16-woman field eventually narrowed to two as low-seeded Sijara Eubanks (2-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) and Nicco Montano (3-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) advanced through the tournament for the chance to compete for gold.

Check below for 20 pre-fight facts about the TUF 26 Finale, which airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

* * * *

Main event

Sijara Eubanks

Eubanks’ four pro fights are the second least for a participant in a UFC women’s title fight behind Rose Namajunas (three at TUF 20 Finale).

Eubanks has alternated wins and losses over her four-fight career.

Eubanks and Montano have suffered all four of their combined career losses by decision.

Eubanks vs. Montano is the first title fight in UFC history in which both participants are coming off losses in professional competition.

Montano competes for a UFC title just 742 days after her professional debut.

Remaining card

Roxanne Modafferi

Roxanne Modafferi (21-13 MMA, 0-1 UFC) returns to UFC competition for the first time since November 2013.

Modafferi is 6-2 since her initial UFC release.

Modafferi has earned 13 of her 21 career victories by decision.

Barb Honchak (10-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC), 38, is the oldest of the 22 fighters scheduled to compete at the event.

Honchak enters the event on a nine-fight winning streak. She hasn’t suffered an official defeat since September 2010.

Eric Spicely (10-2 MMA, 2-2 UFC) has earned both of his UFC victories by first-round submission in a total fight time of five minutes and 12 seconds.

Gerald Meerschaert

Gerald Meerschaert (26-8 MMA, 2-1 UFC) has earned 24 of his 26 carer victories by stoppage.

Meerschaert has earned both of his UFC victories by first-round submission.

Meerschaert is one of 10 fighters in UFC history to earn a submission victory by anaconda choke. He accomplished the feat at UFC Fight Night 102.

DeAnna Bennett (8-3 MMA, 0-0 UFC) enters the event on a two-fight skid. She hasn’t earned an official victory since September 2015.

Joe Soto’s (18-5 MMA, 3-3 UFC) three-fight UFC winning streak in bantamweight competition is tied for the third longest active streak in the division behind Jimmie Rivera (five) and Pedro Munhoz (four).

Soto is one of five fighters in UFC history to challenge for a title in his promotional debut. Gilbert Melendez, Liz Carmouche, Frank Trigg and Hayoto Sakurai are the others.

Brett Johns

Brett Johns’ (14-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC) 14-fight MMA winning streak is the second longest among active UFC bantamweight fighters behind Rivera (20).

Johns’ 11 takedowns landed against Kwan Ho Kwak at UFC Fight Night 99 are the single-fight record for a UFC/WEC bantamweight bout.

Gillian Robertson (3-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC), 22, is the youngest of the 22 fighters scheduled to compete at the event.

For more on The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale, check out the UFC Rumors 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

MMAjunkie reader predictions: Make your picks for TUF 26 Finale in Las Vegas

We want your predictions for Friday’s TUF 26 Finale event in Las Vegas.

Our staff picks feature includes the consensus picks from MMAjunkie readers. Simply cast your vote for each bout below, and we’ll use the official tallies that are registered by today at 10 a.m. ET (7 a.m. PT).

Those MMAjunkie MMA reader consensus picks will be part of the TUF 26 Finale staff picks we release today ahead of the event. The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale takes place Friday at Park Theater in Las Vegas. It airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

* * * *

Sijara Eubanks vs. Nicco Montano

Records: Sijara Eubanks (2-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) vs. Nicco Montano (3-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC)
Past five: Eubanks 2-2, Montano 3-2
Division: Women’s flyweight
Rankings: None
Odds (as of 11/30/17): N/A

Take Our Poll
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Sean O’Malley vs. Terrion Ware

Records: Sean O’Malley (8-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) vs. Terrion Ware (17-6 MMA, 0-1 UFC)
Past five: O’Malley 5-0, Ware 4-1
Division:
Rankings: None
Odds (as of 11/30/17): O’Malley -260, Ware +200

Take Our Poll
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Barb Honchak vs. Roxanne Modafferi

Records: Barb Honchak (10-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) vs. Roxanne Modafferi (21-13 MMA, 0-1 UFC)
Past five: Honchak 5-0, Modafferi 4-1
Division: Women’s flyweight
Rankings: None
Odds (as of 11/30/17): N/A

Take Our Poll
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Gerald Meerschaert vs. Eric Spicely

Records: Gerald Meerschaert (26-9 MMA, 2-1 UFC) vs. Eric Spicely (10-2 MMA, 2-2 UFC)
Past five: Meerschaert 4-1, Spielly 3-2
Division: Middleweight
Rankings: None
Odds (as of 11/30/17): Meerschaert -185, Spicely +150

Take Our Poll
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DeAnna Bennett vs. Melinda Fabian

Records: DeAnna Bennett (8-3 MMA, 0-0 UFC) vs. Melinda Fabian (4-3-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC)
Past five: Bennett 2-3, Fabian 3-2
Division:
Rankings: None
Odds (as of 11/30/17): N/A

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Brett Johns vs. Joe Soto

Records: Brett Johns (14-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC) vs. Joe Soto (18-5 MMA, 3-3 UFC)
Past five: Johns 5-0, Soto 3-2
Division:
Rankings: None
Odds (as of 11/30/17): Johns -190, Soto +155

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

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

Gerald Meerschaert vs. Eric Spicely booked for December's TUF 26 Finale

A middleweight bout between Gerald Meerschaert and Eric Spicely is the first addition to December’s The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale lineup.

Spicely (10-2 MMA, 2-2 UFC) announced the bout with Meerschaert (26-9 MMA, 2-1 UFC) on social media following an initial report from MMAuno.com (via Instagram):

Instagram Photo

The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale takes place Dec. 1 at Park Theatre in Las Vegas. The event airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

After getting off to a hot start to his UFC career with back-to-back first-round submission victories, Meerschaert suffered his first octagon defeat in July when he dropped a second-round TKO to Thiago Santos at UFC 213. The upcoming bout will be his fourth in less than a year since joining the promotion.

Spicely, meanwhile, also had a stretch of consecutive first-round submission wins going into his previous bout. Similar to Meerschaert, though, his was abruptly halted in the form of a second-round submission loss to Antonio Carlos Junior at UFC 212 in June.

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

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Source: MMA Junkie

UFC 213 results: Thiago 'Marreta' Santos pounds out Gerald Meerschaert, calls out Gegard Mousasi

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Thiago “Marreta” Santos hurt Gerald Meerschaert with punches early in their fight, but it took him another round to seal the deal.

With Meerschaert (26-9 MMA, 2-1 UFC) clearly wounded but surviving, Santos (15-5 MMA, 7-4 UFC) kept pouring on the punishment as he avoided his opponent’s increasingly desperate takedown attempts, until finally referee Marc Goddard had no choice but to call a halt to the action at the 2:04 mark of Round 2.

The middleweight bout was part of the preliminary card of today’s UFC 213 event at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. It aired on FS1 following additional prelims on UFC Fight Pass and ahead of and a main card on pay-per-view.

Santos stung Meershcaert with a kick right away in this fight, which immediately prompted Meerschaert to try and take the fight to the mat. That would prove to be his strategy throughout the fight, but it only got him into more trouble as Santos defended well and then hammered away with punches once Meerschaert’s takedown attempts had stalled.

Meerschaert got a brief moment to collect himself after an accidental eye poke from Santos midway through the first, and by then Santos was leaking blood from a deep cut along his scalp. But as soon as the action commenced again it was Santos in control, hurting Meerschaert with his strikes from every angle.

By the second, Meerschaert’s attempts to take the fight down were far more obvious and thus more easily defended by Santos, and once those fell short they gave Santos the opportunity to unload with punches. With Meerschaert hurt and unable to do much more than cover up, Goddard stepped in just slightly over two minutes into the second frame, giving Santos the TKO victory.

After the fight, Santos used his in-cage interview to call for a rematch with Gegard Mousasi, a fighter he lost to one year ago to the day at UFC 200. But Santos took that fight on short notice as an injury replacement and now wants to fight Mousasi with a full camp.

“This fight was very important to me,” Santos said. “Gerald is a tough fighter, but I am tougher and I showed that tonight. I feel that I am getting back to where I should be in the division. With one or two more wins, I would like to rematch Gegard Mousasi. I believe that fight will end very differently as I have continued to grow as a fighter and I want to show that to the world. I will continue to finish whoever is put in front of me.”

The win makes it two in a row in the UFC for Santos. Meerschaert’s loss snaps a seven-fight winning streak.

Up-to-the-minute UFC 213 results include:

For complete coverage UFC 213, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Cody Stamann vs. Terrion Ware, James Bochnovic vs. Trevin Giles added to UFC 213 lineup

A pair of fights have been added to next week’s UFC 213 lineup at the 11th hour, giving four prospects a chance to make their promotional debuts.

Cody Stamann (13-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) will take on Terrion Ware (17-5 MMA, 0-0 UFC) in a featherweight bout, and James Bochnovic (8-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) meets Trevin Giles (9-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) at light heavyweight. UFC officials announced the matchups today, both of which will stream on the UFC Fight Pass prelims.

UFC 213 takes place July 8 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The night’s main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

Along with the two new bouts, the UFC made official a heavyweight bout for the main card. The fight between Curtis Blayes (6-1 MMA, 1-1 UFC) and Daniel Omielanczuk (19-7-1 MMA, 4-4 UFC) shifts from the FS1 prelims to the main card in the wake of the removal of the welterweight fight between Donald Cerrone and Robbie Lawler due to a Cerrone injury. And moving up from UFC Fight Pass to FS1 is the middleweight bout between Gerald Meerschaert (26-8 MMA, 2-0 UFC) and Thiago “Marreta” Santos (14-5 MMA, 6-4 UFC).

Michigan native Stamann heads to the UFC on the strength of a six-fight winning streak. In March, he knocked out Bill Kamery in the main event of a KnockOut Promotions event in his home state. Ware, an RFA veteran, has won four straight fights. In April, he knocked out UFC and WSOF veteran Jared Papazian at a CXF event. The win gave him a measure of revenge after a decision loss to Papazian in 2013.

Bochnovic, who trains with UFC heavyweight Ben Rothwell, has won eight straight fights after being submitted in his pro debut nearly three years ago. Since then, all eight of his wins are by stoppage, and the most recent seven have been by submission. Just a month ago, he tapped Bellator, Titan FC and RFA vet Wayman Carter with an armbar just 85 seconds into their fight.

Giles, from Texas, brings his unbeaten record into the fight with Bochnovic. Eight of his nine wins are by stoppage, including five submissions. In February, he went to the judges for the first time in his pro career and took a split decision from Ryan Spann in the LFA 3 main event.

The UFC 213 lineup now includes:

MAIN CARD (Pay-per-view, 10 p.m. ET)

  • Champ Amanda Nunes vs. Valentina Shevchenko – for women’s bantamweight title
  • Yoel Romero vs. Robert Whittaker – for interim middleweight title
  • Donald Cerrone vs. Robbie Lawler
  • Alistair Overeem vs. Fabricio Werdum
  • Curtis Blaydes vs. Daniel Omielanczuk
  • Jim Miller vs. Anthony Pettis

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

  • Travis Browne vs. Aleksei Oleinik
  • Brian Camozzi vs. Chad Laprise
  • Gerald Meerschaert vs. Thiago “Marreta” Santos
  • Jordan Mein vs. Belal Muhammad

PRELIMINARY CARD (UFC Fight Pass, 6:30 p.m. ET)

  • Rob Font vs. Douglas Silva de Andrade
  • Cody Stamann vs. Terrion Ware
  • James Bochnovic vs. Trevin Giles

For more on UFC 213, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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