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

if(typeof(jQuery)==”function”){(function($){$.fn.fitVids=function(){}})(jQuery)};
jwplayer(‘jwplayer_FtYl92he_FLu19iir_div’).setup(
{“playlist”:”http://content.jwplatform.com/feeds/FtYl92he.json”,”ph”:2}
);

Filed under: News, UFC, Videos

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 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.

if(typeof(jQuery)==”function”){(function($){$.fn.fitVids=function(){}})(jQuery)};
jwplayer(‘jwplayer_eRWegt4g_RbnemIYZ_div’).setup(
{“playlist”:”http://content.jwplatform.com/feeds/eRWegt4g.json”,”ph”:2}
);

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.

if(typeof(jQuery)==”function”){(function($){$.fn.fitVids=function(){}})(jQuery)};
jwplayer(‘jwplayer_bqyAf32k_RbnemIYZ_div’).setup(
{“playlist”:”http://content.jwplatform.com/feeds/bqyAf32k.json”,”ph”:2}
);

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.

if(typeof(jQuery)==”function”){(function($){$.fn.fitVids=function(){}})(jQuery)};
jwplayer(‘jwplayer_Xk35vLSD_RbnemIYZ_div’).setup(
{“playlist”:”http://content.jwplatform.com/feeds/Xk35vLSD.json”,”ph”:2}
);

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.”

if(typeof(jQuery)==”function”){(function($){$.fn.fitVids=function(){}})(jQuery)};
jwplayer(‘jwplayer_y2Yvq3Ao_RbnemIYZ_div’).setup(
{“playlist”:”http://content.jwplatform.com/feeds/y2Yvq3Ao.json”,”ph”:2}
);

if(typeof(jQuery)==”function”){(function($){$.fn.fitVids=function(){}})(jQuery)};
jwplayer(‘jwplayer_3XYR50tG_RbnemIYZ_div’).setup(
{“playlist”:”http://content.jwplatform.com/feeds/3XYR50tG.json”,”ph”:2}
);

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.

if(typeof(jQuery)==”function”){(function($){$.fn.fitVids=function(){}})(jQuery)};
jwplayer(‘jwplayer_eRJThTcA_RbnemIYZ_div’).setup(
{“playlist”:”http://content.jwplatform.com/feeds/eRJThTcA.json”,”ph”:2}
);

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

if(typeof(jQuery)==”function”){(function($){$.fn.fitVids=function(){}})(jQuery)};
jwplayer(‘jwplayer_ZrH9fFu3_RbnemIYZ_div’).setup(
{“playlist”:”http://content.jwplatform.com/feeds/ZrH9fFu3.json”,”ph”:2}
);

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.

if(typeof(jQuery)==”function”){(function($){$.fn.fitVids=function(){}})(jQuery)};
jwplayer(‘jwplayer_OoNFc0sE_RbnemIYZ_div’).setup(
{“playlist”:”http://content.jwplatform.com/feeds/OoNFc0sE.json”,”ph”:2}
);

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.

if(typeof(jQuery)==”function”){(function($){$.fn.fitVids=function(){}})(jQuery)};
jwplayer(‘jwplayer_2Nqg3UVY_RbnemIYZ_div’).setup(
{“playlist”:”http://content.jwplatform.com/feeds/2Nqg3UVY.json”,”ph”:2}
);

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.

if(typeof(jQuery)==”function”){(function($){$.fn.fitVids=function(){}})(jQuery)};
jwplayer(‘jwplayer_zCJ21XKb_RbnemIYZ_div’).setup(
{“playlist”:”http://content.jwplatform.com/feeds/zCJ21XKb.json”,”ph”:2}
);

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.

if(typeof(jQuery)==”function”){(function($){$.fn.fitVids=function(){}})(jQuery)};
jwplayer(‘jwplayer_buHOs1sP_RbnemIYZ_div’).setup(
{“playlist”:”http://content.jwplatform.com/feeds/buHOs1sP.json”,”ph”:2}
);

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.

if(typeof(jQuery)==”function”){(function($){$.fn.fitVids=function(){}})(jQuery)};
jwplayer(‘jwplayer_bqyAf32k_RbnemIYZ_div’).setup(
{“playlist”:”http://content.jwplatform.com/feeds/bqyAf32k.json”,”ph”:2}
);

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.

if(typeof(jQuery)==”function”){(function($){$.fn.fitVids=function(){}})(jQuery)};
jwplayer(‘jwplayer_Xk35vLSD_RbnemIYZ_div’).setup(
{“playlist”:”http://content.jwplatform.com/feeds/Xk35vLSD.json”,”ph”:2}
);

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.

if(typeof(jQuery)==”function”){(function($){$.fn.fitVids=function(){}})(jQuery)};
jwplayer(‘jwplayer_eRWegt4g_RbnemIYZ_div’).setup(
{“playlist”:”http://content.jwplatform.com/feeds/eRWegt4g.json”,”ph”:2}
);

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.”

if(typeof(jQuery)==”function”){(function($){$.fn.fitVids=function(){}})(jQuery)};
jwplayer(‘jwplayer_y2Yvq3Ao_RbnemIYZ_div’).setup(
{“playlist”:”http://content.jwplatform.com/feeds/y2Yvq3Ao.json”,”ph”:2}
);

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.

if(typeof(jQuery)==”function”){(function($){$.fn.fitVids=function(){}})(jQuery)};
jwplayer(‘jwplayer_eRJThTcA_RbnemIYZ_div’).setup(
{“playlist”:”http://content.jwplatform.com/feeds/eRJThTcA.json”,”ph”:2}
);

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

if(typeof(jQuery)==”function”){(function($){$.fn.fitVids=function(){}})(jQuery)};
jwplayer(‘jwplayer_ZrH9fFu3_RbnemIYZ_div’).setup(
{“playlist”:”http://content.jwplatform.com/feeds/ZrH9fFu3.json”,”ph”:2}
);

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.

if(typeof(jQuery)==”function”){(function($){$.fn.fitVids=function(){}})(jQuery)};
jwplayer(‘jwplayer_OoNFc0sE_RbnemIYZ_div’).setup(
{“playlist”:”http://content.jwplatform.com/feeds/OoNFc0sE.json”,”ph”:2}
);

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.

if(typeof(jQuery)==”function”){(function($){$.fn.fitVids=function(){}})(jQuery)};
jwplayer(‘jwplayer_2Nqg3UVY_RbnemIYZ_div’).setup(
{“playlist”:”http://content.jwplatform.com/feeds/2Nqg3UVY.json”,”ph”:2}
);

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.

if(typeof(jQuery)==”function”){(function($){$.fn.fitVids=function(){}})(jQuery)};
jwplayer(‘jwplayer_zCJ21XKb_RbnemIYZ_div’).setup(
{“playlist”:”http://content.jwplatform.com/feeds/zCJ21XKb.json”,”ph”:2}
);

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

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

Meet 'The Ultimate Fighter 26' cast: Gillian Robertson, Chili's hostess and unexpected MMA fighter

if(typeof(jQuery)==”function”){(function($){$.fn.fitVids=function(){}})(jQuery)};
jwplayer(‘jwplayer_zCJ21XKb_FLu19iir_div’).setup(
{“playlist”:”http://content.jwplatform.com/jw6/zCJ21XKb.xml”}
);

Filed under: News, UFC, Videos

LAS VEGAS – “The Ultimate Fighter” returned this week 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 Gillian Robertson (0-1), who discussed how she unexpectedly got into MMA at 16, her love of animals, why she looks up to UFC bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes, 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

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?

http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid4621179066001?bckey=AQ~~,AAAABvaL8JE~,ufBHq_I6FnxR-PQW_F3sm5QdUbP7D6E9&bctid=5445386356001
Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

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