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

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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.

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Source: MMA Junkie

'TUF 26' vet Sijara Eubanks talks 'super dramatic' weight-cut that required cutting her dreadlocks

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Sijara Eubanks walked on to the set of “The Ultimate Fighter 26” with a fight already booked against the scale.

At 136 pounds, she had to cut 10 pounds just to step into the octagon against Maia Stevenson. Her coach, former UFC lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez, thought it was a tough ask.

When Eubanks Eubanks (2-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) stopped sweating at 126.5, one half-pound from the limit for non-title exhibition bouts, Eubanks proved she’d do anything to fight.

She cut her dreadlocks.

“No one thought I was going to make the weight,” Eubanks told MMAjunkie. “It was super dramatic.”

The actual fight was less so. Evenly matched with Stevenson (6-4 MMA, 0-0 UFC) on the feet, Eubanks was a better grappler. By the end of the first round, she was pounding Stevenson from top position, threatening a stoppage.

When the second-round bell rang, Eubanks figured she’d use what worked and took the fight back down. A kimura followed.

“I’ve hit a kimura so many times in jiu-jitsu,” she said. “I just knew it was going to be there. The position she was in on the ground, I was like, ‘Oh yeah, she’s going to give me this kimura.’”

With Stevenson’s tap, Eubanks ran to the cage and yelled a number at UFC President Dana White – 12, for her seed number in a tournament of 16 fighters. Her performance was anything but middle of the road against Stevenson, who was seeded No. 5.

Now, Eubanks moves on to the next challenge of “TUF” – getting to the finals.

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.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Episode No. 5 recap: 'The Ultimate Fighter 26: A New World Champion'

Episode No. 5 of “The Ultimate Fighter 26: A New World Champion” opens with a still-emotional No. 3 Lauren Murphy riding back to the TUF house with the rest of Team Alvarez following her upset loss to Team Gaethje’s No. 14 Nicco Montano on the previous episode.

Murphy says she expected to reach the finals and be one half of the inaugural UFC women’s flyweight title fight, but she admits some moments of self-doubt began to creep into her mind just moments before the bout. Back at the TUF house, Murphy is upset she can’t get the comfort of her family after the disappointing result.

The next morning, Murphy is feeling better but decides to skip practice. She says she hopes coach Eddie Alvarez doesn’t give “some big speech at the gym about how, like, I should be back in there already.” That’s exactly what happens, though.

“She lost, and you’re not here? You’re probably not built for this,” Alvarez tells his fighters at the next Team Alvarez training session. “I appreciate you being here. Shana (Dobson) did the same. She came in, she lost, took it on the chin, came out and started training again. It’s not what happens, it’s how we react to it. So let’s react properly today. Thoughts and feelings mean nothing here. Zero, zilch. They’re not going to win you a fight here, your thoughts and feelings. I just need you girls to fight.”

Focus shifts to preparation for the next fight, where No. 12 Sijara Eubanks of Team Alvarez will fight No. 5 Maia Stevenson of Team Gaethje. Coach Alvarez says he believes Eubanks’ seeding in the tournament is way off, and her power and well-rounded ability are going to become advantageous in the upcoming bout.

At the second Team Alvarez training session of the day, Murphy returns to practice. She’s greeted by Alvarez and the rest of the coaching staff. They have a discussion about Murphy’s loss, and coach Alvarez attempts to lift Murphy’s spirits. She doesn’t say much at first but in confessional vents a lot of frustration in Alvarez’s direction.

The TUF gym is later overtaken by Team Gaethje. Stevenson, who is the wife of 16-fight UFC veteran and “TUF 2” winner Joe Stevenson, is feeling some pressure to make her own name in the sport. She doesn’t want people to think she’s only in the competition because of her husband and says it’s a “mental game” to get it out of her mind, but coach Justin Gaethje believes she’s capable.

As the fight approaches, there is some concern within Team Alvarez regarding Eubanks’ weight cut. She still has 10 pounds to cut, but believes, “everyone else is more concerned about my weight than I am.” At 126.5 pounds, though, Eubanks runs into a wall with her weight loss. She’s having difficulty ridding herself of the final half-pound, and the drama begins.

Instead of putting herself through anymore physical strain, though, coach Alvarez suggest Eubanks cuts off a sizable portion her lengthy dreadlocks. Eubanks takes it in stride and says, “My girlfriend is not going to be happy.”

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

Fight day arrives, and the fifth tournament bout is nearly underway. Stevenson and Eubanks finalize preparation with their coaches, and the athletes walk to the cage.

#5 Maia Stevenson (6-4) vs. #12 Sijara Eubanks (2-2)

Round 1 – Eubanks pumps the jab to begin the fight and tags Stevenson with a left hand. Eubanks shoots for a takedown, but it’s easily stuffed. Stevenson comes in with some combinations and is tagging Eubanks with clean shots. Stevenson’s jab is on point early, and Eubanks shoots for another takedown. She gets Stevenson down and immediately spins to the back. Stevenson works up to her feet slowly but Eubanks is working her with her with hard, short strikes. Stevenson is pinned against the cage and struggling to deal with Eubanks’ strength. Eubanks is landing shots at will against the fence then decides to change to a single leg and drag Stevenson back to the canvas. Eubanks postures up and batters Stevenson with some heavy strikes until the end of the round.

Round 2 – Eubanks misses on two big punches and eats a counter combination. She shoots for a takedown and Stevenson defends until her back is against the fence. Eubanks drops for the single-leg takedown and gets Stevenson down again. Eubanks advances to half guard and applies an americana. Stevenson squirm her arm free but Eubanks easily controlling her. She switches to the kimura and wrenches Stevenson’s arm behind her back, forcing her to tap out and end the one-sided fight.

Sijara Eubanks def. Maia Stevenson via submission (kimura) – Round 2

“The fight went really well,” Eubanks says after her victory. “It felt like all the suns and stars and stuff aligned for me, because it was a rough day yesterday, but we doubled down and had a super great day today.”

Team Gaethje’s lead is cut to 3-2 in the competition with Eubanks’ win for Team Alvarez, who take control of fight selection. With his choice, coach Alvarez selects No. 2 Barb Honchak to go up against No. 15 Gillian Robertson of Team Gaethje next.

Also see:

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

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also see:

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

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Meet 'The Ultimate Fighter 26' cast: Maia Stevenson, who got into boxing thanks to sheriff mom

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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 Maia Stevenson (6-4), who explained why the show is also about bragging rights with husband and two-season “TUF” alum Joe Stevenson, bouncing back after rough career start, why she believes ref “Big” John McCarthy hates her, 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.

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Source: MMA Junkie

The MMA Road Show with John Morgan No. 127 – Las Vegas: Derrick Lewis, Maia Stevenson, Sijara Eubanks, Kevin

mma-road-show-podcast

Episode No. 127 of “The MMA Road Show with John Morgan” podcast is now available for streaming and download.

MMAjunkie lead staff reporter John Morgan hosts the show while traveling the world to cover the sport.

Normal life has returned to The MMA Road Show. Sure, there’s a little wrap from “The Money Fight,” but John Morgan and Cold Coffee are more excited about moving forward – not to mention talking about people that may or may not be completely ridiculous. Along the way, hear from UFC heavyweight Derrick Lewis on his relief efforts in his native Houston, as well as “TUF 26” contestants Maia Stevenson and Sijara Eubanks.

You can check it out on iTunes or at themmaroadshow.com. You can also subscribe via RSS.

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Source: MMA Junkie