TUF 26 Finale play-by-play and live results (7:30 p.m. ET)

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LAS VEGAS – MMAjunkie is on scene and reporting live from The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale, and you can join us for live play-by-play and official results beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET (4:30 p.m. PT).

The event takes place at Park Theatre in Las Vegas. It airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass. In the headliner, “TUF 26” finalist Nicco Montano (3-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) meets Roxanne Modafferi (21-13 MMA, 0-1 UFC), a replacement for finalist Sijara Eubanks (2-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC), for the inaugural women’s flyweight title.

Follow along with our round-by-round updates and official results beginning at approximately 7:30 p.m. ET for the UFC Fight Pass prelims, 8 p.m. ET for the FS1 prelims, and 10 p.m. ET for the FS1 main card.

To discuss the show, be sure to check out our TUF 26 Finale discussion thread. You can also get behind-the-scenes coverage and other event notes from on-site reporters John Morgan (@MMAjunkieJohn) and Ken Hathaway (@kenshathaway) on Twitter.

Enjoy the fights, everyone.

* * * *

Gillian Robertson vs. Emily Whitmire

Round 1 –

Result:
Recap:
Photos:
Records: Gillian Robertson (3-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC), Emily Whitmire (2-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC)
Division: Women’s flyweight
Rankings: n/a
Broadcast: UFC Fight Pass
Referee:
Judging:

Ariel Beck vs. Shana Dobson

Round 1 –

Result:
Recap:
Photos:
Records: Ariel Beck (4-4 MMA, 0-0 UFC), Shana Dobson (2-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC)
Division: Women’s flyweight
Rankings: n/a
Broadcast: FS1
Referee:
Judging:

Karine Gevorgyan vs. Rachael Ostovich

Round 1 –

Result:
Recap:
Photos:
Records: Karine Gevorgyan (3-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC), Rachael Ostovich (3-3 MMA, 0-0 UFC)
Division: 130-pound catchweight (Gevorgyan missed weight)
Rankings: n/a
Broadcast: FS1
Referee:
Judging:

Ryan Janes vs. Andrew Sanchez

Round 1 –

Result:
Recap:
Photos:
Records: Ryan Janes (9-3 MMA, 1-2 UFC), Andrew Sanchez (9-3 MMA, 2-1 UFC)
Division: Middleweight
Rankings: None
Broadcast: FS1
Referee:
Judging:

Christina Marks vs. Montana Stewart

Round 1 –

Result:
Recap:
Photos:
Records: Christina Marks (8-8 MMA, 0-0 UFC), Montana Stewart (7-4 MMA, 0-0 UFC)
Division: Women’s flyweight
Rankings: n/a
Broadcast: FS1
Referee:
Judging:

Brett Johns vs. Joe Soto

Round 1 –

Result:
Recap:
Photos:
Records: Brett Johns (14-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC), Joe Soto (18-5 MMA, 3-3 UFC)
Division: Bantamweight
Rankings: None
Broadcast: FS1
Referee:
Judging:

DeAnna Bennett vs. Melinda Fabian

Round 1 –

Result:
Recap:
Photos:
Records: DeAnna Bennett (8-3 MMA, 0-0 UFC), Melinda Fabian (4-3-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC)
Division: Women’s flyweight
Rankings: n/a
Broadcast: FS1
Referee:
Judging:

Gerald Meerschaert vs. Eric Spicely

Round 1 –

Result:
Recap:
Photos:
Records: Gerald Meerschaert (26-9 MMA, 2-1 UFC), Eric Spicely (10-2 MMA, 2-2 UFC)
Division: Middleweight
Rankings: None
Broadcast: FS1
Referee:
Judging:

Barb Honchak vs. Lauren Murphy

Round 1 –

Result:
Recap:
Photos:
Records: Barb Honchak (10-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC), Lauren Murphy (9-3 MMA, 1-3 UFC)
Division: Women’s flyweight
Rankings: n/a
Broadcast: FS1
Referee:
Judging:

Sean O’Malley vs. Terrion Ware

Round 1 –

Result:
Recap:
Photos:
Records: Sean O’Malley (8-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC), Terrion Ware (17-6 MMA, 0-1 UFC)
Division: Bantamweight
Rankings: None
Broadcast: FS1
Referee:
Judging:

Nicco Montano vs. Roxanne Modafferi

Round 1 –

Result:
Recap:
Photos:
Records: Nicco Montano (3-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC), Roxanne Modafferi (21-13 MMA, 0-1 UFC)
Division: Women’s flyweight
Rankings: n/a
Broadcast: FS1
Referee:
Judging:

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

'TUF 26' coaches Eddie Alvarez, Justin Gaethje not surprised by Sijara Eubanks missing weight

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DETROIT – Sijara Eubanks’ inability to step on the scale and weigh in for Friday’s inaugural UFC women’s flyweight title fight at The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale didn’t come as much of a surprise to “TUF 26” head coaches Eddie Alvarez and Justin Gaethje.

Alvarez (28-5 MMA, 3-2 UFC), who served as Eubanks’ coach during her run on the reality series, said he heard rumors the fighter was struggling to hit the 125-pound mark earlier today. He hoped she would get over the hurdle after she successfully (but narrowly) made weight three times during the tournament. However, Eubanks was hospitalized and pulled from the card.

It was a stunning turn of events, and as a result, replacement Roxanne Modafferi (21-13 MMA, 0-0 UFC) now meets finalist Nicco Montano (3-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) in the 125-pound title headliner, which airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass from Park Theatre in Las Vegas.

“Behind the scenes I kind of heart some fluttering, but (I’m) disappointed,” Alvarez told MMAjunkie. “Seriously disappointing. We never know the reasoning behind these kind of things. Personally I don’t think there’s an excuse for it. But I’m going to have to call to Vegas and see what’s going on.”

Gaethje (18-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC), who fights Alvarez on Saturday’s UFC 218 pay-per-view main card, which takes place at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass, was not exactly stunned by the situation, either. He was well aware of Eubanks’ weight-cutting struggles throughout “TUF,” so when news broke that she was out of the title fight, Gaethje said he wasn’t surprised.

“No (it doesn’t surprise me),” Gaethje said. “I had the very first pick on the very first fight, and Sarj weighed 155 pounds. My coaches wanted me to pick her, but if I did pick her she would not have made weight and she would not have even been in the discussion right now. I should have done it because she would have learned a hard lesson then instead of now on the biggest stage. She showed up 20 pounds over probably, or 20 to 25. Stupid.”

Gaethje and Alvarez have never missed weight in a combined 51 fights. They both believe that it’s unprofessional to miss under any circumstance, but for a UFC title fight, Eubanks’ error is particularly egregious, they said.

“The first 27, 28 pounds are the easy ones,” Alvarez said. “It’s the last three-quarters of a pound, (one) pound left that kind of breaks your spirit. It’s sad because Sarj, she made weight three times in a series of like three weeks, which is an incredible feat. This is a wold title, man. This is huge. That’s a huge disappointment.”

For more on The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale and UFC 218, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

'TUF 26' finalist Sijara Eubanks breaks silence on weight miss that scrapped UFC title shot

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“The Ultimate Fighter 26” finalist Sijara Eubanks has released her first public statement in the wake of a crushing weight miss that scrapped her shot at the inaugural UFC women’s flyweight title.

Eubanks (2-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) declared she previously had “cut more weight than most male fighters,” yet admitted to “miscalculations” during her weight cut that prevented her from making the 125-pound limit required for title bouts.

Eubanks also revealed she suffered kidney failure while trying to make weight for the headliner of The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale, explaining her trip to a local hospital in the hours prior to weigh-ins for Friday’s FS1-televised event at Park Theatre in Las Vegas.

“No excuses, I worked my ass off and went out on my shield,” Eubanks wrote on Instagram. “I was hospitalized early this morning for kidney failure but best believe I’ma be right back training and right back after that belt.”

Stepping in Eubanks place for the finale is Roxanne Modafferi (21-13 MMA, 0-1 UFC), whom she beat in the semifinals of the reality show tournament. Modafferi faces finalist Nicco Montano (3-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) while Modafferi’s originally scheduled opponent, Barb Honchak (10-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC), meets “TUF 26” contestant Lauren Murphy (9-3 MMA, 1-3 UFC), who was on a standby as a potential replacement fighter for the event.

Here is Eubanks’ full statement (via Instagram):

Instagram Photo

“First of all, I’m a champion. Point blank. I will be UFC champion, but it’s God’s will that it won’t be Friday night. I’m a gangster and I’ve cut more weight than most male fighters, and unfortunately there were some miscalculations this cut, no excuses, I worked my ass off and went out on my shield. I was hospitalized early this morning for kidney failure but best believe I’ma be right back training and right back after that belt. This game is full of ups and downs, true champs know that and bounce back. Nicco and Roxanne I’m sure will have a great fight, and best wishes to both those ladies. True class, those two. Nothing changes, I’m still the queen and I will claim my throne.
Thank you to all my coaches, friends and family and the wonderful staff at UFC.
God is good and I am truly blessed.”

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

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Roxanne Modafferi replaces Sijara Eubanks in TUF 26 Finale's inaugural title fight

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The UFC’s inaugural women’s flyweight title fight has a new challenger.

After “TUF 26” tournament finalist Sijara Eubanks (2-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) failed to weigh in for her fight with Nicco Montano (3-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC), tourney semifinalist Roxanne Modafferi (21-13 MMA, 0-0 UFC) today was named the replacement.

Their fight headlines the TUF 26 Finale, which takes place at Park Theatre in Las Vegas. The majority of the card, including the Modafferi vs. Montano title fight, airs on FS1 following one early prelim on UFC Fight Pass.

According to UFC officials, the change follows Eubanks’ hospitalization earlier today as she was cutting weight for the bout, which determines the UFC’s first 125-pound female champion.

MMAjunkie’s John Morgan was on scene at today’s official weigh-ins (watch Modafferi weigh in above) in Las Vegas and reported the switch. (via Twitter):

Here’s a statement from the UFC:

“Due to medical issues, Sijara Eubanks, was hospitalized Thursday morning and has been pulled from her bout against Nicco Montano at Friday’s The Ultimate Fighter Finale. Stepping in for Eubanks to fight in the inaugural UFC women’s flyweight championship bout will be Ultimate Fighter 26 semifinalist Roxanne Modafferi.”

Modafferi (21-13 MMA, 0-0 UFC), whom Eubanks defeated in the semifinal round of the tournament, was scheduled to fight Honchak (10-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) on the main card of Friday’s TUF 26 Finale. With Modafferi elevated to tourney final/title fight, Honchak now meets UFC vet Lauren Murphy (9-3 MMA, 1-3 UFC), who was eliminated in the first round of the tourney. Murphy was in Las Vegas this week and on standby at as a possible replacement fighter.

Following news of her unexpected title shot, Modafferi, a 14-year pro who’s gone 6-2 in official pro bouts since a one-and-done first UFC stint in 2013, wished Eubanks a quick recovery (via Twitter):

Eubanks, the No. 12 seed in the tourney structure, struggled to make weight during the duration of the 16-woman “TUF 26” tourney, which recently concluded its regular-season run on FS1. However, the former Invicta FC fighter had more than a month to prepare herself for the latest weigh-in and the planned title fight.

Her replacement, No. 1 seed Modafferi, who also had a brief run on “TUF 18,” now meets No. 14 seed Montano for a UFC belt.

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

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'TUF 26' finalist Sijara Eubanks learned to love her low ranking, always knew she was No. 1

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LAS VEGAS – Sijara Eubanks took every possible opportunity to remind UFC President Dana White that she did not appreciate being seeded No. 12 out of the 16 fighters on “The Ultimate Fighter 26” cast.

However, in retrospect, now that Eubanks is fighting for the inaugural UFC women’s flyweight title, she’s kind of glad she was slotted so far down the list.

“I knew I was the best in the house,” Eubanks told MMAjunkie. “I didn’t think I would be ranked No. 1, but I thought I would be ranked top 5. Actually, I think being ranked No. 12 – for as much as I complained to Dana about it – I think it worked out, because I was able to fight the top caliber of girls in the house coming into this title fight.

“You know, when you’re ranked higher, you get sort of the lower seeds. So being a lower seed, I got to fight tough competition going through the house, so I actually got to gain a lot of experience just being ranked No. 12. Plus I got to nag Dana for bonuses, because I get to take people out that’s top 5.”

Eubanks’ run through the “TUF 26” bracket was indeed impressive. En route to the finals, she bested No. 5 Maia Stevenson, No. 4 DeAnna Bennett and No. 1 Roxanne Modafferi.

Now Eubanks (2-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) takes on Nicco Montano (3-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) – at No. 14, the lowest seed she’s been paired up against yet – in the main event of Friday’s The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale, which takes place at Park Theater in Las Vegas and airs on FS1 following an early prelim on UFC Fight Pass.

The winner walks away a UFC champion, but Eubanks said she’s found herself to be incredibly calm ahead of the bout despite the massive stakes.

“Honestly, this is like the calmest I’ve been,” Eubanks said. “I’ve been working at this for 10 years. I’ve got 25 minutes to complete a 10-year-long journey. I’m just really excited. I’m happy. I felt like I was going to have nerves, but I slept like eight hours like a baby last night, so I was like, ‘Hey, we’re ready to rock.’

“It’s hard to describe the feeling because it’s so many different feelings. It’s so exhilarating that it’s really hard to put into words, but man, I’m really excited for Friday night.”

While early in their professional careers, both Eubanks and Montano came from a grappling background but have showed capable striking, as well. Still, Eubanks believes if she’s firing on all cylinders, she’ll simply be the better fighter.

“I think I’m the better striker,” Eubanks said. “I think I’m the better grappler on the ground. I think she does have her strong suits. She has things she’s good at, but like I said, when I’m at my best, I really don’t see anybody that can beat me in the house or otherwise.”

Either fighter will be considered a surprise winner of the show, but both believe they have games suited to keep them in place as champion after the conclusion of “TUF.” But Eubanks simply thinks she has the edge in the matchup and has paid enough dues along the way to take her place as an overnight sensation a decade in the making.

“It’s fun,” Eubanks said. “It’s really exciting. It’s so hard to describe the feeling, but I know it’s coming. I know it’s true.”

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

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

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Source: MMA Junkie

Surprise 'TUF 26' finalist Nicco Montano at ease with UFC title shot despite 'surreal' experience

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LAS VEGAS – Ranked 14th out 16 fighters on “The Ultimate Fighter 26,” Nicco Montano wasn’t exactly expected to find herself in the season’s tournament finale, competing for a UFC title. Yet that’s exactly where she is.

“It’s not as overwhelming as I thought it was going to be,” Montano said. “The emotions have set in, but I’m taking it day by day.”

With more proven commodities like Roxanne Modafferi, Barb Honchak, Lauren Murphy, and DeAnna Bennett holding the top seeds, Montano flew under the radar to start. But Montano said she always felt like she was capable of competing with anyone in the tournament.

“Of course there were some moments of, ‘Oh, my gosh, should I really be here? Like, am I the fluke?’ But as soon as I got that first fight out of the way, I just felt like I found my rhythm. In practice, I was seeing what all the girls were doing, and I was like, ‘I can hang.’”

Montano, 28, has been competing professionally for just two years, taking five fights before making her way to “The Ultimate Fighter 26.” But training with the crew at New Mexico’s Fit NHB, Montano believes she’s capable of beating anyone in the world.

“My focus has never been clearer,” Montano said. “My coaches have been helping out with every aspect of my game. I feel like since I’ve moved to Albuquerque, I’ve become more well rounded. Before that, I was just a jiu-jitsu practitioner, basically. But now I feel I can comfortably say that I’m a well rounded fighter, and they’ve just been getting in the details and fine-tuning.

“It’s been a really fun couple of months since the show, and I’m ready to go in there.”

Montano (3-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) will face fellow surprise finalist Sijara Eubanks (2-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) for the UFC’s inaugural women’s flyweight title in the main event of Friday’s The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale, which takes place at Park Theater in Las Vegas and airs on FS1 following an early prelim on UFC Fight Pass.

Montano said she’s been following Eubanks career since they both previously (and unsuccessfully) tried out for “The Ultimate Fighter 23,” which featured women’s bantamweights.

“Sijara is a really tough opponent,” Montano said. “I’ve got to see what she’s capable of. … I’ve seen a lot of her fights in Invicta. I followed her since we first tried out for the ’35 (show) a couple years ago. Both of us recognized each other when we tried out for the ’25. Next thing you know, we’re fighting for the title in the octagon.”

Montano admits she’s had trouble keeping the news of her UFC title shot away from a large family that has been pressing for information since she returned from taping the show. Now that the world knows, Montano said she may speak out a little more.

Sure, it’s early in her career, but Montano believes she is capable and deserving of winning a UFC title.

“My coaches have had faith in me from day one,” Montano said. “It just takes me to believe in it.

“It’s kind of so surreal, but it’s my reality right now.”

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

And 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

Episode No. 12 (season finale) recap: 'The Ultimate Fighter 26: A New World Champion'

Episode No. 12 of “The Ultimate Fighter 26: A New World Champion” – this season’s finale – opens with preparation for the final fight of the season, which will see No. 12 seed Sijara Eubanks of Team Alvarez attempt to upset No. 1 Roxanne Modafferi in the second and final semifinal matchup.

At a Team Alvarez training session, Eubanks is refining her strategy with head coach Eddie Alvarez and the assistant coaching staff, which includes Mark Henry, who is blown away by Eubanks’ ability to pick up striking codes quickly.

Focus shifts to Team Gaethje, where Modafferi is ramping up preparation. Not only is it provided by head coach Justin Gaethje, but former UFC women’s bantamweight champion Miesha Tate is also in the gym providing coaching aid to the fighters.

Coach Gaethje questions Eubanks’ physical condition after several difficult weight cuts down to the flyweight division. He believes as long as Modafferi can survive the early onslaught, her pace and conditioning will make the difference and allow her to get the victory.

Eubanks heads to the UFC Performance Institute to work with a nutritionist for her final weight cut in the competition. Eubanks admits she’s put her body through a lot of stress by cutting weight, but she hopes the staff at the facility will make her final cut healthy and simple.

The final weight cut for Eubanks begins. She has the support of the Team Alvarez coaching staff and the motivation that she’s just one weight cut and one win away from putting herself in position to compete for the inaugural UFC women’s flyweight title.

Eubanks makes weight with her team the night before the fight and is feeling better than she has going into her previous fights.

At the official weigh-in, Modafferi and Eubanks come in under the 126-pound flyweight limit. A respectful staredown follows.

Fight day arrives. Both fighters finalize preparation and warm up with coaches in the backstage locker room. They walk to the octagon, and the second tournament semifinal is about to take place.

No. 1 Roxanne Modafferi (21-13) vs. No. 12 Sijara Eubanks (2-2)

Round 1 – Both fighters trade big shots to begin the bout. Eubanks is winging wild hooks, and Modafferi is able to use good foot movement to get out of the way. Modafferi steps into the pocket and trades with Eubanks. Both sides are landing shots, but nothing super clean. Modafferi is sticking Eubanks with her jab but must get out of the way of the big counter-punches. Eubanks rips of a combination to the body and is loading up heavy. She shoots for a single leg, but Modafferi moves out of the way. Eubanks nearly lands a powerful head kick, but Modafferi blocks it. Modafferi keeps attacking with hooks and head kicks and is preventing her opponent from settling into her offense. A ton of strikes are exchanged before Modafferi finally decides to grab Eubanks and put her back against the fence. Eubanks quickly breaks free of the position, and the striking pace somewhat slows. Eubanks is coming forward with hard punches, and Modafferi is doing well with her counters. Eubanks shoots a takedown and manages to put Modafferi on her back. Eubanks is on top, and Modafferi immediately goes to her submission game. Eubanks postures up with elbows, and Modafferi attempts to lock in an armbar. She can’t get it, and Eubanks rides out to he position for the rest of the round.

Round 2 – Eubanks lands a straight right hand to the body then attacks the head with a combination. Modafferi answers with her jab. Eubanks smashes Modafferi with a hard leg kick in attempt to slow her movement. Modafferi is getting her timing down and landing on her opponent. Eubanks changes levels for a takedown, but Modafferi keeps her off. Eubanks lands a pair of powerful strikes then goes for another takedown. She gets deep on Modafferi’s legs and pulls the fight to the mat. Modafferi is looking for submissions from her back, but Eubanks is heavy on top and fighting to advance. She makes a mistake, though, and Modafferi sweeps her way into top position. Eubanks attempts a guillotine, but Modafferi escapes before any real danger. Modafferi takes her turn controlling on top but is looking to pass rather than inflict damage. Eubanks uses a kimura attempt to roll her way into top position and achieve mount. Modafferi gives her back, and Eubanks goes for a rear-naked choke. Eubanks get the forearm under the neck but does not have the right angle to finish the choke before time expires.

Round 3 – Modafferi immediately comes out with pressure, and she likely needs to do something significant this round. She exchanges blows with Eubanks, who has definitely lost some of her explosiveness output. Eubanks continues to wing heavy shots, but Modafferi is moving out of the way and firing back. Eubanks comes forward and lands some powerful leg kicks and right hands. She attempts a clinch and a takedown attempt, but Modafferi thwarts them both. Eubanks shoots for another takedown, and this time she gets ahold of Modafferi. She presses her opponent agains the fence and is hanging on to Modafferi with a body lock. Eubanks is attacking with knees to the thighs and the head of Modafferi, who is fighting hard to break free of the grip. Modafferi attempts a trip takedown, but Eubanks’ balance is perfect, and she ends up on top. Eubanks is working from half guard, and Modafferi is noticeably tiring from carrying the weight of her opponent. Modafferi is still working for submissions from bottom, but Eubanks keeps calm and gets free of an armbar attempt. Eubanks postures up in the final 30 seconds and lands a pair of brutal knees as Modafferi looks to stand up. They trade from the clinch until the end of the round, concluding an action-filled affair.

Sijara Eubanks def. Roxanne Modafferi via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

With the victory, No. 12 Eubanks advances to the tournament final, where she will meet No. 14 Nicco Montano of Team Gaethje. The pair will clash for the inaugural UFC women’s flyweight title in the main event of The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale, which takes place Friday at Park Theatre in Las Vegas and airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

“I feel super fantastic right now, I just beat Roxanne, and I’m on the to finals,” Eubanks says after her win. “I feel like a million bucks. I don’t know how else to describe the feeling I’m having right now. It’s crazy. I’m going to go get that belt. I’m getting that strap. I’m (expletive) pumped.”

Eubanks and Montano, as well as coaches Alvarez and Gaethje, face off in the center of the octagon. With that, another “TUF” season is in the books.

“This season of ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ was a very impressive launch for the women’s flyweight division,” UFC President Dana White says. “Now we have our two finalists. This is what I love about ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ – two underdogs and relative unknowns.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also see:

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

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

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

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Filed under: News, UFC

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.

Filed under: News, UFC
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