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

if(typeof(jQuery)==”function”){(function($){$.fn.fitVids=function(){}})(jQuery)};
jwplayer(‘jwplayer_bqyAf32k_FLu19iir_div’).setup(
{“playlist”:”http://content.jwplatform.com/feeds/bqyAf32k.json”,”ph”:2}
);

Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

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

Episode No. 11 of “The Ultimate Fighter 26: A New World Champion” opens with focus on the first semifinal matchup, which will see No. 2 Barb Honchak of Team Alvarez take on No. 14 Nicco Montano of Team Gaethje.

First, though, some high jinx from the coaches. Coach Eddie Alvarez steals opponent coach Justin Gaethje’s car keys and moves his vehicle from the spot it was parked before putting the keys back in their original position. Coach Gaethje walks out of practice utterly confused but is pointed in the right direction.

“It was funny, I’ll give it to him,” Gaethje says of the prank. “But it was super weak. I’m going to get him good. A lot better.”

Back at the TUF house, Honchak and Montano are simply trying to stay focused on their upcoming fight, while their follow contestants are beginning to wind down and express an eagerness to get back home to their families and loved ones.

At the next Team Gaethje training session, Montano begins working on her game plan for Honchak. As one of the lowest-ranked fighters coming into the tournament, Montano has far exceeded expectations. She plans to continue that with an upset of Honchak.

Honchak begins to gear up her training with Team Alvarez, and her team has the utmost confidence the former Invicta FC champion will get the job done. She strategizes with the coaching staff and sets a plan she believes will be effective against a less-experienced opponent in Montano.

Later on, coach Gaethje gets some revenge on Alvarez. He elevates his car off the ground with a crane and writes “Team Gaethje” and “I Love Justin” all over the windows. Alvarez takes it all in stride and admits he got “one-upped” in the pranks.

At the official weigh-in, Honchak and Montano come in under the 126-pound flyweight limit. A tense 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 first tournament semifinal is about to take place.

#2 Barb Honchak (10-2) vs. #14 Nicco Montano (3-2)

Round 1 – Honchak opens with a hard inside leg kick. Montano is moving around the octagon but eats a pair of straight right hands from her opponent. Honchak clinches an incoming Montano and pushes her against the fence. Montano immediately starts working knees to the body with her back against the fence before spinning Honchak around. Honchak answers with some of her own knees, and there’s a frantic fight going on in the clinch. Honchak finally breaks free. Honchak goes back to the low kick but quickly ends up back in a clinch situation. They are trading knees again from the clinch and Montano lands a nice punch off the break. Honchak goes for a takedown, but Montana reverses her and ends up on top. Montano lands some crisp ground-and-pound from on top. Honchak is fighting hard to get out from bottom, but Montano is strong on top and dominates until the end of the round.

Round 2 – The beginning of the second round is tentative, with both fighters only throwing one strike at a time and missing. Montano closes the distance and clinches Honchak against the fence. She’s grinding Honchak out, who is beginning to get desperate in her attempt to escape. She finally does and lands a body kick and combination after breaking. Montano lands a hard leg kick of her own. She throws another one, and Honchak uses it to close the distance and go for a takedown. Montano is very difficult to take down, though, and lands more knees to the body. Honchak gives up on the position and goes back to striking in the middle of the octagon. She catches Montano with a right hand coming in. Honchak goes for another takedown in the final 45 minutes, but Montano once again stifles her. They clinch once more before the end of the round and Honchak gets a takedown, but there’s no time to work before the horn.

Round 3 – Honchak lands a pair of early right hands, and she’s beginning to find her range on the feet. Montano lands a left high kick, but Honchak catches it after a connection and tries to take down Montano. Montano somehow spins and takes Honchak’s back, though, and is in position for a rear-naked choke. She begins to work the forearm into the neck of her opponent, but Honchak finds a way to scramble to her feet. Montano is hanging on to a body leg and presses Honchak against the fence. The fight returns to open space and Honchak is pressing to make something happen. She shoots for a takedown, but Montano’s defense is solid. They trade punches and knees from inside the clinch several times over before breaking. Montano refuses to give an inch to Honchak on the takedowns and is landing a lot of good, solid shots. Montano shoots for a double leg takedown in the final 30 seconds and puts Honchak on her back. Honchak stands up before the end of the round, but there’s no enough time to do anything.

Nicco Montano def. Barb Honchak via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)

Montano completes her cinderella story with a huge upset of Honchak. She becomes the first fighter to advance to the finals of “The Ultimate Fighter 26” tournament and will have a chance to vie for the inaugural 125-pound belt at The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale on Dec. 2 in Las Vegas.

“I did what I came here to do, and it’s just awesome,” Montano says. “I’m just super grateful. Thankful.”

Montano will take on the winner of next week’s semifinal showdown between No. 1 Roxanne Modafferi of Team Gaethje and No. 12 Sijara Eubanks of Team Alvarez.

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

Episode No. 10 of “The Ultimate Fighter 26: A New World Champion” opens by immediately jumping into weigh-ins for the third quarterfinal matchup, which pits #2 Barb Honchak of Team Alvarez against #10 Rachael Ostovich of Team Gaethje.

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

Fight day arrives. Honchak and Ostovich head to the TUF gym for their fight. They finalize preparation in the locker rooms with their respective coaching staffs, including head coached Eddie Alvarez and Justin Gaethje, before making the walk to the octagon. They enter the cage, and the next tournament fight is underway.

#2 Barb Honchak (10-2) vs. #10 Rachael Ostovich (3-3)

Round 1 – Honchak is tentative with her strikes early on as Ostovich moves around the octagon. Both fighters exchange, but nothing lands clean. Ostovich connects with a counter-left. Honchak is beginning to land with her punches but Ostovich is avoiding her big shots. Honchak initiates a clinch and presses Ostovich against the fence. She works on a trip takedown but Ostovich fends her off and lands a hard right hand on the break. Honchak shoots for a single leg takedown and manages to put Ostovich on the mat. Ostovich gives up her back, stands up and escapes to freedom. Ostovich lands an uppercut, right hand combination and is beginning to gain confidence. Honchak shoots for another single leg takedown, but Ostovich denies the initial entry and keeps her opponent away until the end of the round.

Round 2 – Ostovich lands a right hand to open the round, but Honchak doesn’t appear to be phased. They exchange and Honchak lands a clean punch. Ostovich connects in the midst of a combination but Honchak charges forward with a takedown attempt. She briefly puts the fight on the ground but Ostovich stands right back up. Honchak keeps the pressure on and takes Ostovich down again. Ostovich gives up her back and Honchak begins to work for a rear-naked choke. She gives up on it and throws strikes, but provides enough space that Ostovich can stand up. Honchak forces the fight back to the mat and takes the back once again. Honchak is riding the position and landing more strikes while working for the finish. Honchak continues to dominate the spot until the end of the round.

Barb Honchak def. Rachael Ostovich via unanimous decision

“That title feels attainable,” Honchak says after her victory. “It feels like I’m getting close to what I’m here for.”

Focus immediately shifts to the fourth and final quarterfinal matchup, which pits #6 Montana Stewart against fellow Team Gaethje fighter, #14 Nicco Montano.

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

Fight day arrives. Stewart and Montano 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.

#6 Montana Stewart (7-4) vs. #14 Nicco Montano (3-2)

Round 1 – Both fighters miss big with early shots but begin to settle into proper striking range. Stewart catches a kick from Montano and attempts to get a takedown, but Montano denies her entry. Stewart pushes her opponent against the fence and is working to put the fight on the canvas. Montano reverses the position before breaking free, and matchup returns to striking range. Montano lands a solid leg kick and Montano fires back a hard right hand. Montano is using good movement while mixing in kicks. Stewart is applying pressure and looking to land heavier shots. Both fighters land during a clinch exchange. Montano sticks Stewart with a hard right hand and is now the one controlling the pace. Montano nearly slips on a takedown and Stewart looks to capitalize. Montano springs back to her feet while Stewart attempts to move the fight to the mat again. Montano shows stellar defense, avoiding takedowns form the clinch and landing hard knees to the body and head of her opponent. A massive cut opens on Stewart’s forehead and that only encourages Montano to pour on more strikes from the clinch until the end of the round.

Round 2 – Montano continues to apply the pressure as the round begins, attacking Stewart with punches and kicks to the body. Montano counters with a solid right hand and starts to pressure with her open attacks. Montano shoots for a takedown but Stewart locks on a tight guillotine that has Montano in danger. Montano stays calm and maneuvers into side control. Montano attacks with short shots and Stewart is gushing blood. Montano postures up and is connecting clean from inside the guard against an exhausted Stewart. Stewart is desperately attempting to roll into a better position but Montano is riding her hard from on top and connecting with heavy shots. Stewart attempts to stand up but eats a crushing elbow in response. Stewart attempts to isolate an arm but Montano won’t give up an inch and is completely dominating the action. Stewart is doing everything she can to stand up and finally goes. She eats a pair of knees to the head for her troubles and her face is completely coated with blood. Montano finally breaks free of the clinch, but she has nothing left in the final seconds before time expires.

Nicco Montano def. Montana Stewart via unanimous decision

“I felt awesome,” Montano says after her victory. “I have one more week left here in the TUF house. If I can keep on keeping on until the end, that’s exactly what I’m going to do.”

With Montano’s victory, the tournament semifinal matchups are now set and will unfold as follows:

Bracket A

  • #1 Roxanne Modafferi (Team Gaethje) vs. #12 Sijara Eubanks (Team Alvarez)

Bracket B

  • #2 Barb Honchak (Team Alvarez) vs. #14 Nicco Montano (Team Gaethje)

Also see:

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

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also see:

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

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Episode No. 8 recap: 'The Ultimate Fighter 26: A New World Champion'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bracket A

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

Bracket B

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

Also see:

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

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

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

Filed under: Featured Videos, News, UFC, Videos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

'TUF 26' won't air this week because of World Series, returns next Wednesday

“The Ultimate Fighter 26” is taking the week off because of baseball.

A UFC official today told MMAjunkie the show will be dark because of the World Series, with Game 2 between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros slated for Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on FOX.

“TUF 26” will resume next week on FS1 on its regularly scheduled day and time.

“TUF 26,” which seeks to crown an inaugural UFC women’s flyweight champion, is seven episodes into the season. No. 8 Emily Whitmire of Team Gaethje vs. on No. 9 Christina Marks of Team Alvarez remains the final opening-round bout of the 16-woman tournament.

Roxanne Modafferi, DeAnna Bennett, Montana Stewart, Nicco Montano, Sijara Eubanks, Barb Honchak, and Rachael Ostovich all have advanced to the quarterfinals.

You could check out our episode recaps below:

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

'EA All Day:' Watch ex-champ Eddie Alvarez's debut vlog, with a 'TUF 26' media tour

Filed under: Blue Corner, Featured Videos, News, UFC

Former UFC and Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez is joining the video blog business. If his debut episode is any indication, there’s some solid content to come.

Alvarez (28-5 MMA, 3-2 UFC), who is current serving as a coach opposite Justin Gaethje (18-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) on Season 26 of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series, has opted to launch a new YouTube series titled “EA All Day.”

The first episode follows Alvarez behind the scenes during a recent media tour in his hometown of Philadelphia to promote “TUF 26,” which airs every Wednesday on FS1 and features Alvarez and Gaethje coaching a cast of hopefuls who are attempting to become the first UFC women’s flyweight champion.

MMA has several solid video blog series’ going, from Alistair Overeem’s “The Reem” to Tyron Woodley’s “Champ Camp.” Now Alvarez’s “EA All Day” can be added to the list.

Watch the complete episode above.

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

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

Episode No. 2 recap: 'The Ultimate Fighter 26: A New World Champion'

Episode No. 2 of “The Ultimate Fighter 26: A New World Champion” opens with the Team Gaethje coaching staff arriving in the TUF house to celebrate Roxanne Modafferi’s victory in the opening tournament bout.

Coach Justin Gaethje begins to discuss the next fight with No. 13 seed Karine Gevorgyan, who is the only fighter in the house unable to speak English. They attempt to communicate through Google text, as well as a translator, but Gevorgyan explains she has difficulty understanding the messages.

At the next Team Alvarez training session, the fighters are already beginning to think about what could happen in future rounds of the tournament in terms of facing off against their teammates. Some of the athletes are reluctant to showcase some aspects of their skills in training, but coach Eddie Alvarez does his best to relieve any tension.

The Team Alvarez coaching staff begins to work more closely with No. 4 seed DeAnna Bennett, who faces Team Gaethje’s Gevorgyan later in the episode. Bennett says her priority is to win as quickly as possible in order to preserve herself for future rounds of the tournament.

At the next Team Gaethje training session, Gevorgyan begins to focus on her fight preparation. During team practice, No. 8 Emily Whitmire suffers a rib injury while grappling. She’s in a lot of pain and decides to go to the hospital to discover the extent of the damage.

After being diagnosed at the hospital, Whitmire learns there’s no serious damage to her rib or lung area. She does not have to withdraw from the competition immediately, but doctors will continue to monitor her progress.

Former UFC women’s bantamweight champion Miesha Tate, who is a longtime friend of Whitmire, visits the ‘TUF’ house to provide some emotional support and encouragement. Whitmire expresses doubt in her ability to compete under the likely time frame but is attempting to stay optimistic.

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 second tournament bout is nearly underway. Bennett and Gevorgyan finalize preparation with their coaches, and the athletes walk to the cage for the debut contest of the season.

#4 DeAnna Bennett (8-3) vs. #13 Karine Gevorgyan (32)

Round 1 – Bennett opens with an inside leg kick. Gevorgyan is stalking her and fires off a combination. Bennett goes low with another kick to the legs then one of the body. Gevorgyan is pumping the jab but yet to commit to anything significant. They trade punches, and Gevorgyan tags Bennett with a hard right hand. Bennett causes Gevorgyan to retreat with a stiff jab. Bennett continues to kick the legs of her opponent then come high with hard punches. Gevorgyan throws a wild overhand, but Bennett changes levels and scores a takedown. Bennett postures up from inside the guard and has Gevorgyan pinned near the cage. Bennett throws heavy shots from on top as Gevorgyan attempts to get free. Bennett’s position is too dominant, though, and the referee waves off the contest.

DeAnna Bennett def. Karine Gevorgyan via TKO (punches) – Round 1

There’s a large contrast in emotions between the two sides. Bennett is thrilled with her performance, while Gevorgyan is crying and absolutely crushed.

Team Alvarez ties the competition 1-1. Team Gaethje takes control of fight selection, and with his choice, coach Gaethje selects No. 6 Montana Stewart to go up against No. 11 Ariel Beck 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