Sorry for the delay in my rankings, but it was finals week and my professors at the Ohio State University did not agree with my assessment that my MMA articles should get precedence over my final term papers.  I know, I don’t get it ether?

I followed TUF 18 all season long and I found it to be better than most seasons.  TUF has gotten a little stale as of late, but I was all in on watching the women fighters and the Rousey-Tate rivalry every Wednesday night.  The Ronda-Miesha element of the show was everything I was looking forward to last season between Jon Jones and Chael Sonnen, but their feud never really came to fruition.  As for the fighters I think I would have enjoyed the season more if it was all women on the show instead of 8 men and 8 women.  I understand the UFC and Fox wanted to sell the “real world” angle with men and women living together, but we never really saw those shenanigans.  The fights were fun for the most part, and the women’s division really gained more depth with some solid girls coming from this season of TUF.

Fight Night 33 gave us one of the most entertaining slugfests ever seen in the heavyweight division.  I think the scoring of the fight is something more people should be looking at, but it almost seems perfect that neither man receives a loss on his record after leaving every ounce of energy inside the cage.  FN33 also gave us a former champion who put retirement talk on hold with a thunderous KO and another MMA pioneer welcome retirement right after her fight.

There was tons of action between the 2 cards so let’s jump into the latest edition of ProFightingFans fighter rankings.

Women’s Bantamweight

Julianna Pena became the first ever women’s Ultimate Fighter with a very impressive and dominant win over former champion boxer Jessica Rakoczy by way of 2nd round TKO.  Pena seems to have the drive and determination to get better.  Couple that with her obvious physical gifts and you have the ingredients of a very dangerous fighter in the women’s bantamweight division.  In other TUF action Raquel Pennington beat loveable fan favorite Roxanne Modafferi by unanimous decision.  Pennington started out slow, but once she started to find her rhythm there wasn’t much The Happy Warrior could do to stop her.  Modafferi is hard to root against and she has been a very competitive fighter for a long time, but her outlook as an UFC fighter seems bleak.  Pennington on the other hand seems have a lot of upside and we may see her name on the list below in the coming years.  In the last TUF women’s fight Jessamyn Duke out struck Peggy Morgan on her way to a unanimous decision victory.  Duke was part of the best fight of the season and is a very polished striker who doesn’t seem to know how to fight in a boring fight.  That’s always a plus in Dana’s eyes and she may have a bright future if she keeps it up.

In the lone women’s fight on the UFN33 card Bethe Correia defeated veteran Julie Kedzie by split decision.  Kedzie announced her retirement from the sport after the fight, bringing the end to a long and successful career.  Kedzie has fought as a professional MMA fighter since 2004 and is one of the early pioneers of the sport.  It’s sad she lost her last 4 fights, but at least she was able to compete in the UFC after all this time.  Although it was overshadowed a bit by the retirement of a great fighter, Beth Correia showed she belonged in the big leagues with that win.  She has only had 7 fights, but has shown a lot of promise and looks to be a top 10 fighter for the foreseeable future.

C – Ronda Rousey

1 – Cat Zingano

2 – Sara McMann

3 – Alexis Davis

4 – Miesha Tate

5 – Jessica Eye

6 – Amanda Nunes

7 – Sarah Kaufman

8 – Liz Carmouche

9 – Jessica Andrade

10 – Bethe Correia +NR

*Rosi Sexton fell out of the top 10*

Flyweight

There was one lonely flyweight bout at the TUF finale, but since Josh Sampo missed weight the fight was contested at 127lbs.  Josh Sampo ended up submitting Ryan Benoit with a 2nd round rear-naked choke.  The fight was awarded the fight of the night bonus and since Sampo missed weight his money went to Benoit.  He may have lost the fight, but $100,000 of bonus money is a nice consolation prize for Benoit.

In the only flyweight bout at UFN33 Justin Scoggins got the 1st round TKO win against Richie Vaculik.

C – Demetrious Johnson

1 – Joseph Benavidez

2 – John Dodson

3 – Ian McCall

4 – John Lineker

5 – John Moraga

6 – Jussier Formiga

7 – Ali Bagautinov

8 – Louis Gaudinot

9 – Tim Elliott

10 – Chris Cariaso

Bantamweight

Chris Holdsworth won the TUF 18 men’s final by 2nd round rear-naked choke against Davey Grant.  This wasn’t the most stacked tournament in TUF history, but Holdsworth will be a tough out against any opponent.  The fact he is a Bang Ludwig student is reason enough to believe in him, those guys are on a warpath!

Takeya Mizugaki beat a very game Nam Phan by decision in the only bantamweight bout on the UFN33 card.  His fight doesn’t warrant a jump in the rankings.  Maybe he will draw a tougher opponent in his next fight to make his way towards a title shot.

C – Dominick Cruz

1 – Renan Barao (Interim Champ)

2 – Urijah Faber

3 – Michael McDonald

4 – Raphael Assuncao

5 – Eddie Wineland

6 – Brad Pickett

7 – Takeya Mizugaki

8 – T.J. Dillashaw

9 – Erik Perez

10 – Mike Easton

Featherweight

The only 2 featherweight bouts between the 2 cards were on the TUF 18 card.  Tom Niinimäki defeated Rani Yahya by split decision in the first bout.  The next bout ended by a DQ after Maximo Blanco landed a knee to the head of Akira Corassani just before he got up.  It was the correct call under the current rules, but it is still a shame to see Blanco lose like that after looking great up until that point.  Corassani looked to be completely surprised by Blanco’s “blitzkrieg” approach to the fight and was completely overwhelmed.  I don’t see this loss meaning much in the eyes of the UFC brass.

C – Jose Aldo

1 – Chad Mendes

2 – Ricardo Lamas

3 – Cub Swanson

4 – Frankie Edgar

5 – Chan-Sung Jung

6 – Dustin Poirier

7 – Dennis Siver

8 – Nik Lentz

9 – Erik Koch

10 – Darren Elkins

Lightweight

In the TUF Finale main event Nate Diaz destroyed Gray Maynard and earned the 1st round TKO win.  It was obvious that Maynard wanted to knock Diaz out and kept the fight standing, and Nate made him pay very dearly.  I’m not sure what the UFC has in store for these fighters next, but Gray will need a win in the worst way.  Diaz on the other hand will find himself in a top 5 bout in the log jammed lightweight division.

C – Anthony Pettis

1 – T.J. Grant

2 – Gilbert Melendez

3 – Benson Henderson

4 – Khabib Nurmagomedov

5 – Josh Thomson

6 – Nate Diaz +1

7 – Rafael Dos Anjos -1

8 – Myles Jury

9 – Pat Healy

10 – Jim Miller

Welterweight

Sean Spencer threw everything at Drew Dober on his way to a decision win.  His striking was on point and he looked very sharp.  Dober didn’t have much to offer Spencer, but he proved he had a good chin and big balls to step in on short notice like he did.

In the only welterweight bout at UFN33, Alex Garcia KO’d Ben Wall in the 1st round.

C – Georges St-Pierre

1 – Johny Hendricks

2 – Carlos Condit

3 – Robbie Lawler

4 – Matt Brown

5 – Rory MacDonald

6 – Martin Kampmann

7 – Jake Ellenberger

8 – Jake Shields

9 – Demian Maia

10 – Tyron Woodley

Middleweight

All 3 middleweight bouts took place on last weekend’s UFN33 card.  Krzysztof Jotko and Caio Magalhaes both won via unanimous decision against Brunto Santos and Nick Ring respectively.  The last middleweight contest pitted 2 TUF 17 veterans against each other.  The bout ended after Dylan Andrews’ shoulder was popped out of place and Clint Hester was declared the winner by doctor’s stoppage.  It was unfortunate that the fight ended that way since it was an entertaining bout up to that point.  I would like to see a rematch between these 2 tough fighters.

C – Chris Weidman

1 – Anderson Silva

2 – Vitor Belfort

3 – Lyoto Machida

4 – Ronaldo Souza

5 – Michael Bisping

6 – Luke Rockhold

7 – Francis Carmont

8 – Tim Kennedy

9 – Mark Munoz

10 – Costa Philippou

 

Light Heavyweight

What was that about retirement?  Shogun flattened James Te Huna with a vicious strike that put Te Huna out immediately.  This win came after many people were clamoring for Shogun to consider hanging up the gloves for good.  It is safe to say Rua is going to put retirement on the backburner after that great KO win.  In the last light heavyweight bout Ryan Bader dominated Anthony Perosh on his way to a decision victory.  It looked like the 2 fighters were competing in different sports.  It will be interesting to see who is booked for Bader and Rua next.  I would suggest letting them fight each other in their next bouts.

C – Jon Jones

1 – Alexander Gustafsson

2 – Glover Teixeira

3 – Rashad Evans

4 – Phil Davis

5 – Antonio Rogerio Nogueria

6 – Gegard Mousasi

7 – Dan Henderson

8 – Chael Sonnen

9 – Mauricio Rua

10 – Ryan Bader

Heavyweight

What a war!  It was the bloody sloppy mess that resonates with everyone whether they want to admit it or not.  It’s the kind of fight that taps into our primal instincts and we can’t help but love it.  It’s in our DNA.  Both fighters showed they had great chins (and poor cardio for a 5 round fight) and heart as it took every bit of both for those 2 to be standing at the end of that fight.  I had the fight scored for Bigfoot, but this may be the first time I felt satisfied after a draw.  The other heavyweight bout on the UFN33 saw fan favorite Pat Berry defeated by Soa Palelei by way of 1st round KO.   It was a great win for Soa Palelei who now has 10 straight wins by KO or TKO.  Berry on the other hand may see his run as a UFC fighter end after being in the octagon since 2008.

In the only heavyweight bout on the TUF 18 card Jared Rosholt recovered from a brutal first round to take the decision victory against Walt Harris.  Rosholt shows some real promise as a fighter after an outstanding wrestling career at Oklahoma State.

C – Cain Velasquez

1 – Daniel Cormier

2 – Fabricio Werdum

3 – Junior Dos Santos +3

4 – Travis Browne

5 – Josh Barnett

6 – Antonio Silva -3

7 – Stipe Miocic

8 – Mark Hunt +NR

9 – Roy Nelson – 1

10 – Gabriel Gonzaga

*Alistair Overeem fell out of the top 10*

Pound For Pound

1 – Jon Jones

2 – Georges St-Pierre

3 – Jose Aldo

4 – Cain Velasquez

5 – Anderson Silva

6 – Demetrious Johnson

7 – Renan Barao

8 – Chris Weidman

9 – Anthony Pettis

10 – Johny Hendricks

Thanks for reading and make sure to follow me on my brand new twitter and let me know what you agree and disagree with @BriceJSchroeder and make sure to follow @ProFightingFans to satisfy your MMA fix.

Heading into his fight with Team Rousey member Davey Grant, it was thought that Chris Holdsworth’s time training with Team Alpha Male would benefit him in the octagon.  And that was likely the case on Saturday night when he submitted Grant in the 2nd round to become the Season 18 Ultimate Fighter in the 135lb division.

It was a matchup that was quite similar to the women’s finals where Julianna Pena fought Jessica Rakoczy.  It was striker vs. grappler, and this time grappling won when Holdsworth was able to get his opponent’s back in the 2nd frame. He remained patient and once he got his opportunity he sunk in the rear naked choke, forcing Grant to tap. They showed their willingness to engage and each of them had their moments on the feet.  But once the fight was on the ground there was no question Holdsworth was the better grappler.  Grant may have several submission victories on his resume, but Chris is on another level when it comes to Jiu-Jitsu.

Chris Holdworth’s performance was just one more example of the type of fighters that are coming out of Team Alpha Male.  Since Duane Ludwig became the head coach, the team has been on fire and its members aren’t losing very often.  The camp is creating complete mixed martial artists, excelling in grappling and striking equally.  Holdsworth is now the 2nd Ultimate Fighter finalist to come out of Team Alpha Male alongside his teammate TJ Dillashaw.

The win puts Chris Holdsworth’s professional record at 5-0 and he remains unbeaten.  Davey Grant now sports a record of 8-2.  Holdsworth was a member of Team Tate and Grant was a member of Team Rousey on the 18th season of The Ultimate Fighter.  Team Tate fighters won both the men’s and women’s divisions on the show as Julianna Pena stopped Jessica Rakoczy in the other final.  The sweep for Miesha Tate will only further infuriate Ronda Rousey.  The two coaches face off December 28th in the co-main event of UFC 168.

 

Brent Haugh

Profightingfans.com Staff Writer

 

Season 18 of TUF wrapped up on Saturday night and for the first time in the show’s history there is a female ultimate fighter.  Miesha Tate was confident all season long that her number one pick Julianna Pena had the skills to win it all.  She obviously knew what she was talking about, because not only did Pena win the title, she did it in very convincing fashion against a game Jessica Rakoczy.

Pena had an obvious advantage in the grappling department going into this fight.  That was made clear once she got Rakoczy to the mat.  “The Venezualen Vixen” was just too much to handle, especially when she was in full mount.  She knew she had to get the fight to the ground so that Rakoczy wouldn’t have a chance to get comfortable on the feet.  It’s a beautiful thing when a fighter’s gameplan falls together so perfectly.

Jessica Rakoczy made an incredible effort to improve her position, but she wasn’t able to buck her opponent off.  Pena has heavy hands and it was only a matter of time before her punches would force the referee to stop the fight.  It is unfortunate that Mario Yamasaki didn’t let the round finish as there was only a second left on the clock.  However, there wasn’t much evidence that things would have gone any differently in the second round.

The win improves Pena’s professional record to 5-2 and the loss gives Rakoczy a record of 1-4-1.  It’s unclear whether or not the 36-year-old Rakoczy will get another fight in the UFC.  She’ll definitely need to improve her wrestling if she wants to compete with the best in the world.  Meanwhile, Julianna Pena is the first ever female ultimate fighter.  The UFC may want to ease her into action by giving her a somewhat easy fight next time around.

Pena was a part of Team Tate on the 18th installment of The Ultimate Fighter.  Her teammate Chris Holdsworth also won his fight with Team Rousey member Davey Grant to take the season’s title for the guys.  It was a clean sweep for Team Tate which only heightens the animosity between the two coaches.  Rousey and Tate will finally do battle again on December 28th in the co-main event of UFC 168.  They met in 2012 under the Strikeforce banner and Rousey tapped Tate in the first round.

 

Brent Haugh

Profightingfans.com Staff Writer

On November 30th, Gray Maynard will step into the octagon to face Nate Diaz for a third time.  Their first meeting was a part of the Ultimate Fighter season 7, and it ended with Diaz submitting Maynard.  Next time around things went a bit differently, as Gray got the split decision victory at UFC Fight Night 20.  A lot of things have happened since Diaz and Maynard last fought, for instance, both men have competed for the UFC lightweight title.   Although they battled different champions, Maynard fought Frankie Edgar twice and Diaz met Benson Henderson, the point is, they were title contenders at one time in their careers.  Because of that, this is an important fight.  As with every fighter preparing to go to war, there are certain elements of success necessary to get a win, and it’s no different for Gray Maynard on Saturday night.

Elements of Success: Regain Championship Form

When Gray Maynard fought to a draw against then UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar, he was a legitimate title contender.  When he faced Edgar again he was still ranked near the top of the UFC’s lightweight division.  So, what happened in Maynard’s last two fights?  He has looked nothing like the guy who was a few solid punches away from being a champion.  He won a decision over Clay Guida, in an absolutely terrible fight, where neither guy was very impressive.  Then in his next fight he was destroyed by Canadian TJ Grant and that put to rest any dreams Maynard may have had of getting another title shot in the near future.  In my opinion, Gray might not need to regain championship form to beat Nate Diaz.  However, he should strive to get back to where he once was and knocking out Diaz would do just that.

Elements of Success: Even Babe Ruth Hit for Singles

If you watch the fight against Guida, Maynard stalked him down, only looking to land the knockout shot.  It is a great strategy, if you can connect with your opponent’s jaw, but if you can’t, you just end up looking silly.  The best power punchers in UFC history knew when to throw a jab and when to go with the haymaker.  Maynard needs to accumulate landed strikes before he goes for the kill.  It is boxing 101, especially when you’re not even hitting your opponent.  In the pre-fight interviews Maynard has stated he wants to knock out Diaz, great, first make sure you can hit him at all.  You can bet that if the same Gray shows up who did against Clay Guida, Nate will have an answer for that and pick him apart with superior boxing.  Like the paragraph title says, even Babe Ruth hit for singles.

Elements of Success: Get Back to the Grind

Somewhere along the line Gray Maynard went from All-American wrestler to power hitter.  He seems to have forgotten that he has the ability to wrestle with the best of the best in the UFC.  I honestly think that if he wants to beat Nate Diaz, he should try and outwrestle him.  Wrestling has been Diaz’s Achilles heel, especially in his fights with Rory MacDonald and Benson Henderson.  Maynard may also have more success with his striking if he threatens with takedowns.  We must remember that to be a NCAA All-American wrestler, one must endure torturous training regimens; it really takes a special kind of individual.  Maynard is still that guy, and if he shows up ready to wrestle, he could get a very important win against Nate Diaz on Saturday night.

Conclusion: It’s quite simple; Gray Maynard must pick his shots wisely when the fight is standing, outwrestle Diaz when it hits the mat, and most importantly, regain that championship form.  If he can do all of that then he has all of the elements of success that will be necessary to beat Nate Diaz.

 

Brent Haugh

Profightingfans.com Staff Writer

 

So another season of the Ultimate Fighter is approaching its end and I can’t help but have a sour taste in my mouth.  The season was supposed to be all about the female fighters, yet they were slightly overshadowed by the fact that the men couldn’t seem to make weight.  Oh well, maybe Saturday night’s finale will make up for a lackluster season, which included some great women’s fights and not much else.  Now, here come the predictions!

Roxanne Modafferi vs. Raquel Pennington

Modafferi has more experience than most of her castmates on TUF.  That being said she’s also lost five straight fights, although the losses have come against some stiff competition including Canadian Sarah Kaufman and Rosi Sexton, both are currently on the UFC roster.  She’ll be taking on Raquel Pennington, who made it to the semi-finals on the show before losing to finalist Jessica Rakoczy.  Pennington was also a part of a “fight of the season” candidate when she met Jessamyn Duke in an instant classic.  Yes, Modafferi has more experience, but I don’t think she’s any match for the toughness of Raquel Pennington.  I think Pennington will come in throwing heavy shots and she’ll catch the veteran early in the 2nd round.

Prediction: Raquel Pennington via TKO round 2

 

Jessamyn Duke vs. Peggy Morgan

I am super excited for this fight.  Two of the tallest female bantamweights on the planet will go to war when Jessamyn Duke meets Peggy Morgan.  Funny enough, they both sport perfect 2-0 records in their careers.  So whoever can establish their range first will likely win this one.  It’ll go the distance and come down to a split decision, where I think Jessamyn Duke will have done just enough to get the nod.  Consider yourself warned, this could be the fight of the night!

Prediction: Jessamyn Duke via Split Decision

 

Davey Grant vs. Chris Holdsworth

Now we have the first of the finals for season 18 of the Ultimate Fighter.  I’ve been impressed by both Holdsworth and Grant.  I think Holdsworth has the advantage on the mat, despite the fact that 7 of Grant’s 8 career wins have come by way of submission.  I’m only giving him the advantage because he trains with Team Alpha Male and those guys are all ground wizards.  If he can take Grant down and maintain dominant positioning Holdsworth should come away the big contract.  But, if he waits too long on his feet, Davey Grant has enough power to finish the fight standing.  It’s really a toss-up, heads I take Holdsworth, tails I’m going with Grant.  Tails it is!  I’ll take Davey Grant by 2nd round TKO.

Prediction: Davey Grant via 2nd round TKO

 

Jessica Rakoczy vs. Julianna Pena

I know Pena is the big favorite going into this fight, and really she should be.  She looked fantastic in all of her fights on this season of TUF.  But, there is one thing she doesn’t have that her opponent Jessica Rakoczy does and that is experience in high pressure situations.  As it was mentioned numerous times throughout the season, Rakoczy is a multiple time world champion in the sport of boxing.  That is the kind of thing that you can’t train for.  Pena might be the stronger woman in the cage on Saturday night.  However, I’m going against her in this one.  Not only is Rakoczy Canadian, she is also very focused and I think she pulls off the upset tomorrow night to be crowned the first ever female ultimate fighter.

Prediction: Jessica Rakoczy via Split Decision

 

Nate Diaz vs. Gray Maynard

This is an interesting fight because both Maynard and Diaz really need wins if they want another shot at UFC gold.  If Gray Maynard finds a way to mix up his wrestling with his boxing, he could find success.  Now, if Diaz can avoid the power punches from his opponent, I like his chances of jabbing his way to a decision victory.  As much as I’d like to see this fight go to the ground, it probably won’t.  If that’s the case, then I’m going with Diaz.  The only way Maynard wins this fight is he knocks him out on the feet or finishes it with ground and pound.  Diaz will get a unanimous decision and another high level opponent in his next fight.

Prediction: Nate Diaz via Unanimous Decision

 

Brent Haugh

Profightingfans.com Staff Writer

Chael Sonnen and Wanderlei Silva will be the coaches on the next season of The Ultimate FIghter: Brazil. Sonnen and Silva have gone back and forth for several years and have never fought. Sonnen has claimed that Wanderlei is scared of him and just flat out said “no” when the fight was offered, and Silva has claimed that the fight has never been offered to him. However, the two will finally fight after their season of TUF Brazil.

The season is set to begin filming before the end of the year, so they’ll likely begin filming immediately after Sonnen’s fight with Rashad Evans on November 16th.

Both Silva and Sonnen have been coaches in the past, Sonnen coached TUF 17 against Jon Jones earlier this year, and Silva coached the first season of TUF Brazil against Vitor Belfort.

UFC President Dana White assured Sonnen that he will have a ton of security down in Brazil while they’re taping.

This will likely be the opposite of the friendly and respectful season of TUF that Sonnen was just a part of with Jon Jones. This could be one of the most entertaining seasons of TUF we will ever see. Personally, I think Sonnen and Silva’s season of TUF will be a lot better than BJ Penn and Frankie Edgar’s. But I guess that remains to be seen.

The date or specific location for the fight has not been revealed, but I’m sure we’ll know more in the coming days and weeks.

Aaron Sass

Profightingfans.com Staff Writer

 

Team Tate retained the tournament initiative as they raced to a 2-0 lead over Team Rousey – taking out number one male pick Chris Beal in the process. In a match-up that comprised of a classic striker versus grappler combination, Team Rousey were left licking their wounds for a second successive week as sparks continued to fly between the rival coaches.

Miesha Tate looked to build bridges early in the episode when she took over a consolatory slice of chocolate cake for defeated competition-favourite Shayna Baszler. Both Tate and Baszler have a long history in MMA, having even shared a room together at one point while on their respective journeys, which does beg the question – why didn’t Miesha pick her?

Baszler’s conqueror, the barely-fancied Julianna Pena, managed to be the talk of the episode. Not because everyone was showering her with congratulations but rather the fact that she was getting on everyone’s nerves. Whether it was her constant need to talk in an appalling English accent or that she found herself at the centre of a match-up leak conspiracy – Pena was one unpopular girl.

This was all summed up beautifully by Anthony Gutierrez (Team Rousey) when he said: “I like everybody in the house, Julianna is really the only one that was kinda bugging me but she’s pretty good looking so she might be able to get away with it a little bit longer.”

Sentiments echoed by teammate Cody Bollinger who said: “Julie has her days, some days she’s okay other days it’s unbearable.”

Back in the TUF gym, Ronda was trying to rouse her troops (brilliant) in light of their opening loss and she seemed supremely confident in her next fighter Beal – who was carrying an injury to his right hand. We then learned that overcoming setbacks are nothing new for Beal, who battled sarcoma cancer “the size of a tennis ball” in his leg. Beal’s strategy was to use his speed and as much power as he could generate from his diluted hands to keep the fight standing and not allow Chris Holdsworth (Team Tate) to get his hands on him.

Apparently Pena told the Team Rousey girls of all the female fights Team Tate were planning to make if they kept control and in which order. Whether she was guilty or not, Pena deflected blame towards her own teammate – the quirky Roxanne Modafferi (who happens to be quite the masseuse). Pena subsequently apologised for the accusation. As it turns out there was no list of fights, no conspiracy – ah well, it was a good soap opera subplot while it lasted.

Both Holdsworth and Beal lost a brother each through gun crime so both had distinct motivation and focus ahead of their fight.

But before they got in the cage all the TUF cast travelled to the Red Rock resort and casino to watch a UFC event taking place in Brazil – a chance for everyone to unwind and relax (or at least try to). When there is alcohol on offer, there is always the potential for a spat and the Rousey/Tate feud was showcased once again. At first the dispute was over how close Rousey was to Tate’s boyfriend and fellow coach Bryan Caraway, quickly moving on to Tate criticising Rousey’s ability to hit pads or even throw punches. Then Team Rousey coach Edmond Tarverdyan got involved and there was a lot of posturing and bleeped out expletives.

Tarverdyan said: “She’ll beat you standing any f***ing day I guarantee you that, think about it and she’ll break your arm after that.” Both of which are very likely when Rousey and Tate eventually meet in their rematch.

Finally the fight was upon us and it promised to be good one, two great young fighters who have both overcome immense personal trauma to get to where they are.

Round 1: Holdsworth started brightly, keeping Beal at distance with a stiff jab even though his boxing style was not as tight. After a brief time-out due to a low blow the fight continued with Beal looking to swing a bit more but Holdsworth was comfortable in the stand up department. Both fighters were made to eat a few shots before Holdsworth got the  fight down to the ground but failed with an armbar attempt. Beal lacked intensity and appeared hesitant, eventually he was dropped by a crisp right cross. Holdsworth rained down punches, sunk in the guillotine choke and Beal tapped with 41 seconds to go in the round.

A surprised Dana White said: “They stood, they traded and every time Holdsworth would throw the straight right hand he would catch Beal with it – and he hurt him every time he hit him with it.”

A dejected Chris Beal took his first loss like a man, he’ll come back stronger that’s for sure.

Next fight:  Roxanne Modafferi (Team Tate) Vs.  Jessica Rakoczy (Team Rousey).

Next week there will be more rival coach disputes and we’ll gain a greater insight into how men and women train together.

By Haseeb Malik     @HaseebMalik

Profightingfans.com Staff Writer

In a week where it was announced that BJ Penn and Frankie Edgar will eventually meet for a third time via the avenues of The Ultimate Fighter, this season’s offering got off to a great start with Team Tate scoring an early tournament shock victory.

Team Rousey picked the first fight and attempted to make a huge statement by matching up their first female pick with the number one choice female on Team Tate – Shayna Baszler versus Julianna Pena. The proposed fight was immediately touted as a mismatch, with seasoned-professional Baszler expected to tear through her opponent. The fact that Pena is a friend and former training partner of Miesha Tate added extra spice to the fight as Ronda Rousey sought out an early advantage to the competition.

The episode started with the full cast arriving at the TUF mansion for the first time and making a bee-line for the bedrooms to secure their space. Naturally the girls crammed themselves into one room, with Peggy Morgan (Team Rousey) saying: “I think maybe the most difficult part about living in the house  is there’s five girls sharing one bathroom which could get really ugly.” Shortly after that we were treated to bikinis and hot tub action which prompted Chris Holdsworth (Team Tate) to get quite excited. He said: “You never know, there’s eight guys and eight girls in the house, there’s six weeks, so we’ll see what happens.” Essentially he said what we’re all thinking – will this season lead to the first TUF baby?

Tim Goran (Team Tate) put an early comedic stamp on proceedings by saying that a girl was not going to submit him in training and that he would morally not be able to go 100% if he was rolling with a girl – controversial but funny. In reaction his teammate Sarah Moras said: “It’s not like we go to a gym full of females and just train with females, now that we’re finally getting that exposure I think we’re going to blow a lot of people’s minds.” Unfortunately, Goran had to withdraw from the show through injury to his left hamstring. The silver lining is that self-professed ladies-man Anthony Gutierrez looks like he could provide funny-isms for the rest of the season.

Turning attention back to the first fight, Jessamyn Duke (Team Rousey) talked about how Baszler was one of her idols in the sport and is probably the favourite to win the whole competition. Baszler was convinced that with her experience of fighting for over a decade, she could win the fight in all areas. Meanwhile, her opponent Pena looked like she was doubting her own abilities and seemingly cracking under the pressure. Even other members of Team Tate thought Pena would lose. Nevertheless, her coach Miesha said: “She’s a raw, aggressive fighter – she has one of those things that you can’t teach and that’s heart.”

Round 1: Pena put some very early combinations together and seemed to rattle Baszler before they tied up. Baszler eventually got the fight to the ground where she looked for the submission. There was a lot of back and forth scrapping and each time they got back to their feet, the fight returned to the mat. Baszler rained down some significant shots from the top but Pena never seemed in too much trouble. Baszler 10-9.

Round 2: Plenty of swinging arms at the start of the second round with Pena smashing Baszler in the face a few times and it looked like she rocked the favourite at one point which forced Baszler to tie up and move the fight to the cage. But it was Pena who was able to land some decent knee strikes to the head. The fight moved to the floor and Baszler gave up her back, Pena sunk in a rear naked choke and tapped out her opponent.

Rousey was understandably shocked and upset. Jubilant Tate now had control of the next fight and she went after Chris Beal who has been carrying a hand injury.

Next fight: Chris Holdsworth (Team Tate) Vs. Chris Beal (Team Rousey).

Rousey aimed some parting words at Tate before the end of the episode and we caught a sneak peek at next week’s show where the two have further confrontation. Tune in and do not miss out.

By Haseeb Malik     @HaseebMalik85

Profightingfans.com Staff Writer

It might be over a quiet coffee, at an intimate lunch or generally when there is fewer people around – it’s almost like I am trying to conceal something. But I don’t feel guilty, I’m a fight fan through and through. Anyway, here goes, deep breath… I tell her about the sport of Mixed Martial Arts, she knows I like to watch as many events as possible but she refuses to share in the experience with me. Why? Oh, of course, it’s barbaric and graphic and gory and why on earth would any sane person want to watch one bare-chested fighter attempt to end another? My arguments for the cause are not always the most compelling I must concede, I struggle to articulate just how much respect I have for these athletes who train round the clock in varied disciplines in order to leave the Octagon with the ‘W’.

I cannot always put into words how for centuries there has been something deep rooted inside us all (but predominantly men) that demands we avidly spectate when two people throw down because it’s the most exciting chess game around. Yes, it is one person hitting another and no, I would not condone that in the street or within the wider realms of civil society but prize fighting is an institution that will outlive us all. Why? Because we love it, because we’re fight junkies and just when we feel like we may have seen enough – something happens that hooks us on the sport all over again.

So I habitually take my laptop into a silent room and watch high-level cage combat all on my own. Don’t get me wrong, this is just the unwritten agreement we have and I accept it. She would much rather settle down on the sofa and tune into the Great British Bake Off, that is her vibe and I don’t judge – after all, she herself is a fantastic baker and I like eating cakes. I like to call that – win, win. Nevertheless, when the annual opportunity knocks and the worlds of MMA and reality TV collide, I put forward a case for us to partake in watching the UFC together. This time there are female coaches, this time there are female competitors and this time both men and women will live in The Ultimate Fighter house side by side. So this season we’ll watch side by side right? I think it’s safe to say I need to put forward a more coherent case…maybe one day.

The Ultimate Fighter is MMA’s answer to The X-Factor in that you follow individuals from the start of a talent search until the final victor is crowned. Only there is no public vote, no one outstays their welcome and it’s better, The Ultimate Fighter is much better than X-Factor – there I said it.

TUF returned to our screens this week with a whole new feel but just as much action. For the first time, women will compete against each other in pursuit of a 6-figure contract with the UFC – not to mention a Harley Davidson motor cycle. The female wing of the sport has evolved immensely over the last few years, MMA as a sport is not what it used to be and TUF has rolled with punches and moved with the times. Ever since women were allowed to compete in the UFC they have put on some of the most entertaining fights in the organisation’s recent history. Women’s Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey heads up one of the teams and will be pitting her wits against opposition coach and longterm rival Miesha Tate. There is a lot of bad blood between these two, they have previously fought while at Strikeforce (Ronda won by armbar, obviously) and they square off once more when all is said and done on this season.

Episode one was dominated by the revelation that Miesha would be replacing Cat Zingano as a coach. Cat needed knee surgery and was not available for the start of filming so Miesha graciously stepped in to have another crack at her nemesis. This was all kept very quiet, Ronda was the last to find out and judging by her reaction she was not best pleased. However, she only freaked out because she thought that she might be the one being replaced. So after everyone had a chuckle over the misunderstanding, it was down to business and the tension between the two ladies was palpable. They watched 32 fighters compete for a place in the TUF mansion before deciding who they wanted on their team.

Each of the 16 fighters who made it through did so by putting on a show in front of their friends and families at the TUF gym in Las Vegas. Over the coming weeks we will gain access into what they are like as people, how they carry themselves outside of the cage and how the interact with each other inside the house – which, in case you missed it, will have both men and women living together for the first time. Say what? Expect drama!

The first fight of the competition is set to be great matchup with Shayna Baszler of Team Rousey fighting Julianna Pena of Team Tate. It’s first pick versus first pick. Team Rousey won the coin toss and decided to choose the first contest with Ronda saying, “We just wanna go straight for the jugular and demoralise their whole team.” Seems like an aggressive strategy but it may well prove very effective.

The short glimpse at the rest of the season that we got to see shows things getting heated between Ronda and Miesha so make sure you tune in for the potential fireworks – this season will not disappoint!

One-2-Watch in Team Rousey: Shayna Baszler or Chris Beal.

One-2-Watch in Team Tate: Cody Bollinger.

 

Haseeb Malik @HaseebMalik85

Profightingfans.com Staff Writer

Once again – in the month of April – we’re gearing up for another UFC event and this time it’s the TUF 17 Finale at the Mandalay Bay Event Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. Let me drop some truth nuggets on you. I haven’t watched a single minute of this season’s TUF. Instead, I caught the highlights via Uriah Hall knockout gifs.

Enough about my lack of interest in TUF. Let’s get right to the predictions and another win for the Leegend.

Bubba McDaniel vs. Gilbert Smith

Brent: I am excited to make some more predictions!  The first fight of the main card is a battle between Bubba McDaniel and Gilbert Smith. These two were both members of Team Jones on TUF 17.  McDaniel has a definite experience advantage with 26 fights in his pro career.  Meanwhile, Smith has only fought six times as a professional.  I like Bubba’s chances if this fight goes to the ground.  I am going to predict that McDaniel will get the submission finish in the 2nd round.

Prediction: McDaniel via 2nd round submission

Scott: As I confessed above I haven’t watched the TUF 17 season so these two individuals mean very little to me at this moment. Here’s hoping this fight turns out to be one of the best on the card because we all know the Hall/Gastelum fight is one big joke, right? As for a prediction I’m going to guess my way to the bank, son.

Prediction: Smith via unanimous decision

Travis Browne vs. Gabriel Gonzaga

Brent: This should be a great fight.  Gonzaga is on a mini tear, while Browne is going to be looking for a rebound win after his last fight against Antonio Silva.  “Napao” has won three straight by submission, a return to his BJJ roots.  However, Browne is dangerous on the feet. Styles make fights and this one will be interesting.  I’m going with Browne by TKO in round two.  I actually think Gonzaga will dominate on the ground in the first before he goes down.

Prediction: Browne via 2nd round TKO

Scott: (Sarcasm) I thought Gonzaga was retired, “just coaching,” or lost in Brazil. Clearly this fight is a tuneup bout for Browne which makes it a dangerous fight as well. If Browne sticks to what he does best which is striking and using his reach he’ll make easy work of Gonzaga – let’s hope his leg doesn’t explode this time around.

Predictions: Browne via 1st round TKO

Miesha Tate vs. Cat Zingano

Brent: This will be the 2nd ever female fight in UFC history.  And, like the first one between Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche, this fight should be exciting.  Zingano is undefeated as a pro and Tate has only lost twice since 2007.  The winner will coach alongside Rousey on season 18 of The Ultimate fighter, so there is a lot at stake.  I’m literally guessing when I say that Zingano is going to win by TKO, just to play the spoiler to Tate’s hopes for a rematch with Ronda.

Prediction: Zingano via 2nd round TKO

Scott: For some reason everyone thinks Zingano’s going to run through “Cupcake” like it’s the dessert portion of the date. I’m just not as convinced. Tate’s been apart of some big WMMA moments over the years, and right now nothing’s bigger than coaching opposite Ronda Rousey on TUF 18.

Prediction: Tate via 3rd round submission 

Kelvin Gastelum vs. Uriah Hall

Brent: Uraih Hall is by far the most hyped fighter to come out of TUF, and he hasn’t even officially fought in the UFC.  But, Kelvin Gastelum is the underdog-kid, having defeated Team Jones’ favorites Bubba McDaniel and Josh Samman.  There is no denying that Hall is lethal in the stand-up game.  I just didn’t like what I saw from him in the TUF semi-finals when he was on his back against Dylan Andrews.  Let’s face it, his finish of Andrews was a little blown out of proportion, the damage had already been done by that point in the fight.  I know Hall was also attacking from his back with submissions, but I think Kelvin is a beast in top position and has shown a good chin as well. I’m going with the Cinderella story, Gastulem by submission.

Prediction: Kelvin Gastelum via 2nd round submission

Scott: What the hell are you thinking Brent? The fact that you picked Gastelum proves that you haven’t watched TUF this season either (or the gif version for that matter). This is Hall’s fight bottom line. Hopefully I’ve made it clear who I’m predicting to win before you ever have to read it below.

Prediction: Uriah Hall via COMPLETE DECIMATION

Urijah Faber vs. Scott Jorgensen

Brent: This is Faber’s fight to lose.  Don’t get me wrong, I like Jorgensen, but Urijah is still a legitimate top ten fighter.  I do see “Young Guns” giving his opponent a good challenge in the first and then Faber will pull ahead in the 2nd and 3rd rounds.  It’ll go the distance and will probably be a fairly entertaining matchup. “The California Kid” will come out on top by unanimous decision.  Oh man, I almost forgot to remind Scott Levesque that I did pick the most winners from last week’s UFC on Fuel TV 9.  Did you really think I’d go the whole column without rubbing it in a little?

Prediction: Faber via unanimous decision

Scott: Oh now he says, “It’s someone’s fight to lose.” Clearly Faber is on another level than Jorgensen at this moment and this is Faber’s last chance to prove himself to be the number one contender, again. Faber made Menjivar look like an amateur back at UFC 157 winning by rear-naked choke while Jorgensen’s last fight ended with him winning the same way but against up and comer John Albert. I think it’s pretty obvious who you should put money on.

Prediction: Faber via 1st round submission 

Tell us your TUF 17 Finale predictions by finding us on Twitter. You can tweet Brent at @BrentHas2Write and Scott at @scottlevesque.

By Scott Levesque (@scottlevesque)

ProFightingFans.com Staff Writer