By Dan Downes, Courtesy UFC.com:
After Dana gives a quick rundown of the TUF basics (16 fighters make it into the house, winner gets a contract and a Harley Davidson etc.) Ronda Rousey appears. She talks about her first experience watching The Ultimate Fighter and wishing they offered it to women. She’s excited to be a part of history, but her joy is soon cut short though as Miesha Tate strolls into the gym. Initially they’re polite and shake hands. Ronda’s courtesy soon runs out as Miesha informs her that she’s there to coach. Ronda appears visibly upset and no one really knows why. Dana brings the two together and tells them about Cat Zingano blowing her knee out. A wave of relief washes over Rousey’s because she thought Miesha’s presence meant that she was getting cut from the show.
After that awkwardness things get right down to business and the coaches meet the 32 fighters that will be battling to get into the house. Dana gives the fighters his usual pep talk (with much less expletives than expected), and it’s time for the eliminations.
Jessamyn Duke (2-0-1) vs. Laura Howarth (3-0)
The first fight takes place in women’s division as the 5’11” Duke fights the 5’3” Howarth. Despite being the taller fighter, Duke comes right at the British national and backs her down. Howarth throws some low kicks, but Duke counters with a big cross. They fight for position against the fence and then Duke uses her long legs to score a hip toss takedown. Howarth doesn’t let this faze her, as she quickly reverses position and takes top position. Duke attempts an armbar, but Howarth dodges the submission and both fighters throw ineffective shots from guard. Then, Duke tosses up a triangle choke and forces the tap with 1:12 left in the first.
Danny Martinez (18-4) vs. David Grant (8-1)
Martinez trains at the Alliance gym out of San Diego, California, and name drops UFC bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz who is sitting cage side. David Grant fights out of the UK and thinks about how hard it’ll be to be away from his wife and children if he makes it into the TUF house.
The two come out swinging. Martinez shoots in and forces Grant against the fence, but they soon break. Grant scores a solid body knee, but Martinez powers through and runs Grant against the cage again. Grant drops an illegal downward elbow to the spine and Herb Dean breaks them up. When the fight restarts the two start swinging wide and wild; neither one hits the mark. Martinez continues to charge forward and finally scores a takedown. Quickly Grant attacks with a triangle choke that shows promise, but the bell signals the end of the round.
The second round begins and the Alliance product is still throwing big, looping punches. Grant counters with a hard right that drops his opponent. He rushes in, but makes his second infraction by kneeing a downed opponent in the head. Grant insists that it was the shoulder, but Herb Dean stops the fight and deducts a point. They restart and Martinez shows no sign of stopping and continues to charge forward (eating counter shots in the process). Martinez shoots in again, Grant sprawls and tries for a guillotine. No success there, but he flips over for an armbar that’s locked in and forces the tap. Miesha Tate likes what she saw, but thinks that Grant better brush up on reading the rulebook.
Before the next fight Dana talks about the tension at the table with him and the two coaches. He tries to start conversation, but even Mark Hunt doesn’t think these two talk enough
Jessica Rakoczy (1-3-1) vs. Revelina Berto (3-1)
Fighting out of Las Vegas, Rakoczy has an impressive list of athletic feats. Not only is she 33-3 as a pro boxer, she even played basketball for Team Canada. Berto comes from an impressive line of fighters, and one of her brothers is two-time boxing champ Andre Berto. Dana expects this to be, “a good striking match.” It wasn’t, but it wasn’t a disappointment either. Rakoczy immediately goes for a belly to belly takedown and the two battle on the ground. There’s a lot of back and forth and Rakoczy drops some brutal ground and pound. She then transitions to some submissions of her own and finishes with an omaplatata shoulder lock.
Michael Wooten (6-0) vs. Emil Hartsner (3-0)
Wooten was voted the top UK MMA prospect. Hartsner comes from Sweden and a former highly touted hockey recruit. On paper they may sound like a great match, but they didn’t deliver in the Octagon. As Dana describes it, “I have nothing to say about this fight other than it sucked. I lost 15 minutes of my life.” Wooten holds his opponent against the cage and squeaks out a decision win.
Peggy Morgan (2-0) vs. Bethany Marshall (4-1)
Morgan is an adjunct literature professor from New Hampshire. When the two fighters step in the cage, there’s a definite size discrepancy. Upon seeing Morgan, Miesha Tate even exclaims, “That’s the biggest 135 pounder I’ve ever seen.” We then learn that Marshall normally fights at 125. Morgan then proceeds to beat up Marshall worse than the Atlantic did to JK Rowling’s foray into adult literature. She tears up Marshall and secures a TKO stoppage.
Roxanne Modafferi (15-10) vs. Valerie Letourneau (4-3)
One of the veterans of WMMA, Modafferi has been living in Japan for the last eight years working as an English teacher. Letourneau trains at the Tristar gym with UFC stars like GSP and looks to her daughter for inspiration. As the round begins the two soon tie up and Modafferi works for the takedown. She’s initially thwarted, but keeps at it and secures the single leg. She works to pass guard and eventually takes Letourneau’s back. It takes a little bit of time, but the rear naked choke soon comes and Modafferi proves herself to be game. After the fight we come to realize that she’ll definitely be one of the more interesting personalities in the house. Not quite Luke Cummo weird, but we shall see.
Tim Gorman (9-2) vs. Lee Sandmeier (9-0)
Gorman is an Oklahoma wresting boy who Dana White accurately pegs as a “nutball.” Born hearing impaired in both ears, Sandmeier has conquered his disabilities and looks to make the next step. Gorman charges in right away and gets the takedown. He soon winds up with full mount and rains down the G&P. Sandmeier gives up his back and Gorman still keeps hammering away. This continues for a short time and soon Steve Mazagatti mercifully stops the fight.
Raquel Pennington (3-3) vs. Tonya Evinger (11-6)
Pennington has a boxing background and describes herself as a, “natural.” Evinger has a wrestling background and reveals the perfect tagline if she ever opens up an MMA clothing company, “Whoop that ass with hammerfists.” Miesha seems to be familiar with Evinger her and says that she lacks heart. There might be some truth to that as Tonya gasses, allowing Pennington to lock in the guillotine submission victory.
Chris Beal (7-0) vs. Sirwan Kakai (9-1)
Kakai is a Swedish national who left home and moved to Florida to pursue his dream to be in the UFC. Sarcoma cancer couldn’t slow down Chris Beal and he won’t let this fight do it either. From start to finish this fight was all Beal. Extremely aggressive, every punch he threw had bad intentions. He didn’t get the finish, but he earned the decision win and the respect of Dana White and the coaches.
Patrick Holohan (9-0-1) vs. Josh Hill (9-0)
Holohan grew up in the projects of Dublin and looks to join his countryman Conor McGregor in the UFC. Hill is a longtime competitive grappler with an impressive record (36-1). Hill dominates the fight, but doesn’t impress anyone. Miesha accuses him of lay and pray tactics and Dana has contempt for his strategy as well. Hill makes it into the house, but he didn’t win any fans in the process.
Colleen Schneider (4-4) vs Shayna Baszler (15-8)
Schneider may have a physics degree from Berkeley, but it doesn’t take a lot of smarts to realize that she has a tough test against a veteran like Baszler. They exchange a few strikes at the onset of the round, but soon clinch against the fence. Baszler reverses position, finishes the takedown and immediately takes Schneider’s back. Colleen escapes, but Baszler wastes no time to recover and leg trips her for another takedown. After some knee on belly strikes, she moves to an armbar attempt. Schneider initially defends, but Baszler breaks the grip and secures the submission.
Louis Fisette (6-1) vs Chris Holdsworth (4-0)
Fisette’s dad stops by the hotel room for a surprise visit. The majority of the time is spent complaining about how his son is a mooch. Holdsworth trains with Team Alpha Male in Sacramento and holds a jiu jitsu black belt. Fisette comes out hard, swings big and suplexes Holdsworth to the mat. Active off his back, Holdsworth keeps working angles and finally catches an armbar. He then transitions to triangle choke and has it locked in deep. Fisette keeps holding, finally breaks free and drops some big punches from top position. He goes for a kimura, but that gives Holdsworth the opening to reverse position and take mount. This time he pursues an arm triangle and Fisette winds up tapping.
Gina Mazany (3-0) vs Julianna Pena (4-2)
A former figure skater and ballerina, Mazany gave it up when she “fell in love” with Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Pena is a teammate and friend of Coach Tate. Pena keeps a high pace and brutalizes Mazany. Once she gets top position, she unleashes some brutal punches and elbows. She doesn’t get the finish, but she definitely impresses in her performance.
Matt Munsey (4-1) vs Anthony Gutierrez (4-0)
A “gator wrasslin’ country boy” that never finished the 9th grade, Munsey has quite the personality. Gutierrez decided to skip college to pursue an MMA career and has a lot riding on this as well. An uneventful fight, Gutierrez does enough grappling and smothering to win the decision. Both the coaches and Gutierrez himself are disappointed with the performance.
Tara LaRosa (21-3) vs Sarah Moras (3-1)
Another longtime veteran of WMMA, LaRosa was actually ranked #1 in the world when Moras first entered the sport. If you think that would intimidate her, think again. After eating a big jab to begin the round, Moras shoots for the takedown and gets it. She then proceeds to use her top control and strength to keep LaRosa down and take the decision win.
Rafael de Freitas (6-0-1) vs Cody Bollinger (14-3)
Training out of Albuquerque, de Freitas wants to win so he can take care of his single mother who worked two jobs to provide for him. Bollinger reveals that the state of Georgia has lax child labor laws when he tells us that he turned pro at the age of 15. They touch gloves and de Freitas scores with punishing leg kicks. This prompts Bollinger to go for the takedown and he finishes it. Rafael appears to go for a reverse triangle, but Bollinger slams his way out of it. They break free and the Brazilian continues to rip the leg kicks. Bollinger tries to score another slam, but de Freitas works on a standing guillotine. They fall to the mat, but Bollinger defends and breaks free. He continues to damage de Freitas and defends triangle attempts and the round ends.
As the second round begins, de Freitas looks exhausted. Cody jumps on this opportunity and lets the strikes fly. Uppercuts, hooks, knees and elbows all land with little to no defense. This continues for a little while, but the ref mercifully puts an end to it. The only thing more extraordinary than his fighting skills are his romantic skills when he hugs his significant other and whispers, “There’s nobody here that I can’t [expletive] destroy, right?”
After that fight it moves straight to picking teams. Ronda Rousey wins the coin toss and decides to pick the first fight. They choose the women first and Miesha takes her friend Julianna Pena with the
first pick. The rest of the teams (in order) are:
1. Julianna Peña
2. Sarah Moras
3. Raquel Pennington
4. Roxanne Modafferi
1. Shayna Baszler
2. Jessamyn Duke
3. Peggy Morgan
4. Jessica Rakoczy
It’s then the men’s turn and they are:
1. Cody Bollinger
2. Chris Holdsworth
3. Josh Hill
4. Tim Gorman — he says he doesn’t care that he’s Miesha’s last pick because, “I don’t know who she is.”
1. Chris Beal
2. David Grant
3. Anthony Gutierrez
4. Michael Wooten
They then go straight to the fight announcement… (Cont. reading at UFC.com)