The UFC’s inaugural women’s flyweight title fight is set and it’s a matchup that few could have predicted.
Sijara Eubanks, seeded No. 12 going into The Ultimate Fighter 26 tournament, punched her ticket to the TUF 26 Finale with a unanimous decision win over No. 1 seed Roxanne Modafferi. Eubanks will fight No. 14 seed Nicco Montano on Friday for the right to become the UFC’s first female champion at 125 pounds.
Facing a far more experienced opponent, Eubanks was able to get the better of a back-and-forth battle with timely strikes and strong grappling. Modafferi used her superior range to try and control Eubanks in Round 1, but the aggressive Eubanks was able to close the distance and land shots of her own. When she got the fight to the ground, Eubanks landed enough ground-and-pound to take the first round.
Rounds 2 and 3 told a similar story. The second frame saw Eubanks drag Modafferi down with a body lock and plenty of time to work. Modafferi reversed positions, only to be put on her back again when Eubanks leveraged a kimura attempt from the bottom into a sweep and another round finished in top position. Eubanks scored another takedown in the third, but the action returned to the feet near the end with both women throwing hard shots down to the wire.
All three judges scored the fight 30-27 in favor of Eubanks.
It was a bitter pill to swallow for Modafferi, a 14-year veteran of the sport. This was her second time competing in a TUF tournament as she’d previously been part of the TUF 18 cast.
The all-but-unknown Eubanks defied projections and conquered weight-cutting issues over the course of the season, managing to make 125 on the dot for the first time after taking a trip to the UFC Performance Institute for advice. She defeated Modafferi, DeAnna Bennett (No. 4), and Maia Stevenson (No. 5) to earn her spot in the finals.
Montano (3-2 prior to entering the TUF house) earned a unanimous decision over UFC veteran Lauren Murphy (No. 3) in the opening round before outpointing Montana Stewart (No. 6) and former Invicta FC champion Barb Honchak (No. 2) en route to her title shot.
The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale takes place at the Park Theater in Las Vegas on Friday.
Here are the semifinal matchups and results:
No. 12 Sijara Eubanks def. No. 1 Roxanne Modafferi via unanimous decision
No. 14 Nicco Montano def. No. 2 Barb Honchak via unanimous decision
Here are the second-round results:
No. 1 Roxanne Modafferi def. No. 8 Emily Whitmire via TKO (ground-and-pound) in Round 1
No. 12 Sijara Eubanks def. No. 4 DeAnna Bennett via KO (head kick) in Round 1
No. 2 Barb Honchak def. No. 10 Rachael Ostovich via unanimous decision
No. 14 Nicco Montano def. No. 6 Montana Stewart via unanimous decision
Here are the complete first-round results:
No. 1 Roxanne Modafferi def. No. 16 Shana Dobson via TKO (ground-and-pound) in Round 1
No. 4 DeAnna Bennett def. No. 13 Karine Gevorgyan via TKO (ground-and-pound) in Round 1
No. 6 Montana Stewart def. No. 11 Ariel Beck via submission (D’arce choke) in Round 1
No. 14 Nicco Montano def. No. 3 Lauren Murphy via unanimous decision
No. 12 Sijara Eubanks def. No. 5 Maia Stevenson via submission (kimura) in Round 2
No. 2 Barb Honchak def. No. 15 Gillian Robertson via TKO (ground and pound) in Round 2
No. 10 Rachael Ostovich def. No. 7 Melinda Fabian via submission (rear-naked choke) in Round 1
No. 8 Emily Whitmire def. No. 9 Christina Marks via submission (armbar) in Round 1
The season was coached by former UFC lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez and former WSOF lightweight champion Justin Gaethje. The winner of the TUF 26 tournament will be awarded the inaugural UFC women’s flyweight title.
Next up for Alvarez and Gaethje, they will fight at UFC 218 on Dec. 2 at the Little Caesars Arena in Detroit.
Here is the TUF 26 roster divided by team:
Team Alvarez: Dobson, Marks, Eubanks, Bennett, Honchak, Fabian, Beck
Team Gaethje: Modafferi, Whitmire, Stevenson, Gevorgyan, Robertson, Ostovich, Stewart, Montano, Murphy (formerly of Team Alvarez)
Advanced to the finals: Montano, Eubanks
Eliminated in semifinals: Honchak, Modafferi
Advanced to the semifinals: Modafferi, Eubanks, Honchak, Montano
Eliminated in Round 2: Whitmire, Bennett, Ostovich, Stewart
Eliminated in Round 1: Dobson, Gevorgyan, Beck, Murphy, Stevenson, Robertson, Fabian, Marks
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