Make it a fantastic four for coach Robert Whittaker.
With Juan Espino’s lopsided decision win over Kelvin Gastelum representative Ben Sosoli on this week’s episode of The Ultimate Fighter 28, Team Whittaker has now won four straight bouts after dropping the first three of the season.
Espino, a native of the Canary Islands with a strong background in wrestling, judo, and jiu-jitsu, was simply too much for Sosoli in the grappling department. Though Sosoli looked to be agile and light on his feet, he was unable to strike at the taller Espino without putting himself in range for a takedown. Sure enough, a minute into the opening round, Espino secured a bodylock and took the fight down to the mat. From there, he spent much of the frame working from half guard. Sosoli was able to get his feet on the fence and briefly escape, but Espino proceeded to lift him off of his feet and slam him when Sosoli went for a guillotine choke.
Round two was more of the same. While Sosoli managed to land a couple of hard shots early on, once Espino secured another takedown the fight was essentially over. Sosoli ate countless short punches while struggling to improve position and even when he managed to stand, Espino dragged him back down and neutralized him until time ran out.
Espino (7-1) joins teammate Michel Batista in the heavyweight tournament semifinals. The other two spots are occupied by Team Gastelum’s Maurice Greene and Justin Frazier. Australia’s Sosoli (6-2) loses for the first time in his last four fights, though it should be noted that TUF bouts are classified as exhibitions and do not count towards the fighters’ pro records.
In other storylines, Leah Letson was back on board with Team Whittaker after the coaches helped push her to a win, and tensions rose as Greene accused Espino of being a “fake person”, leading to the two having to talk it out.
Here are the first-round results so far:
Maurice Greene def. Przemyslaw Mysiala via KO (uppercut) in round one
Pannie Kianzad def. Katharina Lehner via unanimous decision
Justin Frazier def. Anderson da Silva via unanimous decision
Julija Stoliarenko def. Marciea Allen via submission (armbar) in round one
Michel Batista def. Josh Parisian via TKO (ground and pound) in round two
Leah Letson def. Bea Malecki via unanimous decision
Juan Espino def. Ben Sosoli via unanimous decision
On next week’s episode, Team Whittaker’s Larissa Pacheco fights Team Gastelum’s Macy Chiasson in a featherweight bout.
Season 28 of The Ultimate Fighter is being coached by UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker and top contender Kelvin Gastelum. Gastelum will challenge Whittaker for the middleweight title at a future date to be determined.
The finalists of the TUF 28 heavyweight and featherweight tournaments will compete for a six-figure UFC contract at The Ultimate Fighter 28 Finale on Nov. 30 in Las Vegas.
Here is the TUF 28 roster divided by team:
Anderson da Silva
Advancing to Round 2: Greene, Kianzad, Frazier, Stoliarenko, Batista, Letson, Espino
Eliminated: Mysiala, Lehner, Da Silva, Allen, Parisian, Malecki, Sosoli