The name of the game for Liudvik Sholinian was non-stop pressure and the tactic paid off for him as he becomes the first bantamweight to advance in The Ultimate Fighter 29 tournament.
Coach Brian Ortega picked Sholinian (9-1-1) to match up with the first overall pick of the season, Alexander Volkanovski’s Mitch Raposo and the choice paid off as Sholinian used an aggressive wrestling game to score a decision victory. It was the first loss* in MMA competition for Raposo—a training partner of UFC bantamweight contender Rob Font—who entered the show 5-0 as a pro and 6-0 as an amateur.
TUF bouts are scheduled to be two-round affairs with a third round needed if the fighters are tied after two. That was the case in the season’s second episode as Raposo used his evasiveness to circle the cage and pick Sholinian apart from the outside in the first, while Sholinian managed to score takedowns and win the second round with smothering top control.
The smaller Raposo stuffed a shot to open the extra period, but Sholinian was determined to get the takedown and he powered through to bring Raposo down against the fence. He fought to take Raposo’s back as he had in round two, but Raposo turned into him and regained full guard. Raposo even managed to create a scramble situation and take Sholinian’s back with two minutes remaining in the fight, but Sholinian calmly worked his way out of trouble and finished the fight in top position.
Sholinian—a native of Armenia raised in the Ukraine where he won national championships in wrestling—was Ortega’s second bantamweight pick. He advances to the TUF 29 quarter-finals.
With Ortega having successfully won the first two matchup selections, it was Volkanovski’s turn to pick the next fight at 185 pounds and he chose his top middleweight pick Ryder Newman (3-1) to fight Team Ortega’s Tresean Gore (3-0).
Here are the first-round results so far:
Andre Petroski def. Aaron Phillips via submission (guillotine choke) - Round 1, 4:42
Liudvik Sholinian def. Mitch Raposo via decision
On next week’s episode, Team Volkanovski’s Ryder Newman fights Team Ortega’s Tresean Gore in a middleweight bout.
(*TUF bouts are considered exhibitions and fighters’ pro records will not be changed by the results on the show)
Season 29 of The Ultimate Fighter is being coached by UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski and Brian Ortega. The two are expected to fight on a date to be announced following the airing of TUF 29.
The finalists of the TUF 29 middleweight and bantamweight tournaments will compete for a six-figure UFC contract at a finale event with a date still to be announced.
Here is the TUF 29 roster divided by team:
Advancing to Round 2: Petroski, Sholinian
Eliminated: Phillips, Raposo