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411’s TUF 26 Finale Report: Montano Wins

December 2, 2017 | Posted by Robert Winfree
Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale tuf 26 - Nicco Montano - Ryan Janes Gillain Robertson Rachael Ostovich

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MAIN CARD (FS1, 10 p.m. ET)
Roxanne Modafferi (124 lbs.) vs. Nicco Montano (124.5 lbs.) – for inaugural women’s flyweight title
Sean O’Malley (135.5 lbs.) vs. Terrion Ware (136 lbs.)
Barb Honchak (125.5 lbs.) vs. Lauren Murphy (126 lbs.)
Gerald Meerschaert (185 lbs.) vs. Eric Spicely (185.5 lbs.)
DeAnna Bennett (126 lbs.) vs. Melinda Fabian (126 lbs.)
Brett Johns (135.5 lbs.) vs. Joe Soto (135 lbs.)

PRELIMINARY CARD (FS1, 8 p.m. ET)
Montana De La Rosa (125 .5 lbs.) vs. Christina Marks (125.5 lbs.)
Ryan Janes (185 lbs.) vs. Andrew Sanchez (185.5 lbs.)
Karine Gevorgyan (130.5 lbs.) vs. Rachael Ostovich (125 lbs.)
Ariel Beck (125.5 lbs.) vs. Shana Dobson (125.5 lbs.)

PRELIMINARY CARD (UFC Fight Pass, 7:30 p.m. ET)
Gillian Robertson (125.5 lbs.) vs. Emily Whitmire (125 lbs.)


Hello everyone and welcome to 411mania’s LIVE coverage of The Ultimate Fighter 26 season finale. I’m Robert Winfree and I’ll be relaying to you good people all of the action just as I see it. This kicks off back to back nights of UFC action as tomorrow is UFC 218, a really solid main card, while this one has every chance of being a slog. Most TUF cards are horribly paced, and this one doesn’t even have too many compelling fights on paper so let’s hope the action surpasses the expectation.

Our main event for the evening is for the inaugural UFC women’s flyweight title. It was to be contested between Nicco Montano and Sijara Eubanks after this season of TUF, then Eubanks failed to make weight on her first attempt and wound up hospitalized when her kidney’s started shutting down. Stepping in for Eubanks is the woman she beat to advance to this bout, veteran Roxanne Modafferi who now has to be sentimental favorite as this would be an incredible capstone to her career. We’ve also got a battle of former Invicta champions when former longtime flyweight champion Barb Honchack officially ends a three year layoff to take on former bantamweight champion Lauren Murphy. We’ve also got the debut of Sean O’Malley after his impressive win on the Tuesday Night Contender Series against Terrion Ware.

This event comes to the world from the Park Theater in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA and has the official UFC debut on Dan Hellie on commentary (Hellie has done work on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series) alongside UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier. As for the rules the NSAC has not adopted the changes to the unified rules of MMA so anything besides the soles of your feet on the mat means your downed and the language around scoring isn’t as clear.

In the interest of furthering my knowledge and giving you all something to talk about, I’ve got a couple of questions for you should you feel like responding. Have you seen any of this season of TUF, or like me have you just relied on the excellent recapping skills of Larry Csonka? Are you enthusiastic about any of the fights tonight, and do you see the winner of the main event getting a single title defense or just being steam rolled by Valentina Shevchenko? Feel free to leave comments if you’re so inclined, be respectful if disagreeing and always remember that insults or personal attacks detract from any valid points you might have raised.

Gillian Robertson is making her UFC debut (get used to reading that phrase). She won her last fight and is trying to get off on the right foot in the UFC. Emily Whitmire is also debuting and trying to prove that despite her lack of experience she’s a worthwhile addition to the UFC. The odds are with Whitmire at -185 to +160 on Robertson.

Women’s Flyweight Bout: Gillian Robertson (3-2, 125.5 lbs.) vs. Emily Whitmire (2-1, 125 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Robertson is an inch taller while Whitmire has half an inch of reach advantage. Whitmire coming forward early, and eats a counter right. Leg kick from Whitmire lands, she also lands a right hook before they clinch up. They break quickly and Robertson lands a bit of a combination. Another leg kick from Whitmire, Robertson hits a single leg and gets Whitmire down. Whitmire tries to elevate but Robertson floats with it and winds up on the back with one hook in. They’re sitting on the fence and Whitmire is looking to escape but Robertson is able to pull her flat and get both hooks in, then Whitmire turns into her and gets on top. Robertson quickly after an armbar, Whitmire pulls free and lands a right. Robertson tries a triangle position, as Whitmire pulls her head free Robertson adjusts to an armbar, rolls Whitmire to the ground and forces the tap.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Gillian Robertson via Submission, armbar, at 2:12 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Ms. Robertson for her work this evening. Robertson is on the mic, very excited, and says this is all she’s ever wanted and was made for this. She says this feels amazing and this has been her goal for six years and plans to fight again soon as she’s not injured and would love to fight six times a year. Robertson briefly walks us through the finish then reiterates this feels unreal.

Here’s the finish, this was some really nice stuff from Robertson. She re-crossed over the face once Whitmire cleared the initial attempt, hooked the right leg of Whitmire to hit the sweep as she engaged her hips to finish the armbar.

That’s it for Fight Pass, we’re on Fox Sports 1 for the rest of the evening.

Ariel Beck is on a two fight losing streak coming into this bout and is trying to make the most of this opportunity. Shana Dobson is also debuting and hoping to prove she belongs in the UFC. The odds are with Dobson, -225 against +185 for Beck.

Women’s Flyweight Bout: Ariel Beck (4-4, 125.5 lbs.) vs. Shana Dobson (2-1, 125.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Beck is half an inch taller but Dobson has a significant reach advantage of three inches. Beck fighting southpaw, and they touch gloves to get us going. A few range finding kicks go back and forth, Beck lands a bit of a body kick. Dobson lands an inside leg kick, and they both miss punches. Dobson lands a bit of a jab and falls just a hair short on a couple of follow up kicks. Glancing head kick lands for Dobson, Beck responds with an inside leg kick. Solid left lands for Beck and she lands a follow up body kick. Beck just blocks a head kick. They trade some inside leg kicks, both women are single striking at the moment rather than working combinations. Another couple of inside leg kicks go back and forth, Beck also lands a left. Body kick from Beck and Dobson lands a return head kick. They clinch up and Beck drives Dobson into the fence. Beck lands a knee to the body, Dobson responds with a couple of elbows as she pushes free. Some offense from both parties is blocked or misses, Beck lands a bit of a left and then they trade body shots as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Beck but could go either way

ROUND TWO: Beck opens up with a few lefts to the body, she’s pushing the action a bit more to start this round. Dobson starting to come forward now, they both land short punches in close. Dobson checks an inside leg kick. Dobson lands a body kick and a right then eats a counter left. Head kick from Dobson and a quick flurry to follow, Beck is incredibly upright once she gets engaged on and Dobson is finding the target. Beck lands a bit of a left. Dobson is fading a bit, Beck should turn up the offense just a bit. Beck lands a left to the body, Dobson replies with an inside leg kick. Dobson lands a right, Beck lands a right in return but Dobson lands another right and Beck crumples to the canvas, this one is over.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Shana Dobson via TKO, punches, at 2:53 of Round 2

Mic time for Dobson, she tells all of her students (she’s a teacher by profession) that they better be on their best behavior. She thanks everyone for all of their support and hopes she made them proud tonight. She talks us through the finish, she knew the right would be there against a southpaw and she just needed to be patient when finding the opportunity to land it. Dobson says this feels surreal, just like getting the call for TUF.

Here we have the finish. Remember what I said about Beck getting upright when engaged? Case in point. Dobson also doesn’t fall into the back and forth trap of going left to right over and over again, she sticks with the right hand and catches Beck off guard when she’s covering up.

Karine Gevorgyan (3-2) missed weight by a whopping five pounds for this bout, she is coming off of a win though and looking to extend that streak into her UFC run. Rachael Ostovich-Berdon (3-3) had a 2-2 run in Invicta, she’s coming off of a loss but showed some promise on TUF and is trying to prove she’s ready to make a run in the UFC. Ostovich is the notable -360 favorite over Geborgyan’s +300 payout.

Women’s Flyweight Bout: Karine Gevorgyan (3-2, 130.5 lbs.) vs. Rachael Ostovich (3-3, 125 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Gevorgyan is an inch taller and has an inch of reach on Ostovich, and of course missed weight badly. They touch gloves and we’re underway. Ostovich opens with a couple of leg kicks, Gevorgyan lands a right at distance. Ostovich hits a single leg and gets on top in the guard of Gevorgyan. Gevorgyan tries an armbar, Ostovich escapes and Gevorgyan scrambles up to her feet, they wind up clinched on the fence. Gevorgyan tries a single leg but Ostovich spins to take her back. Ostovich is after the armbar, Gevorgyan winds up on top but Ostovich holds the armbar and forces the tap from Gevorgyan.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Rachael Ostovich-Berdon via Submission, armbar, at 1:40 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mrs. Ostovich-Berdon for her work this evening. As someone who watched Ostovich’s Invicta bouts she’s made some serious improvements to her game. Ostovich gets an interview after that quick finish. She’s so happy she’s in tears, and says coming out on the winning side of this has made her even more grateful. She talks us through the finish and credits the hard work she’s done to get to this point. Asked what she wants next she wants to keep active and says fighting on this platform is the best feeling ever.

The finish in case you missed it. Ostovich did a good job of setting up the arm position as Gevorgyan shook her off of her back, then she got her legs engaged and there’s a quick adjustment she made with her left leg as her hips hit the angle for the finish that basically ended any hope Gevorgyan had.

To kill time, because this show wont be paced badly enough, we head to the studio with Karyn Bryant, Michael Bisping, and Rashad Evans after the series of finishes.

Andrew Sanchez just had a four fight winning streak snapped by Anthony Smith, he’s trying to rebound from that setback and start another assault on the middleweight division. Ryan Janes is 1-2 in the UFC and on a two fight losing streak, he could easily be fighting for his spot on the roster as middleweight isn’t exactly hard up for top level talent. Your favorite is Sanchez at a whopping -550 against +425 on Janes.

Middleweight Bout: Ryan Janes (9-3, 185 lbs.) vs. Andrew Sanchez (9-3, 185.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Janes is two inches taller and has two and a half inches of reach on Sanchez. Janes starts off coming forward, Sanchez lands a bit of a one two, then another. Sanchez lands a right, then throws one of the ugliest jabs I’ve ever seen. Sanchez lands a couple of hooks then hits a double leg into the fence, Janes wall walks immediately and they remain clinched. Sanchez clips Janes with a couple of punches as they separate. Janes lands a counter right. Sanchez is throwing wide hooks but Janes is upright as though he can’t bend his back. They clinch, Sanchez lands a series of hooks as they separate and Janes drops. Sanchez all over him but Janes is back up, Sanchez drops him with another right, Janes back up and trying to get free but Sanchez keeps coming after him. They settle in a clinch, Sanchez breaks and lands again before breaking free. Sanchez might have punched himself out but Janes is horribly deficient with his defense. Of course as I type that Sanchez swings so wild he loses his own balance. They clinch again then break. Sanchez misses badly with a right. Janes walking forward again, they trade rights. Sanchez is looping his punches badly, Janes is actually landing straight punches. Janes lands a leg kick. Another clinch, and another break with a body kick from Sanchez. Janes lands a couple of body shots, Sanchez is begging for the last thirty seconds to pass so he can get his wind back. Janes lands a series of jabs. Sanchez misses badly and stumbles from nothing but fatigue. Janes lands a bit of a left just as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-8 Sanchez given how close that was to being stopped, 10-9 is possible as well as Janes closed strong

ROUND TWO: Let’s see if Sanchez has recovered his wind. Janes comes out quickly, lands a jab but takes a looping counter right. Janes lands a leg kick and a right. Sanchez throwing some jabs but takes a leg kick. Janes lands a stepping knee to the head, Sanchez counters with a right and they’re tied up again. Sanchez drops for a double leg, Janes blocks the attempt and we’re just still clinched. Janes lands a knee to the head but Sanchez takes him down. Janes back up immediately and Sanchez is holding a body lock. Knee to the body from Janes as he moves Sanchez to the fence. Sanchez able to reverse position but Janes is still working the body. They separate and Sanchez misses some punches. Janes lands a right then a hard left to the body that hurt Sanchez. Sanchez looks dead from fatigue because Janes hasn’t landed anything terribly damaging. Janes lands an overhand right, Sanchez is just standing there. Janes lands a leg kick and a right, Sanchez tries a counter right but he’s fighting in spurts after he gets a bit of his energy back. Janes goes to the body with some offense. Janes lands a left hook, they clinch and Janes knees the body but slips and Sanchez is on top. Janes back up and lands another knee and a right, Sanchez is barely holding on. Left hook from Janes wobbles Sanchez, if Janes had an ounce of punching power Sanchez would be done. Janes goes to the body with a right, he’s picking Sanchez apart with consistent offense. Another clinch, they break and Janes tries to punch him as time expires.

SCORECARD: 10-8 Janes, 18-18 overall

ROUND THREE: Janes pressing forward again, he blocks a double leg and lands a few knees to the body. Sanchez backs to the fence again, tries a double leg but his legs are done and he can’t drive. They clinch and Janes hits some weak uppercuts as they break. Left hook then a right from Janes, Sanchez covers up on the fence, Janes swarms him, Sanchez drops to his knees and the ref mercifully ends this one.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Ryan Janes via TKO, exhaustion punches, at :58 of Round 3

The Final Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Janes for his work this evening. That was a pretty awful fight, sloppy, ugly, plodding, and was finished because of cardio issues more than anything else. Janes is excited as he gets his interview with Cormier. He says he wasn’t hurt at all in the first round, lying through his teeth, then says he survived because of New Foundland toughness. Cardio is his thing, according to him, and he wont stop so once they break he knows he’ll win. He talks us through the finish and claims he can fight all day. Cormier asks him what’s next, he jokes that bonus money is next then he’ll consider his next opponent.

Some highlights, including the finish. Neither guy has much technique going but Sanchez is clearly gassed while Janes just keeps coming after him. Remember post TUF when commentary and the UFC tried to push Sanchez as superbly conditioned? I do, it was funny then and it gets funnier each time he badly gasses out.

Christina Marks has a three fight winning streak going as she makes her UFC debut, she wants to prove that she’s finally hit her stride in the sport and could make some noise in the promotion. Montana De La Rosa is coming off of a win after dropping two bouts in a row, she’s also looking to establish herself in the UFC’s fledgling flyweight division. De La Rosa is a notable -360 favorite while Marks’ comeback sits at +300.

Women’s Flyweight Bout: Montana De La Rosa (7-4, 125.5 lbs.) vs. Christina Marks (8-8, 125.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Marks is a full ten years older, they’re the same height and Marks has an inch of reach on De La Rosa. Both women probing with offense, Marks lands a series of punches as De La Rosa stood in front of her, De La Rosa gets the clinch after that. Marks lands some hard knees to the body. De La Rosa lands a couple of knees then they break with a right from Marks. De La Rosa lands a body kick, it’s caught and she goes for a flying armbar. Marks doesn’t respect the attempt and De La Rosa is in position to finish this. Marks is holding her own arm to block the attempt but De La Rosa is in perfect position. De La Rosa rolls Marks, gets the arm extended and we’ve got our third armbar of the evening.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Montana De La Rosa via Submission, armbar, at 2:00 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mrs. De La Rosa for her work this evening. We’ve also equaled the record for most armbars in modern UFC history with that one, and given some of the upcoming match ups we could easily break that before the night is over. Mic time for De La Rosa now. She says this went as she thought it would, then asks for a bonus and gives love to her daughter who’s at home watching. She says the win means everything as she can provide for her daughter. Cormier asks her to walk us through the finish, she mentions drilling it all the time though I have to note Marks’ bad defense. Asked who she wants next she says anyone.

Your finish. Marks does very little correct defensively, credit to De La Rosa for getting the finish.

That’s it for prelims, though we’ll still be on Fox Sports 1 for the main card. To kill time we’ll get some hype packages, commercials, a trip to the analyst desk, and a replay of the Robertson vs. Whitmire bout from Fight Pass.

Joe Soto is on a three fight winning streak and if he can keep that going here he could be on the verge of a top ranking, or at least a date with a ranked fighter for his next bout. Brett Johns is undefeated as a professional and is 2-0 in the UFC, if he could take out a veteran like Soto we could see him take a big step up in competition next time out. The odds here are close but favor Johns at -165 to a +145 comeback for Soto.

Bantamweight Bout: Brett Johns (14-0, 135.5 lbs.) vs. Joe Soto (18-5, 135 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Johns is an inch taller and has a whopping six inches of reach on Soto. Soto starts out circling, Johns flashing the jab while pressuring forward. Soto blocks a combination and gets a single leg takedown. They wind up with a leg entanglement, Johns grabs a calf slicer or a toe hold and forces the tap. Well that was fast.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Brett Johns via Submission, calf slicer, at :30 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Johns for his work this evening. That was disgustingly slick by Johns, who’s on the mic now. He says he’s got an EBI veteran in his camp and he works a lot of leg locks, jokes that there was a little bit of luck in there but he’ll take it. He puts over Soto’s takedowns and had this set up as a variation on Soto’s takedown. Asked who he wants next he says the belt, but he knows he’ll have to go through the top ten and he plans on coming through all of them. He says the top ten is full of sharks but he’s bringing a big dragon with him referencing the dragon on the Welsh flag.

Here’s the finish, man that was slick. Look at how he switches on the takedown to roll to the back, instantly gets the figure four with his legs and pulls back on the foot of Soto to finish the calf slicer. That was beautiful stuff, pay attention to that man.

DeAnna Bennett is on a three fight losing streak, granted two of those were split decisions but she needs to buck that trend in her UFC debut if she wants to prove a valuable member of the roster. Melinda Fabian is coming off of a loss as well, she’s also looking to change her fortunes as she debuts in the UFC. Bennett is the -460 favorite to +365 on Fabian.

Women’s Flyweight Bout: DeAnna Bennett (8-3, 126 lbs.) vs. Melinda Fabian (4-3-1, 126 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Fabian is two inches taller while Bennett has an inch and a half of reach advantage. Some range finding, Fabian lands a combination but they wind up clinched. Bennett has Fabian on the fence and is looking for a takedown. They trade some knees to the body but Bennett has more heat on them. Body lock from Bennett but Fabian is staying upright against the fence. Fabian is able to spin the position, she lands a couple of elbows as Bennett gets the body lock back. Bennett after a single leg, Fabian defends the initial attempt and Bennett settles for controlling the clinch. A few more knees go back and forth but there isn’t a lot of action happening. The ref separates them and we’re back at distance. Fabian lands a bit of a right, and a leg kick. Fabian lands a bit of a head kick. Bennett lands a left and is back in the clinch. Bennett has the body lock again and is keeping Fabian on the fence. Fabian is really out of her depth here, she’s not fighting for under hooks and isn’t really doing anything about the head positioning of Bennett. Bennett goes for a standing guillotine, can’t finish it so they trade, Fabian floors Bennett with a head kick just as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Fabian

ROUND TWO: Fabian comes out firing, she lands in close and avoids a clinch. Bennett tries a takedown, they wind up on the fence again. Bennett is after a double leg but Fabian is able to block it and we’re just hanging out in the clinch again. Bennett drops for a single leg, tries to switch to a high crotch and we get time from the ref as Fabian kept grabbing the fence. The ref actually takes a point for the infraction and then resets in the clinch. Bennett still can’t finish these takedowns so we’re back to trading knees. Bennett still bent over but she can’t get anything going. Fabian is sneaking in punches now, and the ref separates them to reset at distance. Bennett tries another double leg, and we’re back on the fence. Bennett is still fighting for a takedown and still getting nothing. Fabian sneaking shots to the head and body when she gets a second to throw. The ref breaks them up again after they stall out. Bennett dives for the clinch again, to the chagrin of everyone watching this. Bennett trying for a double leg but she’s really just hanging on, Fabian sneaks in a few more body shots. Fabian lands a quick couple of punches as they break and the round ends.

SCORECARD: 9-9 after the point deduction, 20-19 Fabian overall

ROUND THREE: Bennett shows the jab to start the final round. Fabian stalking forward, she lands a bit of a left. Fabian lands a couple of punches. Another right lands for Fabian. Leg kick from Fabian. Bennett catches a kick and pushes into the clinch and we’re back on the cage. If Fabian had another month of training for this position Bennett would be done by now because she’s not offering any offense. Fabian lands a few knees, Bennett returns them. The ref separates them, thankfully. Fabian moving forward, lands another right. Bennett tries another double leg, and we hit the fence again. I wish I had a better way to write that, but there’s only so many ways I can relay the same sequence of action. Fabian lands a couple of knees and they break. Fabian misses a couple of kicks. Fabian wobbles Bennett with an elbow strike. Fabian slips on a kick, Bennett dives on top and ends the round in half guard.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Fabian, 29-28 Fabian overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Majority Draw (29-27 Bennett, 28-28 x2)

Well that sucked, not the decision but the fight. Someone will have to explain why this was on the main card instead of the Ostovich fight.

Eric Spicely has gone 2-2 in the UFC but is coming off of a loss to Antonio Carlos Junior, he’s trying to get back on the winning side of things and avoid what would be the first losing streak of his professional career. Gerald Meerschaert just had a seven fight winning streak broken by Thiago Santos, he’s also trying to rebound and start his way back up towards the top of the division. The odds lean towards Meerschaert at -190 to a +165 comeback for Spicely.

Middleweight Bout: Gerald Meerschaert (26-9, 185 lbs.) vs. Eric Spicely (11-2, 185.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: These two are the same height while Meerschaert has four and a half inches of reach on him. They touch gloves, Meerschaert fighting southpaw. Straight left lands for Meerschaert. Solid body kick from Meerschaert, he pushes forward and is teeing off on Spicely along the fence. Spicely lands a right to get him to back off. They clinch and Spicely gets a takedown then has the back with a body triangle locked in. Spicely after a choke, Meerschaert is hand fighting. Meerschaert is defending well enough but that’s all he’s doing. Spicely bails on the body triangle to try for an armbar, he can’t get it and goes back to the body lock. Spicely after the choke again, Meerschaert hand fights and stays safe. Meerschaert trying to turn into Spicely, Spicely switches to an armbar but can’t finish it and Meerschaert winds up on top. Elbow from Meerschaert, Spicely after a triangle position but Meerschaert postures through it as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Spicely

ROUND TWO: They touch gloves for the second round. They both land a couple of power hand punches, Spicely tries for a takedown but Meerschaert is able to fight it off. Meerschaert lands a bit of a left. Another exchange of power hand punches, Spicely is back against the fence and Meerschaert lands to the body then hits a couple of elbows. Right lands for Spicely, he tries another takedown but Meerschaert again blocks and pushes him off. Body kick from Meerschaert and a left. Another body kick from Meerschaert, Spicely tries a takedown but again fails to finish. Back to the body from Meerschaert. A really hard liver kick causes Spicely to crumple and this one is mercifully over.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Gerald Meerschaert via TKO, body kick, at 2:18 of Round 2

That was a plodding unmemorable affair, but I’m a sucker for liver work. Meerschaert on the mic, he says he started slow and puts Spicely over as a good grappler and hard puncher. He talks about dealing with the body triangle in the first round then talks us through the finish, noting that as a southpaw his shin will line up with the liver of his opponent then talks about the mechanics of the finish. He says that was the last fight on his current contract, he hopes to get a fat new deal and a bonus after that finish so he can continue representing the midwest in the UFC.

That wasn’t a terribly good fight, but here’s some highlights and the finish. This is why you keep going back to the body after you hurt it, your body never quite recovers during a fight and Meerschaert intelligently chopped at the same spot until his opponent fell.

Lauren Murphy is just 1-2 in the UFC and is coming off of a loss to Katlyn Chookagian. Murphy is hoping a move down to flyweight will revitalize her career. Barb Honchak was the first Invicta flyweight champion and is currently riding a nine fight winning streak, but hasn’t had an official bout since 2014. She’s trying to prove that she’s still one of the best flyweights in the world and possibly enter her name into title contention. The odds are with Honchak at -230 while Murphy’s odds are at -190.

Women’s Flyweight Bout: Barb Honchak (10-2, 125.5 lbs.) vs. Lauren Murphy (9-3, 126 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Murphy is three inches taller and has an inch and a half of reach on Honchak. Circling to start, both women flashing the jab. Honchak lands a right. They’re both missing rights, just some range issues. Murphy lands a jab and eats a counter right. Murphy keeps ducking on her jab, Honchak is trying to time a counter right. Honchak lands a right. Murphy is walking forward but she’s getting tagged. Murphy lands a right. Inside leg kick from Honchak. Solid counter leg kick from Honchak as Murphy fell short with a combination. Another leg kick from Honchak, Murphy lands a right. Murphy lands a bit of a right, Honchak lands one of her own. Another right from Honchak, she’s getting dialed in. Murphy avoids an uppercut and lands a hook. They trade rights. Honchak lands a right then they trade to close the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Honchak

ROUND TWO: Murphy’s face is a little marked up after the round. Honchak tries a couple of leg kicks. Jab from Honchak lands. Murphy lands a bit of a right. Honchak lands another couple of rights. Honchak lands a right that wobbles Murphy, I’m not sure Honchak realized how badly though. Murphy lands a right. Murphy lands a bit of a left hook, Honchak responds in kind. Another right lands for Honchak, she’s got a good feel for that counter punch now. They trade overhand rights, these two wont be deterred that’s for sure. Murphy lands a right but she’s eating counters. Another exchange of rights and Murphy lands a body kick. Honchak lands an inside leg kick. Murphy tries a double leg after eating a couple of rights, she gets Honchak to the fence but Honchak is back up immediately. Murphy has the back with one hook in as they’re on the cage. Honchak falls and lands on top, Murphy trying for an armbar but Honchak is stuffing it as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Honchak, 20-18 Honchak overall

ROUND THREE: We’re back to the same rhythm, these two both have a plan and a read and nothing has forced a change from them. Honchak lands an inside leg kick. Murphy lands a bit of an overhand right. Honchak lands another right. Murphy hits a single leg on a kick attempt and is in the guard of Honchak. Murphy working some short blows but she’s struggling with the defense of Honchak. Honchak after an armbar now, she’s got the arms in position and she’s working the hips for the right angle. Murphy has most of her arm past the hips and Honchak goes for a triangle choke. It’s in position, Honchak is pulling on the head then switches to the armbar, she’s cranking on the extended arm but Murphy has moved to a safe angle at the moment. Murphy gets her arm free and spins to the back, she’s got both hooks in and is after the choke. Murphy goes to the body triangle but she’s going to just stall out the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Murphy but there’s a very cogent argument for Honchak based on the efficacy of her sub attempts, 29-28 Honchak overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Lauren Murphy via split decision (28-29, 29-28 x2)

I don’t agree with that pretty much at all, I think you could argue all three rounds for Honchak. Murphy on the mic now. She thanks her team and her family, she says she needed this win badly then puts over Honchak. Murphy says she wants a shot at the belt. Asked if she thought she did enough she says she believed she won the first and third, Cormier actually calls her Barb a couple of times and she reminds him that her name is Lauren. She says she just does what she thinks the universe wants her to do and tries to be a better person each day.

Sean O’Malley is undefeated and has finished his last four opponents, including an impressive first round win on the second episode of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series. This is O’Malley’s UFC debut and he’s hoping to keep that momentum going while introducing himself to the wider UFC audience. Terrion Ware just lost his UFC debut when he stepped in on short notice and up a weight class, but prior to that he’d won four in a row and his trying to prove that he’s a top level bantamweight. The odds are with O’Malley at -245 to +205 on Ware.

Bantamweight Bout: Sean O’Malley (8-0, 135.5 lbs.) vs. Terrion Ware (17-5, 136 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: O’Malley is three inches taller and has an inch of reach on Ware. Ware lands a leg kick to get things going. O’Malley misses a spinning back kick, he’s doing a lot of stance switching already. O’Malley lands a body kick, Ware returns it. Ware patiently moving forward, O’Malley is trying to angle but Ware is cutting him off. Ware lands a one two and they clinch. Ware has O’Malley on the fence and has a body lock. O’Malley is able to spin free and separate. Ware has a head kick blocked. O’Malley is sticking with southpaw for a bit, Ware lands a right. O’Malley lands a bit of a head kick, Ware lands a leg kick. O’Malley is sniping at distance with front kicks to the body, Ware is starting to bite on his feints. Ware lands a leg kick. O’Malley lands a counter right hook. Ware is struggling with the range, O’Malley is landing at distance. Ware lands a combination, O’Malley lands some of his own. O’Malley lands a left as Ware regained his feet after a trip. They trade jabs. They trade again, O’Malley keeps looking for darts, he tries a takedown but Ware blocks it. They both miss and the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 O’Malley

ROUND TWO: Ware coming forward again, O’Malley circling. Body kick from O’Malley lands. Ware lands a leg kick. Ware falls short with a couple of punches. O’Malley lands a glancing head kick and they clinch up. They break without incident. Ware lands a right. O’Malley has some good head movement in transition but Ware is starting to find the range and land on him. Ware lands a couple of knees to the face from a quick Thai clinch, O’Malley is bleeding from the nose. Ware lands a couple of punches. They trade in close, O’Malley is fading. Ware has O’Malley on the fence again, he’s starting to tee off. Ware blocks a kick and O’Malley slips, Ware is on top now in his guard. Ware moving to half guard, O’Malley back to his feet and they break with a spinning back fist from O’Malley. Ware still landing, he lands a solid right. A combination goes each way but O’Malley is dropping out of this fight, now Ware is fading a bit as well. O’Malley tries a flying triangle, Ware gets on top, they scramble and Ware hits him as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Ware, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: So let’s see who gets their second wind first, because that’s likely the winner. Ware is pushing forward again, O’Malley working the jab. O’Malley lands a spinning back kick to the body. They trade leg kicks and O’Malley lands a long left. They clinch, then break after O’Malley fails on a throw attempt. Ware lands another leg kick. O’Malley lands a one two, Ware needs to start throwing back. Ware lands a right, eats a counter right. Ware lands an inside leg kick but O’Malley circles free. O’Malley lands a front kick to the body. They clinch up then break. Ware is letting this round get away from him. O’Malley lands a couple of punches, he’s got his second wind while Ware is fading. O’Malley tries a spinning attack that misses, then they trade punches. Ware pushes into the clinch, he’s nearly got the back now but O’Malley turns into him and hits a double leg then makes Ware stand and lands a body kick. They clinch again, O’Malley hits a trip and lands in half guard. O’Malley lands an elbow, he’s trying to set up a d’arce choke but can’t get the grip, Ware is back up and has the clinch. Ware can’t control the clinch and O’Malley pulls free then lands an elbow. They both miss, O’Malley eats a knee to the body and gets a takedown as time expires.

SCORECARD: 10-9 O’Malley, 29-28 O’Malley overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Sean O’Malley via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)

Well that was fifteen minutes of time that passed. O’Malley on the mic now. He says he knew Ware would be tough. He says he was trying to win the fight with the takedowns and wanted to show he can do everything. O’Malley says he’s just getting started then says he wants to be on the next card in Vegas, maybe a PPV and feels his following justifies that.

Nicco Montano was supposed to fight Sijara Eubanks, then Eubanks failed to make weight and wound up in the hospital. Montano is coming off of a loss but has the chance to become the first ever UFC women’s flyweight champion here. Roxanne Modafferi is a veteran of the MMA scene, she was to fight Barb Honchack before Eubanks fell out of this fight and now steps in to try and become the inaugural women’s flyweight champion. The odds are with Montano at -200 against +170 for Modafferi.

Women’s Flyweight Title Bout: Roxanne Modafferi (21-13, 124 lbs.) vs. Nicco Montano (3-2, 124.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Modafferi is two inches taller, has four inches of reach on Montano, and is significantly more experienced. Montano fighting southpaw. Modafferi flashing the jab, both women circling. Montano lands a leg kick. Modafferi lands a right in close, Montano lands a counter left. They both land as they clinch, Modafferi pulls free. Modafferi lands an inside leg kick then misses a head kick. Montano is trying to line up her left, she lands a leg kick. Modafferi lands a body kick, Montano replies with a couple of inside leg kicks. They clinch up, Montano avoids a trip and they wind up on the fence. Montano pushes free and misses an elbow. I feel like Modafferi is playing a long game, looking to see how Montano does over time. Montano catches a kick and gets Modafferi down, landing in her guard. Modafferi working for an armbar, Montano follows the hips in a circle to keep safe. Montano lands a couple of short punches. Montano stands out of an armbar attempt, Modafferi back up. They both land a few punches, Modafferi hits a trip and lands in side control. Modafferi lands a couple of punches, Montano is able to get half guard and lands a couple of elbows. Modafferi establishes some head control as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Modafferi but could go either way

ROUND TWO: Modafferi misses a high kick but lands a right. Montano lands a bit of a left. Body kick from Montano but she ran into a couple of hard counters from Modafferi. Montano is backing up, Modafferi following and they wind up clinched. Montano lands a couple of elbows and Modafferi pulls free to reset. Modafferi blocks a high kick and Montano follows up with a body kick. They clinch up again, both miss and they break. Montano lands a bit of a right. Modafferi is pressuring now, she lands a right. Montano lands a bit of a left. Inside leg kick from Montano. Montano lands a right hook. Montano has a read on the rhythm of Modafferi. Solid body kick from Montano. Modafferi lands a right. Modafferi blocks a double leg attempt and gets a takedown, Montano throws up a triangle attempt. It’s locked in position but Modafferi is trying to posture through it. Montano lands elbows and punches, Modafferi is defending well enough as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Montano, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: Modafferi pressuring to start the third, Montano circling. Montano lands a leg kick. Modafferi has a high kick blocked. They’re both missing a lot here. They both land some lefts, Montano lands an inside leg kick as well. They tie up, Montano has Moadfferi on the fence. Modafferi spins free but eats a looping right. Rights are traded, Montano lands a bit of a left. Montano going forward, she lands a body kick. Counter right for Montano lands, Modafferi keeps walking into that punch if Montano put a little more heat on it there could be trouble. They trade power hand punches and Montano hits another inside leg kick. Body kick from Modafferi. They trade some jabs. Montano lands a left. Montano lands another inside leg kick. Modafferi is circling looking for an angle. Montano lands a good left. Montano lands a series of jabs and a left before they clinch for the last couple of seconds.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Montano, 29-28 Montano overall

ROUND FOUR: More feinting from each woman, Montano lands a right that off balances Modafferi. Leg kick from Montano, and another one then a blocked high kick. Montano wading forward looking to get her punches going, she lands a couple more leg kicks. Modafferi lands a couple of rights and eats a counter left. Left lands for Modafferi but she eats a three punch combination that ends with a leg kick and Montano has her on the fence. Modafferi tries a throw but Montano keeps her legs free and punches her on the mat before Modafferi regains her feet. Leg kick from Montano, they both land punches as well. Montano lands a couple of counters. They clinch, Modafferi tries a trip but can’t get Montano down so they wind up on the fence. Montano lands a knee to to the head before they break. They trade one two combinations then Modafferi lands a hard right. Modafferi coming forward now, Montano takes her down and lands in half guard. Both women bleeding from the nose after that exchange. Montano lands some elbows to the body. Modafferi gets full guard and eats a couple of punches. Montano lands a few more punches, stands and lets Modafferi back up. They both miss a couple of punches as the round closes.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Montano, 39-37 Montano overall

ROUND FIVE: They come out punches, both women land and then they trade kicks. Hard right and a leg kick from Montano. Modafferi lands a body kick. Montano lands a right. Montano hits a double leg and lands in half guard. Montano moves to mount and lands some elbows, Modafferi pushes her off with an ankle sweep attempt and they wind up on their feet again. Modafferi tries a takedown, Montano blocks it and pushes her over to wind up on top in half guard again. Montano passes to side control and lands a couple of short elbows. Montano into mount again, Modafferi bucks, gets to her knees and is back up in the clinch. They spin a bit and then separate. Modafferi clinches again, Montano spins free. Modafferi lands a hard left body kick. They trade punches in close, Modafferi lands a couple of knees as well before they hit the fence. Modafferi tries a takedown, Montano spins her over and gets on top again as Modafferi slipped off of an armbar attempt. Modafferi is able to get to guard. Montano lands a couple of short punches, Modafferi trying to set up an armbar, she’s in position and looking to execute the roll. Montano barely pulls her arm free before that got dangerous and she’s still in guard. Montano stands and separates, Modafferi back up and we get some RoadHouse as time finally runs down.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Montano, 49-46 Montano overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER and NEW UFC Women’s Flyweight Champion – Nicco Montano via unanimous decision (50-45,
49-46 x2)

Montano better shore up her striking because one has to imagine Valentina Shevchenko is coming for that belt. Montano on the mic now, she feels amazing and says she’s at a loss for words. She speaks some Navajo for her family, says she loves her fans and family then puts over Modafferi as an inspiration and friend. Montano’s mom is in there to hug her daughter, she says she wouldn’t be here without her mother. She mentions that the Navajo society is a matriarchy and without that tradition she wouldn’t be where she is. Asked about the opponent change she says Modafferi just has a lot of fun in the cage, that she doesn’t have wars she plays in her playground to close her interview.

Modafferi on the mic now. She puts over Montano as a tough opponent, says she gave it everything she had and she’ll keep improving. She feels she can improve everywhere then thanks her family and friends for their support, and thanks the UFC for letting her come back. Cormier asks about that armbar in the fifth round, she says it was close but that Montano defended well.

On that note, this event finally comes to an end. Boy that was a slog at times. I’ll be back tomorrow evening for UFC 218, I hope you’ll all join me for that one. Seriously, that’s got a great main card so don’t miss it. We’ll dissect this event Sunday at 8pm eastern time on the 411 Ground and Pound Radio Show, so listen in to that. Until tomorrow evening stay safe out there and keep checking 411mania for all of your pop culture needs.

article topics :

TUF 26, UFC Reports, Robert Winfree