TUF 26 Finale Recap: Nicco Montano Is Crowned Inaugural UFC Women’s Flyweight Champion After Win In a Fantastic Fight
The UFC started a new division, the women’s flyweight division. To crown the first champion, the organization gathered 16 fighters from outside the UFC to compete in a 6-week tournament, with the two finalist fighting in the live finale. After six weeks of airing, the finalists were Nicco Montano and Sijara Eubanks. However, the day before the live finale, Eubanks was unable to make weight, and the woman she beat in the semi-finals, Roxanne Modafferi was elevated to the championship fight. The remainder of the card featured most of the Ultimate Fighter 26 cast, a few UFC veterans, and Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender series star, Sean O’Malley.
Nicco Montano vs Roxanne Modafferi
Roxanne Modafferi is a pioneer of women’s MMA and entered the tournament as the #1 seed. Nicco Montano was a virtually unknown prior to the show and was seeded 12th in the competition. Both fighters had a chance at becoming the inaugural women’s flyweight champion.
Both girls came out very aggressive in the first round. Modafferi moved side to side while trying to land kicks to the body. Montano moved in and out while trying to land a straight left hand. Montano was able to gain control of the round when she took Modaferri down. She didn’t land much on the top because Modafferi threatened with submission attempts on the bottom. Modafferi jumped to her feet. She landed a right hand and tripped Montano down to the ground, where she controlled for the remainder of the round. Extremely close round that could have gone either way. We say Modafferi stole it at the end. The MMA Takeover scored it 10-9 for Modafferi.
In the second round, both females came out swinging but Modafferi hurt Montano with a right hand. Montano backed up, and Modafferi went in for the kill. She unloaded some shots but was unable to put Montano out, Modafferi would continue to be the fighter moving forward, while Montano tried to sit on her counter strike and land the better shots. In the second half of the round. Montano started to land her best punches and was the one starting to press forward. She landed a very nice kick to the body with about 1 minute left. Montano shot in with a takedown, but Modafferi hipped her over. As soon as they hit the mat, Montano sunk in a triangle choke and unloaded some nice elbows from the bottom. Montano wins the round because of the work she did on the bottom. The MMA Takeover scored the round 10-9 for Montano.
Modafferi got busy to start the third round. Montano shot in for a takedown but Modafferi was able to stuff it. Both fighters seemed to be doing their best when they were the fighter moving forward. Both had their good moments in the round and both had their good moments in the round.They traded some heavy shots to end the third round. Very close round. The MMA Takeover scored it, 10-9 Montano.
Entering the championship rounds, many were worried how Modafferi would do considering she didn’t train for a five-round fight. Montano had some good success with leg kicks. Once the two women fighters got in a clinch, Modafferi attempted a judo throw but only threw herself on her head. Modafferi worked back to her feet but lost the exchanges on the feet. Modafferi landed three very hard right hands and a knee to the body but was taken down to the ground. Montano landed some decent ground and pound. The takedown won her the round. The MMA Takeover scored the round 10-9 for Montano.
In the final round, and possibly the fight in the balance of the fifth round, Montano opened the round by landing a double leg takedown. She would let Modafferi up, who shot in for her own takedown, but was reversed and landed on the bottom. Modafferi got to her feet and laned a knee and kick to the body. Modafferi grabbed the clinch and landed some knees while Montano landed uppercuts. Modaferri attempted another takedown but ended up on the bottom. She almost sunk in an armbar but Montano pulled her arm out. Modafferi gets to her feet and both women trade shots in the pocket to close the fight. Really good fight. The MMA Takeover scored the round 10-9 for Montano, We scored the fight 49-46 for Montano.
The judges agreed with us. Nicco Montano beats Roxanne Modafferi by unanimous decision (50-45, 49-46, and 49-46). She becomes the first women’s flyweight champion in UFC history.
Sean O’Malley vs Terrion Ware
Dana White’s Tuesday Nights’s Contender Series was looking for a star, and they believed they found when they saw Sean O’Malley fight. O’Malley earned a UFC contract and made his UFC debut against Terrion Ware.
O’Malley came out very confident and light on his feet. O’Malley easily slipped out of the way of every one of Ware’s strikes, while landing O’Malley landed several straight left hands and kicks to Ware’s body, who didn’t have an answer for the ma they call “Suga” O’Malley darted in and out of position, while landed several kicks. Ware attempted several times to rush O’Malley, who easily would get out of range. The MMA Takeover scored the round 10-9 O’Malley.
Ware came out aggressive in the 2nd round, trying to march down O’Malley. Ware pumped a jab but was countered with O’Malley’s own jab. Suga would land a hard right high kick, but Ware countered with a nice right hand himself. Ware started to get more successful when he started to get into the pocket. He landed a big combination and landed a nice knee in the clinch. Ware’s corner was screaming “he’s breaking” which seemed to motivate Ware. Ware started to land some really nice power shots, while O’Malley had his back against the cage and looking to fade. O’Malley briefly hit the canvas after missing a high kick but was able to get to the feet. Ware pressed through again, but O’Malley landed a clean 1-2-3 combination. O’Malley attempted a flying triangle choke as the round ended. Very good round with tons of action. The MMA Takeover scored it 10-9 for Ware.
With the fight up for grabs, both fighter’s were looking to win the fight. O’Malley seemed to get a second wind and began to establish his jab O’Malley landed two extremely hard right hands that backed Ware up for a brief moment. O’Malley landed two more clean right hands, while both fighters exchanged body shots. Ware pressed the action, but O’Malley did well countering. O’Malley landed a nice four punch combination, which triggered both guys to start firing shots at each other. Both guys unloaded everything in a 15-second burst. O’Malley briefly dropped Ware with a double leg takedown but let Ware up and smashed him with a kick to the body and head. He would land a bodylock takedown and almost landed a D’Arce choke in a scramble. O’Malley would land a third takedown to close.
Lauren Murphy vs Barb Honchak
Barb Honchak was supposed to face Roxanne Modafferi today, but Lauren Murphy repaced Modaferri on a day’s notice when Modaferri got bumped into the title fight. Both Honchak and Murphy were two of the favorites to win the show but both were upset by Nicco Montano on the show.
Both fighters seemed to get along on the show but held nothing back in the fight. In the first round, Murphy pressed the action. She used feints to try and get into the pocket and land some power shots. Honchak tried to counter punch Murphy’s lead hand with a hard overhand right. Both fighters landed heavy shots, but it was Murphy, who seemed to land the better shots. The MMA Takeover scored the round 10-9 for Honchak.
Honchak seemed to start to find her range in the second round. She started to counter Murphy’s shots with counter combinations. Honchak seemed to be building some confidence
when about halfway through the round, Murphy started to be able to work her way back into the pocket where she did her best work. The round was very close, with Murphy getting a very late takedown that might have stole the round for her. The MMA Takeover thinks she did steal it. The MMA Takeover scored the round 10-9 for Murphy.
The two fighters come out of the third round with the same gameplan, but Murphy was able to land a double-leg takedown. She controlled from the top and peppered Honchak. However, Honchak was able to scoot her hips and locked in a very deep armbar. While Murphy defends the armbar, Honchak locked in an even deeper triangle choke. Once again Murphy toughed it out, but Honchak locked in a belly-down armbar. Finally, Murphy was able to squirm out, and she used the scramble to take Honchak’s back and controlled the end of the round. The MMA Takeover scored the round 10-9 Honchak but scored the fight 29-28 for Murphy. The judges agreed with us. Lauren Murphy beats Barb Honchak by split decision (29-28, 29-28, and 28-29).
Eric Spicely vs Gerald Meerschaerdt
Veteran grapplers Eric Spicely and Gerald Meerschaerdt squared off against each other in the log-jammed middleweight division. Meerschaerdt had some early success striking in the opening round. He snuck a left hand in on Spicely’s face. Spicely backed up, will Meerschaerdt started to flurry with shots on Spicely. Spicely ducked his head and tried to cover up with his hands, but Meerschaerdt landed a lot of os strikes. Spicely was able to recover and landed a double leg takedown. Spicely, who is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu took Meerschaerdt’s back and locked in a body triangle. Spicely worked for about a half a round trying to lock in a rear-naked choke. Once Meerschardt attempted to defend, Spicely would punch or elbow Meerschaerdt. The round ended with Spicely controlling the majority. The MMA Takeover scored the round 10-9 for Spicely.
Spicely tried to get takedowns in the second round, but Meerschaerdt was able to defend it this round. Meerschaerdt started to land on the feet, including a series of hard kicks to the Spicely’s body. One kicks landed to Spicely’s body, which sounded like a baseball bat striking a utility pole. Spicely fell to the floor holding his midsection, and the referee jumped in and stopped the fight. Gerald Meerschaerdt beat Eric Spicely by 2nd round TKO.
DeAnna Bennett vs Melinda Fabian
Veteran MMA fighter, DeAnna Bennett made her UFC debut when she took on Hungarian fighter, Melinda Fabian. Fabian flurried with a combination to start the fight but was pressed against the cage. Bennett grabbed underhooks and attempted to trip Fabian down unsuccessfully for almost the entire fight. Bennett was able to grab Fabian’s head and attempted a standing guillotine choke, but Fabian popped her head out. Once Fabian was able to spring her head free, she became extremely aggressive and rushed Bennett with strikes. With just seconds left in the round, Fabian hit a left switch kick that dropped Bennett to the mat, who was saved by the bell. The MMA Takeover scored the round 10-9 for Fabian.
Fabian rushed towards Bennett, who she assumed was still hurt. Bennett countered by lowering her level and pushing Fabian against the cage, trying to get a double leg takedown. Fabian set her base and landed some light punches to the sides of Bennett’s head. Once when Bennett appeared to possibly be getting a takedown, Fabian grabbed the cage to keep her balance. Referee John McCarthy halted the action and deducted a point from Fabian. Once the action continued, Bennett pressed Fabian against the cage trying to get a takedown, which Fabian defended. Really tough round. The MMA Takeover scored the round 10-8 for Bennett based strictly on Octagon control and the point deduction.
The third round was extremely similar to the second round. Bennett closed the gap between the fighters, pushed Fabian against the fence and was unsuccessful to get a takedown. After each time the fighters were separated by referee Big John, Bennett would go right back to the fence. With just seconds left in the seconds left in the fight, the two started to exchange on the feet. Fabian landed a hard punch but was finally tripped down to the canvas. Bennett landed some soft ground and pound while the round ended. The MMA Takeover scored the round 10-9 for Bennett and the fight 29-27 Bennett.
The judges scored the fight (29-27 Bennett, 28-28, and 28-28). DeAnna Bennett and Melinda Fabian fight to a majority draw.
Joe Soto vs Brett Johns
Former bantamweight title challenger Joe Soto kicked off the main portion of the card when he took the undefeated Welshman, Brett Johns. The fight didn’t last long. Soto shot in for a single leg takedown. Johns countered by going for butt drag reversal. One he didn’t get it, he fell back on a spladle. He grabbed Soto’s ankle, while he figure- foured his leg. He torqued down on the ankle into the calf slicer position forcing Soto to yell out in extreme pain and tap out only 30 seconds in. Brett Johns beats Joe Soto by 1st round submission (Calf Slicer).
- Montana De La Rose beats Christina Marks by 1st round submission (Armbar)
- Ryan Janes beats Andrew Sanchez by 3rd TKO
- Rachael Ostovich beats Karine Gevorgyan by 1st round submission (Armbar)
- Shana Dobson beats Ariel Beck by 2nd round TKO
- Gillian Robertson beats Emily Whitmire by 1st round submission (Armbar)