UFC ULTIMATE FIGHTER 26 FINALE LIVE REPORT
DECEMBER 1, 2017
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA AT THE MONTE CARLO PARK THEATER
ON UFC FIGHT PASS AND FOX SPORTS 1
Keep it locked here all evening for live updates of The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale. My name is Michael Grocke and I’ll have quick results and analysis of the preliminary card followed by live round by round coverage of the main card.
Be sure to check out the MMA Talk for Pro Wrestling Fans podcast where I host every Monday at 6PM CT at pwtorchlivecast.com. You can also read my columns right here at MMATorch and for you sports bettors check out my website thefightingchampion.com. Follow me on Twitter @FightChampBlog.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship is live from Las Vegas, Nevada for The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale. The UFC will crown its first women’s flyweight champion tonight when Roxanne Modafferi takes on Nicco Montano.
The co-main event features Sean O’Malley from Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contenders Series fame. He takes on Terrion Ware who is 0-1 under the UFC banner. The main card also features an intriguing match-up between TUF 26 housemates, Lauren Murphy and Barb Honchak.
Rounding out the main card is Eric Spicely vs. Gerald Meerschaert, TUF 26 alums DeAnna Bennett vs. Melinda Fabian and Joe Soto takes on Brett Johns.
(1) Gillian Robertson (3-2) vs. Emily Whitmire (2-1) – Flyweight 125 lbs.
Result: Gillian Robertson over Emily Whitmire by Submission – Armbar (2:12 of Round 1)
Grocke’s POV: Gillian Robertson made quick work of Emily Whitmire. Once the fight went to the ground you can just see the difference in skill. Whitmire had to keep the fight standing in order to win this one.
(2) Ariel Beck (4-4) vs. Shana Dobson (2-1) – Flyweight 125 lbs.
Result: Shana Dobson over Ariel Beck by TKO – Punches (2:53 of Round 2)
Grocke’s POV: Round one was fought on the feet with both women landing heavy kicks and punches. I thought round one could have gone either way as it was a very closely fought round. Dobson came out strong to start round two. Both fighters had their moments but it was a big combination that dropped Beck. She went down, covered up and the ref stepped in before she can take more punishment. This was just an OK fight. Clearly this wasn’t the most technical fight, but a nice win nonetheless for Shana Dobson.
(3) Karine Gevorgyan (3-2) vs. Rachael Ostovich (3-3) – Flyweight 125 lbs.
Result: Rachael Ostovich over Karine Gevorgyan by Submission – Armbar (1:40 of Round 1)
Grocke’s POV: Ostovich took the fight to the ground within the first minute of the fight. Gevorgyan had top control briefly, but Ostovich reversed her and worked for an armbar. Once she had it, Karine tapped instantly. A fairly one-sided win for Rachael Ostvich as expected. For those that watched the show, Ostovich gave Barb Honchak all she can handle. I’m curious to see where she goes from here.
(4) Andrew Sanchez (10-3) vs. Ryan Janes (9-2) – Middleweight 185 lbs.
Result: Ryan Janes over Andrew Sanchez by TKO – Punches (0:58 of Round 3)
Grocke’s POV: Wow, that was an unbelievable comeback from Ryan Janes. First of all, I don’t know how Janes survived the first three minutes of the fight. He got absolutely crushed with a right hand that dropped him. I thought the fight was over as did Daniel Cormier, but somehow he made it to the horn. Sanchez gassed himself out trying to put Janes away in the first round giving Janes the opportunity to get back into the fight and win the second. Sanchez was so exhausted he could barely stand after the second round ended. Amazingly Janes was the fresh fighter to start the third and overwhelmed Sanchez with punches against the cage until the referee stopped the fight.
(5) Christina Marks (8-8) vs. Montana De La Rosa (7-4) – Flyweight 125 lbs.
Result: Montana De La Rosa over Christina Marks by Submission – Armbar (2:00 of Round 1)
Grocke’s POV: Montana got hurt by a combination within the first ten seconds. She was able to get Marks get Marks in the clinch and use her wrestling to get her wits about her. Once she did and the fight went to the ground it was just a matter of time before Montana got the sub. Marks needed to keep the fight standing where Montana struggles, but unfortunately for her the fight went to the ground where Montana really excels.
(6) Joe Soto (18-5) vs. Brett Johns (14-0) – Bantamweight 135 lbs.
ROUND ONE: Johns takes center to start, Soto shoots in 20 seconds in but Johns defends it and grabs onto Soto’s arm as they go to the ground. Johns has the arm and Soto taps.
Result: Brett Johns over Joe Soto by Submission – Calf Slicer (0:30 of Round 1)
Grocke’s Point of View: Well OK then. It looked like an armbar live, but the end came via calf slicer. Brett Johns didn’t even break a sweat in this one.
(7) DeAnna Bennett (8-3) vs. Melinda Fabian (4-3-1) – Flyweight 125 lbs.
ROUND ONE: Fabian tags Bennett with two punches as the fight starts and DeAnna runs her to the cage and clinches. A minute in they continue to work in the clinch. Bennett lands a knee and Fabian reverses. Bennett drops down for a single with 3:22 to go but Fabian defends the takdown attempt. They trade knees in the clinch against the cage with under three minutes to go. With 2:05 Big John breaks them up. They reset back at center. Fabian works much better on the feet and at range. She lands a nice combination and Bennett goes back to the clinch. With under a minute to go they trade knees against the cage. Bennett goes for a standing guillotine with ten seconds to go. Fabian slips out and lands a huge head kick that drops Bennett. Fabian pounces for the finish just as the horn sounds.
ROUND TWO: Big John asks Bennett if she can continue and DeAnna says she’s OK. Bennett immediately runs Fabian to the fence and clinches her up. Bennett works for a single against the cage but she has her head down not allowing her to finish the takedown attempt. Fabian grabs the fence as Bennett tries for another takedown. Big John calls for time and takes a point away from Fabian. With 2:45 to go Bennett has Fabian against the cage and applying pressure again. Big John breaks them up with 1:46 to go. Back to center. Bennett runs Fabian to the fence again and back to the clinch. Bennett continues to work for a single leg and Big John breaks them up once again. Bennett goes right to the clinch against the fence with under a minute to go. With ten seconds left they separate and Fabian lands a nice combination as the horn sounds.
ROUND THREE: The third round starts on the feet with Fabian getting the better of the exchanges. Fabian goes for a kick but Bennett catches it and runs her to the cage. They work in the clinch with three minutes to go in the last round. Bennett lands a few knees in the clinch. Fabian’s takedown defense is excellent here. Big John breaks them up with 2:12 left. Back to center and Fabian lands a right hand on the feet. Bennnett runs Fabian to the cage and the crowd boos loudly. Bennett goes for another single but once again Fabian defends it. With under a minute to go they separate. Fabian lands a big right elbow that looked to hurt Bennett. Fabian slips going for a kick and Bennett ends up on top. She tries landing ground and pound but the horn sounds ending the fight.
Result: DeAnna Bennett vs. Melinda Fabian ends in a Majority Draw
Grocke’s Point of View: That was not a good fight. Fabian was picking Bennett apart on the feet every time they were at range. Bennett spent the entire fight pressing Melinda against the cage and doing much else. Neither fighter looked good here and I expected more from DeAnna Bennett.
(8) Eric Spicely (10-3) vs. Gerald Meerschaert (26-9) – Middleweight 185 lbs.
ROUND ONE: Spicely lands a big right hand 30 seconds in. Meerschaert comes back with a big kick to the body and presses Spicely to the cage and starts landing punches with Spicely’s back to the cage. Spicely circles out and lands a takedown. With just under three minutes to go Spicely has a body lock and lands punches to the head of Meerschaert. With two minutes to go Spicely continues to try and soften up Meerschaert while looking for the RNC. Meerschaert is defending well with Spicely on his back. Meerschaert is stuck in this body triangle and he finally reverses and now works from top position with ten seconds left.
ROUND TWO: Spicely goes for a takedown ten seconds in but Meerschaert defends it well. Meerschaert lands three straight left hands and follows with a punch to the body. Meerschaert is getting the better of the exchanges on the feet. Spicely goes for a takedown but Meerschaert defends against it. They circle with just under three minutes to go. Meerschaert lands a huge kick to the body that crumples Spicely. Meerschaert lands a left hand with Spicely in the fetal position and Herb Dean waves this one off.
Result: Gerald Meerschaert over Eric Spicely by TKO (2:18 of Round 2)
Grocke’s Point of View: OUCH! Spicely crumbled like a ton of bricks from that kick to the body. Spicely looked to have spent a ton of energy in the first round looking for the submission because he looked slower in the second round. Meerschaert was the better fighter on the feet and he caught Spicely with a nasty liver kick. Meerschaert’s contract is up after this fight, but I really hope the UFC resigns him because he is a fun fighter to watch with a ton of talent.
(9) Lauren Murphy (9-3) vs. Barb Honchak (10-3) – Flyweight 125 lbs.
ROUND ONE: They come out and trade punches and kicks on the feet. A minute in and both fighters are landing. Murphy is applying heavy pressure keeping moving forward. Both fighters content to keep the fight standing. Barb looking to counter but Murphy lands a nice right hand. With 1:28 left Lauren lands another big right hand. Barb comes back with one of her own with a minute left. Murphy with another right with 20 seconds to go. The round comes to an end with both women throwing hands.
ROUND TWO: The first minute of the second round sees both fighters land with kicks and punches. Barb lands a big right hand that looked to hurt Murphy but Honchak didn’t follow up. The under three minutes to go the fight continues to be pretty even. They trade right hands with 2:30 to go. Both women are showing the effects from punches. Honchak is getting the better of the exchanges late in the round. Murphy lands a takedown with 40 seconds left in the round. Honchak works back to her feet and turns into Murphy landing on top. Barb looks for an armbar as the round ends.
ROUND THREE: This is a very close fight heading into the last round. The fight remains on the feet until Murphy lands a takedown with 3:30 left in the round. Lauren works from top position trying to land punches and elbows. Barb defends well from bottom and goes for an armbar underneath. Barb transitions to a triangle. She goes back to an armbar. Excellent submission attempts from Honchak. Murphy slips out and takes Honchak’s back with under a minute to go. Murphy has a body lock but can’t do anything with it the dominant position as the fight comes to a close.
Result: Lauren Murphy over Barb Honchak by Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Grocke’s Point of View: This was a high level striking affair with both women landing big shots. I thought this was a difficult fight to score. I thought Honchak landed bigger shots, but she was hurt by the takedowns. This was a huge win for Lauren Murphy and puts her in the mix in the new flyweight division.
(10) Sean O’Malley (8-0) vs. Terrion Ware (17-6) – Bantamweight 135 lbs.
ROUND ONE: Ware opens with a leg kick. O’Malley comes back with two heavy kicks to the body. O’Malley is mixing up his offense very well in the early going. Ware runs O’Malley to the cage with 3:34 to go. At 3:16 they separate. Back to center. Ware lands a nice right hand, but O’Malley comes back with a heavy kick to the body. A right hand from O’Malley lands. O’Malley is getting the better of the exchanges on the feet as the first round moves on. Ware continues to follow O’Malley around the cage with under a minute to go. O’Malley shoots with ten seconds left but Ware shrugs him off.
ROUND TWO: The second round starts much like the first. They trade on the feet. O’Malley is the faster fighter with better head movement. Ware is starting to close distance with three minutes to go. He is having more success getting inside and the constant pressure is starting to work. O’Malley’s tiring in the second half of the round. Ware gets O’Malley down but he’s up quickly. With a minute to go the fight is back on the feet. Both fighters are gassing as the round comes to an end. O’Malley goes for a jumping triangle to no avail.
ROUND THREE: Nice spinning back kick from O’Malley 30 seconds in to the final round. O’Malley seems to have found a third gear and seems to be beating Ware to the punch early in the round. Both fighters are landing punches with 3:00 minutes to go. They clinch with 2:16 remaining on the clock but Ware pushes him off. O’Malley is out-voluming Ware in the second half of the round. They tie up against the fence and O’Malley lands a takedown. Instead of maintaining top position O’Malley stands and lets Ware up. They clinch against the cage and O’Malley lands a takedown just as the horn sounds.
Result: Sean O’Malley over Terrion Ware by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Grocke’s Point of View: That was an impressive performance by O’Malley. The fight was even going into the last round and O’Malley found that other gear that he needed to win the round and the fight. He has a unique style and throws punches and kicks from odd angles. He got tough at the end of the fight and won a big fight.
Nicco Montano (4-2) vs. Roxanne Modafferi (21-14) – Flyweight 125 lbs.
ROUND ONE: Nice leg kick from Montano and she follows up with a combination. Montano is fighting with a lot of pressure and aggressiveness. Roxy comes back with a heavy leg kick. They trade leg kicks with 3:30 on the clock. At 3:12 they clinch at center cage briefly and they separate. Head kick blocked by Roxy. Montano with a takedown with 2:30 left and works to better her position from on top. Roxy goes for an armbar but Montano avoids it. Nicco works while inside Roxanne’s guard. Roxy gets back to her feet with a minute to go. Modafferi with a takedown with 45 seconds left in the round. Roxy tries to work her ground and pound as the round ends.
ROUND TWO: Roxy lands a big right hand that hurts Nicco as the round starts. Roxt has Nicco against the fence and lands a knee to the body. Nicco gets away and they reset back at center. Nicco starting to work more kicks. The fight remains on the feet with both fighters landing punches. Halfway through and it’s a very close competitive round just like the first. Montano is starting to find her range in the second half of the round. Nicco goes for a takedown but Roxy ends up on top. Montano has a triangle locked on Roxy. Nicco lands big elbows while she has Modafferi locked in a triangle as the round ends.
ROUND THREE: The round starts on the feet. Nicco blocks a head kick 40 seconds in. They clinch briefly against the cage but separate with just under four minutes to go. The fight continues on the feet with Nicco getting the better of the exchanges halfway though the round. Roxy lands a nice right hand followed by a kick to the body with a little over two minutes to go. Both women continue to fight at a very high pace. Both women are wearing the damage. Modafferi was having more success on the feet towards the end of the round.
ROUND FOUR: Roxy was rocked briefly by a punch as the round starts, but she recovers. Nicco is definitely the more technical striker. Montano lands a big combination and follows with a leg kick with under four minutes. Roxy goes for a throw but Nicco lands on top. Roxy is up quickly and the fight continues on the feet. Halfway through the round both women trade punches. They tie up against the cage with two minutes remaining. Back to center wwith 1:18 left. Modafferi lands two big right hands that hurts Nicco. Montano clinches and gets Modafferi to the mat. Nicco works from on top against the cage with 30 seconds left. Montano lets Modafferi up with 10 seconds on the clock.
ROUND FIVE: They come out throwing hands. Nicco gets a takedown a minute into the final round. Montano stands and lets Roxy back up. After a scramble Nicco ends up on top of Modafferi again. Nicco works from top position with under three minutes to go. Modafferi works back to her feet and they are back to center with 2:23 to go. Roxy lands a heavy body kick and follows with a big knee. They clinch and Roxy pulls Montano down looking for an armbar. Nicco pulls her arm out and and ends up in top position. With under a minute to go Montano gets caught in an armbar. She gets her arm out and after a scramble both fighters are back to their feet. With under ten seconds to go they trade on the feet.
Result: Nicco Montano over Roxanne Modafferi by Unanimous Decision (50-45, 49-46, 49-46)
Grocke’s Point of View: That was a good fight. Both women came in there looking to throw down and they left it all in the cage. The entire fight was fought at such a high pace, the stamina these two women have is incredible. Nicco fought a great fight and is well deserving of winning the TUF season and the new flyweight title.
I thought this was a fun night of fights. While the card wasn’t heavy on name value, here were plenty of finishes and some really well fought fights.
Thanks for following along with me tonight. I’ll be back with live coverage of UFC 218 tomorrow. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @FightChampBlog
NOW CHECK OUT THIS ARTICLE: THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER 26 FINALE PREDICTIONS 12/01: Grocke’s updated odds and predictions for every fight