Last night (Sat., Nov. 30, 2013) Women's Bantamweights Julianna Pena and Jessica Rakoczy threw down for an Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) contract at The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 18 Finale from Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
To watch full fight video highlights online between Julianna Pena vs. Jessica Rakoczy from TUF 18 Finale click here.
Pena took the show by storm by submitting both Shayna Baszler and Sarah Moras in impressive fashion. "Venezuelan Vixen" may not have been the most favored fighter in the house, but she wasn't there to make friends. She already had one in coach Miesha Tate, who seemed to focus much of her instruction on prized first pick Pena.
Rakoczy is an eight-time professional boxing champion, a skillset that proved invaluable when she transitioned into mixed martial arts (MMA). She finished Roxanne Modafferi in the quarterfinals before outpointing Raquel Pennington in the semifinals. Rakoczy was the underdog against Pena, and we all found out the reason last night.
It turned out to be quite a lopsided affair that saw Pena complete an undefeated (3-0) run on the show to take home the contract. Let's take a look back at her dominant victory in "Sin City."
Pena came out aggressive early on, rushing forward with a combo before scoring a bodylock takedown. Rakoczy got up but Pena controlled the fight up against the cage before throwing Rakoczy to the ground once again. Pena rained down with ground and pound and achieved the full mount. Rakoczy had no answer for Pena's strong ground game. There was nowhere to go for Rakoczy and referee Mario Yamasaki stopped the fight in the closing seconds of the opening round.
Pena made it look easy out there. The showing instantly places her as a contender in the Women's Bantamweight division. A fight against a top opponent like Sarah Kaufman, Alexis Davis, or even Sara McMann wouldn't necessarily be a stretch for Pena. She may have to prove her worth against an opponent like Amanda Nunes or Jessica Eye, however.
Tate touted Pena as her top prospect and it looks like she was right. She has an absolutely lethal grappling game and power striking to complement, making her a force to be reckoned with.
Rakoczy, who was simply outclassed in the finals, put in a great overall effort on the show. It quickly became apparent that she couldn't defend Pena's takedowns. Subpar takedown defense isn't going to get you anywhere in a division full of fighters like Rousey, Tate, and McMann. At thirty-six years old, Rakoczy's window to compete near the top levels of MMA is closing rapidly.
But, her boxing still has the potential to give a ton of opponents fits so she may get one more chance to fight in the Octagon.
The UFC Women's division just got a new player when Julianna Pena throttled Jessica Rakoczy in one of the most one-sided finishes in TUF Finale history. Will Pena ride the contract win towards title contention?