Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is back for its final episode of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 18, led by bantamweight coaches and UFC 168 co-main event rivals Ronda Rousey vs. Miesha Tate.
David Grant has already advanced to meet Chris Holdsworth on the men's side of the bracket and now it's time to find out if it will be Raquel Pennington -- or Jessica Rakoczy -- who earns the right to fight Julianna Pena at this weekend's live finale from Las Vegas, Nevada.
We get things started in the sauna and Jessamyn Duke is rubbing lotion all over Pennington's legs. Hot damn this episode is off to a great start. "Rocky" talks about her younger days, coming up as a fighter and being "the biggest tomboy ever." Coach Tate things her pupils well-roundedness will prevail.
But she went and messed up her hand rolling with Louis Fissette.
That changes the gameplan, which now becomes "cautious" with an emphasis on wrestling and takedowns. As luck would have it, things aren't going so well on the other side, either, as Rakoczy -- and her eight world titles in boxing -- takes a brutal combination from Chris Beal that makes her go numb.
Bum shoulder is the culprit.
Time for the weigh ins and both fighters make weight without incident. Fast-forward to fight day and Raquel is getting her hair braided and talking about weird dreams. Jessica, on the other hand, is leaking from the eyes because she's without her son, who is staying with an aunt in Canada.
Lots of jibber-jabber here which tells me we're getting a decision because now they're just killing time until the fight. Pennington looks like an animal in the locker room, tossing assistant coach Bryan Caraway around like he was a stuffed teddy.
Let's do this!
Raquel Pennington (Team Tate) vs. Jessica Rakoczy (Team Rousey):
Round 1: First 30 seconds is a jab-fest and neither fighter looks willing to commit. Now 90 seconds in and not much action to speak of. A lot of bobbing and weaving. Rakoczy mixing in a few low kicks. Penny answers with her own. Now the hands are opening up and both ladies are swinging heavy leather. No attempt at the takedown yet from Pennington until Jessica swarms her with a combination and they clinch. Rocky pushes her into the fence and works through a guillotine to try to get the double leg. Jessica defending well but finally succumbs. Pennington can't hold her down and when the action gets back to the feet, we have a fence grab followed by another takedown. Round ends with Rocky on top. I have it Pennington 10-9 but not by much.
Round 2: Jessica controlling the stand up and Pennington showing no sense of urgency. Rocky with a few unorthodox kicks that go nowhere. Jessica picking her spots and looks crisp in her striking. Pennington clearly at a disadvantage here but seems content to throw hands. Let her bang, bro. Two minutes in and Rocky can't follow her corner's advice. Jessica backs her up with a combo. Pennington uncorks a few kicks but is throwing this round in the garbage by failing to put any mixed in her martial arts. Less than a minute to go and she finally shoots. Too little, too late as Jessica rests against the cage and remains upright until the horn. 10-9 Rakoczy.
Round 3: Touch of gloves and Rakoczy picks up right where she left off, working Pennington on the feet. I really don't understand this strategy. Fighting a champion boxer tied a round apiece and zero attempt to take the fight to the floor. This is like sparring as Jessica just gets to throw hands at will. Rocky's corner screaming for her to move forward and make something happen but she's just winging counterpunches and getting nowhere. Like round two, she waits until there is 30 seconds left on the clock to take her down and do some ground and pound. Won't be enough. 10-9 Rakoczy.
Final result: Jessica Rakoczy def. Raquel Pennington via unanimous decision
After the fight, Coach Tate feels like she failed as a coach because she couldn't get her fighter to perform. Pennington admits she failed to show up and they exchange tears. We head into the live finale this Saturday night with both teams representing two fighters.
Jessica Rakoczy vs. Julianna Pena
David Grant vs. Chris Holdsworth
Who wins a Harley Davidson and a six-figure contract? Find out this weekend by clicking here!