Season 26 of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) was back on FOX Sports 1 last night (Weds., Nov. 29, 2017) with the twelfth and final episode of “Alvarez vs. Gaethje,” the all-female flyweight season searching for the next big star at 125 pounds.
If you missed episode 11, click here for our complete recap.
We kick things off with No. 12-seed Sijara Eubanks recapping her improbable run to the semifinals, where she meets longtime veteran and No. 1-seed Roxanne Modafferi for a spot in the championship finale this Friday night (Dec. 1, 2017) in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The winner of Eubanks-Modafferi will face No. 14-seed Nicco Montano, who upset No. 2-seed Barb Honchak last week to stamp her ticket to the live finale, held inside Park Theater at the Monte Carlo Resort & Casino.
Modafferi recognizes that Eubanks will be a tough opponent, but wants to see what the “epic battle” brings out in her as a fighter. Miesha Tate thinks Eubanks will be underestimating Modafferi and Coach Gaethje expects Eubanks to run out of gas by the second stanza.
Modafferi is confident, but will not “count her chickens before they hatch.”
Eubanks has to go to the UFC Performance Institute to help her cut weight for her third and final bout of the season. It should be noted that Eubanks has struggled — mightily — to make weight for her previous two fights.
It feels like she’s getting an advantage over Modafferi, being able to rely on so many experts and techniques, but I think the promotion was afraid of her dying in the bathtub at the TUF house, so yeah, do what ya’ gotta do.
Eubanks says she’s “determined like a motherfucker” and makes the weight without incident (125), one pound less than opponent Modafferi (126). Roxy is happy because she wants to face the strongest opponent possible.
What follows is the usual training montages, close-up interviews of both fighters explaining why they are going to win, the coaches chiming in with their respective scouting reports, and all the other crap we’ve become accustomed to after 26-plus seasons.
Let’s do this.
125 lbs.: No. 1-seed Roxanne Modafferi (21-13) vs. No. 12-seed Sijara Eubanks (2-2)
Round 1: No touch of gloves and Eubanks comes out firing. Modafferi in retreat but not afraid to counterpunch. Modafferi with a body kick and eats a left for her efforts. Eubanks takes one on the chin. Striking defense ... not on display here. Eubanks with a sloppy shot and gets denied. Coach Alvarez shouting numbers like he’s playing bingo. Eubanks throwing power shots but Modafferi playing keep away. Eubanks lands a leg kick and turns up the heat. Coach Gaethje tells Modafferi to “make her work” and then compliments her on the fight. Eubanks chases her down and they collapse against the cage. Modafferi breaks out of the clinch and takes a kick to the body. Modafferi on her bicycle and gets taken down by a charging Eubanks, who doesn't do anything but hug her and draw a warning from the referee. She then postures up and drops a few elbows. Modafferi elbowing from guard but not doing any damage. Modafferi throws up the legs for an armbar but Eubanks powers out. Round over. 10-9 Eubanks.
Round 2: Time to see where Eubanks’ gas tank is at. Coach Gaethje calling for pressure to tire her out. Modafferi takes two to the dome. Eubanks with a shot but Modafferi stymies her and remains upright. They trade blows in the middle and Eubanks with another shot. Modafferi puts up a fight but eventually gets muscled to the floor. Referee calling for action. Coach Alvarez wants “big damage.” Modafferi uses the cage to twist herself free and reverses position. Now Modafferi on top with Eubanks looking to lock up a guillotine. Not happening. Modafferi slips out and starts working for position. Eubanks not looking entirely comfortable on bottom but is strong enough to keep herself from getting mounted. Modafferi gets swept. Eubanks tries to take her back and wraps up a choke, but Modafferi manages to twist herself into a safe position. Round over. 10-9 Eubanks.
Round 3: Modafferi juking and jiving but not fighting like she’s down two rounds to zip (and she is). Eubanks surprisingly fresh and continues to press forward with strikes. Eubanks landing what she wants, when she wants, and all Modafferi can do is retreat and throw fadeaway punches. Eubanks rushes in for a takedown and pushes Modafferi to the fence, right in front of Coach Alvarez, who talks her through a dominant exchange. Modafferi doing nothing, which prompts Coach Gaethje to call for action. Modafferi tries a hip toss but Eubanks is too strong and uses the motion to dump Modafferi on her head. 90 seconds left and Modafferi wilting under top pressure. Eubanks postures up and drops punches. Modafferi wiggles free and gets back to her feet, but it’s too little, too late and Eubanks ends the fight with a violent flurry of punches. 10-9 Eubanks.
Final result: Sijara Eubanks def. Roxanne Modafferi by unanimous decision
After the fight, Eubanks finds promotion president Dana White and chastises him for putting her as the No. 12 seed, having taken out the No. 1, No. 4, and No. 5. White feigns ignorance and tells her to stop yelling at him.
Modafferi is weepy but congratulates Eubanks for the win.
That’s our season, ladies and germs. Stay tuned for Sijara Eubanks vs. Nicco Montano in the live finale. The day after that, Alvarez and Gaethje will bang it out at the UFC 218 pay-per-view (PPV) event.
See you then!