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Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 26 results, recap for ‘Alvarez vs Gaethje’ (Ep. 1)


Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) was back on FOX Sports 1 last Wednesday night (Aug. 30, 2017) for season 26 of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF), coached by lightweight rivals Eddie Alvarez and Justin Gaethje.

For just the third time in the history of the combat sports reality show, the cast will feature all female fighters, as the promotion tries to populate its newly-created flyweight (125-pound) division.

We kick things off at the tryouts held earlier this year in Las Vegas, Nevada, hosted by UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby and of course, UFC President Dana White, where we get to see how some of the contestants found their way into the world’s largest mixed martial arts (MMA) organization.

Out of roughly 50 contestants, only 16 made it to the TUF house, with a couple of familiar faces. Dana gets day one underway by calling the all-female cast “guys” before starting the evaluations.

Each coach gets a chance to scout the fighters to help pick teams. Coach Alvarez wins the coin toss and the seeding begins, which means the first eight fights are already booked for the next few episodes.

By fight:

No. 1 Roxanne Modafferi (21-13) vs. No. 16 Shana Dobson (2-1)
No. 2 Barb Honchak (10-2) vs. No. 15 Gillian Robertson (3-2)
No. 3 Lauren Murphy (9-3) vs. No. 14 Nicco Montano (3-2) A
No. 4 DeAnna Bennett (8-3) vs. No. 13 Karine Gevorgyan (3-2)
No. 5 Maia Stevenson (6-4) vs. No. 12 Sijara Eubanks (2-2)
No. 6 Montana Stewart (7-4) vs. No. 11 Ariel Beck (4-4)
No. 7 Melinda Fabian (4-3-1) vs. No. 10 Rachael Ostovich (3-3)
No. 8 Emily Whitmire (2-1) vs. No. 9 Christina Marks (8-8)

By team:

Coach Alvarez:

Barb Honchak (10-2)
Shana Dobson (2-1)
Christina Marks (8-8)
Melinda Fabian (4-3-1)
Sijara Eubanks (2-2)
Ariel Beck (4-4)
DeAnna Bennett (8-3)
Lauren Murphy (9-3)

Coach Gaethje:

Roxanne Modafferi (21-13)
Gillian Robertson (3-2)
Emily Whitmire (2-1)
Rachael Ostovich (3-3)
Maia Stevenson (6-4)
Montana Stewart (7-4)
Karine Gevorgyan (3-2)
Nicco Montano (3-2)

Solid distribution.

Now that we have the fights picked, we focus on the first bout of the season, which pits No. 1-seed Roxanne Modafferi (Team Gaethje) against No. 16-seed Shana Dobson (Team Alvarez).

The cast heads to the TUF house and as expected, all are impressed by the new digs. One contestant even compared it to Caeser’s Palace in “Sin City.” Emily Whitmire is particularly grateful, considering she’s currently homeless.

Lauren Murphy is doing it for her family.

Modafferi is on a mission to prove “she doesn’t suck anymore” after ... sucking on season 18. To her credit, “The Happy Warrior” since bounced back and put together a 6-2 record and is the winner of two straight.

Her bread-and-butter is jiu-jitsu.

Dobson is relatively unknown and just started fighting last year. That said, “Danger” has a very awkward striking style with crisp hands, and refers to her MMA debut as a “striking clinic.”

No question Modafferi will try to take her down.

Coach Gaethje brings in former TUF coach and ex-women’s bantamweight champion Miesha Tate, who gives a pep talk to Modafferi. Prior to TUF 26, “The Happy Warrior” was plying her trade for Invicta FC.

Both fighters make weight without incident.

125 lbs.: No. 1-seed Roxanne Modafferi (Team Gaethje) vs. No. 16-seed Shana Dobson (Team Alvarez)

Round 1: Touch of gloves and Dobson trying to find her range. Modafferi lumbers in with stiff punches and even stiffer posture. She eats a hard right. Modafferi with a takedown attempt that turns into a fall, but she gets back up and rattles off a body kick. Dobson gets too close to the cage and Modafferi is able to take her down. Probably not where Dobson wants to be. Modafferi slows the pace and starts to play chess match. Dobson is clearly outmatched on the ground and despite an admirable attempt to scramble and pop free, Modafferi readjusts and gets mount. First come the elbows, then the punches. Dobson has two minutes to figure something out. More elbows. Dobson bucking to no avail. More elbows and while most of them are blocked, Dobson is unable to answer the barrage of strikes and the referee — who did issue a handful of warnings — is forced to intervene.

Final result: Modafferi def. Dobson by technical knockout

After the fight, it’s high-fives and butt slaps in the winning team’s locker room. As for Dobson and the rest of Team Alvarez, it’s boo-hoos and coulda-woulda-shouldas. “Danger” hopes another contestant falls out so she can jump back in.

Stay tuned next week as No. 4-seed DeAnna Bennett (8-3) takes on No. 13-seed Karine Gevorgyan (3-2).

See you in seven!

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