Season 26 of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) was back on FOX Sports 1 last night (Weds., Sept. 6, 2017) with episode two of “Alvarez vs. Gaethje,” the all-female flyweight season searching for the next big star at 125 pounds.
If you missed episode one, click here for our complete recap.
We kick things off with a quick look back at Roxanne Modafferi’s dominant technical knockout win over Shana Dobson, before looking ahead to this week’s elimination fight between No. 4-seed DeAnna Bennett (8-3) and No. 13-seed Karine Gevorgyan (3-2).
Since the teams are already seeded and paired off, the competitors are able to begin training for their upcoming fights right out of the gate.
Coach Gaethje shows up at the TUF house with food and drinks to honor “The Happy Warrior” and it’s camaraderie all around. Gaethje wants to help the Armenian-born Gevorgyan — a devastating striker — learn how to stop the takedowns, but the language barrier is making it challenging.
Google translate to the rescue!
Bennett doesn’t have any problem with her opponent on a personal level and she seems to be free spirited, dancing on the balcony ... then climbing trees and acting like a chimpanzee which was uh, kinda weird. She then starts dancing and grinding on any poor contestant caught in her line of sight.
Imagine her with a belly full of booze!
Coach Alvarez doesn’t like the seeding because his fighters can now see potential match ups and they invariably start to plan for future fights, some of which include teammate vs. teammate, and it’s starting to put a damper on morale.
Alvarez will only teach the fundamentals of fighting and not opponent-specific strategies, since they all share the same locker room ... unless it’s against a fighter from Team Gaethje, like Bennett vs. Gevorgyan.
Bennett predicts a “dominant” win for Team Alvarez.
Gevorgyan, who claims to be the only female MMA fighter from Armenia, is finding life in the TUF house difficult because she does not speak English, so she cannot converse or bond with her fellow contestants. Modafferi is a former English teacher so she tries to help teach her the basics.
Including anatomy ... oh my.
Later in the gym, a grappling session ends in disaster as Emily Whitmire suddenly yells out in pain. After a quick trip to the hospital, it’s discovered that she strained both muscle and cartilage, but did not break a rib of suffer the kind of damage that would keep her out of the cage.
Her injury prompted a surprise visit from former UFC women’s bantamweight champion Miesha Tate, who is also a longtime friend of Whitmire, and “Cupcake” is working to boost her confidence.
We switch gears to focus on Gevorgyan and coach Gaethje is confident the Armenian is going to walk through Bennett — if she can keep herself from getting taken down. Gaethje doesn’t feel confident in the gameplan because he has no idea if any of his advice is getting through the language barrier.
Unless someone will be shouting in her native language, Gevorgyan is pretty much on her own once the cage door closes.
Bennett lives with her mom and is still trying to recover from the loss of her father, a police officer in California, who passed away from a brain tumor back in December. He was her best friend and biggest supporter and she misses him every day.
She wants to beat Gevorgyan and capture the TUF crown to honor his memory.
Both fighters make weight without incident and we get a corresponding staredown. Outside of the pre-fight vignettes (“This is my time!”) there is nothing left to do except go to war.
Let’s do it.
125 lbs.: No. 4-seed DeAnna Bennett (8-3) vs. No. 13-seed Karine Gevorgyan (3-2)
Round 1: Quick touch of gloves and Bennett opens with a low kick. Gevorgyan stalking and trying to find her range. More low kicks from Bennett. Hard overhand right from Gevorgyan. Then another and Bennett stumbles. She quickly recovers and rushes in with punches and is able to tag Gevorgyan. They reset and continue to throw hands. Low kick from Bennett. Gevorgyan answers with one of her own, which prompts Bennett to shoot and score the takedown. Gevorgyan stuck against the fence. Not good. Bennett’s experience showing here as she controls her opponent from every angle. Side control secured. Bombs start dropping and Gevorgyan is in all kinds of trouble. Referee warns her to fight back and he’s ignored, forcing him to halt the contest in the very first round.
Final result: Bennett def. Gevorgyan by technical knockout
Here’s where we stand after episode two:
No. 1 Roxanne Modafferi (21-13) def. 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) def. 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)
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)
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)
After the fight, it’s high-fives and butt slaps in the Team Alvarez locker room. Bennett promises lap dances for everyone. On the other side of the gym, Gevorgyan collapses on the floor and breaks down in tears. Coach Gaethje is clearly affected but tries to keep the team together with an inspirational speech.
Tate chimes in with one of her own.
Gaethje gets the next fight pick and selects No. 6-seed Montana Stewart (7-4) to battle No. 11-seed Ariel Beck (4-4). Stay tuned next week as Whitmire gets her rehab going, Beck struggles to keep her emotions in check, and Stewart tries to make her daughter proud.
See you in seven!