Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) was back on FOX Sports 1 last night (Weds., Oct. 3, 2018) with episode six of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 28, featuring a split cast of men’s heavyweights and women’s featherweights.
Team Whittaker was looking to capitalize on last week’s technical knockout win by heavyweight Michel Batista by sending featherweight Leah Letson into 145-pound battle against Team Gastelum’s Bea Malecki.
We kick things off with a closer look at the gun-toting Letson, billing herself from “the ghetto” of south side Milwaukee, as she gives viewers some background on who she is as a person and fighter. That includes her knockout win over Elizabeth Phillips at Invicta FC 21 in early 2017, pushing her record to 4-1. “Nidas” says she has “monkey arms” because of her 71.5-inch reach. Now we get to hear, once again, how unhappy Letson is while training with Team Whittaker and how the Pura Vida fighter plans to switch teams after her Malecki fight. Coach Whittaker explains that when you have a large team of fighters, it’s difficult to give everyone individualized attention and the coaches have to focus on who is fighting that week.
Back at the TUF gym, Coach Gastelum brings in special guest coach Uriah Hall, who lost to Gastelum when they fought in the TUF 17 Finale back in 2013. I find the cameo amusing, since “Prime Time” was pegged as the next big thing while Gastelum was picked last on the show. It should be noted that Gastelum is 10-3 (1 NC) in UFC whereas Hall is 6-7.
Now it’s time to find out how Malecki found her way into the TUF house and how she stacks up against Letson, who is a member of the Air National Guard. A former Swedish and European champion in Thai boxing, “Bad News Barbie” is 2-0 as a pro and 1-0 as an amateur, but insists that she shouldn’t be taken lightly based on her in-cage experience. Malecki would consider a win over Letson to be the biggest victory of her career and she doesn’t want to be known as a “pretty girl who can’t fight,” just because she likes to do her hair and nails. Malecki trains at All Stars alongside Alexander Gustafsson and Ilir Latifi and spends her free time tending to her garden, one of those rare luxuries afforded to people who still live at home with their parents.
Time for the official weigh ins and both fighters make weight without incident.
145 lbs.: Team Whittaker’s Leah Letson (4-1) vs. Team Gastelum’s Bea Malecki (2-0)
Round 1: Fastest touch of gloves in UFC history and both fighters come out firing punches and kicks. Letson ties her up and bullies Malecki to the fence, then starts to unload punches. Malecki dumps her on the ground but Letson is able to get back to her feet. This fight is taking place at breakneck speed. Back to the center of the cage and fists are flying. Malecki starts looking like a Thai champ and not an MMA fighter by wasting too much time hunting for the Thai plum, eating lots of unanswered shots in the process. Letson rushes in and pushes Malecki to the cage once again and lands about a dozen short punches to the face. Malecki looks confused. Letson with a scoop, then a slam. Malecki works back to her feet but Letson drives her to the cage for a third time and never stops punching. Her volume is impressive. Malecki is starting to slow down and look more like a Swedish punching bag. 10-9 Letson.
Round 2: No touch of gloves this time and Malecki looks to be more aggressive and is throwing hard punches, probably realizing she lost that last round. Coach Whittaker calls for the shot so Letson takes it, then gets reversed and taken down by Malecki. I would expect that to reignite those “switching teams” plans. Letson gets back to her feet and turns the tides, scoring a takedown of her own. Malecki with elbows from the botton. Referee shouts at Letson, “Work to improve! Work to finish!” Letson looks content to just lay on her and alternate punches with Malecki essentially doing nothing. Hey, a nice rest is helpful during a grueling fight. Letson still punching the face and the ref is still complaining. What does this guy want from her? More elbows from bottom and one of them appears to cut Letson. It hasn't stopped her onslaught and the clock continues to wind down. This fight was pretty one-sided. 10-9 Letson.
Final result: Letson def. Malecki by unanimous decision
Here’s where we stand after episode six:
Anderson Da Silva
Juan Francisco Espino Diepa
Przemyslaw Mysiala Katharina Lehner
Josh Parisian Bea Malecki
Stay tuned next week as Juan Francisco Espino Diepa battles Ben Sosoli for the next spot in the heavyweight quarterfinals!
See you in seven!