Season 28 of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) rolled on tonight on FOX Sports 1 with its first women’s featherweight bout, pitting Team Gastelum’s Pannie Kianzad against Team Whittaker’s Katharina Lehner.
For this latest round of the combat sports reality show, eight female featherweights and eight male heavyweights will bang it out for the coveted “six-figure contract” in two divisions that sorely need the additional help.
Last week saw the Gastelum squad claim first blood via savage knockout as Maurice Greene dispatched Przemyslaw Mysiala with a Street Fighter-worthy uppercut. This time around, it’s a pair of Invicta veterans.
Who are almost certainly going to move back down to Bantamweight once the show is over, but shhhhh.
We start with Team Gastelum doing sprints in the parking lot. Coach G talks up Kianzad’s technical prowess and his desire to ensure that she fights to the best of her abilities.
Gastelum, as one might imagine after seeing him in the cage, focuses heavily on cardio in his preparations. They look absolutely grueling. Justin Frazier is struggling to handle it, panting and vomiting after a particularly intense workout. He admits his cardio has always been his weak point, though he acknowledges that that’s no excuse.
Over to Lehner’s fight prep. She mentions that she and Kianzad have been in a position to fight for a while, but never wound up getting booked during their mutual time in Invicta. Coach Whittaker says the two are similar fighters, both happy to trade in the pocket, before busting out the “who wants it more” cliche.
As Lehner talks about her history, which includes having a pro boxer as a father, we see highlights of her in action, including her TKO win in her Invicta debut. She talks about her love of striking and Whittaker is happy to oblige, sharing his thoughts on combination punching.
Back in the house, it’s picture-sharing and home video time. Kianzad’s pug “Biggie” takes center stage. He is an incredibly precious boy and, according to Kianzad, the “fittest pug ever.” We also see her boyfriend, whom she met in the gym.
“I beat him up. It was pretty fun,” she explains.
Kianzad says she fights to represent all of the countries that have played a part in her life, namely Iran, Denmark, and Sweden.
Over to Lehner’s history after the commercial break. She trains out of Cologne, Germany. She has a strong contender in the “cutest dog” battle as well, a teeny Pomeranian puppy that’s so fluffy it looks like one of the soot sprites from Spirited Away. She claims martial arts aren’t particularly popular in Germany, “but they’re growing.”
She vows to be the first German woman in the UFC to win a fight. Somewhere, Sheila Gaff just flinched.
Kianzad’s fight prep now, complete with more grueling Gastelum workouts. We get to watch some of her handiwork in Invicta and other promotions, then some one-on-one work with Coach Gastelum. Gastelum wants pressure and is happy that Kianzad is of like mind. He compares her style to Mike Tyson.
Then we get to see Gastelum drain Kianzad’s cauliflower ear. You’re welcome.
As soon as we get back from commercial break, Kianzad breaks a tooth trying to adjust her headgear. And she really hates going to the dentist. She’s visibly squirming in the chair as the dentist explains the procedure to remove the damaged piece of her tooth.
“Is it gonna hurt?” she asks.
“I can’t promise that,” the dentist replies.
Kianzad winds up freaking out when they try to take a mold of her teeth and leaving the building. After a bad night of sleep, though, she relents and returns to the chair. Of course, the UFC elects to show us the loose tooth getting peeled off. She winds up getting her own little Dan Henderson mouthguard with a tooth to cover up the hole.
No issues at the weigh-in. Some final words from both women and it’s time for violence.
145 lbs.: Pannie Kianzad (10-3) vs. Katharina Lehner (7-1)
Round one: Kianzad staying at range, eats a pair of rights after landing a body kick. She’s showing a stiff jab. Low kick from Kianzad. Lehner comes back with a two-piece combo. Counter jab from Kianzad. 1-2 into the clinch from Lehner and she takes her to the fence. One minute in. Hianzad gets double underhooks and reverses. Trading short blows. Knees from Kianzad. She lands an elbow and Lehner lands a right hand on the break. Both landing good punches at range. Two minutes in. Hard 3-2 from Kianzad and another left hook behind it. Lehner lands a hard overhand right and left hook in return before getting clinched. Fighting for underhooks. Kianzad eats an uppercut inside. Two minutes to go.
3-2 from Kianzad once again. Low kick connects. Lehner lands aleg kick, eats a counter. Stiff jab by Lehner. Lead right by Kianzad, eats a counter trying a leg kick and tries to spin. One minute to go. Lehner answers a cross with a 1-2. Nicely timed double leg puts Kianzad on top in guard. 10-9 Kianzad.
Round two: Kianzad shoots right away and scores another takedown, moving right to half guard. Chipping away with short left hands. One minute in. Lehner works her way to her feet. Kianzad still has double underhooks, but can’t wrench her to the mat. Two minutes in. Kianzad exits with a nice combination, then steps back into the clinch. Good knee to the body. She goes for a throw, nearly gets swept, but winds up in top half guard again. Two minutes to go.
Kianzad staying heavy, landing ocasional shots. One minute to go. Lehner sits up and gives up her back in the process. Kianzad moves to a high mount and starts pounding. Lehner manages to get on top before the bell. 10-9 Kianzad.
Final result: Kianzad def. Lehner by unanimous decision
Here’s where we stand after two episodes.
Anderson Da Silva
Juan Francisco Espino Diepa
Przemyslaw Mysiala Katharina Lehner
Back to the heavyweights. Robert Whittaker tabs his first pick, Anderson “Braddock” da Silva, to face Justin Frazier.
See you in seven days!