Hello punch-friends, and welcome to The Ultimate Fighter 20 recap! There are a few reasons I’ve decided to recap TUF 20 after every episode, the main being that IT’S STRAWWEIGHTS! The 115-pounders are pretty much my favorite division at this point, as there are so many fun fighters competing not just on the show, but that have been signed directly to the UFC. If you’d like to know a little more about the sixteen contestants, please check out this handy-dandy preview series in four delightful parts that I partially contributed to (1, 2, 3, 4).
We’ve got two of the best non-Dagestani lightweights as coaches, the current champion and man that’s stained Ben Henderson’s soul on two separate occasions, Anthony “Showtime” Pettis, and the challenger, the former StrikeForce champion, Gilbert “El Nino” Melendez. They will each take their team of eight strawweight fighters and set them on the path to becoming the UFC’s inaugural 115-pound champion.
The premiere episode, a two-hour runner, is very interesting. It features a lot of footage of the fighters with their family before making the trip to Las Vegas to film the show. There’s also a decent look at the tryout sessions, and the eight Invicta fighters that were selected have some of their highlights shown for good measure.
The format is also a departure from previous seasons. All sixteen fighters have been ranked, though apparently Dana White knows that ranking at the onset. Once a fighter is selected to a team, the fighter seeded on the opposite side is put on the other team. This means that all of the first round matchups have already been determined, it’s just a matter of when the fights are selected to happen. This makes a team having control of selecting fights less important, since the top fighters are already matched up against the perceived weaker opponents.
A bulk of the episode was spent on getting to know some of the fighters, and other than former Invicta champion Carla “Cookie Monster” Esparaza, there certainly was a lot of tragic backstories. There were fighters with histories of physical and substance abuse in their childhoods, fighters that fled from warzones, and tragically, worse of all, fighters that had to grow up CANADIAN.
The fight: #3 Tecia “Tiny Tornado” Torres versus #14 Randa Markos
This fight, you guys! I knew Tecia Torres was amazing from her Invicta fights, and she certainly put on an impressive performance here. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a fighter be more active from the bottom. The first round saw Torres throwing tons of strikes off her back and threatening with submissions, even almost catching Markos in the rarely seen hair-oplata.
Round two was more decidedly in favor of Markos, as she was in control on top and even managed to finish off the round in full mount, raining down hammer fists and elbows. With the scores tied up, the fight went to a third, sudden victory round. The final round was even for the most part, until Markos managed to score a late takedown, avoid a submission attempt from Torres, and end up on top as time ran out. In a huge upset, Markos beat Torres, which I think just shows how good all of these fighters are.
Come back next week when I recap #2 Joanne “Bad Mofo JoJo” Calderwood taking on #15 Emily Kagan!
“I won’t go eat that extra cupcake, because that’s what champions do.” – Felice Herrig. Yes, because champions eat cookies.
“I’m pretty happy with that matchup, even though like before we were talkin’ and I was like ‘Oh, I’m a wee bit hungry’ and she was like ‘Oh, I’ve got some food in my bag’ and she brought me two carrots. And now we’re matched up and I’m like oh f*ck, she’ll be wanting her carrots back.” – Joanne Calderwood, being the most delightful person, ever.
“Like, it sounds terrible, but I enjoy hurting people.” – Rose Namajunas proving why she’s called “Thug”.
“They never should have taken down Saddam, he was the only one that could control that country.” – Randa Markos, who was born in Iraq and fled the country as a child has an interesting take on things.
(Burnsy note: Shout out to Ronda Rousey for turning Tuesday night’s TUF premiere in Hollywood into a Mortal Kombat cosplay event.)