Hey punch-friends! This is it, the very last episode of TUF 20. Hold back the tears, though. We start with Carla and Jessica talking about how they were friends and training partners before the show, so things are getting awkward now that one has to beat the other to get a title shot.
#1 Carla “Cookie Monster” Esparza vs #4 Jessica Penne
The first round starts with Carla landing some decent combinations on Jessica, keeping her on her back foot. Jessica starts tagging Carla back, but Carla is winning most of the stand up exchanges. With about two minutes left in the round, Carla shoots in for a take down, gets it, but Jessica reverses her and ends up on top. They are on the ground for about five seconds before Carla gets back to her feet and continues out striking Penne. With twenty seconds in the round, Carla gets another take down, but Jessica threatens with a triangle and Carla backs off. I’d give the first round to Esparza for her striking and take downs.
In round two, the striking looks a little more even, with Penne landing a nice head kick. At the halfway point, Carla gets another takedown, but seems wary of Penne’s guard and lets her back up. Carla shoots another power double and stays in Jessica’s full guard. Jessica keeps her guard closed and Carla locked down, forcing a stand up from referee Jason Herzog. Back on the feet, both fighters land some solid, heavy punches. If I’m a judge, I give the second to Carla.
The third is almost exclusively fought on the feet, with Carla edging Jessica most of the time. With under a minute, Penne pulls guard, but Carla avoids anything. In the final ten seconds, Carla gets a big double leg take down to seal the round. I’d score the round and the fight to Carla Esparza.
Before the fight, Dana gives Randa a birthday present – a phone call with her sister. It’s a really emotional moment and one of the times I wish the TUF cameras would back out of the room and let a person have their space.
#7 “Thug” Rose Namajunas vs #14 Randa Markos
After a brief striking flurry, Randa clinches Rose against the cage, but Rose gets Randa to the mat. Randa quickly sweeps Rose, but gets reversed and Rose gets back on top. A lot of scrambles ensue and I’m not good enough at BJJ to know what all I’m seeing. Rose ends up sweeping Randa with a kimura, locks it up and Rose forces Randa to tap out in the first round.
Come back on Friday to see #1 Carla “Cookie Monster” Esparza take on #7 “Thug” Rose Namajunas for the inaugural UFC Strawweight title!