The first season of The Ultimate Fighter to ever include women is finally upon us, as TUF 18: Team Rousey vs. Team Tate premiered to some great fights. We were treated to an inside look at some of these great prospects at both women's and men's bantamweight (135 pounds).
The premiere episode saw the 32 participants fight to get into the house. Whoever won their respective fight would then be picked for either Ronda Rousey or Miesha Tate's team.
So, after Week 1, let's take a look at the power rankings for each division. Currently, these rankings are based on their performances in the first episode, their resumes coming into the show and their potential to run the proverbial gauntlet that is TUF.
|1. Shayna Baszler||15-8||Rousey||Sub win vs. Colleen Schneider|
|2. Peggy Morgan||2-0||Rousey||TKO win vs. Bethany Marshall|
|3. Jessamyn Duke||2-0||Rousey||Sub win vs. Laura Howarth|
|4. Sarah Moras||3-1||Tate||Decision win vs. Tara LaRosa|
|5. Julianna Pena||4-2||Tate||Decision win vs. Gina Mazany|
|6. Roxanne Modafferi||15-10||Tate||Sub win vs. Valerie Letourneau|
|7. Raquel Pennington||3-3||Tate||Sub win vs. Tonya Evinger|
|8. Jessica Rakoczy||1-3||Rousey||Sub win vs. Revelina Berto|
As they say, ladies first!
The women had the much more exciting fights in the elimination round, as six of the eight scraps were finishes. Of course, atop the rankings is the favorite to win it all from the get-go, Shayna Baszler.
Baszler's record speaks for itself, as she has beaten a who's who of women's MMA fighters, including current UFC employees Julie Kedzie and Alexis Davis. She thoroughly dominated a tough Colleen Schneider, the women's champ of the Super Fight League, to get in the house, where she now has the first fight in the women's quarterfinals against Team Tate's top pick, Julianna Pena.
Speaking of Pena, she has high expectations coming into next week's fight with Baszler, as she was the top overall pick of the women. Her one-sided decision of Gina Mazany to get into the house was impressive, though one of her career losses comes to her teammate, Sarah Moras.
Moras took the upset of the elimination round, as she ousted WMMA pioneer and early favorite Tara LaRosa with her superior wrestling. The Canadian, like her teammate, Pena, has a loss to a teammate of hers as well in Raquel Pennington.
Pennington made it into the house, but showed holes in her takedown defense. She submitted highly regarded Tonya Evinger, but it wasn't until she gassed that "Rocky" finally took control of the fight. She will need to prove something to move up the rankings in her next bout.
The two biggest women in terms of size in the house are fellow Team Rousey members Peggy Morgan (6'1") and Jessamyn Duke (5'11"). Morgan used her hulking, former featherweight frame to decimate Bethany Marshall on the canvas, while Duke used her long limbs to tap out Laura Howarth.
One has to believe that size will make a difference in this competition, as there are a couple of women who are natural flyweights and much smaller than Duke and Morgan.
The last picks of their respective teams come in the form of great experience (Roxanne Modafferi) and being somewhat green in MMA (Jessica Rakoczy). Modafferi is a member of the old guard of the sport who has faced seemingly everyone.
Her tapout of Valerie Letourneau turned back the clock and gave her a chance to revitalize her career. As for Rakoczy, the biggest underdog to get in the house, who is a pro boxing champion, actually had the best submission win of the elimination round, tapping Revelina Berto with a brutal omoplata.
As mentioned, the first fight in the house will be between each team's top pick, as first overall Julianna Pena of Team Tate will throw down with season favorite and second overall pick Shayna Baszler.
|1. Chris Beal||7-0||Rousey||Decision win vs. Sirwan Kakai|
|2. Cody Bollinger||14-2||Tate||TKO win vs. Rafael de Freitas|
|3. Josh Hill||9-0||Tate||Decision win vs. Patrick Holohan|
|4. David Grant||8-1||Rousey||Sub win vs. Danny Martinez|
|5. Chris Holdsworth||4-0||Tate||Sub win vs. Louis Fissette|
|6. Tim Gorman||8-2||Tate||TKO win vs. Lee Sandmeier|
|7. Anthony Gutierrez||4-0||Rousey||Decision win vs. Matt Munsey|
|8. Michael Wootten||7-0||Rousey||Decision win vs. Emil Hartsner|
More of the men's fights went to decision than the women's fights and were not as critically acclaimed as the opposite gender, but we got insight on some good-looking prospects.
As of right now, Chris Beal looks to be the man to beat from Team Rousey. His decision win over Sirwan Kakai saw him throw meat hooks on the feet, as well as defend himself on the ground. As noted, he needs to sharpen up some part of his ground game, but being on Team Rousey should definitely do that for him.
My favorite coming into the season is ranked third, mostly based off the boring performance he had in the elimination round against Patrick Holohan. Josh Hill's credentials and resume speak for themselves, but his play-it-safe, grind-'em-out approach to that fight will likely not to win him any fans anytime soon. He has a lot to prove moving forward, or he'll be at the bottom looking up.
The two Brits who made the cut couldn't have looked more opposite.
While David Grant's foul-ridden win was impressive due to his aggression, ability to finish and solid takedown defense, Michael Wootten's win was boring, unimpressive and showed no desire of winning this competition against a fighter he was clearly better than. Both find themselves on Team Rousey, so we will see, moving forward, who the better Brit is.
Team Tate's top male fighter put on one of the most impressive performances in the elimination round. Cody Bollinger found himself in numerous precarious situations on the ground with BJJ black belt Rafael de Freitas, but he kept his cool, eventually knocking out the normal flyweight with heavy punches. The Bellator vet is one of the early favorites to take this competition.
The rest of the men are really a tossup.
Chris Holdsworth looked good in his win, displaying high-level jiu-jitsu. He had his friends from Team Alpha Male supporting him in the crowd, so obviously he has good training coming into the show. Tim Gorman looked like a beast, but beat down an opponent who was obviously overmatched. Anthony Gutierrez won his fight, but did not fight well against a guy he should have beaten handily.
We are going to need to see more from these men to push their names up the rankings, so we wait in anticipation for the next episode.