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‘TUF 26’ Finale Salaries: New Champ Nicco Montano, Roxanne Modafferi Pull Down $100K Paydays

Nicco Montano is the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s inaugural women’s flyweight titlist and she’s officially $ 100,000 richer now, too.
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Five Flyweight Fighters to Watch After the TUF 26 Finale

Last Friday night (Dec. 1, 2017), Nicco Montano was able to outlast longtime veteran Roxanne Modafferi to capture the newly minted Flyweight title at The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 26 Finale in Paradise Theater in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The main point of TUF 26 was to anoint a champion, and now we have one. The other point was to introduce a number of recognizable names to the division, which is a goal somewhat accomplished, as many of the TUF 26 veterans will be in the UFC for years to come considering how young their professional careers are.

However, there’s a lot of risk for the new champion. Following The Ultimate Fighter season 20, Carla Esparza ran through her competition pretty thoroughly to capture the belt. Then, a relatively unknown up-and-comer — some Polish kickboxer with a weird last name — stepped up as her first title defense, only to utterly dominate the TUF champion.

Could that happen again? Very possibly, so let’s take a look at a few of the threats to the new champion.

No. 5
Paige VanZant
Record: 7-3
Key Wins: Bec Rawlings (UFC on FOX 21), Felice Herrig (UFC on FOX 15), Alex Chambers (UFC 191)
Why is VanZant a title threat? It’s easy to write “PVZ” off right now. She hasn’t fought in about a year, a main event loss to “Karate Hottie” Michelle Waterson. In the mean time, VanZant has been busier writing memoirs and appearing on Chopped than actually competing in the cage. She was supposed to face Jessica Eye back at UFC 216, but injuries scrapped that bout.

Then, VanZant awarded herself a title shot on Twitter.

Some of the above is ridiculous, but most of it doesn’t really matter. The real bottom line here is that VanZant is still a 23 year old prospect with some quality wins on her record. Additionally, she’s spent the better part of the year training consistently, which is exactly what the up-and-comer needs.

VanZant is made for five round fights, and if she can up the technical side of her game, she’s a threat in this division.

No. 4
Jessica Rose-Clark
Record: 8-4 (1)
Key Wins: Bec Rawlings (UFC Fight Night 121), Carina Damm (Titan FC 45)
Why is Rose-Clark a title threat? Rose-Clark stepped up on very short-notice just last month to face Bec Rawlings. It was her first official bout at 125 lbs., and Rose-Clark did miss weight. However, she looks the correct size for the division — she doesn’t appear to be a Bantamweight killing herself for a size advantage — so hopefully her weight won’t be an issue moving forward.

Currently, that’s the biggest obstacle to viewing Rose-Clark as a legitimate title challenger.

Otherwise, the Aussie showed a number of great skills in her debut. Rawlings is a forward pressure boxer with solid hands for her division, but Rose-Clark made her look like an amateur at times. Utilizing great footwork, counter punches, and a surprisingly sound grappling game, Rose-Clark picked her opponent apart cleanly. The split-decision call was nonsense, but that’s the game.

Rose-Clark faces off with VanZant on January 14 at UFC Fight Night 124 in a bout that could determine the next title challenger.

No. 3
Sijara Eubanks
Record: 2-2
Key Wins: Roxanna Modafferi (TUF 26), DeAnna Bennett (TUF 26)
Why is Eubanks a title threat? That’s a complicated question.

Eubanks performed extremely well on TUF. As the No. 12-ranked seed, Eubanks finished the fourth and fifth ranked opponents before dethroning the favorite, last night’s title challenger Roxanne Modafferi. She was the original woman matched up with Nicco Montano, and the odds were quite even ahead of that match up. Unfortunately, the inability to make weight cost Eubanks her golden opportunity at the title. Worse still, Eubanks didn’t just miss weight, she was hospitalized after her disastrous cut.

This week could be the end of Eubanks’ Flyweight career, and that would be a reasonable call from the UFC. At the same time, Eubanks did make weight three times on TUF, which is a far harder task than doing it once. If she can manage to again in the future, she’s immediately in the title mix.

She was supposed to fight Montano in the first place, after all.

No. 2
Katlyn Chookagian
Record: 9-1
Key Wins: Lauren Murphy (UFC Fight Night 91), Sijara Eubanks (CFFC 52), Irene Aldana (UFC 210)
Keys to Victory: Most of these picks — especially the upcoming top pick — are not really surprises, but Chookagian is my pick for the best dark horse at 125 lbs. “Blondefighter” may be a terrible nickname, but the Chookagian has earned a 3-1 record at Bantamweight against some pretty solid competition. Three years into her pro career at 28 years old, the former Flyweight has a ton of potential that has yet to be tapped.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about Chookagian is her fight camp. Chookagian is one of the staple members of Mark Henry’s fight team in New Jersey, which means she trains with top-tier lighter weight fighters like Frankie Edgar, Marlon Moraes, and Edson Barboza.

Her fighting style represents her team extremely well. Chookagian moves wonderfully, circling the cage and firing good strikes from range, maintaining that constant activity that her team is known for. It’s a great style that makes her difficult to take down, although wrestling is still an area that Chookagian occasionally shows her inexperience.

Keep an eye on her moving forward.

No. 1
Valentina Shevchenko
Record: 14-3
Key Wins: Holly Holm (UFC on FOX 20), Julianna Pena (UFC on FOX 23), Sarah Kaufman (UFC on FOX 17)
Why is Shevchenko a title threat? Because she’s the most technical fighter in women’s MMA.

This one is obvious. Shevchenko is coming off a split-decision loss to Bantamweight queen Amanda Nunes, a decision that very easily could have gone her way. She fought most of her extensive Muay Thai career below 135 lbs., and she can reportedly make Flyweight with no issues.

If that’s true, “Bullet’s” championship reign is imminent, and many more noses will be made rose.

Shevchenko is a masterful counter striker who provides her opponent with very few opportunities. Recently, her offensive grappling and defensive wrestling have come a long way as well. A training partner of current Strawweight champion Rose Namajunas, it’s hard not to see Shevchenko will gold wrapped around her waist at some point soon.

Honorable Mention: The former Strawweight queen Joanna Jedrzejczyk would absolutely be on this list if not for the fact that her current focus is a rematch with Rose Namajunas. Otherwise, Jedrzejczyk found great success at 125 lbs. as a kickboxer, and she certainly has the skills to piece up some women with an extra 10 lbs. on her frame.

There you have it. Are there any other major Flyweight title threats that I missed the mark on? Someone on my list that doesn’t deserve to be there? Let’s hear it in the comment’s section.

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TUF 26 Finale Results: Nicco Montano Defeats Roxanne Modafferi, Earns 125-Pound Belt

As the old saying goes, ‘Always the bridesmaid, never the bride’ – although in the case of two-time TUF vet Roxanne Modafferi, it’s about fighting in championship bouts and never managing to win a belt. Just as she did when she fought for a Strikeforce title and an Invicta FC title, Roxy battled hard at last […]

The post TUF 26 Finale Results: Nicco Montano Defeats Roxanne Modafferi, Earns 125-Pound Belt appeared first on Caged Insider.

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TUF 26 Finale bonuses: Brett Johns’ calf slicer submission, Gerald Meerschaert’s body kick TKO lead the way

As a prelude to UFC 218 the promotion pieced together a surprisingly memorable TUF 26 Finale card last night (Fri., Dec. 1, 2017) live on FOX Sports 1 from inside Monte Carlo’s Park Theater in Las Vegas, Nevada.

From top to bottom, this card delivered. We saw a crafty calf slicer by Brett Johns in a 30-second shocker, a come-from-behind knockout victory by Ryan Janes, an entertaining debut by young gunslinger Sean O’Malley, Gerald Meerschaert body kicking Eric Spicely into oblivion, and three first-round submission victories put forth by women’s flyweights Rachael Ostovich, Gillian Robertson, and Montana De La Rosa.

Not to mention the main event that saw Nicco Montano defeat Roxanne Modafferi via unanimous decision to claim the inaugural UFC women’s flyweight championship.

In order to sift through the action and see which fighters took home an extra $ 50,000, we take a closer look at the official TUF 26 Finale bonus winners below:

Fight of the Night: Nicco Montano vs. Roxanne Modafferi

Performance of the Night: Brett Johns

Performance of the Night: Gerald Meerschaert

For complete TUF 26 Finale results and coverage click here.

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Knockout! Watch Ryan Janes finish Andrew Sanchez in epic comeback at TUF 26 Finale

The finishes kept piling in earlier tonight (Fri., Dec. 1, 2017) at The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale inside Monte Carlo’s Park Theater in Las Vegas, Nevada, as middleweight Ryan Janes added to the mix with an incredible come-from-behind knockout victory over Andrew Holbrook.

Despite eating a plethora of punches throughout the first two rounds, Janes was resilient in the third. He started to catch a staggering Sanchez and poured the pressure on with a nasty left hook followed by a hard right hand. Sanchez stumbled back into the cage and Janes unloaded until the referee stepped in for the TKO stoppage.

Check out the memorable finish above courtesy of UFC.

With this performance, Janes ends a two-fight losing skid and notches down his first knockout victory since 2010. Sanchez is a tough dude at 185 pounds and Janes was able to stomach all of the damage. Let’s see if the submission artist can build off of this finish and win a few more fights next year.

MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire TUF 26 Finale fight card, starting with the UFC Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online at 7:30 p.m. ET, followed by the FOX Sports 1 “Prelims” bouts at 8 p.m. ET, before the main card start time at 10 p.m. ET, also on FOX Sports 1.

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The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 26 Finale preview and predictions

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) hits FOX Sports 1 (FS1) tonight (Fri., Dec. 1, 2017) with the finale of the latest Ultimate Fighter (TUF) season, which pits Nicco Montano against Roxanne Modafferi for the inaugural Women’s Flyweight Title in Las Vegas, Nevada.

In the televised co-feature, Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series (DWTNCS) standout Sean O’Malley takes on former RFA Champion Terrion Ware, while season villain Lauren Murphy replaces Modafferi against Barb Honchak.

Since we didn’t know the lineup until the last minute, we’ve also added some Prelim quick picks.

Nostradumbass hasn’t been seen since embarking on a journey into a mysterious chasm, providing only a mysterious transmission that warned of the imminent rise of “Earth’s rightful masters,” so I’ve got prediction duty this week.

Shall we?

125 lbs.: Nicco Montano (3-2) vs. Roxanne Modafferi (21-13)

I’m a major fan of Roxy’s and am delighted that she got this opportunity. That said, it’s hard to pick against Nicco considering how she’s looked recently.

They key here is the level of damage Montano can do on the inside. She’s adept at stuffing takedowns and steadily bashing away with elbows and knees when her opponents continue to drive. She pulled this off against strong wrestlers in Montana De La Rosa and Barb Honchak, the latter of whom is a legitimate top-tier flyweight, and ostensibly has the skills to do the same to Modafferi.

It’s also worth nothing that Montano has strong takedown offense as well, and Sijara Eubanks had considerable success putting Modafferi on her back in the semifinals. Modafferi just looks like she doesn’t have the physicality to impose her will on Montano without getting drubbed on the inside.

The UFC damn well better keep Roxy after this, but this isn’t her night. Montano shuts down her takedowns and batters her in the clinch for either a one-sided decision or late stoppage.

Prediction: Montano by unanimous decision

135 lbs.: Sean O’Malley (8-0) vs. Terrion Ware (17-6)

First off, I’d like to acknowledge the debt we owe O’Malley for styling on an Edmond Tarverdyan protege on the Tuesday Night Contender Series. Every time a Glendale Fight Club competitor gets wrecked, an angel gets her wings.

On the actual analysis side of things, O’Malley reminds me of a miniature Tony Ferguson. He doesn’t have “El Cucuy’s” powerhouse wrestling or preternatural ability to lock up front chokes, but his offbeat, high-octane striking brings to mind the interim lightweight champ’s creative offense.

Ware has crisp, effective boxing that could definitely ruin O’Malley’s night, but he’ll have to get past a three-inch height disadvantage to do it. The power also favors O’Malley, who isn’t hard to hit but seems capable of absorbing anything that comes his away. A Ware decision on the strength of his jab isn’t out of the question, but it’s likelier that O’Malley’s power and speed carry him to a finish midway through the fight.

Prediction: O’Malley by second-round TKO

125 lbs.: Lauren Murphy (9-3) vs. Barb Honchak (10-2)

Murphy was originally supposed to fight unbeaten Brazilian Priscila Cachoeira, but instead gets to “swoop in” without looking like a jerk after Cachoeira ran into visa issues and Roxanne Modafferi got called up to the main event. So, being careful not to let her shenanigans on the show color the analysis, how are her chances?

Not great.

Even though Nicco Montano’s continuing success casts Murphy’s loss in a better light, Murphy’s constant struggle to finish takedowns or land meaningful strikes at range doesn’t bode well for her UFC future, even in a division where she’ll have more of a strength advantage.

Honchak seems to just be flat-out superior in the areas that are supposedly Murphy’s strengths. Expect her to dictate the pace and positioning of the fight by stuffing Murphy’s takedowns and outworking her at range, in the clinch, and on the mat.

Prediction: Honchak by unanimous decision

185 lbs.: Eric Spicely (10-3) vs. Gerald Meerschaert (26-9)

I was pretty high on Meerschaert when he joined the UFC, but his last performance was not terribly inspiring. While Thiago Santos is a downright terrifying human being who should not be fought with anything short of a large-caliber handgun, Meerschaert looked incapable of setting up his takedowns or putting any mustard behind them.

Spicely can almost certainly keep up with Meerschaert on the mat, especially since he’s likely to be the one in top position more often than not. Hell, Ryan Janes managed to take Meerschaert down and his skillset doesn’t extend much past being really tall.

Though Meerschaert is dangerous enough off of his back to warrant caution and likely has the skills to scramble out of rough positions, his lack of positional control dooms him to an upset defeat.

Prediction: Spicely by unanimous decision

125 lbs.: DeAnna Bennett (8-3) vs. Melinda Fabian (4-3-1)

This looks like a showcase fight for Bennett, who despite her three-fight losing streak owns wins over current Invicta champ Jennifer Maia and former champ Katja Kankaanpaa. Plus, two of those three losses were split decisions against Jodie Esquiebel and Roxanne Modafferi.

Fabian, by contrast, has yet to beat an opponent with a win on her record, her sole career highlight a split decision loss to Lucie Pudilova. The way she folded beneath Rachael Ostovich’s onslaught on the show also doesn’t bode well for her.

Bennett looks like she still has the skills to be an elite flyweight and has been in there with much, much stronger fighters than Fabian. She scores an early takedown and gets the ground-and-pound finish soon after.

Prediction: Bennett by first-round TKO

135 lbs.: Joe Soto (18-5) vs. Brett Johns (14-0)

I’ll admit a soft spot for Joe Soto, who always looks for the submission and rarely fails to entertain. He just seems to lack size and physicality for bantamweight, while Johns has both in spades. The Welsh grinder looks perfectly suited to shutting Soto down on the mat and might have enough power to crack “One Bad MoFo’s” chin.

Johns isn’t likely to score the sort of eye-catching finishes that fellow prospects like Zabit Magomedsharipov and Aljamain Sterling do, but a strong takedown game with rock-solid submission defense is enough to carry him far. Soto’s three-fight winning streak comes to an end as Johns touches him up on the feet and does work from top position.

Prediction: Johns by unanimous decision

Prelim quick picks:

125 lbs.: Christina Marks (8-8) vs. Montana De La Rosa (7-4)

De La Rosa (née Stewart) isn’t anywhere near as dominant with her grappling as her background suggests she should be, but she’s got quality top control and is relentless with her takedown attempts. Marks has six submission losses and was taken down with ease by Emily Whitmire on the show before tapping. Seems pretty cut-and-dry.

Prediction: De La Rosa by first-round submission

185 lbs.: Andrew Sanchez (10-3) vs. Ryan Janes (9-2)

Atrocious defense and subpar wrestling cripple Janes’ game, which actually features some decent grappling. Sanchez is by far the stronger wrestler, the superior striker, and his top game is stronger than Janes’ bottom game. Unless Sanchez’s knockout loss to Anthony Smith knocked some load-bearing screws loose, he should dominate this.

Prediction: Sanchez by unanimous decision

125 lbs.: Karine Gevorgyan (3-2) vs. Rachael Ostovich (3-3)

Gevorgyan weighed in at 130 for this fight, which is never a good sign, and Ostovich honestly impressed me with her power and well-rounded game. Though Gevorgyan is a decent takedown artist, Ostovich looks like she has the edge in most areas and should comfortably control proceedings.

Prediction: Ostovich by unanimous decision

125 lbs.: Ariel Beck (4-4) vs. Shana Dobson (2-1)

Neither of these women looked UFC-worthy in their sole TUF bouts, getting summarily dominated on the mat by Montana De La Rosa and Roxanne Modafferi, respectively. Dobson’s two pro wins came over debuting fighters and Beck lost to a 6-9 fighter in her last bout before the show. I’ll go with Beck, who chewed up Rachael Ostovich on the feet in their Invicta fight before getting overpowered on the mat.

Prediction: Beck by unanimous decision

125 lbs.: Gillian Robertson (3-2) vs. Emily Whitmire (2-1)

Whitmire looked solid in the opening round and I expect her to look even better here without a nagging injury to hold her back, but Robertson has a deep amateur background and, though she was mostly dominated by Barb Honchak, showed some solid submission chops. Experience and BJJ carry the day for Robertson.

Prediction: Robertson by first-round submission

MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire TUF 26 Finale fight card on fight night (click here), starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET, before the FOX Sports 1 main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.

For much more on TUF 26, click here

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TUF 26 Finale Primer: The Roxy/Montano Hype Reel

On its face, the card for the TUF 26 Finale looks like a collection of no-names who you’ll probably never see in the Octagon again after tonight. And you’re right! But the main event features a TUF 26 finalist in Nicco Montano and a semi-finalist who without unquestionably deserves her late-replacement shot in Roxanne Modafferi, […]

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Bantamweights Brett Johns, Joe Soto to Clash at ‘TUF 26’ Finale on Dec. 1

Undefeated Brett Johns will attempt to keep his perfect mark intact when he squares off against Joe Soto at “The Ultimate Fighter 26” finale on Dec. 1.
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‘TUF 25 Finale’ Medical Suspensions: Justin Gaethje Among Six Fighters Facing 6 Months

Justin Gaethje’s UFC debut was one to remember, but it could leave him sidelined until early next year.
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‘TUF 25’ Finale Salaries: Former WSOF Champ Justin Gaethje Earns $200K in UFC Debut

Justin Gaethje took home a nice paycheck for his Ultimate Fighting Championship debut.
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