Analysis of TUF 26 Cast: What Each Fighter Brings to the Table

BY AUSTIN DENTON

the ultimate fighter cast season 26
The official photo of the cast of the Ultimate Fighter Season 26. Photo is from the UFC Europe Twitter account.

Season 26 of The Ultimate Fighter will open up another door for women in the UFC, debuting the women’s flyweight (125 lbs.) division, as well as crowning the first champion for the division. During Saturday’s broadcast of UFC Fight Night: Pettis vs. Moreno, the 16 fighters that would be competing for the title were announced. Here’s a detailed look at what each fighter specializes in and various other specifics before the season begins.

Fighter #1: Ariel Beck

Record: 4-4

Last Fight: Loss to Kathina Lowe by unanimous decision (Legacy Fighting Championships).

Specialty: Striking, two of her four wins come by knockout.

Fought anyone on the cast?: Yes, lost to Rachael Ostovich by decision (Invicta FC).

Analysis: Ariel Beck is a striking specialist who is known for keeping her fights on the feet the best she can. Two of her four wins come via knockout, but on the flip side, two of her four losses come via submission. The first round matchup she wants to avoid is another fighter on the cast who has a strong ground game, strong wrestling, anything that does not involve striking.

Fighter #2: DeAnna “The Argentine Assassin” Bennett

Record: 8-3

Last Fight: Loss to Jodie Esquibel by split decision (Invicta FC).

Specialty: Mixed Martial Arts

Fought anyone on the cast?: Yes, lost to Roxanne Modafferi by decision (Invicta FC).

Analysis: DeAnna Bennett, a veteran of Invicta FC, has been on a recent rough losing skid to Jodie Esquibel, fellow castmate Roxanne Modafferi, and Livia Renata Souza which at the time was a title challenge of the Invicta FC strawweight belt. But despite all those losses recently, Bennett is a worthy contender that could go far in the competition. She has faced another notable name like UFC bantamweight Julianna Pena and defeated her.

Fighter #3: Shana “Danger” Dobson

Record: 2-1

Last Fight: Win over Rebecca Adney by unanimous decision (XKO).

Specialty: Mixed Martial Arts

Fought anyone on the cast?: Yes, lost to Nicco Montano by decision (KOTC).

Analysis: Shana Dobson hasn’t seen a finish yet in her professional MMA career, but her two amateur MMA bouts saw a knockout and submission finish. She is an all-around MMA fighter who can work all aspects of the fight.

Fighter #4: Sijara “Sarge” Eubanks

Record: 2-2

Last Fight: Loss to Aspen Ladd by unanimous decision (Invicta FC).

Specialty: Striking, both of her wins come by way of knockout

Fought anyone on the cast?: No

Analysis: Sijara Eubanks is well-known around the Invicta FC organization, both of her wins coming by way of knockout in Invicta fights. She has very good striking and knows how to finish a fight early. Matching Eubanks up with another striker would make for a war on the feet, but matching her up with a ground specialist could make things interesting as well.

Fighter #5: Melinda Fabian

Record: 4-3-1

Last Fight: Loss to Judith Ruis by submission (Aggrelin, MMA organization in Germany).

Specialty: Ground game, all four wins come by submission

Fought anyone on the cast?: No

Analysis: Hungarian prospect Melinda Fabian makes her pro-MMA debut in the United States when she starts the TUF competition. Fabian has faced two current UFC fighters in the past in Lucie Pudilova and Katlyn Chookagian but lost both of those fights. Despite those losses, she is a very skilled submission specialist who can work well on the ground and will attempt to find any way she can to make her opponent tap.

Fighter #6: Karine “The Princess” Gevorgyan

Record: 3-2

Last Fight: Win over Azahara Sanchez by knockout (Mix Fight Events).

Specialty: Mixed Martial Artist, two wins by submission, one by knockout

Fought anyone on the cast?: No

Analysis: Karine Gevorgyan is known to get in exciting fights with whoever is put in front of her, and there is good reason behind that. Whether it be a win or a loss, she has not seen a full three-round fight or a judge’s scorecard. All of her fights have either ended in her finishing her opponent, or her opponent finishing her. So it’s very possible she could bring that same excitement to the TUF competition. If the fight goes to the ground, Gevorgyan has two wins by submission, so her opponents need to be careful with her ground work.

Fighter #7: Barb “Little Warrior” Honchak

Record: 10-2

Last Fight: Win over Takayo Hashi by unanimous decision (Invicta FC Title Defense).

Specialty: Mixed Martial Arts

Fought anyone on the cast?: Yes, defeated Roxanne Modafferi by submission (BEP)

Analysis: Barb Honchak is one of the few pioneers of women’s MMA still actively competing in the sport, and after about two and a half years away from the sport, she is back and gunning for another title. Her last fight was in November of 2014, a title defense of the Invicta FC strawweight championship. She uses all aspects during her fights and has knockout power that works to her advantage.

Fighter #8: Christina Marks

Record: 8-8

Last Fight: Win over Paola Ramirez by unanimous decision (Fight Club OC).

Specialty: Mixed Martial Arts

Fought anyone on the cast?: No

Analysis: Christina Marks has fought some of the more notable names in women’s MMA in the past, which include Sarah D’Alelio, Colleen Schneider, and Alexis Dufrense, but has never made it to a major organization until now. She has three wins by knockout, and two by submission, and is an all-around fighter who can use all aspects of the fight.

Fighter #9: Roxanne “The Happy Warrior” Modafferi

Record: 21-13

Last Fight: Win over Sarah D’Alelio by knockout (Invicta FC).

Specialty: Mixed Martial Arts

Fought anyone on the cast?: Yes, defeated DeAnna Bennett by unanimous decision (Invicta FC), lost to Barb Honchak by submission (BEP).

Analysis: Roxanne Modafferi is yet another one of the few pioneers of women’s MMA still competing actively in the sport, most recently knocking out another pioneer, Sarah D’Alelio. Stepping in on the cast of this season is in a way, a redemption chance for Modafferi to get into the UFC. She made her first attempt on the 18th season of TUF, defeating Valerie Letourneau in the first fight, and then losing to Jessica Rakoczy the following fight. But now, she looks to bounce back into things after a successful tenure in Invicta FC, going 6-2 in the organization. She is known to stay on the feet more than going to the ground but is an all around fighter.

Fighter #10: Nicco Montano

Record: 3-2

Last Fight: Loss to Julia Avila by unanimous decision (HD MMA).

Specialty: Striking, two of her three wins come by way of knockout

Fought anyone on the cast?: Yes, defeated Shana Dobson by unanimous decision (KOTC).

Analysis: Nicco Montano is a former KOTC champion who has good striking skills, two of her three career wins come by way of knockout. Her only decision win was against fellow castmate Shana Dobson at flyweight. We could expect more of the same with her in the competition, striking and staying on the feet.

Fight #11: Lauren “Lucky” Murphy

Record: 9-3

Last Fight: Loss to Katlyn Chookagian by unanimous decision (UFC).

Specialty: Striking, seven of her nine wins come by way of knockout.

Fought anyone on the cast?: No

Analysis: Lauren Murphy is the only member of the cast who is still currently competing actively on the UFC roster. But this competition can serve as a reason to keep her on the roster. All three of her career losses have come in the UFC, and her career record in the organization is 1-3, so this can help her case to stay fighting in the world’s biggest organization. We all saw her striking on display in the bloody war win over Kelly Faszholz, so if she can have performances like that in the competition, she can go far into the competition.

Fighter #12: Rachael Ostovich

Record: 3-3

Last Fight: Loss to Christine Ferea by knockout (Invicta FC).

Specialty: Ground game, one win comes by submission, has lost by knockout twice

Fought anyone on the cast?: Yes, defeated Ariel Beck by split decision (Invicta FC).

Analysis: Rachael Ostovich has made more of a name for herself in Invicta FC, composing a record of 2-2, and grabbing wins over fellow castmate Ariel Beck and Evva Johnson. She is better when the fight is on the ground, as she has been knocked out two times. We’ll see who she will get matched up with.

Fighter #13: Gillian “The Savage” Robertson

Record: 3-2

Last Fight: Win over Hannah Cifers by submission (Next Level Fight Club).

Specialty: Ground game, two of her three wins come by way of submission

Fought anyone on the cast?: No

Analysis: Gillian Robertson is an experienced fighter who has fought in more amateur MMA fights than professional at the moment, but knows how to finish a fight on the ground well. That’s what fellow castmates should be prepared for in case Robertson is their first round matchup.

Fighter #14: Maia Stevenson

Record: 6-4

Last Fight: Win over Faye Shields by submission (Gladiator Challenge).

Specialty: Mixed Martial Arts, three wins by knockout, two by submission.

Fought anyone on the cast?: No

Analysis: Maia Stevenson is a talented MMA fighter who can finish fights, five of her six wins come by way of either knockout or submission. Bringing that all-around game could help in her advantage when fighting an opponent who focus specifically on one aspect, she can work all of them.

Fighter #15: Montana Stewart

Record: 7-4

Last Fight: Win over Kathina Lowe by submission (Xtreme Fight Night).

Specialty: Ground game, five of seven wins come by way of submission

Fought anyone on the cast?: No

Analysis: Montana Stewart is a ground game specialist who can be matched up well with anyone in a fight. She got her winning ways back on track with a win over Kathina Lowe in Xtreme Fight Night and has made appearances in the LFA and in the LFC. We’ll see how she does.

Fighter #16: Emily Whitmire

Record: 2-1

Last Fight: Win over Ronni Nanney by unanimous decision (Beatdown).

Specialty: Mixed Martial Arts

Fought anyone on the cast?: No

Analysis: Emily Whitmire is more of a fighter who works on the feet and strikes, as her professional and amateur MMA loss have been both by submission. As long as she can stay up and off of the ground, she could win fights.

The new season will premiere August 30th on FS1.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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