The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale Live Stream Online, LAS VEGAS – MMAjunkie was on scene and reporting live from today’s early and official fighter weigh-ins for The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale, where medical issues caused a late change to the night’s main event.
8:30 p.m. ET (5:30 p.m. PT) at Park Theater in Las Vegas
Honchak will now face fellow The Ultimate Fighter 26 cast member Lauren Murphy at The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale after her original opponent, Roxanne Modafferi, was promoted to fight for the UFC women’s flyweight belt.
The news was announced on Thursday night by the promotion.
Honchak, a former Invicta FC flyweight champ, was eliminated in the TUF 26 tournament semifinals by Nicco Montaño. The 38-year-old fighter is 10-2 in MMA, and currently finds herself on a nine-fight win streak in her professional fighting career (TUF fights are considered exhibition bouts).
Meanwhile, Murphy was supposed to fight Priscila Cachoeira, but that bout was scrapped due to due to visa issues form Cachoeira. Murphy was also eliminated by Montaño in the TUF 26 tourney, but in the round of 16. Murphy, 34, is 9-3 in her MMA career and is also a former Invicta FC champ.
Friday night, the UFC will see an end to its 26th season of The Ultimate Fighter. Live on Fox Sports 1, the card features all but one cast member (Maia Stevenson) competing on the card, including the two women vying for the vacant UFC Women’s Flyweight Championship.
In the main event, two underdogs will square off for said flyweight championship. Both fighters have unimpressive records, as 3-2 Nicco Montano will fight 2-2 Sijara Eubanks. Both may have lackluster records but won huge fights over tough competition to earn the right to compete for the title.
Outside of the TUF competitors, there are names on the card such as former bantamweight title challenger Joe Soto, TUF winner Andrew Sanchez and impressive prospect Sean O’Malley. It could be an underrated card that brings some great entertainment. With that, let’s take a look at the card and make some predictions for fight night.
MAIN CARD (FS1, 10 p.m. ET)
Sijara Eubanks ()* vs. Nicco Montano (124.5) – for inaugural women’s flyweight title
Sean O’Malley (135.5) vs. Terrion Ware (136)
Barb Honchak (125.5)+ vs. Roxanne Modafferi (124)
Gerald Meerschaert (185) vs. Eric Spicely (185.5)
DeAnna Bennett (126) vs. Melinda Fabian (126)
Brett Johns (135.5) vs. Joe Soto (135)
PRELIMINARY CARD (FS1, 8 p.m. ET)
Montana De La Rosa (125.5) vs. Christina Marks (125.5)
Ryan Janes (185) vs. Andrew Sanchez (185.5)
Karine Gevorgyan (130)^ vs. Rachael Ostovich (125)
Ariel Beck (125.5) vs. Shana Dobson (125.5)
PRELIMINARY CARD (UFC Fight Pass, 7:30 p.m. ET)
Gillian Robertson (125.5) vs. Emily Whitmire (125)
Nicco Montano vs. Sijara Eubanks
With the inaugural women’s flyweight title on the line, unlikely Cinderella’s Sijara Eubanks and Nicco Montano will battle it out to earn the belt and the crown the winner of The Ultimate Fighter 26. I thought it was insane that Eubanks was ranked as low as she was with the 12th seed, but I never thought to see her in the finals even with that thought in my head. That considered, Eubanks is a physical specimen and a strong ground fighter, especially when it comes to landing massive ground-and-pound. Her route to the finals has been impressive, tapping out Maia Stevenson and landing a highlight reel knockout over DeAnna Bennett before her huge upset over Roxanne Modafferi. Her only career losses come to young UFC contenders Aspen Ladd and Katlyn Chookagian. As for Montano, she was even more unlikely than Eubanks in this scenario with the 14th seed. She will want to strike in this fight, as a mat engagement with Eubanks would be tough for her. Her road to the finals saw her score unanimous decisions over UFC vet Lauren Murphy, Montana Stewart and former Invicta champion Barb Honchak. As bleak as this may sound, but the winner is a placeholder for whoever gets the first title shot, likely Valentina Shevchenko. With that in mind, Eubanks is the pick here, as she’s stronger and more dangerous in a facet that Montano may find some struggles with, which is the mat.
Roxanne Modafferi vs. Barb Honchak
The two top-seeds in the TUF tournament will square off with one another in a pivotal flyweight bout, as former Invicta champion Barb Honchak meets up with fellow WMMA pioneer Roxanne Modafferi. Honchak is very well-rounded and one of the best women fighters in the history of the sport, besting some of better names in WMMA. Her run in the tournament was ended by Nicco Montano, but previous to that, Honchak scored a TKO over Gillian Robertson and a decision over Rachael Ostovich-Berdon. She takes on Modafferi, a woman she defeated back in 2011 via submission. That said, that was six years ago and both women are completely different fighters. Modafferi is a grappler by trade but has greatly improved her striking in recent times. Since her first TUF appearance in 2013, Modafferi has gone 6-2 and even scored a title bid in Invicta. Before her abrupt loss to Sijara Eubanks in the semifinals, Modafferi was running roughshod through the tournament, scoring TKO wins over Shane Dobson and Emily Whitmire. This will be a good battle between top veterans. This will be a close decision, but I will go with Honchak by a narrow margin.
Joe Soto vs. Brett Johns
Bantamweight contenders Joe Soto and Brett Johns are trying to prove they are worthy of being in the title picture when they square off against one another. Soto is a former bantamweight championship challenger, something he did on late notice and took the champ TJ Dillashaw into the fifth round before succumbing to strikes. He’s a wrestler with a good submission game on the ground. His striking has improved a tad, but he still likes to get guys down and overwhelm them on the mat. He’s currently riding a three-fight winning streak, where he’s finished Chris Beal and Marco Beltran while earning a unanimous nod over Rani Yahya. He comes in against Johns, a grinder who also likes to fight on the ground. The 14-0 Welsh fighter is just 25 years old, a true prospect in this division. The former Titan FC champ has scored decision wins over Kwan Ho Kwak and Albert Morales to this point in the UFC, so this is a big step up in competition. I think Johns has a very bright future, but I think at this point, Soto is just a tad more polished and experienced at a higher level. Soto takes a close decision of Johns.