TUF 20 Primer – What You Should Know Going in

Bro5DSqCEAEnyvqAfter what seemed like a long 9 months, we are ready to see the start of what will be the most exciting season of The Ultimate Fighter, whicjh will air on Fox Sports 1.

Sixteen fighters will vie for for the first ever UFC strawweight championship in what will be the most talent filed tournament in the company’s history. InvictaFC vets populate 12 of the sixteen spots and the rest range from rising stars to a few vets.

To get you prepared for the season premier, here are some things that will make your viewing just a bit enjoyable.

We are expecting two fights this first episode since it’s a two hour show tonight. Since there was no “get into the house” matches this time,  the season won’t open with a series of matches to start. Expect teams to be picked right off the bat. The matches were made by seeding, with a Team Pettis fighter taking on a Team Melendez ones in the opening round.

We announced the teams and opening round matches last week, but let’s break them down.

Rose Namajunas (Team Melendez; 2-1) vs. Alex Chambers (Team Pettis; 4-1)

Notable Wins

Namajunas: Emily Kagan (rear naked choke round 3); Kathina Catron (flying armbar in 12 seconds)

Chambers: Mika Nagano (TKO 42 seconds); Jodie Esquibel (rear naked choke round 1)

What to Expect

As much experience as Chambers has as a fighter in Muay Thai and MMA, Namajunas has proven to be one of the best submission specialists in the division. Even though Chambers will have no problem with making weight as she is an 105er normally, size maybe a factor. After a barn burner with Tecia Torres being her only loss, Namajunas is the darling of TUF promotion department so we don’t expect to lose the first fight. We see an armbar submission for Namajunas.

Heather Clark (Team Melendez; 6-4) vs. Felice Herrig (Team Pettis; 9-5)

Notable Wins

Clark: Hannah Cifers (unanimous decision); Sarah Alpar (rear naked choke; round 3)

Herring: Heather Clark (split decision); Nicdali Rivera-Calanoc (unanimous decision)

What to Expect

There is no love loss between Clark and Herrig. Clark had been pursuing a match with Herrig for over a year before she got her shot at Bellator in March 2013. The two battled with Clark taking the first round. A broken arm hindered Clark’s performance in the later rounds that gave Herrig the split decision win. After the final bell, Herrig screamed at Clark and Clark swiped at her. Since then, Clark had traded camps from Syndicate to Xtreme Couture and trains with Miesha Tate.

Herrig lost to Tecia Torres in her last outing and the “Little Bulldog” is looking to get some redemption.

Expect another heated battle between the two, with Clark possibly getting the upset.

Joanne Calderwood (Team Pettis; 8-0) vs. Emily Peters Kagan ( Team Melendez; 3-1)

Notable Wins

Calderwood: Katja Kankaanpaan (unanimous decision); Ashley Cummins (round 1 KO – knee to the body)

Kagan: Ashley Cummins (split decision); Glena Avila (split decision)

What to expect:

Calderwood is known for her striking game and has a decent ground game. Kagan is the lone Jackson’s MMA representative (Clark had left Jacksons two year back). It will be interesting to see if Kagan tries to take it to the ground, but Calderwood’s ability to keep it standing will give the favorite an edge. We see a decision.

Aisling Daly (Team Pettis; 14-5) vs. Angela Magana (Team Melendez; 11-6)

Notable Wins

Daly: Jessica Eye (rear naked choke round 2); Kelly Warren (armbar round 2)

Magana: Barb Honchak (split decision); Jessica Aguilar (majority decision)

What to Expect:

Both are vets and have some big upset wins under their belt, and is the closest match in the opening round. Daly’s ground game has improved immensely and has looked better in her past few fights than Magana. Expect Daly to take a unanimous decision win.

Tecia Torres (Team Melendez; 4-0) vs. Randa Markos Thomas (Team Pettis; 4-1)

Notable Wins

Torres: Felice Herrig (unanimous decision); Rose Namajunas (unanimous decision)

Thomas: Allanna Jones (armbar round 3); Lynell House (armbar round 1)

What to Expect

As much as Thomas’s record has been solid, Torres has made her way through some of the top talent in the division. Well rounded, she is the favorite to win it all. Expect another unanimous decision for the “Tiny Tornado”.

Jessica Penne (Team Pettis; 11-2) vs. Lisa Ellis (Team Melendez; 15-8)

Notable Wins

Penne: Lisa Ellis (TKO round 3); Naho Sugiyama (triangle round 2 – won the Invicta 105 title)

Ellis: Ais Daly (unanimous decision); Jessica Aguilar (rear naked choke round 2)

What to Expect:

This is a rematch from InvictaFC 1 and was “Fight of the Night”. More than two years have passed and will be interesting to see how each person’s game has improved. We see Penne taking another TKO win.

This maybe a contender for “Fight of the Season”.

Carla Esparza (Team Pettis; 9-2) vs. Angela Hill (Team Melendez; 1-0)

Notable Wins:

Esparza: Felice Herrig (unanimous decision); Bec Hyatt (uanimous decision – won InvictaFC title)

Hill: Stephanie Skinner (TKO round 2)

What to Expect:

The former InvictaFC champion never defended her belt before vacating, and is now back at square one in terms of getting a title. Her overwhelming experience looks like a solid lock for her to move on.

Justine Kish (Team Pettis; 4-0) vs. Bec Rawlings (Team Melendez; 5-3)

Notable Wins:

Kish: Randa Markos Thomas (unanimous decision); Munah Holland (triangle round 2)

Rawlings: Jasminka Cive (armbar round 1); Christina Tatnell (TKO 34 seconds)

What to Expect:

Rawlings proved she could hang with the top of the division, going five rounds with champion Carla Esparza. Kish has been on a roll getting some good wins under her belt. In a match that is too close to call, Kish may have an edge.

Rumors Going in

  • Evidence of the semi-finalist have been popping up since the end of taping. Two major hints people were telling us is Namajunas was still in cornrows at the wrap party for the show; and Esparza was donning a black eye.
  • Certain fighters were not on the press tour. These include Justine Kish and Bec Rawlings. (Alex Chambers and Joanne Calderwood are out of the country). Read into this as you may.
  • There is obviously an incident with Angela Magana and Felice Herrig that happened first week. If we get it in the first or second episodes is anyone’s guess

If you miss an episode, there are several ways to view it. If you have UFC Fight Pass, episodes will be available there. If you want free options, the “Fox Sports Go” app and FoxSports.com will have them up for your viewing pleasure.

Let’s get ready for what will be our Wednesday night addiction for the next three months.


3 thoughts on “TUF 20 Primer – What You Should Know Going in”

  1. YES! What a breakdown, love it. I’m not sure why it would matter much but I think there may be an error about the Penne-Ellis fight (ended with a TKO in rd 3). It just kinda stuck out to me. Thanks so much for all you do! Idk where I would be without your coverage. Lost, probably.

  2. WOW! You got through an article without name dropping, saying you’re in the know and mentioning educated guess! Well done you!

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