TUF 26 – Who Came, What Happened, and What’s Next

“You know what? I’m going to do 125 pound women (division).”

That was UFC President Dana White explaining why he decided this next season of The Ultimate Fighter would be for the inaugural UFC women’s flyweight title. He admitted his staff jumped the gun with a press release but seems happy that the division will fill up.

If Tuesday was any indication, he made the right choice.

46 women came to tryouts at the Palace Station Casino in Las Vegas to get their shot at being the first ever champ. We can confirm names of 44 of the hopefuls, which are listed at the bottom of the article.

Two intriguing names on the list are former InvictaFc champ Barb Honchak and current Invicta title contender and TUF 18 vet Roxanne Modafferi. Honchak (10-2) never lost her InvictaFC belt, but is coming back after nearly 2 1/2 year absence from the sport. Her participation (if selected) would give some legitimacy to the newly formed belt.

Modafferi is coming off an impressive win this past weekend over Sarah D’Alelio and in many people’s eyes is the number 1 contender for Jennifer Maia’s InvictaFC title. If she makes it in the house, we can look for the undefeated Agnieszka Niedźwiedź to take her spot.

Jennifer Maia was not at the tryouts, but all signs point to her being signed to the UFC later this year; hopefully facing the TUF 26 winner.

Other InvictaFC vets that were in attendance included Christine Ferea (who also fought this past weekend), Christine Stanley, Rachael Ostovich, Ariel Beck, DeAnna Bennett, and Sijara Eubanks.

Bellator strawweight tournament champion Zoila Frausto was trying out as well.

Under the UFC banner, two came out for the tryouts. Former InvictaFC bantamweight champion Lauren Murphy and Lucie Pudilová were both on hand to possibly set their sights on UFC gold.

Two international fighters were there in Bryony Tyrell (England) and Joselyne Edwards Laboriel (Panama).

Among those NOT  in attendance included Andrea Lee, who is having some minor surgery in her back; and Katlyn Chookagian, who is recovering from a shoulder injury. Jessica Eye and Joanne Calderwood spoke publicly they were going to wait until the division is officially established in the UFC and wouldn’t go through the TUF process. Mackenzie Dern (who is under a developmental contract with the UFC) was not in attendance either.

The process started with grappling (see above) and then headed to the pads to show their competence in striking; after which some cuts were made. Those who made it went into the interview portion and more cuts were made shortly after.

The remaining athletes will stay overnight in Vegas with them getting headshots done as a possible member of the cast. We suspect the process will be similar to TUF 20, where 16 fighters will be selected to take part of the show and directly move into the house. Two alternates will also be selected in case someone has to fall out.

The cast will be officially announced during UFC Intentional Fight week in July.

Here are 44 of the 46 we can confirm were at the tryouts. We will update you when we get evidence of someone making or not making the show.

  • Marcela Giantomassi Aguiar (f) – will be on the Aspera Fight Night card July 8th
  • Heather Bassett
  • Ariel Beck
  • Marisa Belenchia – (of note: no pro MMA fights so most likely out of the running)
  • DeAnna Bennett
  • Lucie Bertaud
  • Trisha Cicero*
  • Jessy Rose Clark
  • Rachael Cummins (f) – will be taking part of EBI tournament in July
  • Calie Cutler
  • Kelly D’Angelo* (f) – will be on the upcoming July Invicta card 
  • Shana Dobson
  • Savannah Em
  • Sijara Eubanks
  • Christine Ferea
  • Zoila Frausto
  • Karine Gevorgyan
  • Amira Hafizovic – (of note: currently only has 1 win as a pro so most likely out of the running)
  • Barb Honchak – Former Invicta flyweight champ. Will be applying for a Nevada fighters license.
  • Carmella James – (of note 0-2 as a pro so most likely out of the running)
  • Ana Julaton
  • Nicole Klein
  • Kelly Kobold*
  • Joselyne Edwards Laboriel
  • Vanessa Mariscal
  • Roxanne Modafferi – Top 5 flyweight and TUF vet 
  • Nicco Montano
  • Lauren Mueller
  • Lauren Murphy – (UFC deal is over and decided to try out)
  • Kaytlin Neil – (of note 0-2 as a pro so most likely out of the running)
  • Rachael Ostovich
  • Kali Robbins
  • Gillian Robertson
  • Gabby Romero (f) – will be taking part of EBI tournament in July
  • Montserrat Conejo Ruiz
  • Shanie Rusth
  • Angela Samaro
  • Christine Stanley
  • Montana Stewart
  • Hera Tamati (of note: cancelled possible August Kunlun bout)
  • Montserrat Alvarez Cienfuegos Tendilla
  • Jamie Thorton
  • Bryony Tyrell
  • Emily Whitmire

Bold – Very certain will be a part of the cast. Reason will be explain after the name
Italics – Certain they are out of the running
*- stated on social media they are out of the running
(f) – has a fight scheduled so most likely out of the running


4 thoughts on “TUF 26 – Who Came, What Happened, and What’s Next”

  1. Really disappointed with the lack of well known names for this TUF. I was figuring I would know most of the contestants pretty well and I only know 5. Hopefully those that make it through won’t disappoint. A bit more advanced notice would have helped a lot, especially with the international fighters.

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