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.

Who’s most likely in due to social media blackout and were spotted in the “Dana White Contenders Series” on Aug. 1

  • Ariel Beck
  • DeAnna Bennett
  • Shana Dobson
  • Karine Gevorgyan
  • Barb Honchak
  • Roxanne Modafferi
  • Lauren Murphy
  • Rachael Ostovich
  • Emily Whitmire

Confirmed by sources

  • Nicco Montano
  • Montana Stewart
  • Sijara Eubanks
  • Gillian Robertson

Definitely out

  • Marcela Giantomassi Aguiar – was on the Aspera Fight Night card July 8th
  • Marisa Belenchia – stated she is out of the running after tryouts
  • Trisha Cicero – has a fight Aug. 18
  • Jessy Rose Clark – campaigning to be on Invicta’s Aug. 31 card
  • Kelly D’Angelo – was be on the July Invicta card 
  • Kelly Kobold – stated she was out of the running after tryouts fight for Legacy in August
  • Gabby Romero – took part of EBI tournament and Invicta in July
  • Hera Tamati – has bout set for Aug. 19
  • Montserrat Alvarez Cienfuegos Tendilla – Doing a seminar July 30th
  • Jamie Thorton – has bout set for GKO Aug. 5
  • Bryony Tyrell – has a fight set for the fall
  • Rachael Cummins – took part of the EBI tournament

Did social media as of the start if taping

  • Heather Bassett
  • Lucie Bertaud
  • Calie Cutler
  • Savannah Em
  • Christine Ferea – has a fight at Legacy in August
  • Zoila Frausto
  • Amira Hafizovic
  • Joselyne Edwards Laboriel – has a fight Aug. 18
  • Ana Julaton
  • Lauren Mueller
  • Kali Robbins – Fighting for Invicta in August
  • Montserrat Conejo Ruiz
  • Shanie Rusth
  • Angela Samaro – has a fight Aug. 12
  • Christine Stanley
  • Monica Medina
  • Jaymee Nievara
  • Jaymee Jones

Not on social media often but most likely out

  • Carmella James – 0-2 as a pro so most likely out of the running
  • Nicole Klein – no pro or amateur MMA fights
  • Vanessa Mariscal – didn’t apply for a Nevada fighter’s license
  • Kaytlin Neil – 0-2 as a pro so most likely out of the running



6 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.

    1. I was thinking the same thing. There will likely be some suprises in the mix. To me, a bunch of unfamiliar names has the potential to make it more interesting/exciting.

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