When the Ultimate Fighting Championship brought in the women’s 115-pound division in 2014, the promotion held a tournament on The Ultimate Fighter 20 to crown the inaugural strawweight champion. They’re doing the same thing with the introduction of the women’s flyweight division. 16 fighters were chosen to compete for the chance of becoming the first UFC women’s flyweight champion on The Ultimate Fighter 26.
The series debuted on Fox Sports 1 on Wednesday and his coached by former lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez and former World Series of Fighting titleholder Justin Gaethje. After the cast was determined through an evaluation process, the ladies were seeded and the teams were chosen.
Alvarez won the coin toss and elected to pick the first fighter instead of the first bout. He former Invicta FC flyweight champion Barb Honchak. Honchak was seeded No. 2 by the UFC matchmakers, so she’ll face No. 15 seed Gillian Robertson, who was automatically placed on Team Gaethje. Gaethje selected veteran fighter and top seed Roxanne Modafferi for his first team pick. She’ll face No. 16 seed Shana Dobson, who was placed on Team Alvarez. For his second team pick, Alvarez selected No. 3 seed Lauren Murphy. She’ll meet No. 14 seed Nicco Montano. No. 10 seeded Rachel Ostovich-Berdon was selected next by Gaethje. She’ll face No. 7 seed Melinda Fabian in the opening round. Alvarez’ next pick was No. 12 seeded Sijara Eubanks. She’ll be taking on No. 5 seed Maia Stevenson. Gaethje choose No. 6 seed Montana Stewart next. She’ll face No. 11 seed Ariel Beck. Alvarez’ final pick was No. 4 seed DeAnna Bennett. Bennett will meet No. 13 seed Karine Gevorgyan. Gathje’s final team selection was No. 8 seed Emily Whitmire, who will fight No. 9 seed Christina Marks.
With Alvarez getting to choose the first fighter, Gaethje got to pick the first fight of the season. He called on top seed Modafferi against No. 16 seed Dobson.
Dobson wanted to keep the fight standing and came out light on her feet. She utilized her quick jab and landed hard right hands in the early going to the opening round. A minute into the round, Modafferi closed the distance and took Dobson down. It was only a matter of time after that. Modafferi mounted Dobson and delivered punches and elbows. Dobson desperately tried to scramble out of the bad position, but was unable to escape Modafferi’s control. After a series of elbows, the referee stepped in to stop the fight. Modafferi scored a TKO win.
Modafferi appeared on The Ultimate Fighter 18, but was defeated by eventual finalist Jessica Rakoczy during the elimination round. With the win over Dobson, Modafferi felt vindicated for her previous appearance on TUF.
“I feel spectacular fight now. I feel so proud of myself and like I redeemed myself from my last loss the last time I was on The Ultimate Fighter,” said Modafferi after the win. “I feel like I got to show more of what I’ve built myself up to.”
Team Alvarez got to select the next bout and opted to put DeAnna Bennett up against Team Gaethje’s Karine Gevorgyan.