Are we all still basking in the glory of Randa Markos giving Carla Esparza and Felice Herrig their comeuppance? I wouldn’t blame you if you are. With one massive victory, Randa became one of the biggest names in Canadian MMA overnight. To not only battle, but decisively vanquish her rival, was almost too perfect of a finish for that episode. The only thing that would make it sweeter would be if Randa won her next fight leading to a final confrontation with Carla.
The show will be hard pressed to match last week’s drama. Combatants Aisling Daly and Jessica Penne have both been cool and likeable so far. Darn. “Cool and likeable” don’t feed the bulldog! Justine Kish laughs off the minor dilemma of being both Jessica’s friend and Aisling’s roommate. It’s great to see that Justine is able to keep a positive attitude despite losing her chance to fight in the tournament. She’s shown joking and smiling a lot, even while Jessica is kicking away at her in training.
Aisling senses some bias in the coaching staff. She’s been behind in adapting to the TUF experience from day one due to a combination of her depression, her being a foreigner, and the reality that this kind of show just isn’t for everyone. Just like the last time she was down, an emotional lift is right around the corner…
It’s Conor McGregor! He takes the title off the wall and makes sure that he and Aisling get a good look at it. I just realized that it’s possible she might beat him to becoming the first native of Ireland to hold a UFC title. These two go way back. Aisling was one of McGregor’s teammates from the first day their fight team was formed. He also knows JoJo, because everyone who is cool knows JoJo.
“The Notorious” one’s charms fall flat in the Team Pettis locker room. Everyone is way too tense to be enjoying themselves right now. Aisling makes sure to introduce him to the group, though she is peculiarly selective about it:
Prior to the fight, the lack of privacy is driving Jessica crazy. We’ve seen her getting along well enough with Justine and Felice, but overall she is a self-described “loner”. Justine wants Jessica to open up. She asks Jessica what would happen if she threw her puzzle pieces in the air. Jessica says she would knee her in the face, like Justine taught her. Aww…that’s…nice?
The one word that everyone uses to describe Aisling is “unorthodox”. Must be something in the water in Ireland, because she is as “Jardine-esque” as advertised. It’s difficult to keep track of her stance switching. From what I can tell, she tries to keep her opponent circling towards her power at all times. It can be effective, though it leaves her open to an opponent that can effectively counter, which Jessica does.
A great entry by Jessica leads to her briefly taking the back. Aisling is able to walk them over to the fence to avoid the takedown. High volume from both in the clinch. Aisling smartly uses her hand to smother Jessica at every opportunity. It’s an extremely close first round that has me leaning towards Jessica (10-9) for being slightly crisper on the feet. She does get thrown to the mat a couple of times in the closing minute, but it is nothing substantial.
The second round is similar to the first. I give credit to Jessica for dictating where the fight goes, though she does get tripped down again. Aisling does nothing with it. She lets Jessica get up way too easily. I’m just not seeing any sustained offence from Aisling. Jessica is pushing her back and landing cleanly every time Aisling comes in.
It’s definitely a 10-9 second for Jessica. However, we end up going to a third round. It’s not a problem for Jessica who scores with a slick trip early in the round. There’s a fair bit of scrambling, with Jessica having the advantage in that department. She attacks with a triangle from the bottom and later she manages to flatten out an exhausted Aisling. Jessica is landing a ton of shots to the head putting her opponent into survival mode. It’s a clear cut 10-9 third and decision win for Jessica.
Anthony Pettis says it was one of the best fights. I don’t know about that. It was good, but it was stuck in first gear for the majority of the time. I did feel that Jessica put on a strong performance though. The assumption was that her technical grappling would be too much for Aisling and while that might have been true, she also proved to be more than a match for her on the feet. We also get some words from Gilbert Melendez, making his first appearance thirty three minutes into the episode. Aren’t we glad he was taken out of competition to coach this season?
With only two episodes left, we’re forced to deal with the grim reality that only one of Rose Namajunas, JoJo, and Randa can make it to the final. JoJo was my early favourite, but I’ve grown to like Rose and Randa so much. Arrrrrgggh! Making matters worse, there’s going to be four fights in two episodes. Will there even be enough to write about or will I be forced to provide you with meaningless filler? See, I’m doing it already! Can you handle the suspense?!?
Discussion question: The powers that be have declared that the next edition of TUF will be “something completely different”. What could this possibly mean? Will they finally do away with the team concept? Choose coaches based on aptitude as opposed to using the show to hype fights (bring back Matt Serra!)? Get rid of the TUF house? It could be anything.
I, for one, am hoping they finally pull the trigger on what I like to call Paradise Fighter: Eight heavyweight men, eight strawweight women, no condoms. In the words of Big John McCarthy, “Let’s get it on!”