On Wednesday, Nov. 26, the UFC aired the 10th episode of the 20th season of its famed reality show, The Ultimate Fighter.
The show is serving as a title tournament for the first time in its history, showcasing the 115-pound, women’s strawweight division.
The roster for The Ultimate Fighter 20 started to take shape late last year when the promotion announced its acquisition of a number of strawweight fighters from the Invicta FC roster, including reigning champion Carla Esparza, unbeaten Tecia Torres, Bellator veteran Felice Herrig, undefeated Scottish fighter Joanne Calderwood, Australians Bec Rawlings and Alex Chambers, Rose Namajunas and Emily Kagan.
On April 28, the UFC held tryouts to find eight additional cast members who would join the Invicta imports and round out the field of 16 on the show. On July 3, the promotion revealed those additions: Heather Jo Clark, Aisling Daly, Lisa Ellis, Angela Hill, Justine Kish, Angela Magana, Randa Markos and Jessica Penne.
The season filmed for six weeks beginning in July. The season was coached by former Strikeforce champion and UFC title challenger Gilbert Melendez and current lightweight champion Anthony Pettis. Pettis and Melendez will fight for the 155-pound title following the show’s conclusion.
For the show’s opening round fights, the fighters were ranked from No. 1 to No. 16 by UFC matchmakers Joe Silva and Sean Shelby and matched accordingly. Team Pettis won the coin flip and opted to pick the first fighter. When a fighter was selected, their opposing-ranked fighter was automatically put on the other team.
*Due to the ACL injury suffered by No. 9-ranked Justine Kish, Kish and Torres switched teams.
For the second quarterfinal bout of the season, Team Pettis teammates Jessica Penne and Aisling Daly squared off in the cage.
Daly opened up looking to throw her hands, but Penne was able to counter. An accidental eye poke paused the action briefly, but Penne was able to continue. Penne was able to duck under a punch and secure a body lock. She pressed Daly against the cage and delivered short shots from the clinch. Daly fought her way free and put Penne against the fence. The pair jostled for position and scored with knees. As they separated and returned to striking, Penne’s reach advantage became a factor as she scored with her jab. Penne again closed the distance, but it was Daly who scored with a trip takedown. Penne flurried late in the round, but Daly was unfazed.
It was Penne that scored with her hands to open the second stanza. She again looked to change levels, but Daly showcased excellent takedown defense. Daly’s strength from inside the clinch allowed her to put Penne on her back once more, but she did not follow the noted grappler to the mat. The exchanges on the feet continued to favor Penne due to her length, but Daly’s forward pressure never waned. Daly looked for another trip along the fence, but Penne turned it into a throw and landed in the top position. Penne moved to the mount and then took Daly’s back. Daly did not panic and survived the round.
The final frame saw Ireland’s Daly re-establish herself on the feet. She secured a body lock, but it was Penne that earned a takedown. Along the cage, Daly looked for a leg lock, but Penne was able to briefly take her back. Daly spun into Penne’s guard, but was forced to defend a triangle choke. As Daly worked to get back to her feet, Penne rained right hands. Penne was able to maintain top position and score with punches. Daly was able to power back to her feet in the final minute of the fight and looked to take Penne’s back as time expired.
When the scorecards were revealed, it was Penne that was declared the victor.
On episode 11, No. 2-ranked Joanne Calderwood of Team Pettis will face off with No. 7-ranked Rose Namajunas of Team Melendez and No. 1-ranked Carla Esparza takes on No. 3-ranked Tecia Torres.