On Wednesday, Nov. 12, the UFC aired the eighth 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 eighth and final opening round bout of the season, No. 3-ranked Tecia Torres returned to the competition as part of Team Pettis to face off with No. 8-ranked Bec Rawlings of Team Melendez.
Torres opened the fight by firing off a series of kicks. Rawlings flurried forward to close the distance, but Torres was able to separate. Torres landed with combinations, but Rawlings connected with a solid right hand along the cage. The pair engaged in a firefight from in the pocket, but neither fighter backed down in the exchange. The right hand of Torres repeatedly found its mark as she blitzed forward. Rawlings looked for a late takedown, but Torres was able to reverse the position. In the waning seconds of the frame, they again threw caution to the wind and traded from inside the pocket.
Rawlings marched forward to open the second stanza and clipped Torres with a right hand. Torres looked for a hip toss, but it was Rawlings that brought the fight to the mat in the center of the cage. Rawlings allowed the fight to return to the feet and pressured Torres. Torres tried to back Rawlings off with a push kick, but Rawlings was undeterred. Torres looked for a takedown along the fence, but Rawlings delivered a big knee. Rawlings was able to transition to Torres back while standing, but was unable to bring the fight to the mat. Torres again looked for a single-leg takedown and got it in the final minute of the round.